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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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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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