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Fund Your Traveling By Making These 7 Simple Lifestyle Changes

Fund Your Traveling By Making These 7 Simple Lifestyle Changes

Have you ever been consumed by wanderlust? No one can blame you for having a strong desire to travel. After all, traveling offers several health benefits and can completely change your life for the better. Of course, while you may love the idea of going away somewhere, most of us just can’t afford it. Or can we?

If you want to travel bad enough, then saving the money for a memorable trip doesn’t need to be that difficult. While there are numerous ways you can save money while traveling, there are also plenty of easy ways you can save up cash ahead of your voyage.

Make these simple life changes, and you will soon build up enough of a fund to make that trip you’ve been dreaming of.

1. Keep track of your spending

This first thing you should do is take a note of all your spending and analyze it. If you’re not giving your expenditures much thought, then it can be far too easy to overspend. Besides taking note of all your bills and direct debits, you should also start noting down your daily spends.

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If you take the time closely look at your spending, you are guaranteed to find something that you are unnecessarily spending money on each month. You may not even realize you were wasting that money on a forgotten direct debit; you would be surprised how often this happens.

You can use apps such Dollarbird, Mint, Goodbudget and Level Money to make keeping track of your outgoings quick and straightforward. Divide your spending up by categories, create budgets, and get a good overview of where your money goes each month. This overview will help you to identify areas where you can save money.

2. Pay by cash

We get it, paying by card is so much more convenient. However, research confirms that people spend more money when they pay by card than when they do by cash.

When paying pay by cash, you can easily see how much you are spending and how much money you have left over. Get yourself organized and schedule withdrawals in advance to help you manage your spending.

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3. Swap meat for veggies

There are plenty of great reasons to become a vegetarian and saving money is one of them. In fact, cutting meat from your diet could end up saving you as much as $750 a year.

You don’t have to go completely without meat, but just swapping a few of your weekly meals for vegetarian options can make a big difference.

4. Eat before you shop

Have you ever gone to the grocery store on an empty stomach and ended up buying way more than you planned to? Not only can this be terrible for you diet, since you tend to reach for junk food, but it can also be bad news for your wallet.

Research has found that shopping when you’re hungry not only makes you buy more food, but it also promotes the acquisition of non-food objects. In a study published in the PNAS, researchers found that hungry shoppers spent as much as 60% more than others. Next time you plan on hitting the shops, make sure you have something to eat first.

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5. Drink homemade coffee

Those daily cups of coffee you buy from your local coffee shop? Bad news – it costs you about $1,100 a year. While you may not be ready to kick the caffeine habit altogether, you can save money by making your coffee at home.

Don’t worry; you can still make delicious coffee at home on a budget using freshly ground coffee and a French Press.

6. Have homemade meals

Just like swapping your morning cup of coffee for the homemade variety, eating breakfast at home and bringing your lunch to work can make a significant impact on your cash flow each month.

It may take some getting used to as you need to plan ahead, but you will get used to the routine. Plus, if you bring all of your own stuff into work every day, you can end up saving anywhere from $2,000 to $4,200 over a year’s time.

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7. Cut cable

Cable bills in America have been on the rise, with the average household spending $64.41 a month or about $768 a year. The thing is, there are many cheaper alternatives available these days that will provide you with enough entertainment options for the entire family. You can try a third-party service such as Netflix, which costs $9.99 a month, Amazon Prime at $99 a year or Hulu Plus, which costs $7.99 a month.

If you prefer to stick to television, but usually only watch the same few channels, you can still lower costs by buying a package of channels. Sling TV does a base package called “The Best of Live TV,” which is $20 a month and includes 19 of the most popular channels. Add-on packs are an extra $5 each per month, so you can tailor it to your family’s needs and still save money.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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