Saving money as a full time student can be really hard to achieve. Yet I managed to save over $3000 for my travel in less than five months on a minimum wage salary for my one month trip to Thailand.
It wasn’t easy. To be honest, if I didn’t have such a strong desire to travel I would have never made it.
Alright so let’s Break it Down
First I had to set myself a goal. According to some friends that went backpacking and online research $3500 seemed like a good amount to save and use as follow:
- $1000 for the plane ticket.
- $1500 for all my spending in Thailand.
- $1000 for gear, insurance and so on.
Then I dissected my mandatory spending and my income:
- My school tuition (~$1600 for the semester)
- My books (~$500)
- Public transit pass ($90 per month)
- My phone bill ($60 per month)
- Food (~$100 per month – I normally spend a lot more on food, but I reduced my spending greatly for my trip)
- Unexpected spending ($100)
I didn’t note down my other spending because I knew that I had to get rid of it no matter what it was.
Keep in mind that I am a full-time student and I work part-time at minimum wage. I still live with my parents therefore I don’t have any rent and I don’t have a car because most of my commute is in the down town area.
Now let’s break down my salary. I make about $10 per hour (after taxes) and I work 25 hours a week. I average $250 a week in income from my job.
It’s the 1st of January 2017 and I have about $1500 in my bank account and I am making $250 per week. My trip is in 24 weeks. Which means that I should make a total of 250 x 24 = $6000 + the $1500 I already had. So $7500. Now let’s subtract the mandatory expenses that I mentioned above:
$7500 – $1600 – $500 – ($90 x 5) – ($60 x 5) – ($100 x 5) – (5 x $100) = $3650
Alright, so I should have $3650 left which is more than what I was hoping to save.
Okay so How do I Achieve that?
Well it’s simple to explain but harder to achieve. Your lifestyle will have to change slightly when you set out new goals. Here are the major changes I did.
- I reduced my leisure spending to almost $0 (probably the hardest part).
- I greatly reduced my food spending.
- I cancelled subscription based fees such as Netflix and PlayStation.
- I completely changed my shopping habits. The only things I bought since January were school related supplies or my travel gear (mainly my backpack).
- I looked for opportunities to make money on the side.
But even then, there are too many unexpected events that will cause you to spend a bit more. So I ended up finding opportunities to make extra money on the side (no not by selling drugs). I looked around my room and started finding things that I no longer needed or used and started selling them on eBay. I sold branded clothes, a camera (that I found at a thrift store for $2), some old video games and other items I found laying around.
Here’s a small list of things you can do to make a bit of extra income.
- Sell things you don’t need on eBay.
- If you own a car, sign up for Uber
- There are companies that pay you small amounts to test and review websites or apps. (Someone recommended me UserTesting. You can google it if you’re interested)
- You can look online for freelance work (it could be writing, design, editing and so on).
What did I End up Spending?
So far I have completed most of my pretravel expenses:
- Plane ticket $1150
- Backpack $250
- Travel insurance $110
- Packing cubes, rain cover and all other minor expenses $100
I went a bit above budget for my plain ticket, but I explained why in a previous blog. I also spent a lot less on my other expenses which leaves me with a higher budget for Thailand of approximately $1900.
The Point is
I became frugal, in other words I learned to never act on impulse when it comes to purchasing anything and actually think before spending a specific amount on something. I also found creative ways and looked for opportunities to make a bit of extra money here and there so I can still have money to spend for outings with friends.
Now this is an important lesson because I learned how to be really careful with my money and think before purchasing something. That will allow me to save up money more efficiently for future trips or investments.