Everyday I’m Hustlin’: Saving Money For Travel

Coming from a family with an immigrant father and immigrant grandparents on my mother’s side, I grew up really knowing what it means to hustle. You’re constantly looking for new ways to make money, always plotting your next steps, always searching for that next side gig. It’s the “where there’s a will, there’s a way” mentality. You just have to make things happen… somehow.

“I’d rather hustle 24/7 than slave 9 to 5.” – Unknown.

2015-06-02 11.01.02

Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico

The hustle mentality has been applied to almost every aspect of my life including how I save money for my travels. Of course, there are the responsible, adult ways to save money such as starting a savings account, making investments, creating a budget, etc. but those don’t seem to work for me: 1. I’m broke. There is no money to invest; and 2. I’m far too impatient for such things. I want it when I want it and that usually means right now. What is a broke girl supposed to do when she lacks the funding to travel (and a sugar daddy isn’t an attractive option).  Here are a few things I’ve done or contemplated doing:

  1. Get a Second (and/or Third) Job – The great thing about having multiple jobs is you kill two birds with one stone. You’re making money and you won’t be spending much because you just won’t have the free time. I know, having a 2nd or 3rd job can definitely put the brakes on your social life but really, who needs friends? They’ll be at home and you’ll be in Thailand… or the Maldives… or Tanzania. You can make new friends overseas.
  2. AirBNB – My personal favorite money-maker is Airbnb.com. After years of working 2 to 3 jobs (while going to school during much of the time), I decided I had enough. I quit my second job and quickly realized I needed the money (Have I mentioned I work for a city government?). I thought about Airbnb in the past but was fearful. Soon however, I just said eff it and tried it out. Turns out, Airbnb has been a wonderful experience and an UNBELIEVABLE way to earn extra income. I’ve been able to start a savings account, have money to take classes, registered for a TEFL certification, spruced up my house to prepare for the airbnb-ers, bought photo equipment, etc. Not only is it great money but I’ve also met some really interesting people.  Overall, it’s been an excellent experience.
  3. Get a roommate – Similar (yet different) to having multiple jobs, roommates can put the brakes on your love life but again, who needs romantic partners? You’ll be traveling and they’ll be in the godforsaken city you used to call home. And by a certain age… I mean, come on?? Shouldn’t they have a place of their own. Go over there.
  4. Cancel Cable TV – Cable television is truly a needless thing. Now that there are such things as smart TVs and digital streaming devices, no one really needs cable. I will say however, the only reason to consider keeping cable (I currently have it) is if you are Airbnb-ing. It’s an incentive for guests and a tax write off for you. But I promise you, I was more than happy with only my Roku and Netflix and getting rid of cable can save you anywhere from $80 to $250 a month! On the high-end of that spectrum, that’s a domestic flight each and every month.
  5. Stop Shopping – Ladies, do you really need that new handbag? Gentlemen, do you really need that new gadget? The answer for both is probably not. PUT DOWN THE GOODS AND WALK OUT WITH YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS. And if you just can’t seem to control yourself, at least start thrift shopping instead of going to regular retail outlets. The savings is tremendous!
  6. Stop Eating Out – I live in Houston, a place where all there is to do is eat and drink. It’s so easy to get caught up in the pattern of going out to eat every day. I finally sat down and looked at my bank statement. I was spending $300 – $400 a month going to restaurants and having pricey coffee. You’re probably thinking, “I would never spend anything close to that on eating out.” If that’s the truth, good for you! More than likely, if you sat down with your statement, you’d be shocked too. That’s a lot of money that could be going to removing yourself from your office hell (Wha? You mean not everyone is dying to get out of their job?).
  7. Travel Contests or Grants– These of course aren’t as common to find or to attain; but they are out there. What does it hurt to apply? I’ve been gradually, over time, accumulating a list of my own and I’ve applied to a few here and there. No, I have never won but it’s kind of like the lotto, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” Here’s a great article from Lifehacker.  And with just a quick Google search, I found this article on travel contests. Comment below if you’d like a couple of additional suggestions.
  8. Sell Your Stuff – People get attached to stuff, it’s human nature. I do as well. What helps me, is when I think about the things that are important to me. If your stuff is most important to you, well… I guess keep your stuff. If you’re like I am, it’s all about the experiences. Life is short and at the end of your life, you won’t regret the things you did, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do. Live life to the absolutely fullest. You only have one life to live and one person to make happy – you. Are you happy with your life?
  9. Barter – Do you have a special skills that someone else may be in need of? For instance, I have a friend who is an esthetician and she trades with people all the time for hair cuts, graphic design services, massages, accounting services, etc. Think about your unique skill set, then pimp it out.

And if all else fails, tax time is right around the corner.

10.  Use Your Tax Return – While I’m not the financial wiz I wish I was, I’m lucky enough to have a few friends who are. They’ve all told me that using your tax return and a savings plan is a bad idea. That I should get as much cash in hand as possible and give as little of my hard-earned money to Uncle Sam as possible. This is what I think. Only you know yourself. If you know you are never going to save enough money to take that dream vacation, use Uncle Sam as a savings account. Of course it’s not the best idea, but neither is never taking some time off to travel and rejuvenate. Ultimately, it’s your call.

“Good things happen to those who hustle.” – Anais Nin

Happy travels!

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