This post is in response to a question I get A LOT:
How can you afford to keep travelling Hayley?!
Well, I want to start off here with you taking some time to seriously think about what you spend your money on. Check the transactions on your bank cards. An excuse for not being able to travel I hear from people is that they don’t earn enough money to save because they have too many expenses.
So, Where Does Your Money Go?
>> Get out a pen and paper and write down all the monthly expenses you have.
Things like your rent/mortgage, car payments, mobile phone, insurance etc. Now, I want you to add on your other discretionary spending. This is money spent on nights out, your daily coffee, shopping, cigarettes… The list can go on and on. Are you reading this and thinking to yourself, I actually have no idea where all my money goes?! If this is you, then I want you to keep track of what you are spending money on for 2 weeks.
After you do this, you will be able to identify what your “phantom expenses” are. Phantom expenses are things we spend money on without even thinking twice. People often spend money unnecessarily without realising it out of pure habit. A couple of dollars or euros here and a few more there... Silently draining your account and it does add up. Even a daily bottle of water at lunch time or a snack for morning tea can make a substantial difference over the course of a year.
Ok, so what does all this have to do with travelling?
When I was saving I would always ask myself “do I really need to buy this or can I live without it?” Of course, there will always be a few expenses we can’t cut out. However, if we can cut our phantom expenses, reduce monthly costs and find other creative ways to save extra money you can build up your travel fund quicker! No matter how cheap we want to be, travelling always requires some money. There’s no way to avoid that, so in order to save for trips… Cut down expenses and increase savings.
Let me tell you about my saving methods. Before I left Australia to go travelling, I would be paid every 2 weeks and after tax I let us just say I would have around $1500. Every pay I would put $600 – $700 in a savings account that I could not touch. The next time I was paid, what ever money I had left over from my last pay I would also put away safely into my "untouchable" saving account.
NOTE: I will also add that I do realise how fortunate I am to come from Australia and be able to earn that amount of money in the first place. I know that the amount you will be able to save will be dependant on where you are earning your money. The money I can save at home in Australia will be different from someone who is saving money in Eastern Europe for example.
There are also ways to make travelling cheaper which we will talk about in upcoming posts. I saved for 2 years, so I had around $28’000 in my saving account before I left to go travel. Read below for how I did it and how you can do it too.
HOW To Cut Your Expenses
Saving money is not easy. It takes work and it takes sacrifice. This is the part where I think people struggle. Think about it this way, every dollar saved goes towards an extra day of travelling and being in an exotic location. Short term sacrifice for your travel dreams will be absolutely worth it. Here are a few things I changed in my day to day life to save extra money that you can also use to cut down on your expenses.
1. Cook Cook Cook
Food for a lot of people is a large monthly expense. To keep your food bill low, cook more often. You don’t need to be amazing in the kitchen to make some healthy and cheap meals. I learnt how to cook from my mum at an early age and before I left for my big trip I cut down on eating out dramatically. Every meal I cooked, I would make extra for lunch and also dinner the next day. Make leftovers your friend! You will also save time as well as money. BONUS! Just because you can't go out for dinner doesn't mean the end of your social life. You can do dinners at home with friends, where everyone brings 1 dish to share. Cheap, fun and usually even better than going out for a meal.
2. Buy At Discount Supermarkets
Following on from cooking more, also try to buy from the cheapest supermarket you know. Buying at places like Lidl or Aldi or possibly Farmers Markets will save a few dollars every shop. Also, try your best to only buy food you know you are going to eat. This will not only decrease the money you spend but also decrease the waste that you make. It is good to try and be more eco friendly.
3. Cut The Coffee
I was definitely guilty for this one because I am a huge lover of good coffee. Buying a delicious coffee on a daily basis is an expense for a lot of people. This habit will quietly drain your bank account without you ever noticing. That daily $4.50 coffee from your favourite cafe would costs you around $135 per month. That is a huge amount of potential travel money. Furthermore, if you then look at it per year it costs you $1640 for 1 coffee each day. I used to buy 2 coffees a day at work and that really added up without me realising it. Give up buying the coffee and start making your own to save a lot of money.
4. Reconsider The Car
You have to spend money on insurance, repairs, loan payments, plus filling your car up with gas for more than $60 every few days. Cars are crazy expensive no matter where you are in the world. My opinion, try and get rid of your car if you can. It might be hard but try to use public transport, bike or walk when you can. I understand that this idea might be really hard for some people, especially people who live in places without good public transport systems. Maybe an alternative is for you to sell your car and buy a cheaper one with lower expenses. Sell your car before you leave on your big trip. This will decrease your bills at home and you will be about to put the savings towards more travels.
