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How to Travel the World on a College Budget

How to Travel the World on a College Budget

Traveling is a great way to keep yourself going during the hard grueling semester’s work. But having the money to finance your travelling desires is truly the only thing in your way from dropping everything and leaving! Here are a list of very helpful, uncommon tips that will help you get away much faster on a college budget.

Ways to fund travel

Credit Cards

Using credit cards to travel overseas can be very risky; especially if you do not have the means and a solid plan to pay back the expenses that you will incur. The good thing about using a credit card to help you travel overseas is that some of them (please do your research before applying to any credit card company) come with currency exchange, so when you arrive in a new country it will exchange your currency for you rather than you having to go through the trouble of doing it yourself. You can also go to a neighboring country that uses the same currency, but has a better exchange rate, so you get more of their money for less of yours (keep that in mind)!

When using a credit card to travel out of the country, make sure that it can be used worldwide (check with the issuer). You could also look into a student credit card, which sometimes have better benefits for college students.

Just keep in mind that being irresponsible with credit cards will put you further into debt than the student loans you might be using for your education.

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Being financially literate will help you save money

Check with your bank to see what the ATM fees and debit/credit card usage policies are overseas. This way you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into and won’t feel blindsided if you come home owing a lot more money than you originally anticipated. Look into as many possible avenues as you can in regards to worldwide credit cards, student credit cards (that can be used worldwide), and programs such as the two below that can help you save money.

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

The ISIC gives you access to student discounts on flights, museums, and attractions. You can save much more money by investing in this card rather than not. It doesn’t make anything free for you, but it does make certain things more affordable with the discounts that it gives you access to. You can visit their website for further information.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

By becoming a part of WWOOF you’ll have access to jobs across the world, and will be accommodated on your journey to a certain extent. For all intents and purposes, at least WWOOF provides a place for you to stay. It is essentially like volunteer work. You do not get paid to help on the farm, but room and board are provided. Each membership costs $30 USD per year and needs to be renewed annually. You can read more from their FAQ at their website.

Where Should You Stay?

Hostel instead of a Hotel

Hostels are much cheaper and they can be found in various locations. There are hostels outside of the cities you’re visiting so it’s more cost-efficient, and hostels that are within the city limits which rival hotels. Most hotels are inside city limits and the prices are higher because of that reason. The important things to remember with hostels are as follows:

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  • Hostels may charge for using their laptops/tablets/computers–so make sure you bring your own.
  • Drinks are cheaper at your own hostel
  • Use services like www.hostelworld.com or www.hostelbookers.com to find your hostel destination.
  • Never tell your hostel when you’ll be arriving. If you arrive late they will give up your room and you won’t be able to get your deposit returned to you.
  • Always bring a padlock (or two).

Getting There: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

How to get there is important, every bit as important as keeping money in your wallet. Stay frugal, open-minded and choose your means wisely. Search for flights on lesser-known airlines. When you get to your destination, say if you’re going to a place such as Europe with a great train system, take the trains.

What to do when you get there

Follow the Deals

When you’re traveling with only your college budget in mind and not so much your destination, it makes it easier to stick to following the deals.

Your best bet is to schedule your trips outside of major tourists’ months, when the prices drop. If you get off the main streets and avoid the major attractions, you’re sure to find cheaper prices and more of an authentic “local” experience.

Buy food in bulk and cook for yourself, if possible

This will lower the expenses on buying food at restaurants by a great deal! If you’re staying at a hostel, most of them provide kitchens for this reason alone.

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Talk on FaceTime and stay on Wi-Fi instead of using your minutes overseas

Overseas plans for each carrier are different, so you definitely want to check with your phone provider before leaving the country. Otherwise you may come home to a bunch of phone bills you weren’t expecting.

Search local tipping laws before you hand out extra cash to your bartender/waiter

It’s commonplace here in the states to tip a minimum of 15%, but that same rule doesn’t apply in most places overseas. As long as you look it up and find out for certain, you won’t feel bad leaving without tipping at all or as much as you normally would.

Look for free opportunities

Instead of looking for that club to go out to, or spending money at museums or galleries, you can save yourself money by going swimming in the ocean for free, read a book on a beach for free, or find the parks in the area and spend your day there. You can also hide away in a historic library

Packing: How to cut down on cost

Packing light is your best bet. You can avoid fees for extra bags this way and, if you’re backpacking, you won’t kill yourself with all the additional, unnecessary baggage.

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Packing light is also beneficial because you’ll be able to chase down and catch that bus rather than stand around waiting for a taxi. Pack lightweight, wrinkle-free or wash-and-wear pants, shirts, and travel jackets so that you can roll them up and save space. If you’re going for studies overseas then don’t take the hardcover books, find the paperback or electronic version.

Staying for an extended period of time?

Find local work to help immerse yourself in the culture and earn some extra money. If you go WWOOFing then you won’t be paid for working on the farm, but you may have access to other working opportunities in the area. If you do both you’ll get the exposure to two different working lifestyles overseas, additional language exposure, and you’ll have an asset that’ll help you stay financially afloat while you’re there.

Getting around overseas

You are better off renting a bike than paying for a tour

You can lose yourself in the city and learn so much more about it rather than having to pay out of pocket to be guided around to all of the major sights to see.

Be sure that you’re using public transportation instead of taxis

Taxis are great conveniences and luxuries at times, but the wallet doesn’t like them that much. Public transportation is pretty well developed in the other countries, especially Europe, the UK and major Asian countries.

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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