Finding the money to travel: Use money buckets

Finding the money to travel

Unfortunately there is one necessary component to travel.


Actually, I’ll let you in on a little secret.

You need money for most things, traveling or not.

So let’s set the record straight, whether you are travelling or not you need money, so you might as well just make the decision to travel since the money aspect is no different to a nine-to-five lifestyle. (There’s nothing wrong with that either btw, but this is a travel blog)

It’s about choosing how to manage your money. It’s much easier than you think and you really don’t need thousands in order to travel more.

We totally get how difficult it is to save money, especially if you have children. Something is always coming up to steer your focus into other things you feel are more important.

This is okay.

What we want to do is to help people see how little changes here and there might lead to that well-deserved break in the future.

Different travel styles

Everyone deserves to have time out from the normalcy of their lives to kick back and enjoy it.

Long-term travel is not for everyone. We are conscious here on the blog that we have a wide range of readers, from those who backpack and travel long-term, to expat travellers and those who are interested in short breaks.

We want to show you simple tips to save, or create more money, so it applies to anyone no matter how they travel. Let’s face it, money applies to everyone.

We are going to be focused more on providing posts that speak about the topic of money. We are going to be talking more about reward programs, ways to save, ways to create and ways to cut back on your expenses.

We will be researching and testing all sorts of things out for ourselves and report back on what we discover. (We need to get better with these things too, so we might as well share what we learn.)

Money fears

I tell you what I am a little frightened.

I’ve developed this notion about myself over the past few years that I can’t manage money, so I have shied away from talking about it. This is a result of a huge money mistake that we made, an investment gone horribly wrong,which destroyed our retirement nest egg.

We don’t have that cushion anymore.

We know how scary this topic can be and hope we can relate and hence help more.

Despite our money catastrophes, we have managed to travel more in our lives. It is our greatest passion so we find ways to make it work. Having this blog has been one way, but I know that is not really relevant to most of you.

Let’s look at ways that are starting with

Analyzing where you are now with money

Craig and I have avoided all conversations revolving around money, saving and budgeting for a long long time. I could not make myself look at the income and expenditure sheets as they were grossly unbalanced in the wrong direction. When I looked all I could see were mistakes and I’d crumble with the pain and the fear.

Hiding will never make things better. I need you to be courageous with me, because trust me I tremble inside even just writing this and I want to run real fast.

But, we gotta face the music in order to make a change.

So we have faced the music and it was better than we thought. We have obviously been doing some things right.

The first thing you have to do is get real with money.

Where do you stand with it? If you are like me and it makes you feel a little frightened and sick, you have got to work on changing that else it will not get better. Start to love money (It’s not the money itself you have got to love but the freedom and choice it brings).

The better you FEEL about money the more it will come and visit you. Makes sense right? We don’t go and knock on the door of anyone’s place if we know they don’t like us. AWKWARD

Take a reality check.

How good are your finances? How bad? Where is your imbalance? If it is in the right way then keep doing what you are ding. If it is not, changes are needed.

These changes will help bring more money into your life which you can then use for those much needed breaks you DESERVE.

Work out your monthly income and expenses

Track your income and expenses for the  month. Don’t leave anything out.Where are your patterns? What are you wasting money on? Why are you wasting it? Think about what you were feeling at the time when you made those unnecessary expenses.

For us, we have been spending way too much money on coffees and eating out. By tracking my feelings, I know why. It is because I have been feeling trapped and suffering cabin fever. The need to experience something different and feel better about my home life has been causing me to make these choices. But it is just entrapping me even more.

So now I have to look for solutions. I am menu planning to try to make home meals more enticing, we have a coffee machine at home now and I am slowly reducing my dependence on caffeine. We are exploring through cheap fun things like bushwalks, bike rides and picnics.

One of the best ways to reduce your costs is to pay off any bad debt.  Put extra money into this each week. Any extra bonuses whack straight on it to work it down. We have paid off several credit cards doing this. Paying interest is bad, earning interest is good.

Now track your income. Where is it coming from? How much? Where is the potential for increasing it and creating more income streams.

What is the gap between your income and expenses. How can you widen that in the positive direction.

There are only two ways

  1. Create more income
  2. Reduce expenses

Come up with a plan

Set up money buckets

Now you are aware of your income and expenses you need to distribute your money into certain buckets. Have a different bank account set up for each.

We have worked out a plan to distribute our income in the following ways.

  • living costs
  • business expenses
  • tax
  • superannuation
  • savings

Each bucket has a different bank account. (Accounts for savings will be those with higher interest rates. Make your money work for you.)

Every person’s situation is different and so you will have different buckets set up. For us we need a tax bucket and a superannuation bucket as we have to make those payments ourselves.  We need high interest rates for these.

