Hopping European cities over the weekends, skiing in winter time, road trips and relaxing at the sea in the summer and a couple of trips overseas in between. People love to travel. Anytime, anywhere. Many who don´t, ask them selves, where the heck do they get the money from? Travelling for me is still a luxury and I don´t take it for granted. But it´s also a lifestyle. An exciting one. A lifestyle that sucks you in easily. It does need a lot of self-discipline and saying no to other things many times though. And I gladly do that in order to reach my goal, but everything has its borders – I strongly believe we should also know how to enjoy ourselves at home. Achieving a healthy balance is important. In my almost 20 year “travelling career” (from being a student to being a single mom and everything in between) I´ve learned a lot about priorities and money management, so here´s a post about to save up money for travelling.
1. SET YOUR PRIORITIES: I know it is hard to synchronize your wishes and your resources sometimes, but I always say you can achieve many things and give up many others as long as you are clear about what your priorities are. If you have a partner / family, make sure you talk to them about it soon enough – you all need to be in the same boat otherwise it will be hard to reach your goals together.
2. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT AND NEED: You need to take time to think about what you really want. Where to, how often, how you want to live your life and what are you willing to give up for this. You have to openly think about all the possible pluses and minuses and put it all in perspective. Make compromises if you need to and set clear goals.
3. WRITE DOWN MONTHLY EXPENSES: some might think this is too much work for nothing, but trust me, it´s the only way to really know how much you are actually spending. So take a piece of paper and start writing down everything you can remember – from rent and monthly costs for food & gas costs and other things. You can also use an app to do that, there are many. You need to know how much you are spending and how much there is left every month, to figure out how much approximately is missing to achieve your goal.
4. EARNING EXTRA MONEY – Because your pay check will often not be enough, there are of course some ways to make a little bit on the side. I suggest to stick to the legal options, such as:
WORK OVER HOURS – Yes, this might be tricky if you are in a relationship or even more so if you have a family, but if someone can take care of your kids here and there you can definitely use it to work more.
STUDENT JOBS – True, you most likely will not get rich by working these kid of jobs, but it will bring you some extra. I was working while studying from year one and even though it was relatively poorly paid, I was able to do some overseas trips because of this.
OPEN YOUR OWN BUSINESS – Perhaps you have an interesting hobby, you are good with your hands or have some other skills or talents? You can open your own business and make some money with it by either selling your products (hand made clothes, wooden products, jewellery etc) or offering your services (such as babysitting, photographing, teaching, translating etc).
MAKE MONEY ONLINE – you can also use your free time to fill out questionnaires online, do some translation work, teach via Skype, design logos, also earn money with your blog and more. Check out many platforms where you can register for such services, such as Upwork, Freelancer, GURU, Toptal and many others.
5. OPEN A SAVINGS ACCOUNT: if you are lacking self discipline for putting money on the side, you might want to consider opening a savings account at the bank arrange and automatic monthly transfer of some tens or hundreds of €. This will make you spend less.
6. PIGGY BANK: I prefer a glass jar because I can see how much there is in it and this can be a good motivation sometimes. I usually put in the coins I get at the supermarkets as I hate carrying around a heavy wallet anyway. Also, if you have your grandma coming over (or other people) you can ask them to chip in a coin instead of bringing you chocolate candy.
7. MONTHLY PASSES: Fitness, Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, magazines book clubs and so on. Is it really necessary? Instead of going to the fitness you could just go for a run, hiking or cycling trip. Maybe choose one movie / series provider and use the free monthly option at the other ones. Borrow books & magazines from friends.
8. BEAUTY SERVICES: I´m not one of those girls who would hang out at beauty saloons every week, so I have no problems saving money on this one. I cut my hair once a year and very rarely buy make up, but I do understand some cannot go without regularly visits at hairdressers and Co. You can start by cutting down and skipping visits, you´d be amazed how much you save.
9. SELL THE THINGS YOU DON´T NEED: I´ve moved 3 times in the last years and every time I had to pack my stuff I was stunned by the quantities of all the things I didn´t use in ages. With every move I sold some and I think I´m quite okay at the moment and I actually really use everything I have. I really recommend you sort out your stuff once every year and possibly sell some of the things you do not need / use anymore. Especially children´s and sports equipment brings in quite some €. You can sell it online or search for a market where you can rent a stand.
10.BIRTHDAY GIFTS: Are you tired of piling up all those material gifts you might not necessarily need? You have kids? Big family with aunts, uncles, grandparents, which gladly shower you and your kids with presents? But then your kids sit in their rooms and say they are bored? Okay I´m exaggerating a little bit, but you get the picture. It might take some time but eventually you will be able to convince everyone in your family that you rather use the money for holidays. I prefer to celebrate my birthday in some European city and I take Lu to Legoland and places like this.
11. STOP THE BAD HABITS: I´m specifically thinking cigarettes, junk food, too much partying and similar. It´s okay to do it here and there, but try not to do it as much as you can or quit all together. I don´t think I need to give you the calculation on how much money a pack of cigarettes costs times 30 days in a month times 12 months in a year. It´s also not all that necessary to swallow all those chocolate bars in front of the TV every evening and drink a bottle of wine every day.
