Heritage Trip Preparation
One Way to Budget for a Homeland Tour
by Kimberlie Meyer
“How can I save enough money for a homeland trip?” is a question advisors at Lotus Travel often hear as we support people as they plan for a homeland trip. With the economic issues being a very prevalent topics these days, we at Lotus Travel decided to offer some practical suggestions on this topic for our readers. Some families may be able to take advantage of the great winter rates offered at the end of this year, with our great winter tour rates (link to winter tours). However if you’re just starting to plan, you may want to lift an idea or two from our hypothetical “Jones” family of three.
So, let’s “peek in” on the budget of the “Jones” family and see how they created a financial plan to achieve their homeland trip goal. Jack & Jill Jones are parents to Mei Lei Jones, currently age eight. While the details will vary, we hope you can gain some practical insight for your plans.
Jack works full time as an advertising manager and earns an income of $50,000 annually. Jane has her sole proprietor accounting firm and earns $25,000 annually, working on a part-time basis. Their daughter is 8 years old and attends a private school. They take a week long family vacation every year to a beach house and spend $3,000 on this vacation. The Jones family would like to save what they need for a homeland trip within two years of starting. They have researched tours and conclude they need approximately $11,000 for their trip, or $460 per month for the next 24 months. After taxes, their current monthly income and expenses are: $4,750.00:
|Groceries||600.00||Eating Out (includes Starbucks)||370.00|
|Utilities||250.00||Vacations Savings Fund||300.00|
|Car Insurance (2 cars)||200.00||School Tuition||500.00|
Since their current monthly plan had no savings target at all, here is what they developed to meet the goal of saving for the homeland trip:
- They decided to forgo their usual beach vacation, opting instead to take a week-long vacation at a national park an hour’s drive from their home. The park offers family cabins, hiking/biking trails, a beach, jet-ski rental, and sailing lessons, as well as a nearby town that has a movie theater and mini-golf. They spent $1,800, and were able to add that to the second year’s vacation fund for a total of $4800.00 (extra saving $150.00/month)
- John was in the habit of stopping at the local Java Hut for a 16 oz latte on the way to work each morning and with Jane on the weekends. They spent $90.00 per month, or $1,080 a year. This number really shocked them when they realized how much they were spending on coffee. John decided to bring coffee from home for his morning commute, and only have a latte once per week with Jane on their usual Saturday morning date. (extra saving $70.00/month)
- The family was in the habit of eating out for dinner twice per week. They spent $280.00/month. They decided to cut back to one time per week and to choose only moderately priced restaurants, spending half of their usual budget. (extra saving $140.00/month)
- John and Jane brought their lunch with them to work and their daughter brought her own lunch to school. They liked to eat healthy and were very loyal to certain brands of household products. Jane had been researching ways to save money on their grocery budget. She found two helpful websites that provided tips for cutting your grocery bill, provided valuable coupons, and posted which stores had deals each week. Using www.moneysavingmom.com and www.pinchingyourpennies.com, Jane was able to save money without sacrificing healthy eating habits. She purchased only what they used, purchased whichever brand was on sale and she had a coupon for, and joined a local food cooperative to buy items like rice, pasta, flour, and other healthy items in bulk. (extra savings $150.00/month)
- Another big item on their budget was gasoline. Both John and Jane had to commute to work. Their daughter attended a private school on the other side of town, which was near Jane’s job. However, Jane only worked half days, so often she was driving home, then going back to pick her daughter up in the afternoon. By asking around at her school, Jane was able to arrange to car pool with another family. Jane would take the kids to school in the morning since it was not far from her job, and then the other mother would pick the children up in the afternoon. They also realized they made a lot of little trips in their car, which really could be combined into a larger trip of running errands with a little bit of planning. Jane combined stopped for groceries, made trips to the mall for gifts, and other errands. (extra saving $100.00/month)
- John and Jane had a bundle for their cable tv, internet and phone services from the local cable company. In looking for areas where they could economize, they realized they did not really need 100 channels their expanded service offered. They were able to negotiate a family package that contained the channels they most often watched. Although Jane had to give up her favorite food programs, and John no longer had all his sports networks, they still had the educational channels they watched most often. To replace the movie channels they would sometimes watch, they went to the local library once a week to check out movies. (extra saving $30.00/month)
All of these changes netted the family an extra $640/month to put in savings. Not only were they able to save the money they needed for their dream homeland heritage tour, but they had an additional $180/month they were able to put into an emergency fund and into their daughter’s educational savings plan, ensuring they would not have to dip into their homeland trip fund to cover emergencies. They realized that making these changes did not mean as great a sacrifice as they originally thought. They all agreed that they missed their beach vacation, but they also decided that vacationing at the national park was fun and they would vacation at the beach every other year. John got used to bringing his own coffee, and Jane enjoyed the challenge of finding good deals on groceries.
As they packed for incidentals for their homeland trip, Jane thought that about the memories created on the homeland trip would be lasting a lifetime. And they things they cut of out their budget to accomplish it were not of lasting value. So, she felt good about the plan they had accomplished.
Here’s the final breakdown of what they saved in two years:
|Eating Out Savings||3,360.00|
*Trip assumptions used: $2,199.00/ adult ($1760 per child) for the 15 night Panda Heritage Tour, $100/day ($1,500.00) for meals, tips, souvenirs, orphanage gifts, and other incidentals, $3,514 for three international airline tickets. Estimated trip cost: $11,172.
So, we hope you’ve enjoyed our budget planning overview with the Jones family. We trust this information can be useful to you in achieving some of your financial goals, whether saving for retirement or saving for a homeland trip.
If you have already started your savings plan, check out the winter promotion tours (www.lotustours.net/heritage/china/WinterHomelandTours.shtml) with the best travel rates of the year. For example, if the Jones family travels this December on Lotus Travel’s China Winter Discovery tour, they would need $3,728 plus airfare and incidentals. If they held their incidental costs to $75 per day, a total trip estimate would be $8,153, or savings of more than $3,000.To check out if one of these tours is a fit for your family this winter, contact tour specialist Louie Yi at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, for more information on budgeting aspects discussed in this article, contact Iris Culp, Lotus Travel’s Homeland Programs Coordinator at email@example.com. See our new payment plan option for your convenience.Enjoy planning for your trip today!!!!!