Ahh yes, the eternal conundrum. We all want to travel, but travel costs money, now doesn’t it? Whether travel must necessarily be a huge drain on the ol’ bank account is a theme for another article, but I’m certainly ready with a few ideas for how to save up a few extra quid (or bucks, if you will).
1) Those things at the bottom of your legs? They’re called feet.
Rediscover them. Ditching the car can save you an absolute fortune. Clearly, most people are not in a position to go without wheels totally, but it’s worth asking yourself whether you really need it for that nip to the cornership or taking your kids to school. Walking’s in my blood. I used to walk home 5km home from school each day and then in Vienna 7km to work and back. I loved it. It’s certainly a lot less frustrating than sitting in a traffic jam or cursing when the traffic lights turn red. If you’re in the position to try a less auto-filled life, give it a go.
2) Brown bag it.
Do you remember your school lunchbox fondly? I do! So revive it. Pack yourself a little picnic for lunch each day and you could save several pounds each meal. If you’re more of a hot meals for lunch kind of person, this requires more organisation, but it’s relatively easy to whip up a huge batch of chilli and take it to work a few days in a row or freeze it for later use. Sandwiches made at home tend not only to be healthier if you skimp on the mayo, but much cheaper than the store-bought variety. Additionally, with all these new cooking skills, you can impress your date or partner without forking out for restaurant food!
3) Make staying home the new black.
For all you social butterflies meeting your friends at fancy bars and restaurants several times a week: reconsider. It’s great fun, but incredibly expensive. Why not throw a dinner party and get your friends to reciprocate? Have a cheese and wine evening or stay in with some friends, pop some popcorn and watch a movie. Obviously don’t become a recluse – but start thinking about cheaper alternatives to activities you enjoy.
4) Save automatically
If possible, arrange with your employer that a cut of your paycheck is deposited automatically into your savings account. If this isn’t possible, try to be disciplined and do the same yourself with online banking. Even if you don’t manage it every month, it’s better than nothing. At home, try keeping a piggy bank around. At the end of each week, empty all your spare change into it. Nice and easy – you won’t even miss it!
5) Get a second job
Think you can spare an evening or two a week – maybe a day at weekends? Then this option may be for you. Jobs for students in particular are easy to come by: bar work, restaurant work, call centres, fast food gigs, even tutoring, so there’s no excuse. If you’re already in fulltime work, things are more tricky, but depending on the time you’re willing to invest, it is possible. Many restaurants and bars will take on staff for just a few shifts a week, particularly for awkward shifts other employees like to avoid. If your hours are more flexible, try joining an agency to pick up odd shifts here and there.
6) Do odd jobs
Babysitting, dog walking, lawn mowing? The world is your oyster. Ask around your circle of friends, post flyers in your neighbourhood, talk to your local parish, whatever you like. If you have additional talents, why not offer those out as well? Trained as an electrician? Quick and easy fixes. Studied history? Tutor some struggling students. Know a second language? Try teaching someone else. Make sure your prices are fair and people will pick up on it.
7) Keep your eye on the goal
It always helps to keep a close eye on your finances, particularly when you’re saving for a particular goal. If you don’t watch out, you can easily fall behind or fall totally off the wagon – this is not good! Make sure to check your bank statements regularly (internet banking is a godsend), keep your receipts together and try keeping a spreadsheet of your expenses so you can identify where your money’s going. You might discover some seriously big drains this was that you’d never noticed before.