People may tell you that you should get a job straight away after finishing uni or that you should only go travelling once you can afford it. They may tell you that because you are a student, you will not be able to afford to travel as soon as you finish university. I have just completed my final year at University, and have been saving all year as a final year student. Following the tips in this post, I have saved enough money to go travelling next month … how exciting!
I want to share with you my top 5 money-saving tips for students, so you too can afford to live your wandering dreams, be it just for a few weeks. Both Sam and I think everyone should have this amazing opportunity, and with some discipline, and hard-work, it really is possible!
1. CREATE A CLEAR MONEY-SAVING PLAN
As soon as Sam and I started planning this trip, we both thought it was going to be impossible to save so much money in one year. We knew we would be able to save enough to get us to Australia, but after both longing to continue our trip and head to South America we knew we had to create a saving target. It is important to have a realistic target.
To do this, you need to come up with a rough estimate of how much flights, accommodation and travel gear is going to cost you. We decided that we could probably survive for about a year on £5000 each, after paying flights and accommodation. This estimate came at a cost, and sometimes, hard decisions need to be made. Visiting every country in the region you want to travel may be unfeasible. Our original plan was to visit India first, but we realised it would be an extensive trip, and one we could make separately as there is just so much to do there. We also ended up having to cut Singapore out of our trip as we were told to only have a few days there and it would’ve ended up costing us a lot to get there; I would still love to visit one day though!
A good way to create a savings plan and to cut out unnecessary purchases is to create a spreadsheet and track every single thing you buy. You should do this for a few months to get an idea of where your money is being spent, and work out an average budget for the following months leading up to your trip. Where you spend your money can come as a surprise to some people as you do it without even realising; these hidden costs are called ‘ghost purchases’ and refer to that coffee you get every day before a lecture. Creating a spreadsheet and tracking your costs will eliminate these ‘ghost expenditures’, helping you to save. Once you have a clear plan of how much you need to save before you start to travel, it will make it much easier to start saving as you will have a clear target.
2. GET YOURSELF A STUDENT CARD
Student cards are an absolute life saver, I can’t believe mine runs out next month. When you are a student, you can get discount on practically everything, from clothes shops, to eating out, to public transport … Make sure you make use of yours!
There are the obvious student cards like your university student card, NUS card, and Railcards, but there are also other ways to get discounts such as the Taste Card and websites such as UNiDAYs. The Taste Card gives you discount at lots of different high-street restaurants and UNiDAYs will get you discount at most shops; so before you buy anything stop and think if there is any ways you can get discount. Even if you do not have any of the cards I have listed, a quick google search may give you a discount code just to save you those few extra pennies. Make the most of your cards and take advantage of them whilst you are a student!
3. PIGGY BANK
You need to get yourself a piggy bank that you cannot open. Any change you have, put it in the piggy bank so you are not tempted to spend it on unnecessary things because “it is only £1”, (I am very guilty of this).
By putting small amounts of change in over time, you will be surprised how much you can save.
This top tip is to ensure you cannot open the money box so you are not tempted to take small change out, as you will “promise to replace it later” … and never do. Without having the temptation of opening it and counting how much money you have,
when you open it a couple of days before you leave, you will be surprised how much you have saved. We both had these tins for our loose change and we actually managed to save a couple of
hundred pounds over a few months.
4. GET A JOB AND SAVE!
Try and get a job over the summer holidays at university and do as many hours as possible. The more you can work over the summer, when you have limited university work to be getting on with, the more pressure it will take off you when you go back to university. Last summer I made sure I got a job, with as many as hours as possible. It was hard work and I struggled to keep it going, but I was spurred on by the knowledge that it would all culminate in travelling the world; its amazing motivation! The majority of the money that I have saved came from this summer job. I knew that I was going into my final year at University so I didn’t want the pressure of having to work a lot of hours during term-time, when I wanted to be studying hard.
Having said that, I did manage to get a part-time job in my final year which was only 10 hours a week and gave me the flexibility to do whatever overtime I wanted to. This really helped as I could work more hours on the weeks when I didn’t have so many assignments due, but I wasn’t tied to it every week. Having this job also made me procrastinate less when studying as I knew I had to go to work so I had limited time to get my work done (this doesn’t mean I didn’t procrastinate… I definitely did, a lot!)
Having finished university with two months left until we hit the road, I have managed to get a full time job with lots of overtime to boost the extra bit of money. When you have got a job whilst at university, I found it useful to have a savings account and to transfer the majority of my wages across. I lived off my student loan and limited amounts of my wages from work. I am now well on target for our travels!
5. CUT BACK ON THOSE INDULGENCES
Just because you are cutting back, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy uni life. You just need to be aware of your savings targets. Here are just a few ways to cut back on your spending:
- Nights out are a quite often a weekly occurrence at university (sometimes even more than once), and this can be a shock to your purse. When you go out keep these tips in mind:
- Only take cash when you go out for drinks. If you take your card, you will be tempted to use it and buy that one extra drink you didn’t really need anyway. By only taking limited cash, you know that is all you have to spend.
- If you’re like me and love getting ‘drunk food’ (especially chicken nuggets), then it is often cheaper to just make something quick when you get home.
- See if your University operates a safety bus. Instead of spending money on a taxi home, my University ran a safety bus which was not only free but also made sure you got home safely.
- Eat out less; if you do eat out, make sure you use your student card for discounts!
- Take your own food to university instead of buying food there, this will not only save money but help with your budget for the week.
There are so many more saving tips for students but these are just my top five. I hope they have helped you or at least made you think that saving to go travelling whilst being a student is not impossible. I am the living example of how saving at university can work, and if I can do it, let me tell you.. you can too!
Turn your travel day-dreams into a reality and start saving today!
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