07 Nov How to Save Over $3,350 in 6 Months
Travel. It’s something most millennials have on their bucket lists. Whether it’s for educational, professional, or leisure purposes, traveling is one of the best experiences you can invest in. It’s important to remember that it is an investment. If you’re a student on a budget, you may think that international travel is out of the question for you -- but it’s not. Don’t let the price tag shatter your dreams or limit yourself from having an amazing experience. Think of it as your ticket to lifelong memories, friends, and unforgettable adventures, which are all priceless.
You may have some money-saving habits in place already. But if you don’t know where to start, budgeting and cutting costs can feel overwhelming. Start by making small changes. Rome wasn’t built in a day after all, but if you follow our tips below, you may have the opportunity to see Rome one day! You’ll be surprised to see how much your savings add up in a few months by making minor adjustments to your lifestyle and spending habits.
Learn to Cook
I’ll be the first to admit that as a college student, my cooking skills were subpar and ordering out was usually my go-to indulgence. Yet, I don’t suggest this habit if you’re trying to save money. Buying groceries is so much more affordable than eating out all the time, especially if you buy in-season produce. Take advantage of weekly deals and discounts supermarkets offer and find recipes that allow you to keep leftovers for later in the week. Let’s say the average meal out costs you $13 and you eat somewhere other than home five times a week. Between takeout, dinner out on the weekends, and grab and go meals for breakfast and lunch, you’re easily spending close to $65 a week. For almost half that amount, you could buy enough groceries for a week. It should be a no-brainer: cut back on eating out now, so that you can enjoy exotic cuisine later when you travel. Money saved in 6 months: ~$720*
Cutback on Coffee
Chances are you’re screaming at your computer right now, but this is such an easy way to reallocate your money to your travel fund. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you most likely go to Starbucks every day. While regular brewed coffee is only about $2, lattes and any specialty drink (including all the holiday drinks that are now available) average closer to $5 a pop. That’s $35 a week you’re spending on coffee -- not even including the bagel or muffin you add on when you’re in a rush. Cut the caffeine, brew at home, or opt for cheaper alternatives like tea and you could be saving a ton each month. Money saved in 6 months: ~$840*
Earn Extra Cash
Being a student keeps you busy, but it also leaves you with a very flexible and open schedule. See if your university has a babysitting book with names of families looking for babysitters. Or try to get a job as a tutor on campus or in the surrounding community to earn some extra cash in your spare time. Sacrificing one night a week to babysit or an afternoon to tutor will still allow you to have a social life and help pay for your future travel endeavors! Plus, since this will usually go under the table, you’ll get to keep the full amount without having to worry about taxes. Money saved in 6 months: ~ $720*
Keep the Change
You know all those loose coins in your car and wallet or sitting on your dresser? Put them to good use and start collecting them anytime you pay with cash and get change back. You’ll be surprised how many coins you’ll collect over a few month’s time and you’ll feel like you won the lottery when you cash-in at your local Coinstar or bank (I recently earned over $80 emptying my childhood piggy bank!). Every little bit counts and if you have a collection jar dedicated to your travel fund, it helps you visualize your progress and goals. Money saved in 6 months: ~$50*
Stay in One Night
Weekends in college are 3 (sometimes 4) nights long. I’m not telling you to never go out and have fun -- that’s what college is all about! But think about how much you end up spending on only one night: Uber to the bar, drinks, club entrance fee, Uber back, and late-night pizza delivery. You could be spending at least $30 a night. Opting to stay in and have a girl’s night once a week can save you a lot of money while still allowing you to have fun with your friends. It’s possible you’ll still pay for that pizza delivery, but watching that rom-com is practically free entertainment. Plus, remember that staying in now means you have more cash for international nightlife later! Money saved in 6 months: ~$720*
One of the best ways to start saving money is knowing where you’re spending it in the first place. If you download a budgeting app you’ll be able to visualize and keep track of your spending. As well as find areas in your spending habits where you can cut back and save even more money. You’ll also be able to adjust or create a budget with goals in mind (like traveling abroad). Most, if not all, of these apps, are free so you can only gain something by using one. Plus, regardless of when you plan on traveling, it’s a good idea to start working and establishing a budget for yourself while you’re young so that the good habit follows you well into adulthood.
Use Public Transportation
Most colleges have shuttle services that take you to all the necessary off-campus destinations: grocery, malls, Target, etc. While it is nice to have the freedom of your own car, paying for gas can add up. Why not opt for the free shuttle services or even public buses and the subway? You could also try carpooling and split the cost of gas among your friends. Doing so could save you close to $50 a month depending on how much you usually drive and the price of gas near your university. Money saved in 6 months: ~$300*
Besides everything that you can proactively do to save money, there are a ton of other ways you can fund your future travel plans. Researching ways to supplement your savings and extra earned cash can help a lot. If you’re creative and resourceful enough, you could be able to finance your trip without having to dip into your savings too much. From scholarships to special offers to credit card bonuses and payment plans, you’ll be sure to find extra resources that work best for you!
Don’t be discouraged if you think making these changes is impossible. Choose the changes that are best for you and you’ll see how all these little sacrifices will pay off in the long run. Remember, save the money now so that you can travel later!
*Note: prices based on estimates of author’s experiences living in Boston, MA and Richmond, VA.