In an age of crushing austerity, when many of us are struggling to get on the property ladder, travel can seem like a needless frippery. And yet, we know that adventure makes us happier, less stressed and more fulfilled.
And, while money doesn’t grow on trees, much like a wilting house plant, it can bloom with a little attention. So, for those of you mulling over the idea of a 6-month break abroad, check out our money-saving tips, below. They won’t bring an overnight windfall but – like all the best saving methods – they’ll breed small habits that prompt bigger change. Take a read, and get set to spread your wings…
Set up an escape fund
Take a look at your monthly outgoings and work out where you can cut back. Then, shop around for a high-interest current or savings account (bearing in mind that many banks will pay you to join them), and set up a standing order that takes money directly out of your paycheck every month. Just like tax or a student loan repayment, your travel savings then become a non-negotiable sum that you don’t even think about spending.
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Cut back on luxuries
Savings don’t happen without sacrifice, so take a long hard look at what you can do without. Daily coffees, lunches, dinners with friends: all are expensive habits and you’ll be amazed at how much you save by cutting them right out. Get into the habit of homemade lunches, check out the nearest free events to you and maybe invest in some cheap, drink-at-home vino. Look on it as a challenge to spend as little as you can.
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Assess your living arrangements
Granted, moving back in with your parents is a major step. But there *are* ways you can whittle down your rent bill without taking out a room at the hotel of mum and dad. Could you move into a cheaper, shared flat for a while? Can you rent out your place and house-sit for a mate? Maybe you can take on a lodger, or Airbnb out your spare room? Rent payment is the biggest outgoing for most people, so it’s worth working out how you can hustle it down.
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Rent out your car or parking space
With a recent boom in the sharing economy, you stand to make a fair few bob by renting out your car – especially if you live in a big city like London. If you tend to commute to work and have your car sitting around in the driveway, this is a great little earner; you can receive around £30 a day through services such as easyCar Club. The same goes for renting out your parking space.
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Get selling on eBay
eBay is your best mate in the money-making process – and you don’t necessarily need designer clothes to get the cash flowing in. Old PlayStation games, retro toys, those golf clubs you once loved: there are so many random items that carry unexpected eBay currency. Even empty boxes, cords, or old handsets have their value. Try de-cluttering at the same time (Marie Kondo’s famous tome is a must-read) , as an added incentive.
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Take up a part-time job
From baby-sitting to dog-walking or evening bar work, there are so many ways to make money with a part-time job. Some, such as private tutoring, command a fair amount of cash per hour. Others, like errands service TaskRabbit, are flexible and easy to slot around your daily routine. You can also sign up to a website like PeoplePerHour to sell your skills – be that programming, content writing or social media marketing – on an ad hoc basis.
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Become a mystery shopper
Certain consumer sites will pay you to take a surprise visit to particular shops and restaurants in your area, and rate the experience that you had there. The fees can be modest (say, £2.50 for a visit to Gregg’s, on top of £5 expenses for the food) but it can provide a handy double-up on eating out. Plus, there is real money to be made. Market Force, one of the leading websites in this arena, says its most frequent mystery shoppers earn £2,000 a year (according to Love Money, which has this useful summary on the topic). In a similar vein, you can also make money by taking part in online surveys.
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Use your skills like a pro
Forget about what you do for a living: even the most incidental skills can be used to make money. For example, if you’re the kind of person who loves to hand-make your own cards, why not flog your talents on Etsy? You’ll still get to do what you love, but with the added bonus of making a few coins on the side. Or, if you adore to cook, perhaps you can look at catering for small events near where you live. It doesn’t take long to set up a Facebook page, and you can get word out among friends of friends. Are you a video editor, musician or photographer? Maybe you can branch out, and use your skills in the wedding industry. Look at the services with the biggest demand, and work out whether you can play a part in them.