When it comes to my priorities in life and what I choose to spend my money on, travel is my number one. Being frugal is second nature to me – it might as well be my middle name.
I’ll often be the one to say to my friends “sorry I can’t afford that” when I am asked if I wanna go for a night out or out for a meal. But what I really mean is “I could probably spend money on that if I wanted to – but I don’t”. See that’s the thing about wanting to travel: if something isn’t a priority it will always get left behind.
I always hear a lot of fellow students saying “I wish I could travel” but then I see them wasting 50 quid on a night out. *facepalm* (Obviously I’m not dismissing people who are just not interested in travelling or genuinely cannot afford to travel, but most of the time it is doable).
At the end of the day, it all boils down to three things: sacrifice, prioritisation, and discipline. In order to travel, you may also have to sacrifice luxuries abroad like meals out every day or expensive hotels, but that post is for another time.
Besides the obvious things like getting a part-time job or a second job, there are a few things I do on a daily basis which help me save money for travel. So here are 5 easy habits you can adopt to minimise your spending, make a bit of extra cash and start travelling more in 2017!
CASHBACK AND DISCOUNTS
Hi everyone. I am Lucy and I am a discountaholic. I thrive off finding the best deals and discounts to save money wherever I can; even if it’s only saving a quid, all those quids will eventually add up! This girl is never paying full price for anything.
1. Top Cashback
Top Cashback is my saviour. It is a website that essentially pays you to shop through their website. You search for a shop on Top Cashback, click on the link and then shop as usual. And then voila, in under twenty seconds you will have earned a percentage of that transaction for free. It’s as simple as that.
I made my account back in March 2015 and have earned £109.64 in cashback so far. Admittedly I don’t really buy much, but if you do a lot of online shopping you will earn a lot more cashback than that. Plus you can even use Top Cashback when booking holidays. They are currently offering up to 12% cashback with Expedia and lastminute.com.
2. Customer Reward Programs
Similarly, if you know you’re going to be shopping a lot at a certain store, then join their customer reward program. 99% of the time loyalty cards, like Tesco Clubcard, are free and they save you a heck of a lot of money. You can even get customer reward cards for restaurants and cafes – I have both Subway and Nando’s cards (#guilty) and they get me a lot of free food.
I also recently got a Body Shop card when they asked me if I wanted one at the counter (something I would normally just brush off), and when it came to my birthday in November I got a free £5 on my card. This paid for my toner and hand cream, which I already buy from The Body Shop anyway. It’s safe to say I was chuffed.
3. Discount Codes and Student Discount
There are soooo many student discounts than you can use too. My favourites are UniDays, Student Beans and NUS Extra. My free trial of Amazon Student also saved me a lot of money, and even if you’re not a student you can get a one month free trial of Amazon Prime.
And if neither Top Cashback or student websites offer discount for a certain store? I will Google “[insert store name] discount/promo code”. You’ll always be bound to find something! I cringe at paying for anything at full price now… However, if searching on Google is too much of a chore for you then why not download Honey, a Google Chrome extension that does all the work for you. When you’re shopping online, Honey will automatically search the internet to find relevant coupon codes and apply them for you at checkout!
However, do not fall into the trap of using discounts just for the sake of it. If you’re using discounts to buy something you probably wouldn’t have bought in the first place then think again. You’ll just end up spending more money than is necessary.
Identifying and cutting all unnecessary expenses from your daily life is such a good habit to get into. Not only for saving for travel but saving for anything else as well. I always see items in terms of their travel equivalent: “this one t-shirt could buy me return flights to Edinburgh”.
At university especially, it’s easy to fall into the trap of going out every night and wasting your money. You’d be amazed by the amount of money I save compared to my friends by hardly ever going out. On a night out you can spend money on alcohol, club entry, taxis and kebab shops… A couple of nights out can add up to be enough for a European city break!
If abstaining from drinking is out of the question for you then please don’t buy alcohol out. Please pre-drink. Please?! Or you can try participating in campaigns like Dry January. Not only will you probably feel a lot better in yourself but you’ll also save a heck of a lot of money. I’m not telling you to stop socialising altogether – you just need to be more aware of your spending habits if you really want to travel.
The amount of money I also save by not drinking hot or fizzy drinks and not smoking is phenomenal. For me, these things are not necessities. The only things I drink are water, a glass of orange juice every morning and an occasional glass of milk before bed. I also hate drinking calories but that’s beside the point…
Become resistant to peer-pressure!
“Come on, just one drink” are the most dangerous words ever uttered! It is so easy to get sucked into what people around you are doing, but you have to focus on the big picture. If it makes it easier, try to stay away from big spenders. We all have a few friends who splash the cash like there’s no tomorrow.
You’ll only end up feeling peer pressured and encouraged to spend more money than you probably have. It’s very difficult to save money when all your friends are constantly buying new clothes and eating out. Or you can just be
self-disciplined stubborn like me. Another thing that can help is being open and honest with your family and friends about your budget/what you’re saving up for. That way they’ll hopefully be less pushy and more understanding.
A few other daily expenses that you should reconsider:
- If you simply cannot live without caffeine then bring coffee from home instead of buying out at Costa or Starbucks. And do not buy bottled water, (I clearly have a big issue with this).
