The first thing people usually ask me when I tell them I’m taking a year off work to travel is, “How are you affording that?!” I’m not going to lie, as someone who’s had the same job for the past 8 years, it’s quite a scary feeling to give up that security and steady income for a full year.
However, this hasn’t been a last minute decision and I have fortunately had some time to plan and save. That’s just it though, there are no shortcuts and you will have to commit to a budget yourself. If you’re trying to save up for an extended holiday, sabbatical, or just a short trip, I hope you’ll find a few of these tips helpful.
- Make a budget and set a goal! It’s easier to stay motivated and not go on a random spending spree if you have something to work towards. I use excel (because I’m an accountant and we love that stuff), but there are tons of apps out there to help you. Just search ‘budget’ in the app store.
- Get a prepaid debit card. I recently signed up for a prepaid debit card and putting only a certain amount of money aside each month has really forced me to look at my spending habits and cut out unnecessary luxuries so I don’t go over my limit.
- Cut out the coffee/tea spending and bring your own. In the morning, I bring my own coffee from home and in the afternoon I just grab a free cup from the machine at work. You can still take a walk with your co-workers to get away from your desk for a bit, just take your cup with you. If you add up two cups a weekday at £2.50 for a year, that’s about £1,300 saved (could be a month in Bali!).
- Cook at home. I think we all know it’s cheaper to cook for yourself rather than eating out all the time. If you’re not a great cook there are some great new home cooking programs to help you out. I’ve also used Pinterest quite a bit to get batch cooking ideas and am using my freezer more than ever so I don’t waste leftovers.
- Take advantage of free events in your city. I’m a bit spoilt for choice as I live in London so this might not apply to everyone, but do try and check out the free events your city has to offer. Who knows, you might find something new you like. I tend to check Timeout’s website every now and then for the free events going on that month.
- Book an Airbnb (or hostel) for your next trip. I personally find that booking Aribnb’s are way cheaper than going the hotel route. Not only that, but you’re also getting a more authentic stay at your destination. For those of you who haven’t tried Airbnb, I highly recommend checking it out and signing up using one of the links I’ve provided as you’ll get £30 off your first booking!
- Buy generic. Do you really need that Whole Foods organic avocado…I think not.
- Watch your energy usage. Put on those layers, open the windows, fill the dishwasher, take shorter showers, and turn out the lights when you leave a room. All the things our parents lectured us for growing up, but now that we’re in the real world paying for it ourselves, we see how it adds up!
- Cut the Uber habit. How many times have you woken up to that dreaded Saturday morning e-mail mocking you for accepting a 2.3x surcharge the night before? I do get that sometimes it’s safer to grab a cab, but more often than not, I find I’m just being lazy. Now I try to take public transport as often as possible.
- Don’t pay for cable. There are plenty of streaming services that offer 100’s of your favourite shows at a fraction of the price your cable provider is charging. I haven’t paid for cable in 4 years and am still able to keep up with all of my favourite shows.
- Cut out luxury subscriptions. I used to subscribe to a monthly beauty box and wine club but have since cut them out. Yes, they’re nice to have if you have that extra cash flow, but I don’t really need to have extra beauty products or wine hanging around just in case (ok, maybe the wine). I buy them when I need them now.
- Stop buying bottled water. Not only will filling up your own reusable bottle save you a few quid, it will also help the environment.