What do you usually spend your change on? Coffee? Laundry? Donations to your neighborhood panhandler? Do you hoard it in your wallet until the end of the month, just in case you are low on funds? Instead of using it up as you accumulate it, put it towards travel! The 37 cents in your pocket may not seem like much but, if you start saving it now, it can really add up.
I use my coins to make exact change or buy a coffee and also end up throwing it in a mug once it started to weigh down my wallet. Even a nonchalant savings effort like this usually fills a mug every six month to a year. I've always just used that $60 or so to have fun with. Not bad for mindless saving.
It may seem like a stretch to say this can turn into an adventure but stick with me. $60 may not be enough to go on a serious trip but it would pay for 3-4 nights of camping in a national park. (Time to rethink the price of travel and adventure!) Sure, this sounds pretty good to me, but as I am on a serious savings spree to get together the funds I need for a plane ticket to southeast Asia in October (about $800), I’m looking to up my game. Instead of using some of my change to buy a coffee, it is all going into my adventure jar. If I throw in stray dollars left over from my cash budget each week, the adventure jar will really start to grow. I also find that when I have a very solid goal for saving, it is a lot easier to say no to that extra beer out. When I first started traveling I was in my early twenties making not much over minimum wage. Before my first trip abroad, I looked at each burrito or smoothie in terms of hours it took me to earn that snack. After that trip, I stopped trading dollars for time and started thinking of spending in terms of potential travel days. Now, when I look at change or frivolous purchases I think "Would I rather have a meal out here or stay in a beach bungalow in Thailand for two nights?" Easy choice. I can either have that beer today or about 6 of them in Thailand.
As I sat down to share this idea with you all, I realized that my mom used to do something similar. Mom used to use a lot of coupons at the grocery store. Remember those? The ones you literally cut out of the Sunday paper and took with you to the checkout stand. I remember looking through the ads for the cereal I wanted, or begging her for cookies or chips because they were on sale (she usually didn’t cave to that). Mom would take the money she saved from every coupon and put it aside into a travel fund. Whether she was savings for tickets to Disneyland, camping fees at Yosemite, or for our summer trip to family camp at Silver Lake, all of that money was easily set aside to grow throughout the year.
If you’re ready to take a trip but don’t think you have any room in your budget to save, start your own adventure jar. While you may be dreaming about a big trip that requires a plane ticket or some expensive new gear and a jar isn’t quite enough, then it time to adjust your budget (check out my previous blog post on that) and open a savings account. I call my savings the “freedom fund” but I may just change it to “ big adventure jar.”