i’ve seen a few people mention on the influence fora they’re worried they won’t be able to afford going to influence this year.
you might be one of those people. and i want to tell you, you can probably afford it but you probably just don’t know how.
i’ve gone to influence two years in a row, both times funded on part-time jobs and both times less than two months out of unemployment. the cost of going to influence costs almost as much as i make in a month and i pay my own phone bill, all my car expenses, and around half of what i eat.
those are the disadvantages of paying for influence from where i sit, but i do have a few advantages: i live with my parents, so i don’t pay rent and utilities; i don’t have a family; and i only have around $5000 in total debt, including student loans.
i’m going to influence again this year, and i’m using two methods that have worked for me separately and that i think will work far better together: splitting expenses and saving.
splitting expenses • the number i’ve heard come up a lot for the cost of going to influence is $800-$1000. i usually come up with a smaller number but i also usually forget to factor in the cost of the ticket because i split my expenses.
the best way to demonstrate this is to explain how i paid for my trip to texas, which included going to hope spoken. if you asked me how much i paid for this trip, i would probably tell you it was about $650 before i remembered to factor in the hotel ($267), plane tickets ($218), and hope spoken ticket ($247).
the reason i forget to factor those three things in – and in fact even forgot two other expenses entirely – is because i buy them as far as possible and reasonable in advance. i bought my hope spoken ticket a year before the conference, when they were released. i paid for my plane tickets six months before i flew to texas. i paid for my hotel and megabus ticket two months in advance, and i paid to check luggage two weeks before the trip. all of those expenses came out as part of my regular spending when i had the margin for it, and i researched prices for weeks to months in advance to be sure i was paying as cheaply as possible for it.
this is the magic of splitting expenses. you spend less than you would because you buy early, and because you buy when you have the margin, you don’t feel it as much. if you total what i spent for and in texas, it’s $1382. it doesn’t actually feel like i spent that much, and if you had told me it would cost me that much to go to hope spoken when i bought my ticket in march 2013, i probably wouldn’t have bought a ticket at all.
so buy your ticket, even if you aren’t sure you’ll go. if you do, you’ve saved money. if not, i promise someone will be looking for a ticket and happy to pay for yours, especially at an early-bird price. i bought my ticket for influence on black friday, not for sure that i would go this year. but once i decided i would definitely be going, i had already saved on the regular price of the ticket and it doesn’t count toward my budgeting for going because it’s already paid for.
save • this is an area i’m still working on, and you can feel free to keep me accountable, but i’ll explain to you what it’ll look like for influence this year.
first of all, $800-$1000 is an accurate estimation of what it will cost to attend the conference. i would probably tell you $600 because i forget to factor in the cost of the ticket, which i always buy months in advance and which i then never count toward how much it will cost me to go to the conference.
one advantage i have with influence is that i drive, so it’s cheaper for me to get there. even routing myself via chicago to help friends save on plane tickets has kept my cost of transportation low since they then chip in on gas. i’ve never spent more than $80 to drive to and from influence, but i always budget at least $200 and i always assume i’m paying for it myself even if i know my friends will chip in.
i have seen SO MANY people wait until the month before a conference to buy plane tickets. don’t do that to yourself. i don’t fly often, but i fly enough to know that’s when tickets usually start hitting peak prices. i would start looking at plane tickets now and i would buy tickets by mid- to late june.
here’s where transportation comes in: if you drive, count transportation costs (gas and parking) toward your savings goal. if you fly, don’t. plan for plane tickets to come out of regular spending (or, if you must, another savings that is not emergency-related).
once you know how that lines up, add up your projected expenses and add a buffer ($150-$250). i’ve spent about $500 both years while i’m actually traveling to and in indianapolis, so my savings goal is $750.
then you have to decide how you’re going to work toward that total number by increments. how much do you have to save per week or paycheck or month to get to that? (here’s the savings calculator i use if you need one. you’ll want to calculate your periodic contribution, so enter your starting and ending balances and opt not to have numbers modified by interest or inflation. if you’re compounding by month, the number of periods is 4.)
my number is $150/month or $75/paycheck. so starting with my paycheck this week and every paycheck thereafter, $75 is going into my influence savings account. it is untouchable money, which means this is not an option if i have to replace tires or want to make an extra payment on my student loan. this is a sizeable chunk of what i make. saving for influence is going to hurt and it always has. but because i really want to go, i’m going to do what i can to make it happen.
for next week i’m going to write a breakdown of expenses from last year (and hopefully the year before) to show you what expenses are guaranteed, which are likely, and which are avoidable. if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!