On my previous post in my On a Budget series I talked about the importance of planning and I promised a post about saving money. No matter how long and meticulously you plan it’ll all be pointless if you don’t commit so keep in mind that it’s all for a good cause. Here are 4 ways to set aside some extra money for your dream holiday.
1. Know your money
Before doing anything else, grab your bank statements and study it hard. Take note of exactly how much money you make and how much you expend each week and month. You need to know exactly where your earnings are going as it is so easy to lose track of small expenses. When I first left my parents house and moved to NZ, I used to carry a notebook with me every where and write down every single cent coming in and out of my account and wallet. I’d write down even coins I found on the sidewalk, it all added up! I only bought a TV a year after arriving in Wellington and by then I had a part-time minimum wage job but I knew exactly how many hours I had to work to pay for it. I guess I should do that again, now that my income has improved a bit I end up taking a few things for granted and overspending. Having a clear picture of your financial situation will allow you to determine what kind of sacrifices you’re willing to make.
2. Take inventory and sell the excess
Last October I moved house and for an entire year I lived quite nicely with several unopened boxes in my garage. Some of those things were personal belongings that I only keep for their sentimental value, but the rest was just useless stuff. Pretty and in good condition, but rendered useless over time for me. Maybe someone else would be interested in buying some of it? And there are so many ways of selling unwanted items: online auction websites like Trade Me will take a commission out of your sale but you can use Facebook groups instead. You can also create a nice ad and put it up common areas in your workplace or at your local supermarket. You can also organize a good old yard sale, put up flyers around your neighbourhood and spread the word. Be realistic about prices, prepare to bargain and save all your profit.
3. Turn skills into services
What kind of hobbies do you have? Do you play any instruments or know any other language? What about turning that skill into a service you can offer for a fee? Create an ad on sites like Fiverr or Gigbucks and reach out to people. Alternatively, let your friends know of your intentions and offer to mow their lawn, baby-sit, pet-sit, give private lessons…. NZ is famous for its DIY mentality but not everyone has the luxury of time these days, so take advantage of that if you have lots of spare time on your hands. Do extra shifts at work or you can even go a step further and take up a second job. Got a spare room but don’t actually feel like taking up a flat mate? List it on Airbnb and host guests travelling to your location.
4. Cut down to the bare necessities
Ok, making more money can be quite challenging. What about spending less then? Make your meals ahead of time and instead of buying lunch, take it from home. Change your internet/mobile plans or provider for a cheaper option, switch power companies, take shorter showers, walk to work or carpool. Go a semester or even a whole year without buying any new clothes/shoes. Reduce the amount of nights out or define a budget for when you’re having drinks with friends and stick to it. Favour free activities over paid events. Grow your own vegetables, stock up on groceries on special, join loyalty programs so you can pay discounted prices, shop smart. Pay your bills on time and setup direct debt/online billing as most companies offer nice discounts when doing that. Exercise outdoors or at home instead of joining a gym. I always joke that you should shower at the gym if you’re paying for a membership just to get your money’s worth but we all know there’s some truth in that. Always carry a full, re-usable water bottle with you. Instead of buying books and magazines, borrow them from the nearest library. Don’t pay for cable, Netflix is coming to NZ early next year (if you’re with Slingshot, you can access it now). Put a strategy in place that works for you and always keep your end goal in sight.
Sometimes we waste so much time creating excuses to justify why we can’t do something that we forget so many people actually just do them. I’ve done them, five years ago, out of necessity. Now I’m saving money because travelling is my priority but it takes discipline, commitment and creativity. What about you? What do you do when you need/want to save money? Feel free to leave a comment and share it with me.