I knew what my dream was! I wanted to go on a big adventure (hiking the length of Israel) and I wanted to become a digital nomad so that I could travel full time.
To achieve my aim of a digital nomad, I needed to have a sustainable lifestyle where I was earning money remotely online. I knew this would take time to build and it wouldn’t happen overnight. Which meant I needed savings. Enough to keep me going for a year while I did my hike and built up my career while on the road.
I calculated I’d need £8,000 and had just a year before departing to reach this goal.
Did I do it? I sure did! Here’s how…
Side note: for the sake of transparency I want to make my financial situation clear. At the time I was working full-time and living with my partner (which of course halves bills, rent, etc). I didn’t have any children, a mortgage or a car. I share a bit more about my financial situation in my blog, My spending report: how much does it cost to be an adventurer?
Before we start….
If you are new to this blog, I’m Bex Band – a full-time UK adventurer and founder of the women’s adventure community, Love Her Wild. I’m on a mission to make getting outdoors and going on adventures as easy as possible. You can read more about me here.
I started with a goal
You need a target to aim for. Something that will keep you on track and help you break down your goal to mini-steps.
Make a rough plan of what you want to do on your travels and adventures and put in place an estimated budget. Once you’ve got your target amount, write it down somewhere prominent. This is what you need to achieve to make your dream happen. Now break that amount up into monthly chunks to aim for. To reach my £8000 target, I needed to put away £666 a month for a year.
I got organised
You can’t be a good saver if you aren’t organised with your finances.
Set up a spreadsheet with all your accounts on it. For a couple of weeks, record all of your spending habits and make a note of these on the table. Try and categorise your spending, for example, have a category for eating out, buying drinks, transport and clothes shopping. You will then be able to see where your money is going and where you can cut back, as well as being able to work out a timeframe of how long it will take you to save.
It’s good to challenge yourself to save more each month than you think is possible.
I stopped being lazy!!
Money admin is boring, I get it. But so many of us, myself included, just get lazy with it. Do a bit of research (Money Saving Expert is the best website for money advice and offers) and put your savings in the highest interest account you can find. Make switches with your tariffs – call them up and see if they can make you a better deal, especially if you are nearing the end of a contract. Start hunting out deals. If you see an offer like ‘sign up to our bank and get £50’ then do it! That’s £50 in your savings for just half an hour work, if that.
I worked out where to cut back
If you are serious about saving for travel and adventures, you need to look carefully at all your spending habits and start thinking about how you can cut back. It might seem a bit tedious, but saving a few pounds here and there starts to really add up over time.
So what changes did I make and how did I save 8,000 in a year?
#1 Embrace minimalism
Minimalism and long-term travel go well together. Embracing a minimalist lifestyle could save you heaps of money each month. Put simply, minimalism will make it easier to save as you’ll stop wanting to buy so many things.
#2 Don’t do gifts
Instead of spending heaps of money giving presents that people don’t want, only to receive heaps of presents you don’t want, why not take a year off from giving gifts? I often ask for charity donations instead of gifts on my birthday. You could do a secret Santa amongst your family or agree to do homemade gifts instead. If you do buy gifts, get them in January when everything is massively reduced.
#3 Go t-total…just for a bit
Drinking out eats your money away. If you are serious about traveling, go t-total for a while. You can make up for it when you are on the road and a pint costs a 5th of what it does back home!
#4 Take food and water with you everywhere
Buying snacks and drinks when you are out and about can add up to a serious amount each month. A cheaper option is to take water and snacks with you everywhere. That also includes taking a packed lunch to work.
#5 Cancel your cable subscriptions
Cable TV is a big expense and really isn’t needed with so much catch up options online. All the time you save watching TV can now be spent planning your trip or learning something new.
#6 Go green
Being conscious with saving water and electricity is not only good for the environment, but it will also reduce your monthly bills.
#7 Buy a flask
You don’t need me to tell you that buying hot drinks from a coffee shop is a waste of money. Buy a flask or thermo-cup with you and feed your caffeine addiction for a fraction of the cost.
