- My mother has worked all her life to provide for her children and she never thought she would be able to travel to Italy.
- For her 60th birthday, I decided to save enough money to take my mother on the trip of her dreams.
- To achieve my goal, I had to establish a budget and rethink my savings strategy.
It all started because of a conversation I had with my mother while watching the movie “Les Deux Papes”. We sat at either end of the living room couch. As I scrolled through my phone, I asked my mom where she would like to travel if she could go anywhere in the world.
She was paying attention to the movie but responded right away. Rome, she said – particularly Vatican City – would be her dream destination, but added it was unlikely she would ever be able to visit.
All her life, my mother worked in labour-intensive, low-income jobs. A farm worker. A factory worker. A fast food employee. A maid. As a single mother, she overcame all the challenges that came her way to ensure that her three children had more opportunities than in her home country of Mexico.
I understood why my mother thought the way she did. Saving for a trip to Europe can be expensive, and my mother never made enough money from her salary to have room for such discretionary spending. However, I refused to believe that she could let her dream go so easily.
I was still in college when we had this conversation, but suspicions of an idea began to form – thank you for all the unnoticed and unnoticed sacrifices. For her 60th birthday, I knew I wanted to take my mom on her dream trip and cover all of her expenses. Saving for the trip was not easy. But in hindsight, these strategies were crucial in making her dream trip a reality.
1. I calculated all my expenses for the trip and established a budget
I immediately wanted to create the most fainting route for my mother. I spent hours researching information on travel sites and pricing everything out until I created a budget for a week of activities.
In my budget, I took into consideration the following expenses:
- Travel preparation costs
- Overspending (I added an extra 15% to the estimated cost of my trip because I’m bad at math and wanted some wiggle room)
Creating a budget was a crucial part of planning the trip because it grounded my idea into reality. I now knew how much I needed to save so she could really the Roman experience.
Budgeting for the trip also made me realize that my idea required a lot of commitment. I would have to make monthly contributions over an extended period for this to happen.
2. I set aside 10% of my salary each month for travel
When I started planning my mom’s trip, I wasn’t making a lot of money. I had a full course load in college and worked for my college newspaper, so I only worked part-time as a tutor.
However, I needed to start somewhere. So, I set aside about 10% of each paycheck – the minimum needed to reach my goal by summer 2022.
At first it was not easy. When my budget didn’t have much room beyond essential expenses, I took the time to devote myself to hobbies at little or no cost. I realized that while going out to dinner, going to the movies or going to a concert was really fun, I didn’t need much to be happy – a simple walk to the park or the beach would do.
After graduating from college and taking my first full-time job, I very fortunately started earning more money, which allowed me to regain flexibility in my budget for discretionary spending.
3. I changed my savings strategy
To be honest, I didn’t start out with the best savings strategy. I had a very simplistic understanding of how to save; I thought about saving as an action instead of a process. I thought of a savings account as something you contributed to regularly or not, and that was all there was to it.
As a result, I started by depositing 10% of every paycheck into my savings account with my local credit union, which only paid 0.05% APY. (Spoiler: not the best idea.)
It took me a while to realize that there were several savings account options. Money market accounts, CDs and high yield savings accounts are just a few examples. It took me even longer to realize that saving money could be done strategically. If I asked myself questions like, “What am I looking for in a savings account? or “How will I save?” or even, “When will I need access to my money?” I could have found a better place to store my money at the very beginning.
Moral of the story: I ended up moving my money into several different types of savings accounts during the pandemic. First, I transferred money to a CD because I didn’t want to have access to spend it (my credit union was also offering a high interest rate just before interest rates went up). decrease). Then, when my term ended, I took some money out of the CD and deposited it into a high yield savings account.
Every month I was able to earn a few extra dollars in my account due to the higher interest rate. It became a motivating factor for me. I walked slowly towards my goal.
A final note on the trip
It took about three years to save over $5,000 for a trip to Rome, but I’m happy to say I achieved my goal. My mother got to see her dream destination, the Vatican, for her 60th birthday.
Although I didn’t always have the best savings strategies, I learned from my mistakes and turned his dream into a real experience. It’s something I’ll always be proud of.