This isn’t 100% about travel, but traveling is expensive, as is moving abroad. However, I will include some more general tips for people trying to figure out their financial lives. Please bear in mind though that everyone has a different level of financial solvency, but as a young adult trying to figure out her finances for the first time, however, I will list the things that have helped me to finance my moving internationally and traveling.
- Pick a goal. Saving money is always easier if you have a goal in mind. This could be to travel more often, pay off your student loans, to become financially dependent, or whatever else you want.
- Open a savings account. I opened one with Capital One 360 and have been super happy with their interest rates. (If you click this link and deposit at least $250, you get a $25 bonus!) You can also earn interest on their checking accounts, and they don’t have ATM fees- even internationally. It may not seem like a lot, but interest and fees can really add up.
- Start saving. Even if you start saving just quarters or a small percentage, that’s better than nothing. You can do it with your new savings account or with a jar of small change.
- Create a budget. Really look at what you spend and see where you can cut back. The goal from #1 really helps because you can look at every purchase you want to make in comparison to your greater goal and decide which one you want more. Don’t be too strict, however. Emergencies happen, and you’ll go crazy without doing something a little fun every once and a while. Work enough wiggle room into your budget to make you happy, but not so much you feel justified in splurging often.
- Track your spending and really keep an eye on what you’re spending. I used to use a Google Sheet, but now I use the Better Haves app. Whatever works for you to keep you on track. It’s also easier for me to use my debit card because then there’s an automatic record of everything I’ve spent…however, some people find it easy to spend a lot of money when using a card versus cash. It’s taken some adjustment for me to move to a country that has mostly a cash-based economy.
- Find free options for entertainment. I used to buy so many books. I’ve always loved reading and been a fast reader, so my mom got me a library card really early on. I’m a huge fan of the library for reading, and it’s so easy to make holds online and check them out. You can even check out e-books online and download them to a Kindle or the Kindle Reader app on your phone! I didn’t bring any physical books with me to Spain, but have instead just been regularly checking out e-books every week and reading them on my long commute. I can’t imagine how much money I’d be spending if I bought all those hard copies.
- Don’t be afraid of credit cards! I hate when I see financial advice that boils down to ‘cancel your credit cards, never open one if you don’t have one, burn them on sight.’ Credit cards are not evil or bad, and building a credit history is pretty important. However, it’s so important to use them wisely. You should never spend more on a credit card than you have in your checking account at the moment. Don’t carry a balance on your card and make sure to pay it off every month. If you’re having trouble getting one, apply first for a store credit card or a secured credit card, where you put some of your own money in a separate account and ‘borrow’ against it. If you treat your credit card like a debit card, you can enjoy some of the great perks (like cash back or travel awards) without worrying.
- Check up on your financial health. About once a week, I log into all my banking websites and check up on how I’m doing. Capital One also offers a Credit Tracker where you can look at your score and what’s contributing to it. I think the most important thing you can do is know how you’re doing and where your money is going. By checking regularly, you can avoid any surprises and check in on how your money is growing in your savings account! Hopefully within time, you’ll accomplish your goal from #1!