#8 See if you can share internet or subscriptions
Rather than paying out a monthly subscription for the internet, talk to your neighbours and see if there is someone who is happy to share. I’ve done this in every place I have lived and it has saved me loads. Just pop a note in their door….what have you got to loose? The same can be done for your other subscriptions like Netflix or Spotify.
#9 Supermarket shop with coupons and points
Most big supermarkets have point collections when you shop that you can then use to get money off. Find the best one and shop with them. There are also lots of online shops dedicated to posting coupons that you can use to get money off.
#10 Use training colleges
Training colleges are great! You can get your haircut or beauty regime carried out for a fraction of the price by students. They will all be towards the end of their training and under supervision. There are even training colleges that offer car maintenance services.
#11 Move in with flatmates
Saving for travel involves being careful with pennies, but saving big chunks is even better. Think about moving in with flatmates. Not always fun, but if it helps you reach your end goal then it will be worth it in the end. As can moving somewhere cheaper all together.
#12 Buy everything second hand
Get into buying things second hand. eBay local is an amazing app that can help you find serious bargains in your local area.
#13 Choose own-brand goods
Quite often there is a cheaper own-brand option for your goods with no difference in ingredients, just with less flashy-looking branding. Set yourself a challenge to try an own-brand product alternative to see if you like it.
#14 Never auto-renew
Companies bank on people auto-renewing without knowing that they are being overcharged. Never auto-renew, do some research and see if there is a cheaper option available. Often companies offer deals for first-time companies so switching can really work in your favour.
#15 Rely on public transport
Cars eat money. Walk or cycle to places nearby. Get rid of your car altogether and rely on public transport instead. Even occasionally hiring a car will most likely end up cheaper by the end of the year. When relying on public transport, check for weekly or monthly passes that might work out cheaper. Likewise, see if there is a loyalty card (like the Network Railcard) that works in your favour.
#16 Cook yourself and on bulk
Ready meals are pricey (and unhealthy). Learn to cook basic meals yourself. Cooking in bulk and freezing your own meals is the most cost-effective way to shop.
#17 Use up everything in the cupboards challenge
Everyone is guilty of having cupboards full of tins and toiletries that you haven’t used. Instead of waiting for them to go out of date, set yourself a challenge to completely empty all your cupboards.
I became a smart shopper
Even though you’ve cut back your spending and started reducing your outgoing expenses, there will be some occasions that you have to spend money. Getting a points credit card means that you will get something back every time you spend. I’ve signed up to an AAdvantage card meaning I can turn my spending into free flights and hotels when I travel.
Before going through the checkout for anything, do the following:
Search for a code: Before buying anything online or in the shops, do a quick google search of the shop’s name and ‘voucher code’. Quite often you will find a discount code that you can use to get money off.
See if the shop is in Top Cash Back: Top Cashback is amazing. Over time you buy something online, go through Top Cashback and you will get a percentage of your spending back on vouchers. You don’t get much but after a year it adds up.
I learnt to fill my time with free things
you won’t get far if you are saving for travel but end up spending all the money you are putting away. Don’t be tempted to touch your savings once they have been set up. Find free alternative things to do to fill your time.
Join your local library: I’ve never understood why more people don’t use libraries. Full of books, films and audiobooks that you can take out completely free. They often also run events and talks free of charge.
Get into comping: Comping is entering free competitions. It’s a bit like gambling but without any risk as you don’t spend anything. I used to do it regularly and won lots of exciting things, including a free holiday for 2 to Costa Rica!!
Start reading blogs: I love reading (and writing!) blogs. They’re interesting, inspiring and, best of all, free.
Get into running: Quit your gym and get into running instead. It’s a great way to keep fit and all that is required is a half decent pair of trainers.
Sign up to get free tickets: There are lots of companies, like Show Film First, that give away free tickets to events that do not sell out. Through them, I have been to premieres, west end shows, big concerts and music festivals.
