When I first decided I wanted to travel I was very naive to how much it can cost. Still used to my student lifestyle (one that relied heavily on a free overdraft), I soon realised I needed to start saving every little penny I could. After a bit of research and some trial and error, I’m now pretty confident in my saving skills. I’m still a long way from being able to fund a round the world trip but I’m definitely closer than I was! For now I wanted to share my tried and tested methods to save money, for anyone else just starting out on this journey.
1. Track your spending
This is my number one tip and most important thing I’ve learnt about saving. I’ve used excel spreadsheets, like this one, to do this since I started uni. Or you can easily do it the old-fashioned way and put pen to paper. Choose whatever way works best for you. Simply write all your earnings in one column and all your outgoings in another. Knowing how much money is coming in and out of your account means you can set a realistic savings goal. It’s no good planning a £5000 trip for a years time when you can only save £10 a week. It also makes you accountable for every little thing you buy – I was shocked to see how much takeaway coffees, meal deals, drinks with the girls and the odd chocolate bar here and there could add up to.
2. Sell, sell, sell
You can try to earn a bit of extra money by selling anything you have in your home that you no longer need or want. I’ve found this works best if you’re as ruthless as possible. If I haven’t worn a piece of clothing in a year, it’s getting sold. I’m currently in love with the app Depop, it makes the process as easy as possible. There’s no listing fees and all you do its take a photo on your phone, write a quick description and get selling. There are also tons of other websites including eBay and even Facebook. Or you could go the old-fashioned way and take a load of stuff to a carboot sale.
3. Answer online surveys
I know a lot of people who swear by this and I can definitely see the appeal. You simply sit at home with the TV on and answer questions. But unfortunately this ones a bit of a miss from me personally. I used the site swagbucks for a while, and managed to earn £5 in my first month. But be aware that it takes up so much time for very little reward. I also found I didn’t qualify for a lot of surveys and ended up being kicked off most of them, resulting in a lot of frustration. However I would say give it go. It costs nothing and if you find out it doesn’t work for you either then you’ve not lost anything. And at the end of the day that’s £5 more than I had before.
4. Use cashback sites
I’m currently using the website quidco. I’ve only made about £2 so far but that’s mainly because I don’t shop online much. However I’m definitely of the mindset of every little helps – £2 could buy you a pint in some places! Cashback sites are great as they give you money for something you would have done anyway. Added to the fact it takes at most an extra 30 seconds, it seems silly not to use them. Just be aware you don’t always get cashback when you thought you would and it can take a few months to track – not great if you only have a short amount of time.
5. Have a £2 jar
I stole this one from my sister. It is the easiest and simplest idea in this list. Every time you get a £2 coin you put it straight in a jar. I’ve got about £20 so far so it’s not the best for earning large amounts quickly. However, I’ll say it again, every little helps and when its this easy you’ve got no reason not to. I’ve seen people online do the same thing with £5 notes too, so you can easily change it to work with your goals and time frame.
6. Use Christmas and Birthday presents wisely
You have two options with this one. You could ask everyone for the money they would have spent to be put towards your travels. Or, do what I’ve been doing, and ask for things you know you’ll need, like a good backpack or specific clothing. It’ll really help top up your savings or save you spending any money you already have. Since me and Mark are travelling together we decided that we weren’t going to get each other presents this year, being able to travel and experience new things together means so much more than anything we could buy.
7. Go on a cash diet
This one is really good if you can’t say no to that morning coffee or a quick snack on the way home from work. Set yourself a limit for the week, withdrawn the cash, put away your card and once the money’s gone it’s gone. I’ll be honest I struggle to stick with this week in, week out. Sometimes I’ll forget to take the cash out till I’m at the till, other times I’ll need to spend a little bit more in a week. But when I am good and do stick to it, I can really see the difference it makes. It also makes me think about little ways to save money, like picking a cheaper meal on a menu, so I still have cash left over if I need it later in the week.
The biggest thing is you have to really really want it. Every time I want a new dress or am craving a mocha, I think about what else I could buy with that money. Anything from an extra scoop of gelato in Italy to an extra night in a hostel in Spain. Then I decide what I want more. It’s going to be hard, there are days when I’ve splurged and times when I’ve had to say no to going out with friends. Just keep telling yourself what you’re working towards and if I can do it so can you.