This post is a continuation of Remembering How to Dream and discusses how to obtain the money you’ll need to fulfill the things on your dream list.
So, some of your dreams will require money, it’s a given. If you’re like me (i.e. not rich) you want to find a way to do the things that matter to you without going broke. As a disclaimer, I’m no financial expert, but the below methods have definitely helped me and I hope they may be of use to you as well.
If on the other hand you are rich, feel free to contribute to my forthcoming RVing fund and skip ahead to the next post on making time to do the things you want.
The very first step you should take is to figure out how much money you need. This is important. Whether it’s an item you want to buy, a place you want to go, or something you want to do, spend some time researching the costs. In my entertainment center example, I’d go online and research the available options and price ranges so I’d know how much I’d need to raise to get it.
Travel costs are harder to pinpoint because there are more variables but it’s still possible and will save you a headache later when you discover you actually needed more moolah than you currently have. Think about the costs associated with getting to your destination, where you’ll be staying once you are there and the things you want to do as a starting point.
There could be some argument here on the amount you should be willing to spend, so I’ll just say this. As a culture, we tend to want the best money can buy. If you want the most expensive entertainment center you can find, who am I to tell you that it isn’t the right thing for you to do? But realize that this means you’ll have to work harder to get it and will have less money for other things. So think about this when your researching price ranges: do I really need the best money can buy, or will something less still fulfill the dream to my satisfaction? I’m a huge fan of less is more, and I’d encourage you to give it some thought.
Another thing, the more time you devote to research, the more likely you are to find ways of getting what you want for less. For example, if you’re willing to spend the time searching Ebay or Craigslist for an item you want, you’re more likely to get a better deal on it than you are buying it new from a store where they have to mark up the price to turn a profit. Traveling works the same way, if you spend some time scouring around different agencies and airlines, you’re more likely to find discounts or deals.
Once you look over the options and prices and weigh the pros and cons, pick the maximum your willing to spend. You now have a goal to reach for, write it down somewhere you can see it. The next step is getting to that goal. There are essentially two ways to do this, and you may need to employ a little of both to reach that money goal, particularly if it’s a large amount.
The obvious number one is to make more money. Generally, I think this is a bad idea.
I can almost hear your collective gasps now as you read this. I mean, if you want something in life, you need to work for it, right? Let me explain myself. If you’re working more, you typically lose out on something even more precious than money, something you can never get back once it’s gone: time. Time is a finite resource, and most jobs are a trade, your time for their money. If you truly like your job, if it makes you feel fulfilled, and excited to get up in the morning – basically if you feel that it’s worth your time – then consider yourself lucky and go right ahead and put in more hours to earn the money you need. Or, if you have the opportunity to pick up a second job doing something you’d enjoy, go right ahead and apply.
On the other hand, if you don’t like your job, I’d think twice before going this route. Yes you’ll earn more, but it’ll be at the cost of your free time and quite possibly well being. There was a period earlier this year where I took on a part-time second job to boost my earnings. But I only stuck with it for a month. For me the pros of having the extra money did not make the loss of sleep, irritability, and lack of time to do things I wanted to do worth it. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons yourself to figure out if it’s worth it for you.
Now then, if you can find ways to make money doing something you love, or without having to exchange money for time, you’re golden. This is easier said than done of course but definitely possible, and probably deserves a post of it’s own somewhere down the line.
Option number two is to find ways to save (or make) more money working with what you already have.
Saving money (living within your means) is simply that, and something everyone is familiar with. Think about what you spend your money on. Is it really adding value to your life? Or are you buying something on a whim and then forgetting about it a week later. When I was getting serious about RVing and saving up, I started asked myself that question every time I was about to make a big purchase. I made myself wait at least a week before buying something new, and by the time a week passed often I realized I no longer wanted it as bad. Also keep your dream in mind when you’re about to make the purchase and ask yourself which you’d rather have: that new pair of shoes, or to be that much closer to a cruise along the shore of Alaska? Going without in the short term brings that dream closer to reality.
Along with spending less money, look around you at the things you already own. Chances are you have at least one thing (and more likely, several things) that you’re not really using anymore and don’t need to keep around. These items are money waiting to be made. Try holding a yard sale or listing them on Ebay or Craigslist and you may be surprised at the response you get.
One other thing that might help is to share that goal with someone else, because then you feel more obligated to meet it and it becomes more real. My initial goal for my tow vehicle and RV was $17,000 on top of the amount I’d get for trading my car in. The truck (pictured above!) ended up costing $6,984 after all was said and done, now it’s just a matter of getting the travel trailer.
So, in conclusion:
1. Do some research, set a maximum that your willing to spend
2. Avoid having to trade more time for money if at all possible (Unless it really makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside)
3. Spend less on things that matter less to save up for what matters more
Have any other tips or thoughts on saving up money? How close are you to reaching your money goals?
This post is second in a five part series. For part 3, click here.