(NOTE- All amounts in this article are in Australian Dollars)
When we talk to other fellow travellers about our current trip we always get asked the same questions. “How did you save the money to travel for that long? How long were you saving for? How were you so strict on yourself to save that much?”
Everyone saves differently. I would like to share with you some of my tips for saving that might help you achieve your travel dream, or something else that you have always wanted. I do understand the average wage for every person is different in the world so try to save the amount that will fit into your budget.
We came home from our first travels in 2010 in debt. $25,000 in debt to be precise. All on credit cards (yep we had a fun time). We both wanted to be on the road again and keep living our dream so we worked hard. I had two part time jobs, working as a sales assistant in a retail store and as a cashier/barista in a cafe. Jazza had a job in the construction industry. We worked hard, and we had a very simple life for the next 10 months, but it was worth it as we managed to pay off our debt AND save $20’000. Yes, the wages in Australia are higher than other countries, but the living expenses are higher also. I am not going to say you will earn this much in a year, but if you follow these simple tips for saving you will be well on your way to getting closer to achieving your dream.
Budget Budget Budget
It is important to sit down, work out a budget and STICK to it. It is hard the first month or so to keep to your budget, but if you really want something you will find a way achieve it. The budget that I set up for myself included the following items:
- Credit Card/Debt
Sticking to a budget will help you save to get what you want. Of course some weeks you have events on and your social budget gets blown out, but this is easy to manage. I used to have a calendar and plan for events. If there was a birthday/wedding coming up, I would lay low for a couple of weeks on my social spending to make up for the week it went over. Being strict like this is hard but it works.
Tell Your Family And Friends What You Are Saving For
By telling others what your goals are they will understand why you sometimes say no to going out for drinks or dinner, and that you are not being anti-social. Most people usually people want to save for something, so by you saying no to that fancy restaurant and suggest a cheaper one, others will also appreciate it.
If you can buy at local markets, do it. We found this is where the best value and top quality fresh food was. Your local butcher is always great, with different specials for the week. I know there are some places where you don’t have the opportunity to have local markets, but there will probably be a grocery store. We got the local catalogues for our supermarkets and worked out where the specials are for the items we wanted. I know it is a little more hassle and a little more time, but you save from it. And I know sometimes you do not have options and you only have the one shop to choose from. Only take the amount you have budgeted for food for the week to the shops. This will make you remember that you don’t need that unnecessary item.
A plus side to shopping local is you are supporting small businesses in your neighbourhood instead of large corporations. Not only is this great for your wallet, you are helping create a sustainable business environment around your home. A win for everybody!
Buy In Bulk And Stock Up
Buying bulk saves you a lot in the long run. We used to buy bread, meat, fruits and vegetables in bulk and freeze them. Fruits and vegetables go off quickly so freezing them for smoothies or cooking is great. Stock up on your pantry items. They won’t go off and you can grab them when they come on sale.
Cook At Home, And Cut Down On Other Things You Don’t Need
Making your lunch everyday for work instead of buying it can save you between $50-$75 a week and $2,600 – $3,900 a year. Are you following me? Buying a coffee daily can cost $20 a week and $1,040 a year. That’s a lot of money when you think about it. Consider these points when you are buying these items. Do you really need them or do you just want them? I used to get up 20 minutes early in the mornings to make our lunch for the day, or cook extra food at dinner the night before, so we had lunch. We both had travel mugs and would make a coffee for the commute to work. We saved a lot of money from doing this.
Instead of going out for dinner, throw a dinner party at home. Get everyone to bring a different dish and share the costs and workload. Not only are these great ways to socialise with your friends, a lot of the time the host is left with all the leftovers! There is your lunch the next day!
When it comes to buying new clothes, don’t automatically reach for the most expensive and fashionable outfits. I used to shop at thrift stores for my clothing. You would not believe the bargains you can find! Some of the clothing still has their tags on and have never been worn.
Put Up Some Reminders
I used to put pictures everywhere of destinations I wanted to go. By putting little reminders all over the plce it will encourage you to not spend more than you have budgeted for, and to keep your goals in mind. Watching your savings go up and seeing your dreams get closer will be a very rewarding thing in the end. If you think that splashing out on a new dress or phone is worth the stepback, think about how much better drinking a cocktail on a Caribbean island would be!
Socialise At Home – Not At Bars And Restaurants
You do need a social life or you will end up going crazy. Instead of going out for an evening meal, throw a dinner party at home. Get everyone to bring a different dish, and share the costs and workload. Not only are these great ways to socialise with your friends, a lot of the time the host is left with all the leftovers! There is your lunch for the next day!
On Saturdays or Sundays every 2nd week, we used to have a barbecue at a local park, or someone’s place to catch up with all our friends. You save money by bringing your own food and drinks. This way you can eat a great meal, on a budget, with good company. A 6 pack of beer would be $18, and a BBQ meat pack costs $10. Enough food and beer for the both of us. Coming in at less than $15 each, we consider that to be a pretty good day. If we went out for dinner and drinks this might have cost us around $80 – and that’s a cheap night out in Australia!
Be The Designated Driver
When Jazza and I were saving we did go out now and then for special occasions (birthdays, weddings, concerts, etc). We always took turns in being the designated driver, although to be honest it was usually me driving and Jazza drinking. It saved us so much on taxi fares. A taxi in Australia is not cheap. An 8km cab might cost you $35 depending on traffic. That is only one-way too. Sometimes I would pick up other friends and they were often generous and paid for the parking fee (if there was one). Non-alcoholic drinks are also cheaper usually, and better for you.
Use Public Transport Or Cycle/Walk
We only had 1 car between us but we hated using it just to go to work. Most of the time we would use public transport or ride bicycles. If you end up driving to work parking fees can add up to nearly $70 – $100 per week – up to $5,200 yearly! It depends where you work as to how much the cost of the parking fee will be. If you catch public transport in Australia it may cost you $3 per way and about $36 a week, which is way better than $70 – $100. Not to mention paying for fuel, which is getting more and more expensive every year! If you are able to walk or ride a bicycle, you have free transport! You are saving and exercising at the same time.
And The Opposite Of Tips For Saving – Reward Yourself!
Ok, I’ll admit that saving isn’t easy, and you need to reward yourself every now and then. Whether you crack and buy some (secondhand) clothes, go to the movies, or go to a concert, as long as you don’t splurge too much this will help keep you sane. These rewards are not weekly. I would say monthly as a small reward to keep your eye on the prize. Take a mini-getaway when you reach the halfway point of your savings. Don’t over indulge in this though. You are working hard to save a certain amount every month! Don’t spend half of it on clothes. I used to treat myself with a chocolate or a coffee weekly. But when you are on that holiday you have always wanted to go on, that will be the greatest reward.