A while ago I posted some tips about how to make money for travel, such as finding part time jobs, living at home, selling your stuff on ebay, having a yard sale or doing odd jobs. But whilst I gave you a few nifty ways of making money, I didn’t pay much attention to the saving money part.
Making the money can be easy; you can sell your mobile phone upgrade, put your old books on Amazon, find a cash-in-hand job from Craigslist, and work as many jobs as you possibly can without falling asleep whilst actually on the job.
Yes making money can be easy, but saving it is the hard part. The majority of us don’t make enough money to allow our outgoings to be less than our incomes. To save money, you have to have less going out than coming in, and saving can be a long and tedious process.
The main problem I have always found, is that in order to save money, you have to turn down those nights out drinking, skip those weekends away with friends, stop going out for dinner and buying those Starbucks coffees. But denying yourself those little treats, and starving yourself of fun stuff, can result in a build up of boredom. For fear of becoming a social recluse, you end up burning your money on one big night out, or splurging on some nice new clothes. A bit like someone on a diet who denies themselves cake, you are denying yourself the pleasure of spending, which can result in sneakily putting your hand in the cookie jar.
Then there’s the unexpected payments that can creep up on you without warning. You’ve finally paid of your debts and you’re beginning to save money, when BOOM, your tooth falls out and you require a costly dentist visit. Once I had just about finished packing to go on a three month trip around Australia, when I had a car accident three days before I left and had to foot the bill for repair on my car. I’m currently saving for travels at the moment, and my Sony laptop just died on me last week, another slap in the face and a setback to my travel piggy bank.
So here are some pearls of wisdom on how to save money for travel rather than spend it:
Budget for Unexpected Costs
Be prepared for unexpected costs and payments. You might be quite proud of yourself for finally managing to get somewhere in the vicinity of your target travel savings, but suddenly have the wind taken out of your sails when an unexpected payment hampers your travel plans. This includes things like dental bills, prescriptions, optician’s bills, needing new glasses, having an accident, something breaking on you, having to buy insurance, needing to repair your car or a bank suddenly deciding to reclaim a debt. When you’e budgeting, try to foresee any annual payments you will have to make and factor in a little bit of spare cash for any unexpected ones.
Cut back on your indulgences
If you smoke, you could perhaps consider cutting back to save money on packs of cigarettes, or even consider quitting altogether 😉 If it’s pedicures and beauty treatments you’re into, then you could do your own at home. If you have gym membership you could swap that for free outdoor exercise. We all have something we like to treat ourselves to, but sometimes cutting back on these things can save a lot of money in the long run.
Cut back on Bills
There are tons of ways to cut back on bills; even if it doesn’t feel like it will make a difference, every penny counts. See if you can switch to a lower mobile phone tariff, shop around for a cheaper deal and change your energy provider, sign up for a new credit card and do a balance transfer if you have existing debt. Take one less shower a day, turn your electrical items off when you’re not using them, cancel your Sky TV or sit in the house wearing a coat to save on heating bills…there are many ways to save money on bills so identify where you spend the most money and where you think you could cut back.
Be realistic about what you’re prepared to give up
It is completely possible to become a complete hermit, do nothing and sit in the house on your laptop for the months leading up to your trip. You can live off tins of baked beans straight from the can, only leave the house to take the bins out and sit watching re-runs of Friends instead of going on a night out with your own friends. But if that’s going to make you bored or make you unhappy, be a bit more realistic about what you want to give up. If you need to treat yourself once a week by going out for dinner, or go down to the pub for fear of becoming a social recluse, then do it. Perhaps you can still do those things, but just do them less frequently. Find a middle ground for what you’re prepared to give up- if you deny yourself fun, you can end up overspending all in one day just to make up for it.
Am I making an investment with this purchase?
When it comes to spending money, I adopt this attitude- is it worth my hard earned money. Yes something might be really cool, but is it worth the price tag it carries? Do I really need it or do I just want a new toy to play with? When I’m making a purchase, if I don’t feel like it’s an investment, or I don’t feel like I’m going to get a lot of use out of it, I tend to put it back on the shelf. I might pick up a dress which is in fashion now, but I know I’ll get bored of it soon enough. If, however, I feel like something is going to enhance my life in the long term, I’ll buy it. Here’s the logic in practice; if I buy a new DSLR camera, I can take better photos, which may make me money in the long run because it will enhance my portfolio and make me a better freelancer. That’s an investment in my books.
Shop around for the best possible price
Before you buy anything, and I mean anything, look online and see exactly which place is the cheapest to buy it from. There are tons of online price comparison sites and often internet shopping is cheaper than buying an item in store. Always make sure you are informed before you buy. When you’re shopping in the supermarket, instead of reaching for the brand you always buy, look at exactly who offers the cheapest version of that product. Supermarkets’ own brands are usually the cheapest way to go.
We all let ourselves go over budget from time to time, but try to be strong and remind yourself that it will all be worth it in the end. If you go over your budget one day, compensate for it another day by spending less than your daily budget.