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9 Ways To Save Money For Travel (or any big purchase)

Trying to save some travel money? Socking away $$ for your big trip? I saved enough on a teacher's salary to travel for 10 months! Here's how >>
Dear Sarah,
I’m writing is to ask you about saving money for travelling. You see, I’m off in the beginning of March for three months in New Zealand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. My boyfriend and I bought our ticket on Saturday and I’m getting pretty worried about the money situation – even though we’ve decided to do it on the cheap.
I have a full time job but it pays badly – do you have any tricks to raise money in a fairly short time? Although I’m sure you were sensible and saved up over a long time!
Oh, friend. Yes, I was sensible (and a bit boring) and saved up over a long time. But all is not lost! You can put away a good chunk of money if you’re willing to make some changes.

9 ways to save money for travel (or any big purchase)

Get a Second Job or a side hustle

Blowing your mind with my originality, right? But it’s obviously easier to save money if you’ve got two or three streams of income. And a second job doesn’t have to mean working every evening and weekend at Starbucks. You could tutor the neighborhood kids, house-sit for family friends, babysit your cousins – there are a million options.

Here’s an article with some great ideas for second jobs. I know that working two jobs is a drag of epic proportions. But if you’re doing it for a limited amount of time and to raise money for a very specific reason, it seems exponentially more tolerable. At least that’s what I always tell myself while I’m tutoring poorly behaved fifth graders.

Put Yourself on a Crazy Tight Budget

Again with the mind-blowing, right? Suzy Orman, watch out! Making a budget is wicked easy: look into how much you need to buy your round-the-world ticket/new car/house/Jimmy Choos, look at how much discretionary income you have, do a bit of math and see how long it should take you to save enough to buy said pair of shoes. If you’re not happy with that amount of time: reexamine the way you spend your money.

Surely you can trim a little fat?

*Cancel the cable (that’s what Hulu is for, y’all!)
*Split wi-fi with someone in your building
*Cancel your gym membership and go for walks with friends or workout at home
*Start cooking at home instead of eating out so much
*Go cold turkey on Starbucks
*Don’t drink so much. If you’re going to party, pre-game at home so you’re not spending $40 at the bar every weekend
*Get a flatmate
*If you engage in retail therapy (aka: are human) why not hit up a thrift store or a nice second-hand boutique? You’ll save heaps of money and still feed the hunger for new shoes

My budgeting non-secret

I allot myself a certain amount of ‘fun money’ each week and withdraw that amount in cash from an ATM. Once that money’s gone, I’m stuck at home eating soup and watching library DVDs until Sunday rolls around again.

Realize that every non-essential thing you buy is a step away from your dream

Oh, that’s a bit dire, isn’t it? But it’s true, y’all. Before you buy yet another set of decorative towels, realize that all that terry cloth equates to one night in a Cambodian hostel. Or a can of paint for the house you want to buy. Or two weeks worth of car insurance on that Saab you don’t have yet. If you want to make these things happen, you have to make them a priority, right?

Find Sponsors

If you’re saving up for something remarkable and do-goodery – launching a non-profit,working with an under served population – there might be people willing to help fund your dream. Learn how to write grants proposals, contact your local paper and see if they’re will to write up your story.

If you’re incredibly cheeky (and clever) you could even aim for corporate sponsorship like Dancing Matt of Youtube fame (Stride gum sponsored his trip) or Maggie Mason, whose life list is being sponsored by Intel.

Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing This

No amount of budgeting will help if you’re not in the right mindset and let’s be honest, giving up your Americano habit isn’t particularly easy or fun. But nearly everything in life worth having requires a bit of work and sacrifice, no?

Make an active effort to remind yourself why you’re making these sacrifices.If you’re saving up for a trip to India learn how to make paneer, listen to some punjabi mc and rent some bollywood flicks. If you’re socking away money for a house, make lists of features in your dream house, stop by designsponge and haunt all those real estate open houses. You’ll be more likely to stick to your financial guns when the reason is at the forefront of your mind.

Sell Your Stuff

Granted, this money making scheme is best employed when you’re moving or about to travel, but certainly there are some things sitting around your house, gathering dust. If you’ve upgraded to a flat screen, maybe someone wants your old tv? And if you’ve got a laptop, do you really need a netbook? Craigslist awaits, my friends.

Drastic measures To be utilized only when you are really broke or need to save an huge amount of money

Move Back in with Your Parents

Twin beds, dial-up internet and casseroles every night for dinner. But it’s (probably) rent free. I’m sure you’ll save everyone’s sanity by helping around the house, not bringing boys home from the bar as 2 am and setting some parameters before you move in, right?

Teach ESL in Asia/The Middle East

Drastic? Yes. Effective? Definitely. After the first six months when I spent all my money on Ikea furniture and t-shirts with terrible Engrish, I saved $1,000 a month. Really! With no effort and no impact on my swanky quality of life.

It should be noted that this doesn’t hold true for ESL in all Asian countries – I’d hazard the guess that you’d have the most luck in Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong. Correct me if I’m wrong!

