The warm breeze awakes you. It tastes like salt. Ah, the beautiful smell of the ocean. You open your eyes as you yawn and stretch. It feels so good. The first thing you see is the mesmerizing turquoise waters all around your cozy bungalow. White drapes dance in the warm wind, huge pillows and comfy sofas surround you. There’s also your own private pool inside the bungalow and a net around it for you to sunbathe on.
Ah, the Maldives. You could live here forever.
A nasty mosquito lands on your face and starts poking you. Darn, is it possible this little pest is here in this paradise just to harass you? You try to kill it, and accidentally slap yourself in the face.
Suddenly, you’re at home, lying in your bed. There is no bungalow, no ocean, only your room. It was that dream again! It’s summer, and you’ll spend it like you always do – at home. You can’t afford some fancy holiday. Still, how awesome would it be if you could get yourself a plane ticket to Maldives, and book an amazing bungalow in the turquoise sea for 20 days? That would be the life of your dreams.
Do you have these dreams when summer starts? Do you fantasize about some exotic destination, where you’ll have the best holiday of your life, but you return to reality with a slap to your face?
Life doesn’t have to be that unfair.
Here at LifeHack, we’re committed to making your life better, as well as making you a better person, helping you achieve your goals and live a happy, fulfilling life. Don’t you agree that you deserve to go to Maldives [or insert name of any other exotic location here] and enjoy it like you’ve never enjoyed anything before?
Of course, you do.
Here’s the thing: we all do. We all deserve to live the best possible lives we can, and nobody should stop us from getting what we want. Unfortunately, some of us are more lucky to be born wealthier than others. These people can enjoy life without making a significant effort, while others have to make it happen.
That’s why we’re here today. I’m here to tell you it is possible.
You only have to decide on a firm plan, and then stick to it. It doesn’t have to be complicated either. It could be a simple, three-step program that will make a dream of fantastic holiday anywhere in the world a reality. When you execute this plan to the point, everything is reachable.
Bora Bora? New Zealand? Hawaii? Maldives? They’re all achievable.
Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Make a Rock-Solid Decision
To reach something you dream about, you have to be honest and determined. You don’t have the budget for these destinations, but this doesn’t mean you can’t accumulate it. The important thing is to make a decision. This decision will be your guideline and your driving force in the months to come.
Trust me, you’ll need it. This plan is simple, but on the other hand, it’s difficult. It will take time and effort. Depending on the location of your dreams and your situation, it might take you a whole year or more to reach it.
Let me tell you a universal truth: nothing worth having in life isn’t won or reached without effort. That’s why people who are willing to invest time and effort succeed in life.
Pick your destination, find some phenomenal image of it, print it out, and put it somewhere where you’ll see it every day. This reminder will help you stay on the right path.
Step 2: Make a Plan
Not having a plan is like planning to fail.
When you’ve picked your destination, you have to invest time in planning out three different segments of your goal:
- How to get there as cheap as possible.
- Determine the budget.
- How to accumulate the budget.
Getting there cheap
For finding your perfect destination the best possible way, you need to lay some groundwork. There are a ton of resources online that can help you get information about your destination, and find the best possible deals for a holiday. Many sites provide services and info for booking vacation packages (air tickets, rooms, and renting a vehicle) that are pretty useful.
Sites like Expedia, Travelocity, Cheap Tickets, and Last Minute Travel will provide you with thorough information and details about prices, packages, services, and even let you create your own customized package for the destination.
Creating an account on those services is easy, but it takes time to analyze and evaluate offers from them. Still, it’s worth doing since you’ll have a set of options for your vacation and have an insight on the ground expenses of your dreamy vacation.
Use Google Sheets to create a spreadsheet that will contain all the data you gather for your destination and possible deals that are available for your holiday. Here’s a small example, using the sites I’ve mentioned:
You have to be persistent, and invest time to compare deals because many businesses have different contracts with property owners, and might offer different promotions or discounts. You have dozens of sites at your disposal, like Airbnb, FlipKey, HomeAway, and similar where you can rent a whole home for yourself and create your own holiday the way you want it. Bonus: It will usually be cheaper than a hotel room.
For example, renting a fabulous bungalow at Maldives for a week might cost you the same amount (or even more) for which you can have a whole home or apartment in the mainland for a month. You might be above the sea, but you can get different advantages, like staying twice as long for the price. It’s totally up to you.
This process is even fun when you design your perfect holiday without having to worry if something is expensive or unavailable. This is the part when you concentrate on your needs and your needs only. One month in a house in Maldives or a private bungalow above the sea for 20 days? Your call.
Determining the budget
When you’ve decided where you’ll stay and for how long, and browsed through the various possibilities and deals, you have a starting point for determining the budget. Next, you have to examine the following details:
- The costs
- Your lifestyle
For example, a 20-day stay at Sunset Hill Studio at Bora Bora (June 10-30, 2017) will cost you $2676.90 (service fees included). I’ve excluded the all-inclusive deals because they cost up to $80K for 20 days.
