Getting into the right frame of mind to save money for travelling isn’t always easy. But whether it’s a hectic social life, home comforts or a tricky shopping habit, we all have areas of our lives that we could cut back on. It’s just hard to know where to start and where to draw the line on spending. Here’s a few tips to get you started…
1. The Big Stuff – House and Car
Yeah I’m starting with the biggies. If you’re doing the hard-core saving thing, you may need to move home to your parents. Or you may already be there which is far less awkward. For most people rent is their biggest expense so if you can get away with living with your folks for little rent or preferably rent-free (thanks mum!), then you’re laughing. You’ll have saved your flight money in no time at all.
This isn’t totally essential so don’t lose hope if this isn’t an option for you, it’ll just take a tad longer.
If you have a car – reassess if it’s actually compulsory. Is there public transport that can get you around cheaper? Take into consideration how much you’re paying out each month for car insurance, tax and petrol. It’s a big chunk of cash. On a side note, I was driving 20 mins to work when I was last saving to travel and public transport would’ve taken nearly 2 hours. I kept the car. But I think for a lot of people, there could be a cheaper option. Look into it.
2. Cut out the cheap but frequent purchases
These are the things you buy regularly but don’t even think about because they don’t cost very much money. £2 on Glamour magazine, that’s fair enough, right? A coffee on the way to work will only set me back £2.50 or so, that’s cool yeah? NOPE. These things add up people!
Luckily it’s easily solved.
Swap your magazine addiction for free versions! Most magazines have a website with the same kind of content. Some even have an app with your daily dose of gossip, fashion and beauty at your fingertips. Also, if you live in a big city like London, you normally have access to a free magazine they give to commuters – I’m addicted to Stylist magazine and it’s completely free. So you have no excuse on this one.
Coffee-wise, you could go for the savvy option of making your coffee at home and bringing it along on your journey in a travel-cup. I‘ve personally never been able to do this. I’d rather have the extra 5 minutes in bed. So I just wait until I get to work for the caffeine fix. Most companies these days have free tea and coffee so just wait it out an extra 20 minutes and enjoy at your desk! If you’re struggling, just remember that £2.50 is a night’s accommodation in a hostel in Laos…
3. Reassess your Direct Debits
This is a good way to see what you are actually spending your money on. Take a look at your monthly Direct Debits on your online banking, and you might be surprised at how much cash is leaving your account each month on things that you could cut out. When I did this exercise I realised I was paying out £6.99 every month and didn’t know what for. On closer inspection, it was phone insurance for a phone I didn’t even have any more… Yeah I know.
Another example is an expensive gym membership. Is there any way you could switch to running outside? It would save you some money and it’s prettier… But I know the gym is a way of life for some people and can no way be cut out. If that’s the case, could you move to a cheaper option? One of those gyms with minimal staff, that have a rolling contract and cost around £15 a month compared to a £50 flashy gym? Your call.
4. Fill your shopping addiction with the travelling essentials
I’ve got the shopping bug, always have. That burning desire for the beautiful outfits in Topshop’s windows and the overwhelming need for everything on the Benefit make-up counter. Then the thrill of paying for your treasures and that gratifying feeling once you know they’re yours. Trust me, the struggle is real. But you’ve decided you want the trip-of-a-lifetime, so you need to be good now.
I got over the shopping bug by focusing on things I needed for my travels. Note I said ‘needed’ there, don’t go crazy. But it’s nice to have something on your wish list to focus on each month. One month I would decide I was going to buy a bikini for all of those fabulous beaches I’d soon be on. I’d shop around online, looking at everything and making my choice very carefully. Then buy! I’d still always stay within budget but it meant that by spreading out my purchases I got to hang on to that thrill of shopping!
5. Swap to Vintage clothes!
Despite the above, if you’re saving for a long time, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect you to not indulge in a new top every now and then. Just as a special treat. But rather that hit the High Street, swap to Charity shops! Don’t roll your eyes dude, I’m a convert.
When I was a kid Charity shopping meant you were poor and had ‘the lergy’ (kids really are awful). But lucky for us, vintage clothes are cool as fuck now, and you find the best ones in those charity shops everyone scoffs at. My latest purchases include an 80’s cobalt blue silk pencil skirt (£4), a 90’s tie-up floral shirt (£3) and an amazing oversized multi-coloured cardigan (£4). So come on, at those prices you’re allowed the odd treat.