Visit a museum or gallery: There are so many museums and galleries that are free to enter. Make the most of this and be a tourist for the weekend.
Take on an adventure: There are lots of ways you can take on an adventure without spending money, check out my guide: how to have an adventure for free
Get into writing: Lots of people have good writing skills that they never use. Start a blog, write poetry or have a go at a novel. Writing costs nothing and with the world of self-publishing, you can easily upload your work and might even start making money from it.
Learn a new skill from YouTube: YouTube is an assuming resource. If you have an instrument lying around you can learn using video tutorials. Instead of paying for yoga lessons, I follow a routine on YouTube.
Have a night in: Nights in are great because they are cheap. Get your friends over rather than going out for a meal. You could each bring a dish. Games nights are always fun and nothing beats a good old-fashioned sleepover.
Find a free race: Signing up for big races can be expensive, but there are lots of local run runs that are free to enter, like Park Run ((https://www.parkrun.org.uk/).
Learn a language: Almost everyone has a language that they want to learn, so why not take it up. You can get some books and tapes from the library or use online resources. There are also lots of language exchanges posted online where you meet up with someone who wants to learn English and help each other out.
Grow your own veg: Growing your own vegetables is a great hobby that can save you money…assuming you don’t kill everything first!
Volunteer your time: I’ve always volunteered and found it is a great way to make friends while giving back. Find something you love doing. You can also volunteer at festivals and events in exchange for a free ticket.
Try your hand at drawing: I set myself a challenge one year to sketch a picture each month. I found somewhere quiet to sit and drew what I saw. I wasn’t particularly good but I found it really therapeutic and relaxing.
Attend a free festival: Most cities and towns have free events. Do some research online and block out these events in your diary.
Try your hand at photography: You can pick up lots of tips for photography online and the great thing is that you don’t need fancy equipment to get into it – award-winning photos have been taken on smartphones.
I increased my earnings
Unless you have really terrible spending habits, earning more money is probably the easiest tactic when saving for travel. A few simple steps can see your monthly income increase drastically.
#1 Ask your boss for more money
If you’ve been in a company for a good amount of time or are performing well, don’t be afraid to speak to your boss to say that you are looking for a pay rise, the worst that can happen is they say no. It might also be worth having a serious think about moving jobs if you are able to earn more money elsewhere.
#2 Put your savings in the best place
When saving for travel, your money can make you money. Do some research and check all your savings options to find the one that will give you the best interest. Often banks will give a great deal for the first year if you open a new savings account. You will need to move your money every financial year to ensure you get the best deal.
#3 Get paid for your opinion
Sign up to be a mystery shopper where you get paid to buy things from shops in return for filling out a report. You can also be a mystery diner where you get given an allowance to eat out in restaurants. You can earn money by filling out online surveys or attending face to face interviews.
#4 Get a second job
There are lots of easy ways to make a bit of cash on the side and really this is the easiest way to save money (as long as all your earnings go straight into your savings account). Being an interpreter, private tutor, housesitting, childminding, dog walker or proofreader are all great little earners.
#5 Switch banks
Come to the new financial year, you will see many banks offering great deals if you switch to them. Anything from cash, vouchers and products. It might seem a bit of a hassle at first but they usually have methods in place to make it as easy as possible. Both my other half and I switched to a bank last year offering £125 for new customers. We earnt £250 in return for about an hour filling out forms.
#6 Sell your unwanted stuff
Have a sort through your items and sell all the items you don’t want. eBay is a great place to make some extra cash. Put every penny you earn straight into your savings account.
Are you ready to start saving?
If you are saving for travel or adventure….good luck! The biggest motivation is knowing all the great things that will come out of your hard work now. Got a question? Ask in the comments box below.
If you found this post helpful, please do follow my blog and adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel. I give all my advice out for free on my website. If you want to say thanks, you can buy me a coffee!
Any women reading this? I set up Love Her WIld – a women’s adventure community….we organise exciting adventures all over the world for you to join. Find out more – check out our private Facebook page.