It’s that time of year again, when you’re wondering how everyone you’ve ever met is on a yacht in Croatia while you’re at home rinsing chickpeas and questioning if you can afford to turn up the heating one degree.
Opening social media feels like a punch to the gut (and the wallet) right now but, instead of feeling down, put your energy into setting a savings plan to turn your dream European holiday into a reality in 2024.
Here are four savings steps, which should see you grinning into your limoncello spritz this time next year.
1. Start now, start small
If you’re wishing you had been savings-savvy enough to hop on a plane to the European summer of your dreams, I’ve got good news for you. The earlier you start planning a trip, the easier it is to save up, and the less effort it takes. You’ve got 40-plus weeks before the winter chill of 2024 makes an appearance, so save a little each week and you’ll soon be on your way to choosing a witty caption for your Positano thirst trap.
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Stashing just $100 per week will give you more than $4,000 by June 1, 2024. Stretch that to $150 and you’re looking at $6,000, or even $8,000 if you can afford to hustle away $200 a week.
If you already know exactly where you want to go, visit a travel agent or search online for flights and tours or accommodation to get a ballpark total for your trip. Then, divide that by the number of weeks before you need to book.
2. Set up an auto transfer
Once you know what you’re setting aside from each paycheque, you want to make it almost impossible for you to neglect your goal. Setting up an automatic transfer to your Europe savings every time your pay hits your account can ensure you don’t fall off the wagon or lose sight of your goal.
3. Audit your expenses
Saving for a big trip usually means making small lifestyle sacrifices. Audit your finances and look for ways to free up cash with small cutbacks. Cancel unused subscriptions and consider whether you can scale back spending in some areas to help you get a step closer to summer spritzing.
4. Harness the power of visualisation
When sticking to a long-game savings goal, it’s normal for your motivation to waver – especially once the initial excitement has worn off. We need to be prepared for those days when we want to abandon our European summer dreams and opt for more immediate gratification instead.
A big part of hitting your savings goal is going to be making decisions that are conducive to that goal – this is when we can use visualisation to help us stay the course.
When we’re lacking motivation and feel tempted to sabotage our savings progress, we can bring to mind a meaningful vision of the trip we want to take and how it’ll make us feel. By calling to mind a visual of what you’re working towards, you offer your brain a choice: "Do I want this thing that’s tempting me now, or do I want this thing I’m working towards?"
By benchmarking financial decisions against the thing we’re working towards, we can identify opportunities to make savvier spending decisions.
5. Hustle some extra cash
Hustle your way to Europe by clearing out all those things you keep meaning to list online – and send every dollar you make into your travel savings.
If you can flog two items per month for an average of $30 each, you’re $600 closer to scoffing paella along La Ramblas in Barcelona.