"I can't buy happiness, but I can buy a plane ticket, and that's pretty close."

Now that I’ve taught you where to find the flight deals, it’s time for the hard part—budgeting. The sound of the word has some of you sweating. Let’s keep it real. Most of you suck at it! You have money, but you can’t seem to keep it in your wallets. This makes it a challenge to even think about traveling.Good thing you have me!  As the daughter of King Frugalville, I think I can offer some assistance. Although I haven’t mastered the art of budgeting like my old man, I know a little somethin’ somethin’ about saving the benjamins. If you follow these simple rules, you’ll be planning your next vacation in no time.

Rule#1: View Your Bank Statements

Think of your bank account as your frenemy. She’s extremely kind and loving when you’re depositing big, juicy, thick paychecks into her. She really likes a curve too. And by curve, I’m talking about the comma in your bank account (get your mind out of the gutter). But if you even think about withdrawing money from her, she will become your worst nightmare. Oh, and did I mention she’s a snitch. She will make you feel guilty about every purchase you ever made by revealing your spending habits. She has a catalog of the money you spent, when you spent it, where you spent it, and what you spent it on.  And while you’re trying to convince yourself that a thief used your credit card (because there’s no possible way you only have $3 to your name), she has already pulled up your account statements to prove you’re the culprit.  Funny how a few “splurges” add up!

My point: Consulting trips with your bank account should always be your first order of business. She will keep your a** in check. Before purchasing a flight, you need to see how your funds look. I know adulting can be hard, but priorities always come first. Don’t agree to that trip to Jamaica if you only have $5 to your name. Remember, you can stunt on the Gram next year when you have coins.   


Rule #2: Start a Vacation Fund

My savings account is my boyfriend, but my travel account is my side beau.

  • Create a monthly goal: After assessing how much you spend on bills and utilities, make an educated decision about how much you can deposit into your travel account each month. It’s also wise to set up an automatic bank transfer to your vacation fund.
  • Save your change: I saw this message on Instagram, and I thought I would share. "IF YOU SAVE $11.11 FOR 90 DAYS STRAIGHT, YOU WILL HAVE $999.90 SAVED UP IN 3 MONTHS AND THAT'S ENOUGH FOR A TRIP." 
  • Make a savings plan: I always set a budget when I travel. My budget includes flight, lodging, transportation, food, attractions/activities, and souvenirs. I also like to create spreadsheets for my expenses (thank you for this tip, Charisse). This keeps a record of my expenses and guarantees I stick to my budget.

Additional Note: Do NOT put your hands in the cookie jar! Unless there is a dire need to withdraw money from your vacation fund, do NOT touch it. I don’t care if your favorite singer comes in town. You can watch the concert on HBO when you’re at your all-inclusive Mexican resort. Think about the bigger picture. No money, no vacation.    


Rule #3: Plan in Advance

It’s always smart to plan ahead. As much as I would like to think I’m spontaneous…I do not like to wait last minute to plan my international trips. I typically purchase my tickets 2-4 months in advance. This allows me time to prepare for the trip, research activities, find proper accommodations, and, more importantly, save up for my vacation(s).  To add, some countries require tourist to provide visas and vaccination forms.  This gives me enough time to schedule appointments, obtain the proper documentation before departure, and save up.


Rule#4: Stop Going Out

If I'm M.I.A it usually means I'm planning for a trip.  We all have friends, and we all like to hang out with our chosen family members. As much as I hate missing events, it’s a mandatory sacrifice I make in order to travel. No one is funding my trips, so I’m on my own.  Sidebar: If anyone would like to donate to the AJ Foundation, please hit me up.

Here are some tactics you can try to avoid spending money throughout the week:

  • Shopaholics: it’s okay to wear the same outfit twice. That’s why washer machines were invented. You should also get creative with your style. Mix and match a few pieces of apparel to create new looks. And if you have a friend that wears the same size, go through his/her closet for new inspiration.
  • Socialite: If you can’t resist the urge to stay at home, try to pregame before you go out. This can save you up to $100 per night. In fact, I can teach you how to make a tasty Brazilian cocktail. You can also invite your friends over for game night. This is the perfect way to socialize on a budget. Ask each guest to provide a beverage and/or snack, bring a few board games, and have a fun night in the comfort of your own home. Best of all, you don't have to spend a ton of cash. 
  • The foodie: Food is my kryptonite. If you’re a foodie like me, start cooking meals at home and schedule one day in the week to eat at a restaurant. If you’re invited to a friend’s birthday dinner, eat at home before going out. I promise, no one will judge you. 

Final Thoughts

You may have to cut back on a few luxuries, but think about how much fun you’re going to have on your vacation(s). This is temporary, and cooking at home for a few weeks is not going to hurt you. Think about it like this: the $50 you spend for that mediocre pasta dish and water down wine is the same price as a plane ticket to Marrakesh from Rome.  Ask me how I know!