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15 Ways to Cut Down Your Expenses So You Can Afford to Travel

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Even YOU Can Afford to Travel

I wise man once said: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” It was probably Abraham Lincoln. He said a lot of noteworthy things, right? Nevertheless, the quote still stands. What they forgot to add to that quote is: “But you need some money to travel.”

It’s no secret: flights are costly and taking so much time off work to hike, bike and skydive come with expenses. But with the working holiday visa in New Zealand allowing young people to work as they travel and the fact that New Zealand has a great selection of cheap hostels and free activities, you don’t have to be a millionaire to afford to travel; check out typical costs for a gap year in New Zealand in What is the Cost of Backpacking in New Zealand?

So take a look at our quick money-saving tips below, and you’ll find yourself jetting off to your dream destination in no time.

Looking for a more detailed approach cutting the costs so you can afford to travel? Check out How to Save Money for a Gap Year in New Zealand.

1. Make a Weekly Budget (and Stick to It)

Having a set weekly budget is the best way to avoid superfluous spending. Sit down with a piece of paper and write down all your expenses. Then start taking off a few things that are not necessary. Set yourself a weekly budget for food, partying, transport, etc. Keeping your budget in mind when shopping or going out will help you manage your finances better and ultimately, afford a trip to the other side of the globe!

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2. Ditch the Credit Card

It seems kind of obvious but any overdraft ends up costing you much more than you think. Try paying cash and only buy what you can afford. That way, you will see a fast improvement to your finances. If cash is not an option, swap your credit card for a debit card. This should already make a big difference.

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3. Get a Savings Account

Since we are talking about banking, go to your bank and open a savings account. Having a separate account for your “Travel Fund” will help you see real-time progress, which is highly motivating to save more. Plus, it will make you more likely to avoid impulse spending because that would involve taking money out of your travel fund, which fills you with unbearable guilt!

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4. Cut Down on the Coffee

Spending $3-$8 on coffee every day is not unusual for many of us. That adds up to a lot of money at the end of the month. Borrow your mate’s Thermos and fill it up at home before leaving for work. This will give you the same morning kick without costing you an arm and a leg. Plus, you’ll feel good since you are saving the planet by avoiding disposable cups every day.

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5. Reconsider Your Phone Plan

Do you really need unlimited data and 600 minutes calling? Check how many minutes/data/texts you used last month to work out a cheaper phone plan. This will start decreasing your monthly expenses, as phone plans often add up to hundreds of dollars each year. While you’re at it, you can also do the same for your internet bill. That’s all the more money going towards your dream trip.

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6. Get Unbranded Groceries

Instead of buying big brand food items, settle for unbranded products. In many cases, they are very similar only the packaging and marketing is different. There are even many cases where branded and unbranded products come from the same factory. Extra tip: try to avoid food shopping when you’re hungry. It makes buying those extra snacks all the more tempting!

For more money-saving tips when food shopping, check out the 11 Backpacker Tips to Save Money on Food.

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7. Cancel the Cable

If there are a few shows that you cannot live without, watch them at a friend’s house. (What are friends for if it’s not to use their stuff)? For the rest of the time, learn to entertain yourself with basic programming or even the internet. There’s more to learn online than any TV show will ever offer. Take our guide for example – hours and hours of highly entertaining reads. Right?! Right?!

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8. Cook Your Own Lunch

What happened to the good old days when people used to arrive at work with their doggy bag? Preparing your own lunch will save you tens of dollar every week. Plus, it is probably a healthier alternative than the fast-food joint across the road. On the topic of food, try to cook in bulk and freeze a part of your meal, as it is a proven method to save money as portions are rarely individually sized.

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9. Let Your Friends Know That You are Saving Money

It is always hard to save money when all your mates inviting you to gigs or expensive activities. For this reason, taking the time to tell them that you are trying to save money means you will earn their support and they’ll keep that in mind when thinking of their next gathering. Some may even be keen to join you in the effort with a similar or different goal in mind.

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10. Improve Your Commute to Work

Driving your car costs a lot of money and parking is an extra huge expense, especially if you live in a big city. Consider taking the bus or the train to work or, if possible, cycle or walk. Did you know that most people spend between 3-8% of their wages on commuting?! We’d rather spend that money on a flight to New Zealand.

Speaking of flights, have you checked out our top tips on finding a cheap flight to New Zealand?

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11. Gym No More

Instead of paying to run on a treadmill between two sweaty people, why not go for a run in the park? Gym memberships are a regular expense that can be trimmed down quite easily. The lower your monthly budget becomes, the faster you can get to New Zealand and exercise in the world’s best backyard.

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12. Move Back in with Your Parents

“Mum, Dad, I’m coming back home!” There is nothing sweeter to a mother’s ear than those simple words. (Unless you were a little shit growing up). On top of making your parents happy, you are trading expensive rent for a smaller bill and occasional groceries. It will only take a few months to save enough money to fly out and have the time of your life in Middle-earth.

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13. Slow Down the Drinking

Socialising at the pub is all fine and fun, but it comes at a very high cost. Try a non-alcoholic drink next time you go out, it will probably be a third of the price and save you from the obligatory $15 burger at 2am. Try hosting entertainment at home with BYO drinks and snacks for only a fraction of the price.

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14. Sell Your Stuff

Our generation tends to be hoarders. Start piling up all the clothes that you never wear and the things that you never use. List them online or sell them to your mates. Not only will this clear out your room for when you move to the other side of the world for a year, but it will also unlock a good chunk of cash. Now you can afford to bungy jump when you come to a land down under!

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15. Turn Off the Light

Power bills can easily be reduced by a few simple measures: turning off the light, properly switching off your TV and computer instead of leaving them in stand by, and making sure that your appliances are switched off properly. This will help you both save the planet and decrease your power bill. Every dollar saved will get you a step closer to your dream trip. We guarantee you won’t regret having to spend an extra minute starting your laptop every morning.

This will also prepare you to Be Green When Travelling in New Zealand.

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Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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