Think you can’t afford a vacation? Think again oh awesome one!
Saving isn’t just good practice for vacation planning, it’s a great lifelong strategy to implement and when done right, it creates more happiness and satisfaction than the fleeting shopping high you get from a impulsive splurge. Having a few bucks in the bank and something to fall back on creates a security net that will ultimately give you more freedom and options in life. The people who are least affected by recessions and economic downturns are those with more financial reserves and the more you have, the further away you are from living in a tent city.
In today’s world our future economic growth is ambiguous to say the least. We owe trillions in national debt, manufacturing is disappearing, companies are moving overseas, jobs aren’t as readily available and competition for salaries is high when existing in the modern global economy. Many economists suggest keeping 6 months of living expenses on hand for any upcoming emergency, and there is no reason we can’t delve further into frugality and use that extra money to create some awesome vacation experiences.
Now it’s time to create some budgets, which as an economist I find extremely fun! (I know right, I need to get laid!) You will be surprised how much fat you can trim when you examine your spending habits.
The first step I found very useful was to notify family and friends of your new plans and financial constraints to avoid any confusion and worry. Most people will be very supportive and suggest cheaper activities as opposed to expensive entertainment and dining options.
Everyone’s situations are different, and not all options will suit everyone, but see what you can do. Even $100 a month in savings will get you a pretty kick-ass vacation at the end of a year! Let’s examine some basic living expenses, and see what we can do to save some $$$.
Entertainment and media:
– Cable Television
Do you really need cable? That’s a $100 a month in savings right there on most packages. I quit my ties with cable TV companies 2 years ago and I’ve never been happier, and it wasn’t just about the money either. I work from home and was spending far too much time watching it. I wasn’t accomplishing anything and since turning it off I have dramatically increased my IQ and knowledge base, learned Arabic fluently, studied major historic and political events to better understand the world today, and thanks to geographical education websites such as lizardpoint.com, I can now point to and identify every single country and capital city on the map! It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s improved my self-confidence dramatically. I can now speak to anyone from any country and respect them enough to at least know where they are from and a few basic facts. It’s also fueled my travel bug. Why sit there watching other people having fun, when you can go out and have the fun yourself!
I also have a problem with their business practices and ethics. They lock you in for a 2 year contract, but every month it increases by a few cents and a few cents which adds up to several dollars per month over 24 months, and the part I hate the most is calling up after that time and fighting with them tooth and nail for hours to lower the price or put me under a new contract. It’s extremely stressful and a huge waste of time and energy. That energy and money I now put into my own betterment and life enjoyment.
I won’t lie, I still miss watching new episodes of my favorite shows, but sometimes people upload them on YouTube and if you really must, u can buy one off or whole seasons online. These days I opt for free and low cost programming and it works for me. I pay the minimal Netflix membership, and run free programs like YouTube and crackle on my PlayStation. I did have Amazon prime, but I don’t order enough to make it worthwhile, and like everything else, that keeps going up in price exponentially.
Now I need a pretty fast internet connection. On any given day I’m trading the stock market, blogging, streaming PornHub and watching re-runs of The Golden Girls all at the same time, but the reality is that most at home internet users don’t need the fastest connection possible. Unless you have a home business that relies on split-second data downloads, think about opting for a smaller usage plan.
Here are some simple tips on how to cut Internet and Television costs:
- Buy your own internet router. you can save $120 a year from buying your own as opposed to renting from your cable provider for $10 a month.
- I know its a pain in the ass but call your provider once in a while. You’ll be surprised at how many people get upgraded and are paying for extra packages and channels they don’t even want, need or know about. Ask them to explain everything you are being charged for and opt out for things you don’t want.
- Look over the TV channels in the packages you signed up for and consider what channels you watch and can do without.
- Test your band width every month (do a google search, a lot of free scanners available), and make sure you are getting the speed you pay for.
- Have a look at what other Providers there are in your area and don’t be afraid to threaten to take your business elsewhere if they don’t lower your costs or offer you an affordable plan. Remember knowledge is power so check your figures and do your research.
- Ask to be put through to the cancellations department. These people are trained to keep customers and are willing to drop it like its hot to keep you around. Wow, i wish my dating life was like that…..
- Some providers offer vacation hold for when you are away on your fantastic trips. Don’t pay for a service when you are not physically there using it.
- Sign into your account on their website. This way you can keep a close eye on your everything and notice any changes right away. Remember these companies rely on people not checking their accounts and getting overcharged….Don’t be one of those people, i know you’re smarter than that.
Ahh the good old money suck. I remember when I was 18 and acquired my first cell phone. I rung up an $800 bill and had no idea how i did it or how i was going to pay it off. It tarnished my record for 5 years and ever since then I’ve been “The queen of careful communication.”
I haven’t had a landline since back in the day, and find it totally unnecessary for my lifestyle, (if you don’t need it either then cut it off). As for the cell phone there are so many ways to cut the costs down. First let’s do some basic maths and examine a typical 24 month plan with one of the
phone down payment: $200
24 months @ $100 a month: $2400
Total: $2600 for 2 years
Yea, I’m not paying $100 a month for phone service thank you very much! What I have done for the last 4 years is buy an unlocked iPhone outright for $800 custom. Then I signed up for a pay as you go carrier (H2O wireless) for $25 a month unlimited talk and text. Yes, I don’t have any internet or data plans but in all honestly I have never found it a disadvantage, even whilst traveling! It requires a little more planning. maps have to be downloaded before leaving for the day and stops have to be made at WiFi hot spots. I’m usually in there taking a leak anyway. The quality of the H2O prepaid plan is great too, it runs off the AT&T network, so the coverage is comparable.
My Phone Costs:
phone down payment: $800
24 months @ $25.00 a month: $600
Total: $1400 for 2 years
Now I keep my phones for 4 years before upgrading, so that’s:
4 years on a main carrier contract: $5000
4 years on my pay as you go plan: $2000
That’s a $3000 saving over 4 years! Imagine the kind of vacation and luxuries that money can buy!
As for other entertainment, well… you don’t need me to tell you that you cant go out every weekend and get blind rotten drunk unless someone else is footing the bill….
cheers, big ears! 😉