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5 Ways To Travel in Europe on A Budget This Summer

5 Ways To Travel in Europe on A Budget This Summer

Summer is here and you’re excited to head off on that dream vacation to Europe. The one small problem is that you’re not really all that ready. You might know when you’re going to go and when you need to be back, but Europe is such a vast and varied place that working out exactly how to do it all properly is pretty overwhelming. What’s worse, you’re not sure that you’ve even got enough money.

Luckily for you, there are a number of smart ways to travel in Europe on a budget. I’ve done it and used them all, multiple times. Below are five simple tips that should help you do the same whilst having one of the best holidays of your life.

1. Hit the Road

Europe is fully covered by a plethora of low-cost airlines offering cheap flights to all the major cities. The problem is that at this time of year the cheapest of these seats have probably been taken up.

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Young travellers can look to have an authentic European travelling experience by buying a Eurail train pass. These can work out to be very good value if you use them a lot, but they need a lot of forward planning and you will have to move quite often to get your money’s worth.

A cheaper option is to head down to the bus station and jump on a coach. Modern coach travel is pretty comfortable, often now comes with free Wifi, and is usually a much cheaper option than a flight or train ticket. Journey times are obviously a bit longer, but if you can get a night bus, you save twice. Not only will the journey be cheaper but you won’t be paying for accommodation that evening either.

BlaBlaCar is another decent road alternative if you’d like to share a car ride with people making the same journey as you. You can sign up quickly via Facebook and there will be plenty of rides available across the whole of mainland Europe.

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2. Go East

London, Paris, Rome, and Barcelona all pull at the heart strings of those travellers from outside Europe who are heading over on their first visit, but these major cities do not come cheap, especially in summer. Unless you have a lot of time and money on your hands, it would be wise to make one or two of these cities your jumping off and departure points and then look to the east in order to get some real value for money.

Everything is cheaper the further east you travel in Europe but this does not mean you have to compromise in any way on the amazing places that you can experience here. Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Sarajevo, and Ljubljana are just some of the city highlights that you can find in the east. In these places you’ll encounter history, culture, and architecture to match all of the big boys. And the people are often more welcoming than in the more historically popular capital cities where everybody is just a teensy bit tired of all the tourists by this point.

3. Unlock Your Phone

One of the quickest ways to watch all your money get eaten when you travel in Europe is for you to use the roaming service from your mobile carrier. Some companies do now offer good deals on this, but any digital nomads who rely on their phones to allow them to work whilst travelling will definitely need more data.

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The best way to get around this is for you to unlock your phone before your departure and pick up a free SIM card when you enter any of the major cities in Europe. This is particularly useful if you’re planning on staying in one country for a while. Even if you are not, a European SIM from a low-cost company like Lebara will allow you to move from country to country within the EU without incurring too many additional charges.

4. Double Up

Undoubtedly the most expensive part of travelling anywhere is the cost of accommodation. The easiest way to make this cheaper is by splitting the cost. Anyone thinking about making a solo trip should perhaps consider whether there could actually be a good friend out there who might want to join you. Your costs will immediately come down and you won’t have to take so many selfies.

For those people who do really want to go it alone, the best sleeping options will be in the hostels with shared dorm rooms. You can find really cheap beds in these places all over Europe, but some are obviously better than others, so make sure you do a little bit of research before making your booking.

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5. Eat Cheap, Eat Local

After accommodation, food is where you are most likely to blow most of your budget. This doesn’t have to be the case if you do as the locals do and buy your food stuffs from the supermarket. Bread, fruit, and vegetables are all relatively cheap wherever you go, especially if you are buying local produce. This is an excellent way to save money but also one that pumps money directly back into the local economy.

If you fancy eating out a restaurant try to do so at lunch time. In many European countries this is often the main meal of the day and most restaurants usually offer special lunchtime multi-course options that are very good value.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Published on October 8, 2018

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

1. Choose a major category each month to attack

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

2. Only make major purchases in the morning

If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

4. Read one-star reviews for products

Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

9. Budget using cash and envelopes

As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

10. Join a like-minded group

Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

11. Reward Yourself

When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

12. Take the Buddhist approach

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

Conclusion

Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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