By Lauren Mhyra
As young students, and even young adults, finances can be a difficult subject to touch on. Like many millennials, living the broke college life has become a character trait. Many have the perception that studying abroad and traveling as a student is near impossible. I, like many others, just saw the lump sum cost of the study abroad program and knew my financial aid wouldn’t cover it. I then completely tossed the idea out of the window. However, I am here to tell you to throw the phase “I can’t afford this so I can’t do it” in the trash because unless you’ve exhausted every single resource, there is ways to afford it.
I’m frequently asked how I afford to travel so often, or told that I’m so lucky I can afford the things that I do. I admit, if you look at my instagram I come off a tad bit boujee but behind the scenes I am far from that. I live paycheck to paycheck like many of my millennial peers, I just sacrifice other aspects of my life to see the world. Here are my tips and tricks for anyone who wants to do the same and ballon a budget.
Plan in Advance
That large lump sum fee is very intimidating at first glance but if you break it down into smaller payments then it’s not as scary. If you plan a trip in advance you can pay for a little bit each month. Also, utilize inclusive group travel companies that don’t require payment up front and have interest free payments. My favorite is EF Ultimate break because all they require is $150 deposit and they break it into interest free payments. I planned my Oktoberfest trip through them in advance and made small monthly payments while they did all of the planning.
Separate Savings Account
Invest in a separate savings that is not linked to your everyday checking account. This way you can set up a standing order of how much you planned to set aside each month and it’s not tempting to just transfer the money. I have my employer take a certain percentage of my paycheck and deposit it into my savings and the rest of is directly deposited into my checking. That way the money I planned to save is already out of sight and out of mind by the time it hits my account.
Skip the Extras
You might not realize but that morning coffee or lunch out really adds up. A huge part of my savings come from cutting those extra costs out. A $5 coffee five days a week is $100 dollars a month. I see lunch out and coffee daily as luxury goods. I can get a weeks worth of lunches for the same price as one meal out. Being on a budget is going to mean making sacrifices. Eating a few boring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches definitely makes up for it when you’re able to enjoy pasta in Rome or paella in Spain.
With the advancement of technology there is so many different ways to pick up a few extra bucks here and there. If you’re in school or already working full time the idea of adding extra hours to your already busy workload sounds exhausting. But there are easy things to do in order to make a few extra bucks. Teaching english online is one way to work from the comfort of your home, teaching pre-planned hourly lessons on your own schedule. There is also part-time jobs such as babysitting and ridesharing, the gig economy makes it doable on your own schedule. When I was planning to do my internship with Stint I signed up to drive with Uber in order to start saving. It wasn’t the most glamorous job but I made good money and it allowed me to spend the summer interning in Ireland.
Travel Smarter Not Harder
When it comes to budget travel, it’s about what’s the cheapest not what’s the most comfortable. This means hostels with 20 people per room and that questionable budget airline. I don’t need a five star luxury hotel for a few hours to sleep at night or a first class ticket for a short hours journey. Also, several countries offer working holiday visas. A working holiday visa is a permit that allows you to live and work in a country to supplement your travels. The working holiday visa in Ireland was extremely easy to obtain, and finding work wasn’t difficult. Living in Ireland has established me a hub that makes linking up to other country super affordable. The working holiday visa has allowed me to see most of Europe at half the cost if I did it in one giant trip.
Going abroad doesn’t have to be so far out of reach. If you’re willing to put in the work then sacrifices will pay off with millions of memories around the world. Get rid of the ‘I can’t afford this’ mindset and replace it with the ‘how can I make this work’ attitude and your possibilities are endless.