I always knew travelling was going to happen for me but until a few years ago, I had never seriously thought about when I was actually going…
It was one of those distant dreams that I had always thought about and repeatedly said to myself: “One day I’ll go round the world, you know, when I’m actually an adult…”
I was 22. The protective “I’m not an adult yet” bubble had officially burst and I was, quite literally, at a crossroads in my life.
I was fresh out of university, working part time in retail and had no clue what to do next. I had spent hours applying for hundreds of internships and editor roles with no success.
In my eyes, I had to decide between travelling or moving out with my boyfriend and working full time.
I was in the midst of wanting to work up towards my dream editing career and possibly taking part in some amazing internships if I stayed settled in the UK.
But I was still obsessed with the idea of travel and exploring the world outside of Britain, I was desperate for adventure outside the norms of everyday life…
I opened a separate savings account
That was when it all started. I opened the savings account with a separate bank to my usual one in September 2013. I made sure that I immediately set up an automatic monthly transfer of £100. This amount didn’t get me anywhere fast but it was a start and all I could afford on my part time wages.
The automatic transfer was the best thing I ever set up. It meant that I could work hard, earn more money and not even notice the money going out. I know for a fact that if it had been up to me to transfer it, I wouldn’t have saved much at all.
Luckily I got myself a higher paid job last summer and managed to start saving £150 each week. I had this figure in my head right from the start of my new role so I made it an immediate priority to change the frequency of my automatic transfer.
I sold a lot of my stuff
Have you ever sorted through your room and collected all the bits of clothes, furniture, tech, etc that you never use anymore? Most would probably have more than they think hidden away in various places.
When I did it, there were piles upon piles of stuff. Even as I write this, I still have things to sell! But instead of just taking my unwanted stuff to the local charity shop, I put it up for sale simply because any extra money is a bonus for belongings you don’t want/need, right?
It took a lot of time and patience but I actually made around £200-£250 all together. I spent many a time in my local Post Office with as many as five parcels to post in one go! It wasn’t a quick process but over time, my efforts did pay off.
The important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t expect too much price-wise, one day you could sell 10 things for great prices and the next…nothing. I always made sure that I wrote detailed descriptions and used good quality photographs as this can help to entice more buyers. I also tried, with a little research, to set my postage prices as low as I could.
Of course, with all second hand things, I never got back what I had paid for it but my general rule is that you cut the retail price in half for a second hand sale. After all, if it’s been worn/used, you wouldn’t expect a shop to not cut the price down.
I downloaded a spending app
For those who are useless at saving, like me, a spending tracker app is the best invention for budgeting!
I tried to make myself a spreadsheet each month but I found I was often too busy to update it (plus I had forgotten half the things I had bought by then!) I found it a lot more useful to have an app that I could take everywhere with me and that I could update at work, home or away on holiday.
It was a real eye opening experience to see how much I actually spent on lunch, drinks and eating out at restaurants each week. As someone who works in an office, going out for food/drinks with colleagues is all too easy, it’s always someone’s birthday or leaving do etc.
I started changing my ways though… I started making packed lunches for work and went on small shops every week to ensure I had food in to eat rather than going out.
I also made sure I logged my billed monthly outgoings to get a realistic figure for how much I could save each week.
I decided to stay living at home:
Most people have called me extremely lucky to have had this option available to me at the time and I agree with them. I have many friends who are not in the same boat and have had to move out for one reason or another.
Living with a partner/housemates, working full time and managing bills for the first time can be stressful, time consuming and very expensive.
However staying at home meant that my outgoings came down to a minimum and I was able to prioritise my savings.
Even if you do get charged rent at home, it is often a lot cheaper than renting somewhere on your own and you have the support of your family around you if anything did go wrong.
I quit the gym
This was the most difficult goal to put into action. I loved the Zumba and Aqua classes and I would always go for a relaxing swim afterwards. It was great…but it couldn’t last. I knew that losing £30 a month to my gym membership just wouldn’t be worth it in the grand scheme of things.
I decided to get a new workout DVD and start exercising for free. After all, getting fit doesn’t mean you have to pay for it. I also started planning long distance running and walking routes to ensure I didn’t miss out on the cardio that I would usually do at the gym.
I stopped going shopping (so much)
There were days, before I started saving, that I would wander into Topshop and spend £50 on myself as a treat…I have to say, I loved doing that.
But after I started tracking my spending and stopped wandering round the shopping centre after work, I started seeing clothes as more of a waste of money.
I didn’t desperately need that new top, pair of jeans, etc and who knew, I could probably end up selling them on in six months.
I would always want something new from Urban Outfitters or Miss Selfridge, the desire for new clothes never really stopped because styles and trends move on so quickly.
In the grand scheme of things, one new dress or even 10 wasn’t going to get me to my travelling dream any faster. I cut back on my love affair with Urban Outfitters and Topshop and started asking myself…
“Do I really need that? Am I actually going to wear this more than once? Will that really look that great on you when you’re sweating profusely in the middle of Australia?”
It was actually quite refreshing to open my eyes to this way of thinking plus I had loads more room in my wardrobe thanks to my controlled spending and selling!
As an alternative measure, I also started looking into charity shop browsing. Cheap clothes and the money going to a good cause, what else could you ask for?! If you desperately need something, then it’s definitely a good idea to look in the charity shops first, there are hundreds of high street bargains hidden away.
If you would like to add any helpful saving tips/advice, all suggestions are welcome!
Image credit: 401(K), 2012. Souce link here.