In total we spent just over a year saving for our trip and managed to save enough to travel without needing to work for approximately 12 months.
We had to be careful with our spending and make some difficult decisions to not do things at times, but overall it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.
Here are our top 12 tips on how we saved money to travel and how you can too:
1. Got rid of non-essential expenses
This ranged from gym memberships to my car. We stopped buying clothes – it’s surprising how easy it is to make do with what you already have. I even saved on hairdressing by J cutting my hair! Turns out he’s actually quite good.
2. Monthly “budget meetings”
Boring but essential. We reviewed what we had saved so far, whether we were on target and whether we needed to re-adjust our budgets for essentials. We did these in our local pub over a pint so we didn’t get too bored!
3. Transferred savings immediately
Through our budget meetings, we had committed to saving a specific amount each month and this was transferred immediately after our pay days to our saving account – not to be touched.
4. Paid off debts
We did this as a priority so that we could see our savings building up which gave us extra motivation.
5. Reduced our food bill
we budgeted £40 per week for all food and drink (it is possible) and turned this into a game by seeing how little we could spend on a weekly shop! We were also strict about taking packed lunches to work and planning what we would be eating for the week so we didn’t overbuy or waste food.
6. Fun budget
As part of our budgeted allowances we set ourselves a £50 per week “fun” budget. From this we had to pay for anything that we wanted to buy or do e.g. new coat or going out for a mate’s birthday. If we had something bigger planned, we had to combine fun budgets or save them up over a few weeks. We were strict with this – no fun budget equalled no fun.
7. Being realistic about what we could do
We had to turn down quite a few events and engagements that we just couldn’t afford, this involved rationing and planning social events in advance so we could split our time fairly between family and friends.
8. Changed our social habits
Instead of going out we had friends over to eat or we went to theirs – as self confessed foodies this was one of the most difficult things. However, J is a fantastic cook so our friends never complained!
9. Sold our stuff
Anything that we had knocking about that was worth anything, we sold. This gave us quite a few extra quid.
10. Made presents
I can be quite crafty when I put my mind to it so I made presents for birthdays, weddings, births etc – which I think friends were actually quite touched by!
11. Brewed our own alcohol
We both enjoy a drink but alcohol is costly! So instead of going T-Total we made our own beer and wine. With varying success.
12. Took advantage of discounts
As a perk of J’s job he got monthly discount vouchers to spend in pubs which meant we didn’t have to miss out completely. We tended to save these as treats for when we were feeling a bit low about what at times seemed like never ending saving and planning.
It was tough but totally worth it!
Sarah & James