Let’s say you’re traveling from New Your, looking for flights with Expedia. An average price for a return trip NYC – BB – NYC during this year is around $3127. Sites don’t allow booking a year in advance, so this is a rough estimate of how much it will cost you (multiple stops included – LAX, PPT).
Assuming that the prices will grow by 30% (following the pricing trends for the last few years), you can expect 20% rise in the period up to your arrival, so it would be good to set $3000 – 3500 aside for the flight (two persons) and expenses.
Your budget should include 3 – 4 meals a day, some beverages, and some budget for fun activities. Based on Business Insider’s research and graphic from 2015, the average cost of living in the US ranges from $2,117 – $3,632 per month. Depending on your location and lifestyle, let’s presume that an average cost of living for a whole month will be ~$2,874.5.
Considering your holiday will last for 20 days, you can deduct one-third from the projected amount. Adding the average cost of living in French Polynesia to the calculation, you’ll get to the estimated expenses of $2400 for a comfortable holiday of 20 days in Bora Bora. Besides the basics, this amount will cover expenses exploring the location on excursions, as well as having a good time at bars, clubs, etc.
Let’s sum up the projected expenses now:
- Accommodation: ~$2640
- Flight & Transportation: ~$3500
- Lifestyle & Leisure: ~$2450
- Sum: $8590
This is the estimated price for the holiday of your dreams at Bora Bora. Looks intimidating, huh? Well, you can’t expect to have a holiday of your dreams without a high cost. Remember the old saying from the segment above? Nothing worth having can’t be obtained without effort, so that’s what we’re going to tackle next.
Accumulating the budget
For you to get the projected amount of money for the holiday of your dreams, you’ll need to create a serious saving plan. For our example, getting ~$8600 will take some serious effort if you end with $250-300 left from your salary (after costs of living, tax, bills, and everything).
To be precise, with this amount of money left it will take you 34 months of saving to reach your goal.
That’s right! It will take nearly three years, if you save $250 every month. It will be even worse if you end with less every month. Credit cards, loans, bills, and fees all add up to make you miserable and unwilling to even think about the holiday in an exotic location, not to mention saving for it. How do you deal with this?
There are two ways of accumulating money for the holiday: saving money or earning more. Depending on your situation (your occupation, energy,and money involved) you should develop a plan that utilizes both saving and making more money if possible.
Heads up: Some might suggest getting a bank loan and paying it off in time so you can enjoy first and pay later. I’m against this approach, simply because there is no good loan. Banks won’t give us loans if there isn’t something in it for them. No matter how low the rates are, in the end, you’re still paying much more to get the desired sum from the bank. Please stay away from credits and loans.
First and foremost, you need to analyze your current budget, cut on expenses, and get analytical. First, you need to review your earnings and your expenses. Start to examine your life for one month, just by noting how much you’re spending every day. There are smartphone apps that will help here. Monefy is one of the best (get it on iOS here and Android here).
This habit alone will drastically change your life. When you complete the whole month of noting your expenses, you’ll have the analytical data that will display your way of spending money. Then, it’s time to start adjusting your habits and amounts you spend for the higher purpose.
When you start changing and thinking about how to cut your costs, you’ll be amazed how much you can actually save when you pay attention and have an economical way of thinking. For example, when you put some effort and research into it, you can even cut your spending by $400 a month. Imagine adding that to the sum of $250 I mentioned before. Your dream holiday seems much closer now, don’t they?
There are so many surprising ways to cut your spending. You’d be surprised how easy you can grow your holiday resources. Besides the 98 ways from the previous link, here are a bonus 30 ways to cut your expenses. Following all of these tips, you can most certainly master the way you spend money on everyday life.
Besides the various expense-cutting methods, there are even more ways to save money. You can simply set some money aside as soon as your salary arrives, and stash it into your holiday savings account. Something like 1-2% won’t be a big hit, but it will add up eventually. You can save in hundreds of ways, all it takes is some thinking outside the box.
Earn money on the side
To attain the money you need for your special holiday, you can get savvy and cash in on numerous ways. First and foremost, consider an extra job in your spare time. Try to find a gig that will add to the budget, but won’t wear you down.
There are a ton of ideas on how to make money on the side with some easy gigs, that won’t take too much of your time, but will add to the holiday budget. Both online and offline opportunities are everywhere; you just need to look for them.
It’s all up to you to have it in a way that it won’t drastically affect your lifestyle, yet still contribute to your holiday significantly. For example, someone will walk dogs from the neighborhood, while someone else will watch ads or fill surveys online to get additional money in their pare time.
Selling unnecessary items from the garage or even your closet can also boost the budget significantly. The same goes for using your skills, both online and offline. You can teach something you’re good at or be a hired professional – freelancer style. Online ways of making money could be really meaningful on your path of preparing.