5. Downgrade Your Mobile
Smartphones are handy devices and great when you are travelling around. Smartphones are only getting more and more expensive. To save money just keep the phone you already have because lets be honest, you don’t need to buy the newest iPhone. You can even get a cheap phone that will cut your monthly phone bill in half. Pre-paid mobile plans with a phone you already own is a lot cheaper and good way of making sure you don’t rake up a huge bill. Save yourself an extra $500 a year to spend a few more weeks in Europe, learn how to ski or maybe learn to scuba dive.
6. Opening An Online Saving Account
This is a tip that I think really helped me save a huge amount. It starts with putting money aside that you want to save for travelling in this account. Then you need to promise yourself to not touch it. Make do with the money you have and watch what you are spending it on. This will require you to BUDGET.
7. Buy Second Hand
Why pay full price when you can pay half. Every cent saved is more money for great experiences abroad. There are many websites that sell second hand items that are almost as good as new.
8. Sell Your Stuff
Before I went overseas, I decided to just get rid of almost everything. I sold it all and used the money to travel. After all, I’m not going to need a lot of stuff while eating delicious pasta on the Amalfi Coast in Italy!
9. Skip Going To The Movies
I don’t know about you but I find going to the movies ridiculously expensive. It can cost up to $15 for a ticket and that doesn’t take into account if you buy something to eat from the candy bar. Cut out the movies or rent them online via Netflix. Netflix has so much choice and you will always have something to watch when sitting at home with friends. Cutting trips to the movies will save you a bundle. Yes, Netflix is also an expense, but I really love it and while travelling it is really handy so I am happy to pay for it.
10. Stop Buying Snacking
A snack here and there not only adds calories to your waistline but also empties your wallet. It is another example of phantom expenses and an opportunity for you to save money. We don’t think much of them because they cost so little but they add up over time and eat into our savings. Take a piece of fruit or healthy snack when you leave the house. That way you always have something to eat when you get a craving and you don’t just quickly grab an expensive (and often unhealthy) snack.
11. Think About Your Drinking
Cutting down the amount spent on drinks will add a huge amount of extra cash into your travel fund. While this might not apply to everyone but I can sometimes be careless with my money on the weekends. I used to pre drink before I went out to the club or bar and then not spend on drinks when I was out. At times it did take a lot of self control. Another solution is to simply not drink at all. Personally, I couldn't do that but by buying cheaper bottles of wine at a shop or even just staying at home instead with friends helped.
12. Stop Smoking
I have only just given up smoking and I am a lot happier for it. Not only is smoking a huge health hazard and it also burns a MASSIVE hole in your wallet. Lets say you are like me and you smoke half a pack a day. Depending on where you are in the world, that is around $5 which equals $1825 a year. A pack per day would cost you $3,650 a year! That is so expensive and don’t even get me started on how expensive it is in Australia! It is hard to quit believe me I know but if you don’t want to stop smoking for your health, do it for your trip!
13. Build & Use Couchsurfer
Building a network on Couchsurfing! If you haven’t heard of this travel community before it is an online community can help you make friends with locals and get free accommodation when you do travel. However, if you have never used it before you might not get many responses. A good idea before you go away is to sign up on Couchsurfing, find a local meet up with other members and attend. You will make friends, you will get positive reviews on your profile and have a network you can utilise when it is time to actually go away.
14. Look At Where You Live
Downsizing will save you a lot of money and you will see a huge gain in your savings by lowering your housing costs. If you live out of home, think about downsizing your apartment or bringing in some roommates. If you can, the best way to save is to move in with Mom and Dad. Five months before I went abroad, I moved back in with my parents. After living out of home for years, I didn’t love being 23 and living with my parents. However, I did save a lot of money in rent as a result of the sacrifice. My mum used to always have the fridge full of food (I know I am very lucky) and living at home can also lower your food costs as well.
SHORT TERM SACRIFICE FOR LONG TERM GAIN
Focus more on all the amazing experiences you will have on your travels rather than the short term sacrifice. The reality is that travelling does require money no matter how cheap you do it. I enjoy seeing how far I can stretch my money while I travel but having a fancy meal now and then is really nice. The more money you have in your account the longer you can travel and the more you can see. Money does give you a bit more to splurge on more expensive activities. Look at more of our website and our travel pictures and start save your money to fulfill your own dreams.