6. Make sure your friends know you’re saving
They probably do, I’m sure you can’t stop talking about it. But they will still expect you to be knocking back tequila shots with them on a Friday night or going on expensive hen weekends. They always do. Make it clear that you’re not going to be a total recluse and avoid all social interactions (more on that next), but you need their support with cheaper options. Instead of the girls night out, have a girls night in. A big bowl of pasta, a glass of red and a Sex and the City marathon is normally far more enjoyable in my eyes anyway.
7. Pick your social activity wisely
I don’t believe in being a complete recluse when you’re saving. It makes you miserable and you start reassessing why you’re doing it to yourself. Keep yourself, and your friends, happy by going to a few social events. I stick with occasions. Every few weeks it’s normally someone’s birthday or someone’s got a promotion or just got engaged. Go to those ones. They’re important.
The ones you should cut out are the casual after work drinks which end up costing you a tenner per cocktail (or is that just my work?). I’m all for blowing off steam with colleagues but these are the drinks that add up and aren’t essential.
Also cut out lunches with acquaintances. I never feel like they’re worth it. That sounds mean I know! It’s always nice to catch up with an old friend but unless it’s a social event that you’re going to remember, it gets the chop. That’s the rule.
So what about those occasions you’re allowed to go to… Well if it’s your close friends, just ask if it can be at a cheap venue. Normally they don’t mind. I’ve had many a good night in a local pub and many a good dinner at the Toby Carvery. It’s the company that matters.
Also, choose your tipple for the night wisely. My fave is spiced rum and coke but I love them so much that I drink them too fast. And I have a high tolerance for them so I need a lot to get drunk. Hence, expensive night. If I’m saving money, I’ll go for white wine. It has more of an effect on me and I’ll have a cheaper night. I realise I’m sounding like a binge drinking teenager right now, but you know it makes sense.
8. Make homemade gifts
No I don’t mean anything involving papier mache. Unless that’s your thing. But not to brag but I’m literally the queen of cheap, homemade birthday presents. And it can save you a lot of money.
First is the photo-based presents. Cheap photo frame from TK Maxx, photo of you and the recipient, preferably a black and white photo of you laughing for maximum effect… Jobs a good’un. It’s meaningful but cheap. If it’s your bestie and you want to spend a bit more, go for an album or a scrapbook and include cute friendship quotes or ticket stubs of things you did together. It’s a winner.
Then there’s those colleagues or friends that aren’t really close enough for sentimental gifts but you feel a card won’t suffice… Bake a cake. Easy, cheap and if you add some personal details can be really thoughtful.
The best one I’ve done though is for my best friend, Kate. A few Christmases ago I decided to make her a word cloud all about her. I got all of her friends to send me words describing her or things that reminded them of her, put it all together on a free word-cloud-creating website, printed it out on my work printer (whatevs) and framed it with one of those nifty TK Maxx frames. It was perfect and cost me under £5. Sentimental, thoughtful and she loved it! Feel free to steal that one.
What I’m saying is gifts don’t have to cost the world to mean a lot.
9. Sell your worldly belongings
I went full on sell-everything-I-own before my RTW trip. Jewellery I haven’t worn for years? Sold on Cash4Gold. DVD boxsets? Amazon. Branded clothes? eBay. Everything else? Car Boot Sale. It’s like a fun project – see how much money you can generate from selling your wares. Is it enough to cover that bungee jump in New Zealand? Then it will feel like it’s pretty much free.
10. Do free things!
Free things do exist. And although they are mostly aimed at parents of small children, you do get the odd good one. My local park do a free Outdoor Cinema in the summer and I just think it’s the best thing ever. And costs zero money.
Or how about just grabbing a £4 cooked pizza from Sainsburys or Asda and heading to the park with your friends? Don’t you think this is when you have the best time anyway? Minimal money spent.
Ok so they’re my top tips for saving money.
I know they’re a bit out there what with letting you go out, shop for clothes and have a life occasionally. But if you’re too strict on yourself you’ll go a insane. You’ve still gotta live. Amiright.
What do you think? Do you have any great money-saving tips?