I’m constantly amazed how quickly we’ve replaced spending on things with spending on experiences.
One big reason for this is the rise of Facebook. As we scroll through our feeds, we see friends who have spent time in all sorts of exotic locales. Their pictures are beautiful, always filled with smiles. These same friends gush about their vacations when they get home. “The food was amazing! The scenery was breathtaking! The hotel was phenomenal!”
It’s little wonder people so desperately want to travel the world when they’re up against that. Some of us take it to a new extreme, quitting our jobs to pursue a life of full-time travel, even if it is temporary. Most do things a little more responsibly, choosing instead to contain our travel to a two-week window of allotted vacation time.
Many of us have trouble saving up for a vacation, so we finance it instead. That’s a terrible idea. Even a $1,000 vacation financed at regular credit card rates can cost $1,200…$1,500…or even more before it’s paid off.
That’s not what you want to do.
If you’re having trouble saving up for anything, try this trick.
Brown bag your lunch
It doesn’t seem like a big change, but packing your lunch can add up to some serious savings over the course of a year.
Say you’re currently spending $10 on lunch out every day at work, while you could pack something for $3. That translates into savings of $7 per day, or $35 per week. Based on a 50 week annual schedule, that works out to $1,750 in annual savings.
That might not be enough to finance an entire exotic vacation, but it’s a nice start. It’s definitely enough to pay for a week away that’s a little closer to home.
Even if you just eat in four days a week and go out with your office buddies each Friday, it still adds up to significant savings. You won’t quite end up with $1,750, but you’ll still save $1,400.
The powerful reason why
We’ve all heard about the latte factor, which states that little recurring expenses have a way of really screwing up your budget. The latte factor can mean different things to different people. Some people might drink a lot of alcohol. Some might buy too many clothes. Or some might go out to eat too often.
The solution is usually pretty simple. Figure out what you spend too much money on, and cut it out. Or at least reduce it quite a bit.
There’s a problem with that. Restricting ourselves doesn’t generally work. There’s a reason why we crave whatever our latte is. We enjoy it. If we start telling ourselves we can’t have it, guess what we’re going to want even more?
Brown bagging our lunch is a little different. Yes, you are restricting yourself when you do it. But you’re also giving yourself an opportunity to really think about the benefits of doing so.
If you sit at your desk brooding about how your lunch sucks, this plan has no chance of succeeding. You’ll talk yourself into going back to Wendy’s or Subway in no time.
If you take the opposite approach, it’s got a great chance of succeeding. Thinking about your next vacation while munching on your 132nd consecutive sandwich will make the sacrifice seem worth it. You’re making yourself uncomfortable for a specific reason, not because it’s the right thing to do.
The average person is terrible with money. They need tricks like this to get them to save.
It’s even valuable for those of us who already save a big portion of our income. Saving 10% is great. Saving 15% is even better, especially when you can do so without changing your life in any big way.
A big part of saving is tricking ourselves. Try it today and see how far it gets you.