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#MoneyMatters: How Do You Save for that Dream Vacation of Yours

by Rachel Yeoh. |

Crunch is partnering with Hey Alfred - the smartest financial assistant app powered by Ai to help you track all of your financial assets; to bring you this series.

In this series, we want to provide you with helpful information to gain better financial literacy. Through this journey, you will learn how to manage your money better, save more and secure your finances for the future. If you often find yourself clueless on money matters like paying your first income tax, applying for loans or even how to save more without feeling miserable, this series is just for you.

We got your back. It’s time to take control of your #MoneyMatters.

You’ve read it before, stories of people leaving their careers behind to travel the world. They might be solo or a travelling couple. Their photos are surreal. You see them on the Great Wall of China in one picture and the next, they are at the US-Mexico border talking about the Great Wall of Mexico (whoops, which one is it?). But sometimes, all you want to do is just get out of the office (and never come back) and head off on your dream vacation, for at least a few weeks.

Image: @charliecmh on Instagram

But first, let’s look at your bank account. If it’s just enough to take you on a round trip from home to the office, we’ve got to fix that. But hey, no biggie. You’ve just landed on an article that will give you sufficient information on how you can save up for that dream vacation.

Firstly, you need to know that saving for your dream vacation is a short term goal and hence, your long term savings should not be compromised. If you got that laid down and know that these dream vacay savings is additional on top of your current commitment, we can move on.

So let’s rev up, ladies and gentlemen, time waits for no one.

Pick a Place, Research and Budget

Before you start planning and strategising, you need to get your head focused on the destination. Pick only one and don’t be distracted by other destinations. For example, if your dream vacation is to go to Iceland. Don’t deviate and say oh, I’ll save money for Hawaii as well. Dudes and dudettes, eyes on the prize. You can head over to Hawaii after you are done with Iceland.

After that, thoroughly research on your destination - the must-see places, the food you definitely want to eat, the less-travelled locations and the items you’d like to buy. Be sure of the cost of the tours you want to go on, the special delicacies you’d like to taste and transportation. After that, set your length of stay (so you will be able to tick off your must-do’s) and add up the tentative expenses. For contingencies, it will be good to add RM1,000 or more on top of your grand total.

If the total shocks your socks off, don’t worry. You can choose to let go of some experiences and luxuries in the list, look for cheaper transportation alternatives or allow a longer period of saving. Recalculate and once you are happy with what you are looking at, we can move on to the next step.

Select your Saving Methods

Like any low-cost airline, the more selections you pick and pay for, the better your flight experience. Same with your choice of savings. If you choose to use all the saving methods below, you’ll save more. If you choose less, you’ll still get to go on your vacay - but maybe with fewer frills.

  1. Reduce your expenditure - Pick the best for your lifestyle. It can be eating out less (no, subjecting yourself to instant noodles for lunch and dinner every day is not a good option, you still want to make it for your vacay, remember?), meal prep, reduce meat consumption, drinking water instead of fancy coffee or boba (feel that sweet, brown sugar burrrrrn) and thrifting.

  2. Automate travel savings - open a savings account that gives you some return for your savings and bank in a dedicated sum once you get your paycheck. Get it automated so you will not even realise it is gone. It can range from RM100 to RM1,000 (or more if you can afford it).

  3. A 52-week savings plan - you might have come across the 52-week savings challenge (there are 52 weeks in a year, FYI) where, for the first week of the year, you save RM1 and you increase it every week until the 52nd week, in which you’ll be saving RM52. This will amount to RM1,378 at the end of the year. However, I think you should switch it up from RM52 on week 1 to RM1 on week 52. Why? Because by the first month, you can get some money rolling in your travel savings account which will give you a tiny bit of interest - that will give you a bit more than RM1,378 a year. You can switch up the timeline and amount if you’d like, but just make sure it is fun so you will be dedicated to go through with it.

  4. Physical savings fund - Just like a piggy bank (piggy bank macam tak halal ya) but for notes (darn it, inflation!). Try the "5-Ringgit Challenge" or choose your preferred note to save, RM1, RM5, RM10, RM20… and if you see that note still chilling in your wallet at the end of the day, chuck it into your ‘travel fund’.

  5. Don’t overlook the coins - Because we’d like to stay Sen wise and Ringgit wise, we do not want to overlook saving coins. Kopitiam aunties and uncles will give you exchange notes for loose change! Reuse plastic containers and just drop your coins inside at the end of every day. When you walk around town, don’t use your phone, open your eyes BIG BIG and see if there are any coins on the ground, pick it up and save because even the Universe wants to see you go on a vacay.

  6. Try short term investment - Yes, you can make money grow just a little bit faster by using an online investment management system like Stash Away to let a chunk of your money grow. For newbies and if you are afraid of what might become of your precious savings, you can start with RM10! There is no minimum amount but of course, I would recommend putting at least a few hundred Ringgit to see significant growth. Just download the mobile app, answer a few questions and select the type of risk you are willing to take. It’s so easy. Once your travel date is near, just cash out!

  7. Track your savings - Just to ensure you are on the right track, you can choose to track your savings manually, on an Excel sheet or an online app. It is a good motivation for you to keep saving.

Additional Ways to Stretch Your Ringgit

Image: Living Well Spend Less

Now that you have set your savings course, you can start being meticulous about your pre-travel expenditure. Here are some things you can do just to stretch your savings a little more.

  1. Use cashback sites - Sites like Shopback offer good cashback percentages that can range from 2% to 13%, especially if you book tours and stays via their site. Just adding a little step to your bookings can save you RM50 and (very likely) more!

  2. Monitor flight prices - Skyscanner is a good place to start looking for flights. It gives you a general overview of how cheap some flights can be before you narrow down on the airline you’d like to take. Also, remember to Google the country’s local airline that might not be recognised on Skyscanner.

  3. Use BigPay on holiday - There is no need for travel checks and (possibly) credit cards. BigPay is a prepaid card and e-wallet put together. So, you actually can just reload your prepaid card on your phone and start spending on your card anywhere that accepts Mastercard! Not only that, you do not need to check currency exchange rates because there is no mark-up fee for the exchange rates when you use BigPay. That means zero fees and real exchange rates. Why bother checking the fluctuating currency prices and hunting down the money changers? Can chill lah with BigPay (#notsponsored)

  4. Beg and borrow but don’t steal - If you are travelling during winter or if you are going to a holiday destination where you’d like to take some pretty shots, you do not need to buy new clothes for it. I repeat, there is no need to buy new clothes, new shoes, new winter jackets and all. Just beg or borrow from your friends and relatives. If you are heading to Alaska for that trip of a lifetime and you put in RM500 for one winter coat that you are going to wear for less than a month, is it worth it? Plus, it will be sitting in your closet for the next 5 years or more? So guys, just grow an inch of skin cells on your face and ask people okay? Plus, if you get a few, you can take as many #OOTD shots as possible, looking like a fashionista.

Now, apply these steps carefully and enthusiastically and you’ll be off in no time. It is time we believe in collecting memories instead of items - because items can be borrowed, memories can’t! If you find it difficult to save the amount you want using the steps above, try taking up a side hustle - and no, that does not mean being a begpacker on the streets you intend to visit.

But I trust you all, Malaysians where got like that one!

You may find out more about Rachel on her Instagram as well.

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