This post is a part of our International Voices column, written by international UT students & staff, for UT students & staff
Alright, I won’t beat around the bush, saving money for travel is hard. It takes time, effort and a chunk out of your social life. But I can tell you, that in the end its so worth it. You may miss out on a few nights out with your mates, but that won’t matter when you’re in New York sipping cocktails at a rooftop bar, or when you’re sunbathing on a boat in Thailand. Someone once said, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” and whoever that lad was, he sure was onto something. Traveling makes you see the world in a whole new perspective. It pushes you, and opens your eyes to so many things that you wouldn’t get to experience sitting at home watching Netflix. But, in saying that it does cost money. So if you want to find out a few tips and tricks on how to save some extra cash, then keep on reading.
Entertainment forms a large part of our social life, and can eat up a chunk of our weekly budget if we aren’t careful. So instead of going out for a meal with your friends, why not invite them over dinner and drinks? It’ll save you extra cash, and will be much easier to catch up in a cozy living room rather than a noisy bar.
If you do end up going out for a meal with friends, don’t order a drink. Coffee, smoothies and alcohol can add up. Just drink water, it’s free and will boost your metabolism more than a choccy milkshake. By drinking water, you’re going to save anywhere from $4-$10 every time you go out. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it will make a big difference over time.
MAKE A LIST AND STICK TO IT
Each time you go to the grocery store, make a list of all the essential things you need and don’t buy anything else. Meal planning can also come into play here, so you know exactly what you need for all your meals that week. Too often, we wander the isles of HEB and pick up unessential things that add a lot onto our weekly shop. So if you limit your shop to just the necessities, you’ll become more savvy and creative in the kitchen to use the ingredients you already have sitting in your pantry.
APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS
If you’re a uni student, you can apply for scholarships and grants to go on exchange. These will give you free ca$h to put towards big things like flights, accommodation and living expenses. I was lucky enough to receive two for my exchange program and I am so thankful for it. It made life so much easier, knowing that I had that extra money on top of my savings. My advice is to apply to all of them, even if you don’t match the criteria perfectly, it doesn’t hurt to try.
One thing I did before going overseas was cancel my Netflix subscription. Heartbreaking, I know – but it is manageable. Just by canceling one subscription I was able to save $11.99/month. I saved for a total of 18 months, so that’s an extra $215.82 I had to spend on travel experiences. Another thing I did was stop getting my eyebrows waxed, I learnt to trim and groom them myself so I wasn’t wasting money every three weeks on over plucked brows. I also stopped getting my hair colored and just grew it out so it’s more of a balayage. This definitely saved me the most money, as hair coloring can be anywhere from $80-$300 depending on where you go. So this will be sure to save you a lot of cash.
DON’T BUY UNNECESSARY STUFF
Before I came to America, I worked part time at TOPSHOP and although it was a great job, it made me develop a nasty habit of buying clothes every week. As soon as a new piece would come into store I felt like I had to have it. So I would justify spending $50 a week on a new skirt so I had more clothes to wear to work. Stupid stupid stupid. I already had a closet FULL of clothes, so really didn’t need to be buying anything. I eventually did stop buying clothes every week, but if I started earlier I would of saved soooo much more. So don’t be like me. Get creative with your outfits, and mix them up so you aren’t tempted to buy new clothes.
SELL YOUR STUFF
Selling items such as clothes, handbags, electronics and furniture can let you rack up a lot of extra cash before your big trip. If you don’t need that old TV that sits in your guest room, sell it. As a uni student, I didn’t have furniture to sell, so I sold my clothes. I had collected a few Camilla pieces from an 80% off warehouse sale I went to a few years ago. These pieces probably cost me $200 in total, and I was able to sell them for more than double the price. I also sold a pair of Tony Bianco boots that gave me blisters, as well as a Michael Kors handbag that I didn’t use. I was pretty $toked at the profit I made.
PICK UP EXTRA SHIFTS
Whenever an opportunity for extra work comes up, you should always take it. Even though it may suck at the time, and you may wish you were snuggled up in bed watching a movie, it’s an easy way to increase your savings. I would always let my boss know that I was free to cover any shifts that came up, and jumped on every opportunity. I also picked up another job as a telemarketer and although it was horrendous and I got yelled at 90% of the time, it paid $29/hour. So yeah, the abuse was worth it.
So there you have it, my top tips for saving money for travel. I really hope this helps you save those extra dollars. It may be hard, but if you just remind yourself of all the amazing experiences you’ll be having when you’re overseas you’ll be ok, I promise.