12. SHOP SMART: My first rule is – never go to a supermarket hungry. I seriously buy a lot of unnecessary things if I have an empty stomach. I also don´t throw things in the shopping cart completely randomly, but I do take my time and grab something reduced. You don´t need to get obsessed with checking out for discounts in magazines and going to 5 different shops just to save a euro, but you know what I mean. Think good if what you are buying is really something you NEED. I´m mostly implying to clothes, shoes, make up and such. I´m lucky because I am simply sick of these huge shopping malls and I only go in very rarely. Those places are very dangerous haha, since there is temptation on every corner and for many it easily happens they buy something they don´t need. On the other hand, they often get me at airports because I have time to stroll around all those nice shops between flights. Stay focused on the prize and think before you buy.
13. COLLECT POINTS & MILES: If you are buying your groceries & other things always in the same shops anyway, you might want to join their programme. It often has advantages. Also, if you are flying often, make sure you collect miles. I´m in the Star Alliance for years and it actually gets me free flights or awesome things at their shop.
14. BUY GOOD QUALITY PRODUCTS: This might sound weird, since in general good quality products are more expensive, so you might question how are you saving money with this one. But trust me, sometimes it is wise to choose a better product which will last longer. Especially sports, hiking, travelling equipment. Not necessarily, but quite likely, you will have to buy it over and over again if it´s such of a poorer quality so on the long run, I always look for quality. I also don´t buy a new phone every year, have my laptop for almost 10 years, same goes for the camera, I´ve driven my first car for 14 years before I bought a new one.
15. COMPETITIONS: You can´t win if you don´t play. It will usually cost you only 5 minutes of your time and sharing your e-mail address. Who knows, maybe you can win a free weekend getaway, a plane ticket or a piece of equipment.
16. RENT OUT YOUR PLACE: You might be lucky and live in a place with lots of tourist attractions, or you might even own a holiday house or apartment, you might have inherited a property or an old house – turn it into a rental holiday home and get some extra money.
17. COOK AT HOME: By not ordering food online and not eating out on regular basis you can save a lot of money. I used to bring my own lunch to work and avoided buying sandwiches for breakfasts at the bakery anytime I could. It might not sound like a lot of money but at the end of the month it does add up.
18. UP CYCLING & DIY: there is a ton of things you can do on your own instead of buying new ones – you can also renovate or revamp old furniture, up cycle your clothes and create birthday presents for others by yourselves (trust me, everybody loves a hand made product made with love). There are so many tutorials and videos online, browse the internet for more ideas.
19. CAR vs BICYCLE: Sometimes owning a car is an inevitable necessity, but sometimes you really don´t need one. Registration, insurance, check-ups, repairs, renting a garage – al this is a huge cost. If you live in a bigger city and have good public transportation connection s to the office and elsewhere you might want to consider using just your bicycle and borrowing / renting a car when you need it. There is also Carsharing, which is great for such situations.
20. GROW YOUR OWN VEGETABLES: Of course it is the best if you ave your own garden, but even just a balcony is sometimes enough for growing things like tomatoes, lettuce, herbs and such. Maybe your parents, grandma or friends have a garden and can give you a smaller space to use as well.
21. BORROW & BUY SECOND HAND: there are so many things you don´t actually need every day, but they might be good to use them sometimes. Why not just borrow them from friends and family every once in a while? Especially sports and children´s equipment. You can also buy second hand items, either from friends, on a flea / second hand market and shops or online.
22. BANKNOTES vs CREDIT CARDS: Ever since I live abroad I´m in love with my credit card. I pay everything with it, from online purchases to bread buns in a local bakery. I also get miles on my Star Alliance account every time I pay with it. BUT, it is a horrible thing to have in terms of knowing how much I´ve spent. If you carry cash in your wallet you can actually see it disappear and you can control it easier. So, I suggest using cash more, especially when you go out for a party.
23. ENJOY THE FREE THINGS AT HOME: even if you need to give up many things in order to save up some money, that doesn´t mean you cannot enjoy yourselves. There are so many things you can do and they cost (almost) nothing. Ever thought about joining a free guided tour in your home town? Museums & galleries have open days sometimes too. You can start a new hobby with the help of free online tutorials. You can start cycling or hiking – besides gas money (which you can share with friends) there will be no costs.
24. ASK FOR A RAISE: sometimes we need to stand up for ourselves and take a chance. Are you working in the same company for a long time? You´re never late, you work good and don´t take advantage of sick leave? Why not ask for a raise.
25. DON´T COMPARE YOURSELVES TO OTHERS: Maybe you will not be able to achieve your goals despite trying really hard. Don´t beat yourselves up for it and take it one step at a time instead. Stop comparing yourselves to others. We are all in different situations and we´re all doing our best. Where there is will, there is a way.
In the end I must add that a lot depends on your individual situation and I do understand that not all of us has the same possibilities and chances to start with. Many are in very difficult financial, family or medical situations, therefore have troubles achieving such goals. Start small and dream big, you might get there!