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How to Save for a Yoga Retreat

So you decided you are going on a yoga retreat to an exotic locale, and you are not going to put one penny of it on your credit card. Good for you!

But how are you going to make that happen when you make $30,000/year, you've got rent to pay and said credit card bills, and the yoga retreat is going to run you at least $3000, once you factor in the retreat, flights, taxis, food, souvenirs, attractions, etc?

Full Moon Party on the beach
Author at the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Thailand

Here's all the ideas my friend. How do I know? Because I was in your shoes and I did it. I scrimped and saved and sacrificed, and I went to Greece, Austria, and Turkey for two weeks in 2015, and then Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia for two weeks in 2017, all while making less than $40,000/year at my full time job.

{All of the ideas below are based on a savings goal of $3000. Adjust for your trip and circumstances.} Take what you need and leave the rest.

1. Start planning early. It's a lot easier to save $38.50/week for 18 months than it is to save $115/week for 6 months.

2. Get a part time job. Already have a part time job? Get a side hustle or gig. What does that look like? Look for your local "Brand Ambassadors" group on Facebook. Lots of brands are willing to pay $100 under the table if you give up four hours of your Saturday night handing out flyers at a concert. Do that ten times and you are a third of the way to your goal.

3. Color your own hair, do your own nails, lose the eyelash extensions. Ladies, this one is for you. Balayage, highlights, gel manis, eyelash tinting, etc. are all "Wants" not "Needs." Trust me, you get the hang of coloring from a box after a few tries, and hot stone pedicures in Thailand are way better than in your neighborhood nail salon.

Still don't believe me? Let's do the math. The average woman spends about $80/month on her hair and maybe $60/month on her nails. (Notice I said average. I'm well aware that not all people can afford these services to begin with. But not all people are planning to go on a yoga retreat either.) That's $140/month. Since you're saving for 18 months for your trip, that's a savings of $2520. Add that to your side hustle, and you've made it on your trip.

Relaxing in Bali, Indonesia

4. Give up cable. If you still have it, this is a waste of money. (If you have roommates who absolutely do not agree with this, make them color your hair for the next year in exchange for you to keep paying the cable bill.) The average cable bill is $85/month. That's $1530 over the next year and a half towards your trip. You can still have Netflix and/or Hulu, as you are likely paying for all three now anyway. If you must have internet at home, you can still cut your cable bill in half by getting rid of the TV portion, and save $700+.

5. Give up Starbucks and other expensive coffee runs at least twice per week. Make your coffee at home!

6. Stop eating out. If you eat out more often than once per week, or order in more often than once per week, and you are trying to save money, you are doing life wrong. I don't care how many meals are served by leftovers. I promise, if you make that same dish at home, it will cost less, and be healthier. Bonus.

7. Switch supermarkets. If you are a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's junkie, switch to Aldi's immediately. If there are none in your area, find your neighborhood discount store and do as much of your shopping there as you can. Every store now has organic, gluten-free, and vegan options. If yours really doesn't, then buy the things you absolutely must from one of the fancier stores, and buy all the basic staples from the discount store. If you are spending $35 on a package of spinach and an almond milk, the words "Yoga retreats are too expensive for me" should never leave your mouth. Don't even think it.

Cooking class in Bangkok, Thailand. Real good food, folks.

8. Start budgeting and live on a monthly budget, not a paycheck to paycheck budget. This is the easiest way to save money if you are someone who gets paid every other week. But it's painful to do if you've never done it before, so start a few months early. Here's the plan:

If you are paid bi-weekly, you are paid 26 times per year. However, if you

budget monthly, you are relying on 24 paychecks per year, as there are only two months of the year where you will get that "extra" paycheck. For example, if I make $36,000/year, that's approximately $1384/paycheck gross. Now, since 10 months out of the year you only receive 2 paychecks per month, you are going to plan your budget on a gross monthly pay of $2769 ($1384 x 2 = $2769).

Sit down one day and make a list of all your expenses that must be paid with your net pay (assuming your health insurance and taxes have already been taken out). Rent, utility bills, other bills, gas, tolls, automotive repair, dog food, people food, entertainment, etc. Make sure you have enough to clear your monthly bills with your $2769 gross. Then live off of that strict budget for the next 3-4 months. If there's money left over at the end of the month, you can save it or spend it.

Now, the three-paycheck month comes around. You already know you can live off two paychecks every month, so instead of spending your third paycheck, you deposit it directly into your savings account. Voila, $1000 just for you.

9. Save as much of your income tax refund as you can.

10. Start selling things on Facebook marketplace or eBay. I once made $500 in a month selling the crap I didn't want anymore online.

On a ferry between Lesvos, Greece and Ayvalik, Turkey

Now, if you're like me, you've probably read through this list and come up with a million reasons why none of these will work for you. I don't get my nails done. I want to have a life, I'm not working 80 hours per week. I refuse to shop at Walmart because of corporate greed. I have to pay taxes, I don't get anything back. I have kids and they get all my extra money. Those three-paycheck months are looong (even if they are only thirty-one days). Etc. Etc. Etc. Trust me, I've said many of these or heard many of these before.

But this plan isn't for the person who cannot make ends meet and is being threatened with homelessness. At least it shouldn't be, as a yoga retreat will not fix all your problems. It's also not for someone making six figures who can afford to go without sacrifice. It's also not for people who make excuses and expect the world to change without effort. It's for the average you and me, who want to do something different to get something different. It's for the woman who knows what she wants and is willing to do what she has to do to get it. Even if it means her roots are showing and she has to stay in with a book and DiGiorno Pizza a few weekend nights. It's for the person who sets priorities and makes sacrifices and digs deep for the courage to make their dreams come true.

So, where are you going on your yoga retreat?

Literally a shopping mall in Thessaloniki, Greece. Humble Warrior.



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