Take Part in Medical Studies

My goodness but this is drastic, no? I’ve never done these myself but I have several friends who financed large chunks of college with medical studies – and they still have all their limbs and appear to be fertile! Of course, if you’re going to do these exercise caution, do heaps of research and start small.

P.S. I would be remiss in my role as pseudo-financial advisor is I didn’t make the point that you really shouldn’t buy trips/cars/houses that you can’t afford (I’m looking at you, America’s housing crisis). I know that those shoes are calling your name, but if the choice is between groceries and green cute boots, be a grown up. A human can’t live on patent leather alone.

How do you save up for big ticket items? What’s your relationship with money like?

P.S. How I paid off $50,000 of school debt 5 years ahead of time + How I traveled for 10 months on $5,000

photo by toa heftiba // cc

Nice work if you can get it: Professional Do-gooder

This is part of our series of interviews with people who have fantastic, envy-inducing jobs. They all also happen to be my friends. I met Meghan while we were both teaching English in Taiwan. After we left the R.O.C., we traveled through Thailand and Vietnam together, dodging motorbikes and taking over-night trains into the mountains. Now she lives on a swanky island, house sits for millionaires and saves the world one kid at a time.So what’s the deal? What do you do?
I am the Director of a Youth Centre built by the AIDS Awareness Foundation in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. TCI is an independent country, in the Caribbean in which struggles for identity. Provo (the main inhabited island) has grown astronomically in the last 20 years and so there is no strong foundation of culture on which the younger generation has to build. The Centre I work for fills a massive void as there really isn’t much for the young people of this island to do in their spare time. We target teens from ages 12 and up.

My job has changed from week to week since I began just over 6 months ago. I went from being handed an empty group of buildings to running drop in hours (after school and Saturdays) and searching the Island trying to find donations and volunteers to run programs of any sort. It’s sort of like being a school principal, teacher (and janitor) all while trying to search out funding sources.

Tell us about an average day in life of your job.
My day begins as most others would, checking email, seeing if the Centre is clean, getting art or office supplies, etc. Then there is a never-ending list of things to be done: check in with local schools, pay bills, advertise events, find sponsors/donors, fine-tune Code of Conduct/Discipline Plan and other standard protocols, call parents etc etc. I choose whichever of these is highest on the priority list on the day and plug through whatever I can. After school is out for the day and kids start arriving, there is the business or supervising and/or the running of programs myself.

It all changes again during Christmas and Summer Break – we open all day so I try to squeeze all my other tasks while leaving volunteers in charge from time to time.

Did you go to school for this? Or get any special training?
To be honest, I didn’t set out to do this. I studied Biology and Psychology at University but always had a strong desire to help others one way or another. I’d volunteered in various positions since I was a teenager from feeding elderly in the hospital to some of the experiences mentioned below, but only had brief stints of training specific to the tasks I was to perform

How did you get into this line of work?
To be honest, one thing just led to another. After my Bachelor’s degree, I went to Taiwan to teach English and pay off my student loan. During that time the Tsunami happened in South East Asia. I visited Thailand the following May and was touched by the community surrounding the rebuilding. I quit teaching December of that year after saving a little extra money and went back to volunteer for 2 months.

After Thailand, I traveled and then ended up in TCI working as a yoga instructor. But my last volunteering episode only made me want to go back to do more. I applied for and was selected to go to South Africa with Grassroot Soccer (, the NGO that taught me the most about the non-profit world. I fundraised over $10 000 to support my stay and spent just under a year with them. Before I went to Africa, I had made connections with the AIDS Awareness Foundation in TCI as Grassroot Soccer dealt with HIV prevention. I interviewed for the job at the Centre while away and came back this past May to TCI to help open the Centre.

Are there any drawbacks to working in this field?
It can be very overwhelming at times – generally non-profit organizations are understaffed therefore employees and volunteers will have to work very hard to keep it afloat. But I believe the community will come together if there is a good plan and a solid foundation behind the organization.

You can also feel like there is so much to be done, that it’s not worth the difficulties at times. But I think most jobs and even daily tasks are like that to some degree.

What are the highlights?
To be part of something much greater than yourself is an amazing feeling. To simply know that whatever you do, no matter how trivial the task, there is a greater purpose behind it and your work will make the world a better place. To be able to do that every day is a great reward.
There are also the little things. To see the smile of a grateful participant, to notice positive change in a regular youth member, those things keep me going.

What are the misconceptions about working in the non-profit sector?
That you can’t make a living or that it’s all volunteer work. There are a great many jobs being offered through grants issued to Orgs. The Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have brought a lot of publicity to the area in recent years. You don’t have to be in the field doing the dirty work either. Non-profits need to run like businesses as well, there is lots of admin work, marketing, PR, HR etc. These days you could be doing almost anything you want while helping a good cause and building your career.

What suggestions would you give to people interested in becoming a professional do-gooder?
If I were to do it all again, I would have looked into classes in International Development at University. There are certainly times I have felt under-qualified and a background education would have helped to overcome that. However, I truly believe that volunteering for causes you believe in, without any ulterior motive but purely because you want to help for the greater good, it what will help you see a path to get you where you want to go.