A certain percentage goes into each bucket based on needs.

Your savings bucket needs to be a buffer for any emergencies, but split this bucket so there is a dream bucket segment to it. Skive off a few percent of your savings bucket each month into your dream bucket.

Focus your travel expenses to come from your dream bucket. You gotta have a dream and you have to contribute to it.

Once you set up your buckets and have a money plan,  you will be more focused on filling them up. You’ll start to get very clever at finding ways to reduce the money that has to go into the expenses bucket so you can add more to the dream bucket.

It is so so easy for us to say we don’t have any money to put into the savings bucket. Believe me I know about the too much month at the end of the money thing.

You really have to find a way to put something into the savings bucket, even if it is only $10 a week. You can manage that.

By putting in something to that savings bucket you are subconsciously telling yourself you DESERVE it, AND you are letting the Universe know you can MANAGE money. That means more will enter into your life. Like attracts like.

Let us know in the comments below any tips you have for managing your money and what are you putting money into your dream bucket for?

Caz Makepeace is the co-founder of y Travel Blog and has been traveling the world since 1997, first solo, then with her husband, and now with her two daughters. Get her free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow her on Google+

36 Comments on “Finding the money to travel: Use money buckets”

  1. I actually love talking about money. My degree is in accounting. My dad is a controller. Sure, I write about travel but I’ve developed a spreadsheet for tracking income and expenses that would make a CPA envious. I actually LOVE the topic of money. I manage my money very well so I love this topic. I’m no financial expert but I have great strategies for getting out of debt (I currently have none except for a home).

    I know money isn’t an easy topic for people. It’s something you need to talk about when it comes to traveling. Traveling isn’t just the experience but the planning. I like your tips and overview. I’d love to share some tips or pointers on basic finances, esp for people in debt.
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..A walk in the rain through Dublin Castle
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..A walk in the rain through Dublin Castle

  2. This is basically how we managed to save enough money to travel the world twice – the first time for a year and the second time for our indefinite travels. It gets easier with time and we found it much easier the second time as we were used to being frugal and knew it’d be worth it.

    Tracking your expenses is essential so you know where you can cut back. We actually just released an iPhone budget app today that helps you track your expenses on the road, but it’ll work before you go too. Something like this helps so you don’t have to remember what you spent at the end of the day. Or if you are old school carry around a little notebook and pen!
    Erin recently posted..Trail Wallet Travel Budget App Now Available
    Erin recently posted..Trail Wallet Travel Budget App Now Available

  3. Really useful post Caz and Craig – I have to say we put a little bit of last year’s travel whilst living overseas in Canada on credit, which is not the best! But we made trade-offs. We sold a car before we left and have managed with one 12 year old vehicle all this year since we’ve been home. We used our tax returns to fund most of our travel within North America and tried to budget on a weekly basis so we could spend when travelling. One tip that might be useful to people doing an exchange like we did (job, house, car) was to transfer funds between our families to cover basic living expenses. As my husband was still being paid by his employer in AUD and the exchange guy was being paid in Canadian $ this worked out really well. We each avoided almost $1500 in bank exchange fees through this system…kathy

    • Fantastic tip Kathy!! What a great save.

      Don’t worry about the credit thing, we’ve done that several times. In fact I am thinking of tackling that subject in a future post. Should you travel on credit or not? I have some relevant experiences and thoughts.

      • Hi! Just saw this post, and some credit cards have travel insurance included if you pay for half the trip or something like that with a credit card! Mine does, and it’s great, I just pay for hotel or airfare with it, and that is one less expense I have to worry about..

        • Yes! Great tip Silje. Thank you for sharing. Always carefully check the conditions as somethings may not be covered or they have limitations. Although some are great.

  4. Hi Caz, thanks for sharing this is exactly what I need.

    My family and I are already planing our trip for next Christmas we want to go skiing to Flag Staff or Pinetop, so we are developing a “Saving money plan”.

    Greetings from Mexico.

    • Awesome Paulina! Once you have that goal, it is much easier to make the sacrifices needed to save

  5. Awesome post!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..NASCAR: Day 3
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..NASCAR: Day 3

  6. I think the biggest thing is to track your expenses and know where your money actually goes – the reality surprises most people. I always hear people say they don’t have money for travel, yet they spend so much cash on coffee or shoes or going out etc. If you know where you are spending your money, you can figure out places to cut back and divert some of those funds into savings or a travel fund. I think knowledge is power, and it sounds like you guys are realizing that too, now that you’re looking at and talking about your finances as a family. I’m looking forward to more of these posts :)
    Reena @ Wanderplex recently posted..Traveling with others? Always establish a meeting point
    Reena @ Wanderplex recently posted..Traveling with others? Always establish a meeting point

    • You are so right, this knowledge is power. You can’t change what you aren’t aware of. It’s amazing how much money you can waste. Simple changes can bring better experiences

  7. I like the idea of multiple buckets. One trick I like to use is that I only use $5 bills or higher to pay for things. Any change I receive from those purchases gets put into it’s own bucket (a physical bucket though lol). I use this change/small bills bucket towards vacations.
    By using cash instead of plastic to pay for things, I find myself making smarter purchases and being less impulsive.

