One of the main reasons why you think you can’t travel the world is money. “I can’t afford it,” people say to me, “I have too many expenses.” Most of us certainly have expenses we can’t cut (though remember when you travel the world, all those expenses disappear), but if we cut our phantom expenses, reduce our set costs, and find other ways to save we can build our travel fund much more quickly.
No matter how cheap we want to be, travel requires some money. There’s no way to avoid that, so in order to save for our trips, we need to cut our expenses. Here are some simple and creative ways to cut your expenses, make money, and get on the road sooner.
#1 Learn to cook –
We all need to eat, but restaurants are getting quite expensive these days. I have increasing sticker shock every time I go out to eat. You want how much for pasta?! To keep your food bill low, cook more often. I learned to cook while in college (a skill that has helped me ever since) and before I left for my first trip, I cut down my eating out to two times per week. Every other meal I cooked myself. I would save the leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day, thus saving more money.
You don’t need to be a whiz in the kitchen, either. There are a million and one cooking sites that will teach you how to cook fast and healthy meals — perfect for people without much time.
#2 Get rid of cable –
In the age of Hulu and free (and legal) streaming TV, there’s no reason for you to be spending $50 per month on cable television. Get rid of it and just watch everything online for free.
#3 Ditch your landline –
I honestly only know about 10 people these days who have anything other than a mobile phone. You don’t need both a mobile phone and a landline. Ditch your phone line and avoid doubling your phone expenses.
#4 Lose the car –
Cars are crazy expensive to own, between insurance, repairs, loan payments, and filling your tank with gas (current average price of gas: $3 USD per gallon). Get rid of your car if you can. Learn to love the bus, take the subway, bike, or walk. It took longer to get to work using public transportation, but I found that I didn’t really need a car as much as I thought.
I understand that this tip may not be feasible for everyone, especially those in smaller towns that don’t have an extensive public transportation system, but an alternative is to sell your car and buy a cheaper used one, which you will only need until you leave for your trip. Buying a throwaway car will allow you to pocket the money from your more expensive car and put it toward your travels.
#5 Cut the coffee –
Love your Starbucks? Well, Starbucks loves your money. Coffee is a daily expense that quietly drains your bank account without you ever noticing. That daily $5 coffee costs you $150 per month. At $1,800 per year, that’s two months in Southeast Asia.
What’s more important: your daily cup of Joe or spending more time on the beaches of Thailand or exploring the jungles of Borneo? Give up the coffee, switch from cappuccino to a standard brew, start drinking tea, or brew your own cup. This is an easy, low-hanging-fruit expense that can yield big savings right away.
#6 Find a roommate –
You’ll see a huge gain in your savings by lowering your housing costs. Downsize your apartment or bring in some roommates. If you can, try to move in with Mom and Dad. Six months before I went abroad, I moved in with my parents. I didn’t love being 25 and living with my parents, but I saved over $3,000 in rent as a result.
If this is not an option for you, bring in a roommate. Turn that living room into a spare room if necessary. In NYC, people turn living rooms into bedrooms and studio apartments into two bedrooms by putting a folding screen in the middle of the room. It’s not the most ideal living situation, but it does save money.
More Insight –
#7 Open an online savings account –
While saving, you can have your money grow a little bit more by putting it in a high-yield online savings account. I’ve done this since the time when I was preparing to go away on my first trip and I netted a few extra hundred dollars. Interest rates are pretty low these days but you can still get 1-2%. Good online US banks include:
- Discover Bank, interest rate: 1%, no fees, $2,500 USD opening deposit
- Virtual Bank, interest rate: 1%, no fees or monthly minimums, $100 USD opening deposit
#8 Replace your light bulbs –
Seriously! Electricity costs money and since every penny counts, using energy-efficient light bulbs will cut down on your utility bills. Fluorescent light bulbs now cost as little as $2.50 USD for a pack of two, and replacing just five bulbs can cut $75 per year off your electric bill.
Plus, due to energy efficiency initiatives in certain states, many electric companies will give you a rebate if you buy fluorescent bulbs! (Be sure to check out which rebates your local energy company offers…no matter where you live in the world!). Going green can save you green!
#9 Buy second-hand –
Why pay full price when you can pay half? Use websites like Amazon (discounted books and electronics), wholesale websites, and clearance sales to buy at discount.
#10 Skip the movies –
I don’t know about you, but I find movies ridiculously expensive. It can cost up to $15 for a ticket, and that much again for the popcorn and soda. Cut out the movies or rent them online via Netflix ($7.99 per month) or iTunes ($1.99). Whatever you do, cutting out trips to the movies will save you a bundle.
#11 Avoid Smoking & Drinking –
Alcohol is expensive. Cutting down the amount you drink is going to have a big impact on your budget. While this might not apply to everyone, those of you who are carefree might go out with your friends on the weekend. Drink before you go out to the bar or simply don’t drink at all. Cutting down the amount of alcohol you consume is considered low-hanging fruit — an easy way to save money.
Smoking kills not only you, but also your wallet. A $10 pack per day amounts to $3,650 per year. Even half that amount would still yield enough money for close to two months in Central America. If you don’t want to stop smoking for your health, do it for your trip.
#12 Earn extra money on the side –
The sharing economy has made it really easy to earn extra money on the side. You can rent your spare room out on Airbnb, drive with Lyft, cook dinner on EatWith, or lead personalized tours through Vayable. No matter what skill or unused asset you have, there is a moneymaking service for you.