All photography and text by Tess McLennan ©
Money… one of life’s necessary evils. And while I don’t like to think that having money can make you happier, it certainly can help. Especially when your happiness is locked in travelling the world, having new experiences and making memories. A lot of twenty-somethings have the travel urge, but not a huge salary to match (i.e my life). Well, you don’t have to be on a six figure salary to see the world… because here are my top tips for getting together that much needed cash, without expensive loans or breaking the bank. Thank me when you’re sipping red wine on a European river cruise.
Nourish your piggy bank with spare change.
My Mum went to Nashville a few years ago, and brought me back a yellow piggy bank. So, as any self-respecting adult would do, I decided to use it. Each day, I would empty my spare change into the guts of this yellow hog. It got so full, I had to buy myself another one. And eventually, I paid for my university textbooks out of the contents of those piggy banks. At least $300-$400 worth. Could you imagine doing that for an entire year, what savings you could accumulate? So, be vigilant with your spare change and you will be rewarded.
Pack your lunch.
Not only will you save money, but your health will also benefit. Make the effort in the morning to wake up ten minutes earlier and prepare yourself a healthy lunch to take to work. All you need is a piece of fruit, a couple of slices of bread, some filling, and you’re done. I wanted to go to Europe, so I ate chicken and avocado sandwiches at lunch for a year to save money. And while we are on the subject of taking your lunch to work, wouldn’t it save you more time in your break if you didn’t have to wait in line every day at a café? My Dad has told me about a hole in the wall sushi joint in Brisbane that people line up for around the block. Seriously? No food is worth all that waiting. More coin, more time… what could be better than that?
Stop eating service station food
If you feel tempted to stop for a snack on the way home from work, imagine yourself sunbaking on the Italian Riviera, and then keep driving. We all get hungry, but a Coke and chocolate bar from a service station can cost you at least $8 or $9 dollars (or more, if you try to buy healthy like me!). Now do the maths… you stop for food three or four times a week. Ouch, that’s a lot of cash thrown away. Service stations are extremely savvy in their marketing of products. You pump petrol into your car, walk in to pay, and BAM… you are bombarded with hundreds of delicious things to eat. All at a jacked up price, and appealing to your hungry, cashed up eye.
So, the solution? Think ahead… if you know you’re going to be hungry when leaving work, pack extra food to eat. Or keep some healthy snacks in your cupboard at home.
Morning coffee? Meet, the thermos.
Your morning coffee from that café with the cute barista falls under the same banner as buying service station food, in terms of trying to save money for travel. Meet your new best friend: the thermos. I have two, and have saved a ton of money on my morning caffeine fix. I just prepare it at home, and I’m on my way. So, say la vie to the cute barista. You’ll meet more attractive men when you’re sailing in the Greek Islands.
Shop online for clothes
I used to be a chronic impulse buyer. I would see a piece of clothing, not try it on, and then never wear it, because it either didn’t fit, or was totally the wrong style for me. Wasted money. Wasted clothing.
Then, I discovered online shopping. Now anytime I want to buy a dress or a particular piece of clothing (I recently went with tulle skirts for my upcoming birthday), I just go online and find exactly what I want. We live in the age of instant gratification, and although the clothing usually takes a few weeks to appear in my mailbox, at least I know it’s something that I will wear again and again. The clothing won’t be a pair of booty shorts that I bought on sale at the local shopping centre. This method of shopping has saved me much needed cash, and my wardrobe is now full of pieces that I know I will wear forever.
A tip: people are often hesitant to buy clothes online because of sizing issues. Any reputable fashion website will have a sizing chart that you can compare yourself with before purchasing. And I can honestly say, by following these charts, I’ve never had a problem with the clothes I’ve received.
So give online shopping a go. Trust me. Nobody cares if you say ‘I bought this on ASOS!’… they care more if you said you bought it in New York, on Fifth Avenue (well, a girl can dream anyway!).
Cardigan bought in Prague. Cue the disco lights.
An airtight savings account
One trick I’ve used over the years is the one-way online savings account. I transfer money into this account via Internet banking… however, I have to visit an actual bank to withdraw it (which means paperwork and talking to people). I have created this inconvenience for myself on purpose, and it works. Banks are not open on weekends in Australia, which is when people spend most of their money, and this also works in my favour, as it makes me stricter with the money I do have access to. Visit your local bank and see if you can set up an account in this way, and watch your savings pile up.
Another tip: make sure before you go on holidays that you give yourself access to the money in your savings account. Your bank is not going to magically appear in the snowy mountains of Canada, so be smart. Either transfer all the money out of the account onto a pre-paid card before you travel, or get the bank to change the settings of the account so that you can access it online while overseas.