    Good luck giving up caffeine! I try oh…about once a month to do that and it never works haha. I make all my coffee at home though, you really save a TON of money by making your own coffee.
    Craig | ADayTrip recently posted..Boston Stand Up Comedy: Drinks, Comedy and Dinner Downtown
    Craig | ADayTrip recently posted..Boston Stand Up Comedy: Drinks, Comedy and Dinner Downtown

    • Yeah the coffee machine at home is helping to cut back. We do the spare change thing too. It is amazing how it adds up. We give it to Kalyra who is saving for Disneyland. She loves watching it grow. She was pestering me for something the other day so I told her if she wanted it she would have to pay for it with her money in the bank.
      “That’s okay Mum, I don’t want it anymore!!”
      Awesome! Love the lessons she is learning here

      • Love it Caz. It is good to learn these lessons early. When my son was about 6 he thought it was great fun to squirt out his sister’s soap free eczema wash which in those days was as expensive as all hell. After the second bottle (he used it to slide up and down in the bathtub, lol). I took him and his money box along to the chemist and he purchased a new bottle. Problem solved. He is 22 now and very savvy with money.
        budget jan recently posted..Elephant Rocks near Oamaru New Zealand
        budget jan recently posted..Elephant Rocks near Oamaru New Zealand

        • Great lesson Jan!! I told Kalyra next year she can go shopping for Christmas and buy presents for everyone with her own money. She did not look as enthusiastic as I sounded!!!

  8. [...] Des petits trucs pour trouver l’argent pour voyager, via yTravelBlog. (en anglais) À lire. [...]

  9. I just found your blog and absolutely LOVE it! Thanks for all the great information. I’ve always wanted to continue traveling when I had kids and seeing how you guys do it makes it seem like it can become a reality! Thanks
    Chambrey recently posted..Thanksgiving on the Coast
    Chambrey recently posted..Thanksgiving on the Coast

    • Thank you for finding us Chambrey!! Travel with kids can definitely be your reality- a bit more challenging but doable and worth it

  10. Thanks for the post, Caz– it’s good to be reminded of financial priorities, especially when many of us are launching headlong into planning 2013… gives a whole new meaning to the term “bucket list”!
    brandy bell recently posted..Me Travel Pretty One Day
    brandy bell recently posted..Me Travel Pretty One Day

    • It sure does Brandy! It’s great to set up these buckets, it really keeps you focused. Ours are working well so far. It feels good to know you are paying yourself first by putting money away. The dreams are worth it.

  11. As usual, the best information :)

  12. Great tips! I used to have actual money envelopes at home. I have to admit, now I spend nearly every cent on credit card so the money buckets are my mental limits on what I can spend on what. I pay them off every month – interest payments are the biggest waste of money ever! But then, I have learned the joy of budgeting for travel and living the reward! My VISA gives me cash back at the end of the year, my mastercard gives me free groceries in $20 units and my AmEx gives me frequent fliers for my flights! I try to make my dollars do double duty! Cash back, food and flights all tend to be high on my list of priorities! Of course, the key being that the cards get paid off before a cent of interest, otherwise it is somewhat a wasted effort!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Top 5 Travel Experiences from 2012
    Anita Mac recently posted..Top 5 Travel Experiences from 2012

  13. We’ve just had a couple of garage sales to put some money in our travel money bucket. Pretty much all we’ve sold so far is junk that we don’t actually use. Nice to be rid of it and to have that cash in the travel coffers.
    Kate @30Traveler recently posted..6 Long Term Travel Tips for Vegan Travelers
    Kate @30Traveler recently posted..6 Long Term Travel Tips for Vegan Travelers

    • Oh yes! Love getting rid of junk especially when you can get money to go towards travel out of it.

  14. Love the post!
    People are always so surprised when I tell them about our travel plans. They always wonder how we are able to travel so often and relatively far. Well, like you said; it’s about making choices, being realistic and responsible and deciding what you really want to do with your money.
    We went to Europe for a month last summer, had only half a year to save for it. We were making 1000 euro’s a month. But we saved enough and in the end even had some money left!

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