Because my soon to be 21-year-old sister is about to find her path to Europe and I remember exactly what it was like to work 7 days a week, night and day, to make it there...
Here are the 10 Top saving tips before your gap year:
1. Eat from your cupboard
First things first, the one thing you can't go without is food. BUT... since this is something you will be spending money on - do it wisely. Whenever you can, eat from your cupboard. Making the time to go to the shops and buy food in bulk, will make a huge difference to your bank account when it's go time.
So, eat before you leave the house in the mornings. Pack your lunch if you're not around home in the day and eat dinner in (or even better at a friends or family member's place). For the times when you can't eat from your cupboard, be mindful to spend as little as you can. Your motto until you get on that plane should be "This is only short term - the money saved will be spent having fun overseas!"
2. Work as much as you can
This is obvious. Work = money. But can you also pick up some extra shifts? Let your boss and colleagues know that you're keen to take on extra work and keep an eye out for a second job. You could babysit, dog walk or even sell your clothes online?
Work when you can, but also try not to run yourself into the ground with exhaustion. If you get sick, you'll be put out of work and then pushed back even further with your savings.
I know the word "budget" is one of the most boring words in the English dictionary, but making one is going to be a game changer.
I'm not one for Excel spreadsheets, so I'm not about to get all technical on you, but you do need to sit down and write a list of all your travel costs and how much you expect to earn and spend before your trip.
It can be messy and approximate if you prefer, but it's important to think about the finances realistically. If you'd like a template "Travel Plan" you can download a Free one here
4. Have a savings account
Have a separate bank account that you can move your travel funds to, and out of your everyday account. Ideally, you'll pick one with high interest rates, so you're making money on your money, but if you're time poor even having a separate account will still be worthwhile.
For one it helps not having easy access to your saved money. Secondly, it's motivating to watch your savings go up week by week. A good reminder of all the sacrifices you're making and why you're working so hard!
Finally, it will help you with tracking your progress of the travel budget you put together.
5. Make short-term sacrifices
It wouldn't be saving if you were still enjoying your day-to-day luxuries. Gap-year saving is a time of making the serious short-term sacrifices. Look around at how you're spending your money. Where can you cut back? Whether it's going out, paying for exercise or other memberships like Netflix - it's time to rein it all in. Commit to making at least one new sacrifice today... extra points for the more you can make.
6. Rethink your current living situation
If you living out of home, rent is usually the biggest money drainer while you're trying to save. If you can move back home or live with someone you know for free (just short term) - do it. If this isn't an option, look at cheaper alternatives to the rent you're paying now. Like flat sharing, room sharing, house-sitting or signing up for short term accommodation. Remembering our motto from point 1 - "This is only short term - the money saved will be spent having fun overseas!"
7. Cut travel costs before you travel
Do all you can to save on transport. Walk, cycle, car pool or catch the bus.
If you have a car you're planning to sell, start this process as early as possible. The last thing you want when you're planning your trip is a rushed mess at the end or a sale that falls through leaving it all unresolved.
8. Make your own fun, don't buy it
Time to get imaginative. What do you usually do for fun that costs money and how can you create your own fun?
- Love going to the movies? Switch it out for a movie at home.
- Enjoy shopping? Research shops you can buy from when you're overseas.
Anymore ideas? Leave them in the comments below.
9. Collect money when you can
Money collecting doesn't mean busking. It means if someone asks you what you want for your birthday, Christmas or a going away gift, politely suggest that help towards your savings would be the most useful gift this year.
10. Keep reminding yourself it will all be worth it!
Repeat your motto - "This is only short term - the money saved will be spent having fun overseas!"
... And before you know it, all this saving will be worth it and you'll be sitting on that plane. Seat Belt buckled and ready for take off! Fun times and relaxation awaits....
For more ‘Finding Your Path’ Tips see findingyourpathbooks.com