"Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves…"
Saving money is not easy, especially if you live in a vibrant city with an exciting social scene – for students and gap year candidates it can be nigh impossible at times. But it is one of the most rewarding things to accomplish, especially when you're saving for a trip abroad. This month, to help you get there quicker, we’ve compiled a list of realistic, easy-to-achieve ways of saving money for travelling. We understand it's a sacrifice to put your hard-earned cash aside when you could be out having fun, but trust us – it's always worth it in the end.
Set A Goal And Remind Yourself Of It... Your first step towards saving for a trip is deciding where you want to go and when you want to go there. Once you've established your goal, make a commitment to yourself: I will get to X by X date. Do not be unrealistic, but set the bar high.
Have a few reminders set up around the house for inspiration – they'll come in handy on days when it feels like you're never going to get there. If your goal is to go to Thailand for the Full Moon Party on New Year's Eve, have a picture of Ko Phi Phi on your fridge or bathroom wall. If your goal is to travel the globe, put a map of the world on your bedroom wall, with little red pins on all the destinations you want to visit.
Draw Up A Budget And Save For The Race You're Running. Before you pledge half your weekly salary to an airy-fairy savings plan, take a moment to consider the following:
- How much money do I need to save?
- How many days/weeks/months do I have before D-Day?
Once you've established these two key points, you can start drawing up a budget and managing your finances accordingly. Based on how much you earn, what you need to spend on food, rent, living expenses (laundry etc.) and entertainment (don't forget to reward yourself – even if it's just the odd beer or a chocolate bar), you can work out a realistic sum of money to put away per week/month.
If you have a year to go before your trip, you are running a marathon of sorts. You have time to put away a set amount per week/month, and a little bit extra if a bonus comes your way. But there is no need to hurry – if you starve yourself of fun and entertainment for a full year, purely because you're saving for a big holiday, you could burn out. People who've been saving in an unhealthy way end up getting sick from stress or blowing money at the first available opportunity, because there has been no outlet.
If you have exactly a month to save for a cheeky weekend in Paris, it's a sprint. You can't afford to be easy on yourself if time is not a free commodity. This means sacrificing nights out, not buying an item of clothing you don't really need and putting in a few extra shifts at work before leaving.
Beware The Pub Pubs are wild animals with a pallet for holiday money - they taste the beach sand and snowy slopes on it. Every time you feed your local pub a bit of holiday money, it craves more and more. Beware…
Jokes aside, drinking and partying is one of the main reasons people can't save money properly. Your state of mind after five pints is considerably less diligent than the person who ordered the first one. A fun, unexpected night out can be very pricey, especially if it moves from the pub to a club, then to a kebab shop, and then finishes with an expensive taxi ride home.
As a cautionary method of avoiding the above, take a set amount of money to the pub and leave your bank card at home. Once you've spent your quota, it's time to go home. You can party till the cows come home when you're on holiday.
Spend Wisely Food and household items are considerably more expensive when you buy in small quantities. A ready-made potato salad is cheaper than buying a pocket of potatoes and a bottle of mayo, but you can make a whole month supply of potato salad with the latter. By doing a weekly or monthly shop, you avoid coming back every day to spend more and more money at the same shop – the cumulative affect will have a significant showing on your bank statements.
It's not just buying food wisely that can help you save money. Household products like toilet paper, dish washing soap and shampoo are much cheaper when purchased in bulk.
Use Less, Save More.... Water and electricity bills are considerably higher during winter – obviously, because we use heating and struggle to get out of the shower in the morning. Where possible, try to curb your heating usage. This will save money and do something for the environment – all our heating makes for a more destructive carbon footprint.
When it gets warmer and your bills start to come down, don't treat the extra money in your account as a bonus. If you managed to get by during winter without it, you can do the same during summer. Rather put it into your holiday savings.
Walk, Ride Or Run To Work. The cost of trains, tubes and buses certainly adds up over a month, while the petrol price certainly isn't getting any cheaper for those driving. If you live close enough to your place of work to ride, run or walk there, do it when possible. It's not as easy during the dreary winter months, but come summer you can save a nice chunk of money through bypassing transport costs. That extra money will be well spent on your holiday, and getting a bit of exercise before work every day will help you fit into your bathing suit when it's time to go.
Forget The Bronzies. People throw away vast amounts of money in bronze coins (1p, 2p etc.) throughout their lives, without ever realising it. As an experiment, set up a bowl in your house (somewhere you'll see it) and put all your bronze coins into it at the end of every day. It might seem absurd at first, but it will grow over time. Even if your bowl of coins only amounts to ten pounds, it will still pay for your transport to the airport or buy few meals on backpacker holidays. Every little bit helps.
Spend In The Name Of Your Holiday. If the itch to spend money becomes so strong that you start tricking yourself into buying things “for the trip”, stop what you're doing and take a moment to consider your actions. The new jacket, pair of jeans or electronic toy that you are buying could be bought cheaper abroad, or might not even be a necessity. At the end of the day, you could be hemorrhaging valuable holiday funds for the sake of retail therapy.
Give Up. There are going to be nights and days when saving money becomes frustrating. Your friends are all having a jolly time at the pub or at a fancy restaurant while you're eating potato salad, trying to stay warm without the thermostat on, staring at a picture of Koh Phi Phi on your fridge. Don't give up. You are on a path to enjoying something new and exciting in a place far away from home. The pubs, restaurants and your friends will be waiting for you when you get home.
Come Back With Nothing. Nearly everybody comes back from holiday a bit skint. It's perfectly understandable. But to come home without a penny to your name can be a real downer – especially if you are going from the warmth of a tropical island to the sideways rain of winter at home.
If you are one of those people who can't help themselves, a good way to get around this is to draw a hundred quid before you leave and stash it in your bedroom for when you get back. Even if it only has to last a day or two, at least there is something there for you in case of an emergency – like needing to go to the pub with friends, so that you can tell stories and show photos of your amazing trip.