You might not know it by now, but here it is: coupons make life easy, getting you closer to your goal much faster. They both save and earn you money, thus making the best possible contribution to your holiday budget.
Couponing can get boring, but it’s definitely worthwhile. It’s important to have timing and research in mind. Be patient and you can save hundreds of dollars. It’s important to stack on resources. Sites like ChameleonJohn, Coupons.com, Groupon, and RetailMeNot are your best friends when you’re getting into the coupon world. Some amazing results can be achieved if you time your actions and effort.
Use credit cards to gain benefits
Start paying for everything with a credit card that gives you points for gas, air miles, discount points, or returns the money. Adding those resources into the budget for your vacation can add up significantly, especially with credit cards that offer big benefits programs for the loyal customers.
Create a savings account
When you’re gathering resources for the holiday of your dreams, you can be extra-savvy and put all that money into one high-yield online savings account. Your money will make money, and it will add up. A bonus feature of this method is that you won’t be able to spend your savings until the compounding period is over.
You might be wondering: Why is this a bonus feature?
With time passing, many people can get weak especially when the account for the holiday has grown significantly (reaching around 70-80% of the targeted sum). In our case, that would be around $6900, which can make you want to splurge on the latest deal for a new car or a huge 3D TV.
When you know the funds are “locked” in the savings account, you won’t fall for all the temptations we get bombarded with every day on TV and billboards. This tip is both money-saving, and budget-growing.
Creativity is your great ally. For example, you can babysit while you’re stacking and printing coupons. You could translate some foreign languages in your spare time while you’re on your side-job. Combining the gigs and doing side-jobs will get you closer to your goal faster.
Many people earn on the side from multiple gigs doing them either simultaneously, or with the help on the side. When you have a goal in mind, and you’re focused, you can achieve something that you never thought was possible.
Step 3: Getting it done
Now it’s time to start saving and working to reach your goal. The road won’t be easy or short, but your end-goal should be your focus and your reason. Some go through this process easier – some don’t.
The thing is, if you are doing this for the first time, it will be really tough. However, it will be slightly easier each following time.
Remember to be analytical
During your process of accumulating the budget for the perfect holiday, keep everything on paper, and start slowly. If you’re a beginner in being frugal and saving, you’ll have to adjust your life bit by bit to enter the “Ultra Money-Saving Mode.”
Try to get a small gig aside from your main job, and use one of the expense-cutting techniques. When you get comfortable doing that, go one step forward and improve your frugality. Analyze your time and the effort you’re making with what results you get. Don’t be afraid to stop with one thing and switch to another if you get a better option.
Maybe a big garage sale will boost your budget significantly, or maybe you’ll find yourself very comfortable and fulfilled working online. It all depends on your lifestyle and affinities. It’s important to try this tactic for at least a week and see what results it actually brings.
The Monefy app I mentioned above will be your great friend, as well as Google Sheets. You can track everything you’ve done and how much you’ve earned/saved by that activity. The analytical approach is the approach of the successful.
This process is a radical lifestyle change, which will reward you with the thing you’ve dreamed of having. As I’ve stated before, dreams are achievable if you work hard and smart for them. It takes time and effort, though. We all get fragile and lose willpower or determination sometimes. You know the moments – like when you get yourself a big bucket of KFC while you’re on a diet.
You have to understand that we’re all humans, and we all have moments of weakness. Don’t blame yourself if you spent big money on something you didn’t need. Occasionally, you have to reward yourself and have some fun from time to time. Your goal is waiting, but you don’t need to live like a monk.
Every time you feel bad or drained of energy while tackling this saving and preparing, remind yourself of your goal, and the purpose. These moments of weakness are there to swerve you off the right path. The regret of not reaching the goal of your dreams will haunt you forever.
You have to believe in yourself, and follow the advice I’ve shared today. Be creative and invent your own ways of being frugal and smart. I am telling you that it is possible! While I’m writing this, I’m living in Zante, Greece, the place I dreamed about for a long time until I made a decision, a plan, and reached it.
Can you feel the breeze?
The smell of the ocean is really amazing. Your bungalow on the turquoise sea is perfect. It’s optimized for reaching maximum levels of enjoyment.
Your own a piece of paradise.
This time, you check for that pesky mosquito, but he’s nowhere to be found. You pinch yourself, just to be sure you’re not dreaming again. You’ve managed to make your dreams come true. The smell of success is incredible. You’re slowly realizing you’re getting hooked on this incredible feeling of achievement.
When you think about it, why wouldn’t you use this technique to accomplish all of your dreams? Why wouldn’t you help your friends achieve something they’ve desired for the last decade?
You definitely can!
Take a selfie on Bora Bora (or wherever you’ve picked your holiday to be), tag me and your friends on social media, then mention this post when they ask you: “How in the world you managed to afford that?” Let them read this, and achieve their dreams just like you did.
Now, it’s piña colada time!
Featured photo credit: Marvin Meyer via unsplash.com