Without a doubt the most common question that Casey & I have been asked by our friends/family/coworkers once they heard about our plan is, “How are you able to do this?” (Or as bluntly put by one of my guy friends who came running to hug me once he found out, “HOW RICH ARE YOU?!”). Truth be told, a trip of this magnitude is surprisingly less expensive than most people think. Yes it costs money, but the moment we realized this isn’t a vacation- this is going to be our life, we created a budget and built the trip around that.
Casey & I have been very fortunate to always have some extra cash lying around in savings or investments. But, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t change our lifestyles and start to watch every penny we spent once this trip became a reality. And if you’ve ever tried to save money while living in New York in your twenties, you know how impossible this can be (Seriously. There’s a happy hour and a sample sale around every corner). However, you would be surprised. Changing little things about your daily routine can really make a difference.
And maybe you’re not looking to travel the world. No matter what you’re saving towards, the following 10 tips can help!
- Walk to and from work.
Obviously only applicable if you can walk. In NYC this is $5.50 right back into your pocket and bonus: it’s healthier for you!
- Brew coffee at home or wait to get it at the office.
Self explanatory, I hope. Saves anywhere from $2-6 a day.
- DON’T BUY CLOTHES.
This was the hardest one for me. As someone who regularly has an overstuffed closet and “nothing to wear”, it was painful to curb the desire to run to J.Crew as soon as the 2016 Spring/Summer line hit stores. I can proudly say that I haven’t purchased any “unnecessary” (underwear = necessary) clothing items since January. Pro tip: Own a lot of black clothes. Black is always in style and you can get away with wearing it more often.
- Download Digit.
Shoutout to my friend, Charlene for this one. Digit is an awesome way to save money without even knowing that it’s happening. Every few days, Digit scans your checking account and based on your spending habits, will pull out money to put into a hold account. You seriously don’t even notice it’s gone and you can pull out the money at any time with no fee! Since March I have saved almost $2,000!!
- Cook at home.
Another hard one for me because going out to eat is embedded into the New York social scene, and I wasn’t exactly willing to give up my social life… However, on weeknights when my evening plans consisted of sitting on my couch and catching up on episodes of the Bachelor, making a quick meal at home instead of ordering $20 worth of sushi really did make a difference.
- Setup automatic transfers into savings.
On the 15th of every month, I have my bank automatically take $500 from my checking and put it into my savings account. Don’t have $500 to spare? Start with $300. Or $100. Or $50- That’s $600 a year that you probably forgot about, or two round trip plane tickets!
- Get a piggy bank (Not as lame as it sounds, I promise).
When we were packing up Casey’s room last week he handed me a small drinking glass that was over-flowing with coins. Every day when he got home, Casey would empty his pockets and put his excess change into this cup. I spent the next hour rolling the coins for him to deposit at the bank and he had over $60 of change! Might not seem like a lot, but for such little effort, it turns into quite a nice “rainy day” fund.
- Buy off-brand things.
This was especially relevant for me when it came to make-up. Yes, shopping at Sephora is wonderful and I love the brands there, but it is hard to walk out of that store without spending $100 on maybe three items. In the last 6-7 months, I have purchased the majority of my make-up and skincare products at CVS (gasp!). The quality is on-par with what I used to buy and it’s about 4x cheaper. For someone who doesn’t wear a ton of make-up like me, it just made sense. Definitely check out this Buzzfeed article which gives really awesome and cheap alternatives for pricey make-up.
If you’re like me, the thought of figuring out how to invest my money is enough to make me cross-eyed. Luckily, us financially inept people have apps like Acorns. Similar to Digit, Acorns pulls money out of your checking account, except with them, they will round up all of your transactions to the next dollar amount (ie: $2.70 becomes $3.00) and then invest that extra money behind the scenes at a very low risk. Don’t ask me to explain it much more than that, all that I know is that it works and once again the amount of cash leaving your account is so small you honestly won’t notice that it’s happening.
- And finally, don’t drink.
hahaha, sometimes I make myself laugh. No but seriously, as tempting as that Corona is with your tacos, or that glass of wine with your pasta, it adds up people. Can’t tell you how often Casey & I have gone out to eat on a weeknight, ordered a glass of wine, and the bill for the two of us ended up being over $50. Now let’s be honest, like I mentioned before, I refused to sacrifice my social life to save money so of course I would still get one or two (three, four) drinks at dinner with my girlfriends or when Casey & I had a date night, but did we really need to spend $20 on alcohol on a Tuesday? Probably not.
And there you have it folks! Hopefully this helps you rethink how difficult saving money can be and now you can take some simple steps to save toward that new pair of shoes, that dream car, or to help fund your trip around the World.