This post comes to you from the ever-inspiring travel goddess, Sarah, of Yes and Yes fame. If you’re not already reading her inspiring writing on travel, food, fashion and adventures, get on it!
Dear Sarah Von,
I’m writing is to ask you about saving money for travelling. You see, I’m off in the beginning of March for three months in New Zealand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. My boyfriend and I bought our ticket on Saturday and I’m getting pretty worried about the money situation – even though we’ve decided to do it on the cheap. I have a full time job but it pays badly – do you have any tricks to raise money in a fairly short time? Although I’m sure you were sensible and saved up over a long time!
Oh, friend. Yes, I was sensible (and a bit boring) and saved up over a long time. But all is not lost! You can put away a good chunk of money if you’re willing to make some changes.
Get a Second Job
Blowing your mind with my originality, right? But it’s obviously easier to save money if you’ve got two or three streams of income. And a second job doesn’t have to mean working every evening and weekend at Starbucks. You could tutor the neighborhood kids, house-sit for family friends, babysit your cousins – there are a million options. Here’s an article with some great ideas for second jobs.
I know that working two jobs is a drag of epic proportions. But if you’re doing it for a limited amount of time and to raise money for a very specific reason, it seems exponentially more tolerable. At least that’s what I always tell myself while I’m tutoring EBD fifth grade boys.
Put Yourself on a Crazy Tight Budget
Again with the mind-blowing, right? Suzy Orman, watch out! Making a budget is wicked easy: look into how much you need to buy your round-the-world ticket/new car/house/Jimmy Choos, look at how much discretionary income you have, do a bit of math and see how long it should take you to save enough to buy said pair of shoes. If you’re not happy with that amount of time: reexamine the way you spend your money.
Surely you can trim a little fat?
- Cancel the cable (that’s what hulu is for, y’all!)
- Split wi-fi with someone in your building
- Cancel your gym membership and go for walks with friends or workout at home
- Start cooking at home instead of eating out so much
- Go cold turkey on Starbucks
- Don’t drink so much. If you’re going to party, pre-game at home so you’re not spending $40 at the bar every weekend
- Get a flatmate
- If you engage in retail therapy (aka: are human) why not hit up a thrift store or a nice second-hand boutique? You’ll save heaps of money and still feed the hunger for new shoes
My budgeting secret?
I allot myself a certain amount of ‘fun money’ each week and withdraw that amount in cash from an ATM. Once that money’s gone, I’m stuck at home eating soup and watching library DVDs until Sunday rolls around again.
Realize that every non-essential thing you buy is a step away from your dream
Oh, that’s a bit dire, isn’t it? But it’s true, y’all. Before you buy yet another set of decorative towels, realize that all that terry cloth equates to one night in a Cambodian hostel. Or a can of paint for the house you want to buy. Or two weeks worth of car insurance on that Saab you don’t have yet. If you want to make these things happen, you have to make them a priority, right?
If you’re saving up for something remarkable (traveling to Africa to work in an orphanage, starting your own business, biking across America) there just might be people willing to help fund your dream. Learn how to write grants proposals, start a blog, contact your local paper and see if they’re will to write up your story. If you’re incredibly cheeky (and clever) you could even aim for corporate sponsorship like Dancing Matt of youtube fame (Stride gum sponsored his trip) or Maggie Mason, whose life list is being sponsored by Intel.
Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing This
Limiting yourself to $40 worth of fun each week and giving up your Americano habit isn’t particularly easy or fun. But nearly everything in life worth having requires a bit of work and sacrifice, no? Make an active effort to remind yourself why you’re making these sacrifices.
If you’re saving up for a trip to India learn how to make paneer, listen to some punjabi mc and rent some bollywood flicks. If you’re socking away money for a house, make lists of features in your dream house, stop by designsponge and haunt all those real estate open houses. You’ll be more likely to stick to your financial guns when the reason is at the forefront of your mind.
Sell Your Stuff
Granted, this money making scheme is best employed when you’re moving or about to travel, but certainly there are some things sitting around your house, gathering dust. If you’ve upgraded to a flat screen, maybe someone wants your old tv? And if you’ve got a laptop, do you really need a netbook? Craigslist awaits, my friends.
To be employed only when you are really broke or need to save an epic amount of money.
Move Back in with Your Parents
Twin beds, dial-up internet and casseroles every night for dinner. But it’s (probably) rent free. I’m sure you’ll save everyone’s sanity by helping around the house, not bringing boys home from the bar as 2 am and setting some parameters before you move in, right?
Teach ESL in Asia/The Middle East
Drastic? Yes. Effective? Definitely. After the first six months when I spent all my money on Ikea furniture and t-shirts with terrible Engrish, I saved $1,000 a month. Really! With no effort and no impact on my swanky quality of life.
It should be noted that this doesn’t hold true for ESL in all Asian countries – I’d hazard the guess that you’d have the most luck in Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong. Correct me if I’m wrong!
Take Part in Medical Studies
My goodness but this is drastic, no? I’ve never done these myself but I have several friends who financed large chunks of college with medical studies – and they still have all their limbs and appear to be fertile! Of course, if you’re going to do these exercise caution, do heaps of research and start small.
P.S. I would be remiss in my role as pseudo-financial advisor is I didn’t make the point that you really shouldn’t buy trips/cars/houses that you can’t afford (I’m looking at you, America’s housing crisis). I know that those shoes are calling your name, but if the choice is between groceries and green peep-toes, be a grown up. A girl can’t live on patent leather alone.
How do you save up for big ticket items? What’s your relationship with money like?