I've had so many people ask me how I fund my adventures, and whilst I wish there was some magical secret way to make money by simply being awesome the truth is that I work my bum off and forgo many things I'd like to have. It's about priorities, and I am incredibly lucky to be able to prioritise things the way I do.
Before I get into my recommendations, I absolutely have to pause and address the privileges in the room - mine. I am in good health, so my medical bills are not an issue, I am university educated, so it's a bit easier for me to find jobs, I have an approachable personality, no mental challenges, and I'm white, so people trust me (also helping me get jobs - biases are the worst) and I have a good relationship with my parents. All of these things help me save money, but even if you can only do one of the things below that is one step closer to your next adventure.
Moving swiftly along, here are my biggest money savers -
I don't eat meat (for environmental reasons, but cost is a bonus), drink only water, and buy most of my food in bulk and from farmers markets when its in season, which means my food bills are pretty cheap. Food id one of your biggest expenses, so big changes to the way you eat can add up really quickly.
I don't shop. The only time I even let myself walk into a shop is if I need a specific thing really badly, and then I have that one thing in my mind and it's all I'm allowed to buy. When I really can't avoid buying something then I always try to find it second hand first. Buying fast fashion encourages producers to keep making low quality items in unfair factory conditions using practices that often harm air and water quality as well. Buying second hand means your money isn't going to those big corporations, in many cases second hand shops fund charities! Yay!
Something that a lot of people struggle with, and that I took quite a while to train myself out of, is perceived need. We've all had those moments where we've looked at our wardrobes and thought "I need a new blah". Sometimes it's a real need, like when you are going on a 5 day hike and you have lost your raincoat... Or if you have just been invited to the general assembly of the United Nations and you are a university student who does not own business formal clothing.... But realistically that doesn't happen often. A lot of the time we could make do if we wanted to, it's a matter of training your brain to recognise those scenarios and deal with them in a non-consumeristic way.
I use busses and trains whenever possible, at home and while travelling. As I write this I am sitting on an intercity bus from Wellington to Palmerston North to go and see a play that my friend wrote and produced. It's less convenient than driving, because when you arrive you need to arrange lifts or take public transportation, but it's also a lot better for the environment than driving a car by your self or flying. And it's half the price, so that's always a win.
I travel light. Real light. Carry on only most of the time. When people think of minimalism we often picture that apartment with super stylish cacti in white ceramic bowls, but really it's about only having things that you absolutely need. When I travel with just my little backpack I have everything I need, nothing I don't. Other more tangible positives are that I save loads on baggage, because I never pay extra for a bag on the super budget flights! Checked bags can cost up to €40 sometimes, and that's the same as the entry fee for two people for the acropolis in Athens! I know what I'd rather spend my cash money on...
I am in New Zealand for short enough stints that I can move in with my parents without going crazy - that saves a huge bundle (about $180-200 a week!). This is where my good relationship with my parents is a huge privilege. They are wonderful, and are happy to support me whatever I do. Of course there are downsides, I live out in the suburbs, it's awkward having friends over late at night, and my parents know every detail of my non-existent love life.... but these are sacrifices I am willing to make.
If you aren't so lucky as to be able to move home for that sweet sweet cheap rent, and you don't mind moving around a bit - look into house sitting! There are websites all over the world that will link you up with a house that'll be empty for a month or two and maybe has an adorable pooch that needs walking and feeding, and you get to live there for very little, or even nothing, as long as you look after the place! A friend of mine recently went almost a year without paying rent through a combination of couch surfing and house sitting!
And finally, I work. Not just one job, usually two, often three depending on the season, and a few random one offs as well. Obviously I can't do three full time jobs, I checked - there aren't enough hours in a day, so I usually have a main job and two jobs that are either part time or casual. Right now, for example, my main job is nanny - 15 hours a week, my second job is event manager - casual, between 3 and 12 hours a week, and my latest job is gardening - 5-15 hours a week depending on weather and when people want things done. On top of that I pick up random bits and pieces like painting a room or facilitating corporate team building events (networks yo) and at the end of a good week I can be looking at 50-60 hours.
This adds up pretty quickly, but it does mean that a lot of the time I have to drop or postpone plans with friends at relatively short notice, and I work long hours. My friends are wonderful though, and put up with it. My weekends are also in short supply, but I can deal with that for shorter periods of time.
This kind of work life is definitely not sustainable, but you can do anything if your goals are strong enough and I always know what I'm aiming for, so even when I'm cleaning poo off the third thing that day (#nannylife) all I'm thinking about is walking through the hills in the Banff National Park, or standing on the shore of Iceland watching puffins nesting.
So there you have it! That's how I do it, much less glamorous than you thought, right? But for me it's completely worth it.
I'll see you all soon, somewhere!
Labels: budget, budget travel, carry on, carry on luggage, holiday, lifestyle, minimalism, money, priorities, public transport, saving, travel, travel money, vegetarianism, work