If an amazing opportunity came up, would you have the resources set aside to do be able to pursue it without worrying about how to pay for it?
Many people have an Emergency Fund but it is important to keep this money earmarked specifically for emergencies. When I was getting out of debt, I used my Emergency Fund to pay for trips to University interviews, leaving it severely depleted when I needed to pay for car repairs a couple of weeks later.
One option is to create a fund for unexpected expenses. I've already done this with things like car maintenance and gifts, however I recently set up a “Travel” category (inspired by the photos of my holiday with The Boyfriend last year) and a “Moving to Uni” category too. I know how much is in each category but they are all stored in the same account, which gives a bit of a buffer if needed.
So today I say hello from Kent! (I am writing this at home but I will be in Kent when you read this!)
I was supposed to be camping with my Mum this week but we've had to cancel because something came up at her work. I already had the week booked off as holiday from work, so I couldn't even go in and pick up some shifts. I decided to text some friends I hadn't seen in a while in the hope that they might be free. As luck would have it, two of them in the South East were able to get some time off so I booked a train ticket using my Young Person's railcard (saves you a third off most train fares – costs £28 but worth it if you make more than £100 worth of train rides a year).
A couple of months ago I would have had no room in my budget to make this unexpected trip although I have been dying to see my friends for nearly a year now. Having that money set aside specifically for travelling meant I could take advantage of the opportunity that arose, without trying to fit it into my budget or reaching into my Emergency Fund for a non-emergency.
I know a lot of people specifically save for travelling and it is a great idea. I would like to save up to visit another country either during or after my PhD, so I will slowly start funding my Travel fund. It will allow me to take advantage of last minute offers, as I know the cash is available.
Do you have an Opportunity Fund? Do you have money set aside to use doing something fantastic, without knowing exactly what it is right now?