- Lower your utility bills by turning off the lights when you’re not using a room and wrapping up warm so you can turn down the heating.
- Get rid of your TV… you can watch pretty much everything for free online nowadays.
- Stop buying books and magazines. Get a book out from the library if you want to read. Read online magazines and blogs – they’re awesome and free.
- Do you really need a paid Spotify subscription? I mean, I love Spotify but I will only pay for it when their 99p for three months of Spotify offer comes around. I would never fork out £10+ a month for it.
- The same goes for Netflix. If you’re lucky enough to sponge off other people’s family memberships then do this. (Sorry Craig if you’re reading this – but thank you for the free Netflix).
- Hair and beauty are the sort of things that can add up on your debit card bill without you even noticing. They feel like “essentials”, right?! Nah, not really… I barely ever cut my hair and I have never coloured my hair before. I don’t spend money on tanning or waxing or any beauty services. I’m not a makeup guru. I buy the bare everyday basics and do not own more than one of each product. No Urban Decay Naked palettes for this girl (not that I’d know how to use them properly anyway…).
SELL YOUR STUFF
If you’re a big hoarder (unlike myself), this is perfect for you. If you have stuff that you don’t need, especially books, DVDs, CDs, games, clothes and technology, and enough time on your hands, then try selling your stuff to make extra cash! You probably won’t be able to get much for second-hand stuff but every little helps – you can travel for less than £150 and those old items in your house may add up to £100 or much more.
While I would, of course, recommend donating your old things to charity shops, sometimes you gotta be a little
selfish. Try using websites such as WeBuyBooks, Music Magpie, Ebay, Gumtree and local Facebook groups/Facebook marketplace to sell your stuff. You could always try a car boot sale too! Sites like Music Magpie also have apps that turn your phone’s camera into a barcode scanner, making it ridiculously easy to upload items to sell. Oh and they also has a free courier service to come and pick up all your stuff. Not too bad eh…
Maybe I’m just lucky, maybe I just have a lot of time on my hands, who knows. But I like winning shit. It’s not really a hobby and I don’t go out of my way to find competitions, but if I see one I want to enter I will always enter it. You’re not suddenly going to win a 5 star luxury holiday to the Maldives (though it is, of course, possible), but if you dedicate enough time to something, the odds are it’ll pay off. It’s not all about winning extravagant holidays and lots of money; you can win mundane everyday stuff that will reduce your daily expenses, saving you money so that you can travel.
I’ve won everything from Waterstones and Christmas Market vouchers to Jack Wills clothes and a scratch map, and it meant I didn’t have to spend my own money on these things. Okay maybe Jack Wills isn’t my style and I didn’t need a scratch map, but free stuff is cool! If you don’t like the prize, you can sell it on and make a bit of money, or give it away as a birthday or Christmas gift, saving you money you would have otherwise spent on presents.
My biggest competition win was £1150 worth of travel and a £500 camera which I won by entering a blogging competition with Icelolly.com. I ended up selling the camera as I didn’t need it and made an extra few hundred quid to spend on travel. I’ve also won two lots of £250 return flights to Madeira with Jet2 (which was not a blogging competition). My best advice for entering competitions is to enter ones with very few entries. So far I’ve never won a competition through a big company, asides from Jet2. I’m much more likely to win competitions hosted by bloggers or for bloggers.
A few competition tips:
- Regularly check competition forums like Hot UK Deals and Money Saving Expert.
- Sign up for newsletters (the odds are that no matter what the company is they will probably host a competition at some point and you want to be the first to hear about it!).
- Search for competitions on Twitter where you can just follow and re-tweet to enter. If you do this it may even be worth making a separate Twitter profile to avoid clogging up your followers’ timelines.
- Similarly, set up a new email address to use as things can get spammy.
- Read blogs like The Life of a Student Comper to inspire you.
CREATE A DEDICATED TRAVEL FUND
Having a separate place for your savings to go is key when you want to save money for travel. Give your travel fund its very own place in your finances, and do your best to make sure you’re only putting money in and not taking any out.
Get into the habit of transferring say £10 a week into your travel fund, or collect spare change from your purse/wallet at the end of each week and add that to the fund. Or – linking back to tip 1 – you could transfer your cashback straight from Paypal to your savings account. That way it doesn’t feel like the money even existed as it was never in your main bank account in the first place.
It is also important to start saving today. Don’t wait for tomorrow or “oh in a few weeks when my paycheque comes in”. You may think that you need a lot of money to start saving or it’s not the right time to start saving, but everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you’re only putting 5 quid into an empty account, it’s still a good start and gets you into the mindset of saving.
Download your free eBook!
Ready to put these tips into action? Download this free eBook(with two extra points and a printable checklist!) to start saving money for travel today. Because, as I said, it is often all a matter of prioritisation and sometimes you need a kick up the ass 😉 Consider me that kick.
So have you got any advice on ways to save money for travel? These are just a few of my quick and easy methods, but there are sooo many out there. Guess I’ll just have to write another post about it in the future!
READY TO SAVE MONEY FOR TRAVEL?
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