It’s the leading cause of lack of world exploration… money. I’ve heard it countless times in every shape and size. Young people want to take off to see the world, but with all their expenses, putting money away for a trip abroad never seems like an option much less a priority. How can they afford to take a trip abroad? For one, choosing an inexpensive country will get you a long way, but regardless, you’re going to have to save up some money, and what better time to start than now. It may appear a quite daunting task, but don’t fret, a few little sacrifices and some dedication will get you there. Here’s exactly how I did it broken down for you. Ignore it or use it as a blue print, but don’t say travel is impossible.
I’ll start off with the biggest potential for savings, rent. It’s likely your biggest expense so cutting it down, even a small percentage, can go a long way. My rent was on average $300 lower than everyone else on the block and lower than all my friends in the area. I’ll be the first to admit that it was a pretty lucky find, but if I hadn’t of come across it, then my search would have continued. I also was willing to settle for less in certain areas. For example, I decided a great location made up for the house’s rickety nature and the fun roommates were worth cleaning up after.
Savings: $300 X 12 Months = $3,600/year
No Car Payment
I’ve been driving around my 1992 Nissan Stanza since I got my license. I love that car and it meets all my needs. Sure it’s annoying when the passenger window isn’t cooperating but is it really that big of a deal? I could afford a new car but what would that get me? A little more horsepower and a tad more luxury. New car or travel? Not a tough question to answer in my opinion.
Savings: $200 X 12 Months = $2,400/year
Initially, I lived pretty far from my work. That lasted all of one month. Not only was it a huge waste of my time driving back and forth, it also was a huge waste of money. I immediately started looking for a place closer and ended up cutting my commute by 35 miles each day. Times that by 5 a week, 52 a year and $4 a gallon and you can a bunch of extra cash on your hands.
Savings: 35 miles / 20 MPG X $4/Gallon X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/year = $1,820/year
Pack a Lunch
You’d be amazed how fast money disappears when you’re eating out on a daily basis. Early on, I decided that Fridays were an eat out day while I’d bring my own lunch Mon-Thurs. Sure I made exceptions and slipped up when I got the “Pho?” instant message on a cloudy day, but on a whole, I was pretty consistent. Now, I’m being extremely conservative in assuming that eating out costs around $10. Usually its more. On the other hand, we’ll say that eating a sandwich that you brought from home or perhaps even some leftovers from last nights dinner averages out to $3.
Savings: $7/meal X 3 meals/week X 52 weeks/year = $1,092/year
TV, Movies and Data
I convinced my roommates that paying for HBO and who knows how many extra channels was a waste of money. If we have ESPN, then I figured we were pretty much all set. Also, I lowered the data package on my phone. 95% of the time I’m at work or home using the WiFi and for when I’m not, there’s Onavo (magical data shrinker). Finally, I enjoy watching a movie in the theater just as much as the next guy, but for $10, lets make this a bi-annual occurrence instead of monthly.
Savings: [$20/month (Cable) + $10/month (Movies) + $15/month (Data)] X 12 months = $540/year
Add all that savings up and its more than I spent on my entire trip! Yea, pretty hard to believe so I did all the calculations twice. And don’t even get me started on gourmet coffee or cigarettes. Those are real money pits that I never touch. I’ll leave those calculations up to you.
Having talked about what I did cut back in, I’d like to quickly point out that I wasn’t passing on all the fun or avoiding spending money on all the time things I actually need. I never stopping eating out completely and going out to bars with friends was still a priority. A few beers isn’t going to break the bank. I also kept my gym membership going along with paying for my soccer team dues. The internet (a necessity) was always going strong at my place and I was even able to pay off one of my student loans. Take care of what needs your attention and leave some space for fun. You should still be able to put some money away.
So now you have all this money that’s not getting drained away after every paycheck. Find the best savings account out there and put it under lock and key. Be patient and don’t let the newest piece of technology catch your eye. Remember, you got big plans. You’ll do things that will make you forget you ever had a crappy car or missed the latest Marvel movie premiere. You’ll have crazy stories and memories to share with your friends and family for years to come. You’ll be better informed on international issues to go along with your better world view. Can you put a price on that?