I’m not traveling right now, and those of you who know me know that’s just not usual. I typically have a summer filled with conventions and conferences, bookstore appearances, awards ceremonies, and author galas. Instead, the conferences are online, I haven’t had to buy a single stitch of new clothes, and I look longingly at my photos from Italy last February.
They say looking forward to something nice can help a person get through tough times, though, and I know when it’s safe to travel again, there’s going to be a boom in people going places.
When you’re self-employed, you have to figure out when to take a vacation. You work for the hardest boss in the world–yourself–and so you never give yourself a break. But you ought to. I know it’s the pandemic right now and so traveling to faraway places seems like it’s never going to happen again. But it will.
Let’s say I’m going to put away $2,500 for that vacation or convention in August 2021. I picked that as my target because that’s about what it cost me to attend RWA (Romance Writers of America) in San Diego in 2016, and about what I spent on a weeklong trip to Disney.
I’m using the SAVINGS GOAL CALCULATOR at Pigly (a non-profit financial planning site with lots of free calculators!) The calculator lets me set my goal at $2500, and enter my starting amount. I’m starting with fifty bucks in there. My local bank has a savings account with a 2% APY right now and a $10 minimum balance that I can open online without even going to the bank. Nice!
If I plug those numbers in, and say I want to make a weekly contribution for one year…
…it calculates for me how much I need to put away per week: $46.64.
In other words, the money I’m not spending at the local coffee shop, where I would easily spend $11-12 3-4 times a week… I can now put into my travel account. (I know I was spending between $33 and $48 per week in the local coffee shops because I also used Pigly’s BUDGET calculator and CASH FLOW calculator…)
If I really want to get ambitious, I should start planning not just one trip, but a travel budget for the whole year, including several conventions and at least one pleasure trip, and I should look for a savings account–or a CD–that would return a better interest rate. (Pigly has calculators that can take long term planning and other forms of investment into account, too.) But for now I’m just keeping my eye on that one goal, and putting that $47 into the account every week will remind me we’re getting closer, step by small step.
I’m fortunate that being a self-employed writer means my work hasn’t been very negatively impacted by the pandemic. (In fact, my ebook sales are up.) I’ve stayed healthy by staying home. But someday, hopefully in 2021, I’ll be taking that big trip somewhere!
Where are you going to go when it’s safe to travel again?
Somewhere familiar that you missed, or a bucket-list place?