How I save money to travel

“How do you afford to travel so much?”

I get asked this A LOT! Sometimes by friends, sometimes by colleagues, and sometimes by complete strangers. There are hundreds of articles telling you how to save money to travel, usually coupled with the author going on to say it’s “none of your business”, but I have to disagree a little. If someone asks me where I get the money to travel, I don’t feel annoyed. After all, it is a question many people want to ask but are too afraid to. My answer is always the same… I work. The conversation usually stops there, as people don’t like to delve deeper into someones financial life, but I want to really lay out how I do it. Why? Because it’s achievable to nearly everyone I know! So when people say “I wish I could do what you do!”,  I want to smack you round the face with my passport because you can!

I have twice saved around £5000 in 6 months. Working as a waitress, on minimum wage. 

Nothing weird or dodgy involved, just hard work. And I am not going to start by telling you that giving up your daily takeaway latte will buy you a round the world ticket, a statement that seems to appear in every money saving article! So, lets go into financials, my own in fact! Kinda scary to be putting this out there, but whatever! For ease, I will use my last job and outgoings, but when at home and saving previously, it has been pretty much the same.

Firstly, I am on hourly pay, not salary. That is incentive enough to take every shift I can when I want to save money to travel. When it’s low season, hours are around 35 a week, high season more like 60. So lets go with an average of 45. Already I may have lost some of you at the though of working that many hours a week! That is 180 hours a month, and on minimum wage, gives me an income of £1350 a month. Now add on tips, the reason I always go for restaurant work! Anywhere from £60 to £130 a week, it is completely unpredictable from week to week and dependant on how busy it is. I will use £90 as a middle ground. So that is another £360 a month.

That gives a monthly income of £1710. Take away your tax (£280 ish), and your left at £1430. It is also worth noting I haven’t worked 12 months in a tax year for a long time, so do not earn over the threshold of £11,850 , meaning a rebate at the end of the financial year.

Where my money goes….

£1430 a month. Ok, so my biggest expense? Rent. £200 a month, because I live with my mum and sister. Does that bother me at 26 years old? No, because it leaves me £1230 a month. If you are serious and really want to save money to travel, make a sacrifice; share a flat, move in with your parents, work for accommodation, whatever it takes!
I spend £20 a month on my phone for an add on that gives me 12 gb, minutes and texts, no contract!
I go out for lunch or dinner once a week maybe, so that’s around £60 a month. I don’t drink a lot, work gives me a free drink every Saturday and I probably go out for maybe 2 drinks a week, or take a bottle of wine to a friends, so £8 a week = £32 a month. This is something that I think people can easily spend more on but it’s not really a necessity is it?
Working so many hours means the restaurant is like my second home. Luckily for me I get free tea, coffee and food at work, so for 5/6 days a week I have maybe a cup of tea and a snack at home.Lets call that my groceries, at £15 a week, so another £60.
I rarely get my hair done, but I do of course buy a few hair products or make up bits, so maybe £40 a month.
And that is really about it, sometimes a new skirt, coffees, a vet bill, a gift for someone, a trip away or an activity like bowling, so lets just add on another £150 a month to cover this random stuff, although I would say that is a generous estimate.
So, with a starting amount of £1430, minus the outgoings of :

  • Rent £200
  • Phone £20
  • Eating out £60
  • Drinking £32
  • Groceries £60
  • Hair and beauty £40
  • Random other £150

Leaving a grand total of £868.  Don’t touch that for 6 months and you have got £5208

Where my money doesn’t go….

  • Car. A huge expense, and although I have owned a car in the past, it’s not something I will be rushing out to buy whenever I am home.
  • Phone. I had an iPhone 5c for 3.5 years, then a few months ago it died. So I bought a second hand iPhone 6 off Gumtree for £100.
  • Clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I have a huge amount of clothes, but none of them are new. Do I care that I still wear dresses I bought 6 years ago?
  • Smoking. Not only is it a grim habit that is terrible for your health, but smoking costs a fortune, so I save a lot by not smoking!
  • Gym membership. I get it free with my job, another perk. And when working in diving, you really don’t need a gym!

Everybody’s situation is different…

I know that, but I also know so many people who claim they could never afford to travel, when they absolutely could if they put their mind to it. There is no luck or magic involved and no one has ever given me any money. You just have to work for what you want, whether it is save money to travel the world, or another goal in life!

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