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3 levels of thrifty tactics: What will you do to save for your next trip?

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Thrifty Uni Student Blog YMCA Global Study

It can be hard to save for overseas travel while you are a student - your time is taken up with classes so you can’t take on too much extra work, and your brain is overrun with study and uni problems making it hard to come up with different ways to reduce your average weekly spending and put some money aside for the fun stuff. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t cheap and easy ideas you can put in place to help you save money; we’ve done the hard work at gathering them, all you have to do is read!

We have found that there a three different kinds of savvy student savers - the Reducer, the E-bae, and the Ultimate Thrift Hound - it is up to you to pick the effort (and perhaps absurdity) you want to put into your saving goals, but I assure you that embracing any one of these three lifestyles, even for the short term, will help you put aside a little pot of gold to dip into on your next trip overseas.

The Reducer

So you have decided to save but don’t want it to disrupt your lifestyle too much and don’t have too much time to put effort into your tactics? Then you definitely fit into the Reducer category of saving - the things you need to put into place to save some dollars all revolve around reducing rather than cutting out things in your life, and here are some ways you can do it:


You’ve heard it a million times but cutting down on your cafe coffee intake is an easy way to hold onto a bit of extra cash. The best way to go about this is to plan out your mornings to get your caffeine hit at home where the coffee can be bought in bulk (you’re a student after all, caffeine can’t be cut out entirely), OR if you still want to get a few cafe coffees a week either cut down to a small size or figure out what is the max number you will buy weekly and then get the right amount of cash out for this maximum and only buy a coffee if you have the cash for it in your wallet.

Eating out:

Yep, just like your coffee intake another great place to reduce costs is on your eating out budget. And that is the key - to budget. Tell yourself that you can only buy a meal once a week and budget for that one meal and stick to it - again the cash strategy is helpful here - if you have to reach for your card for a meal payment you have overstepped your planned budget and the shame will wash over you.

Free events:

Another great way to reduce the amount you are spending is becoming more conscious of how often you pay for events and entertainment and choosing to reduce these events and instead opt for the many free things going on in your city. Jump onto Eventbrite or MeetUp, subscribe to The Urban List or Broadsheet for your city, and get into some facebook groups that post about your city’s free events - not only will this help you to save some cash by going to these instead of paid events, but you will get the opportunity to try new things and go to things you never would have in the past - basically this will get you ready for your upcoming new travel experiences before you even take off!

The E-bae

This level of savvy student saver takes their savings goals a little more seriously, they are willing to dedicate a bit of time to earn some money to put aside while also put into place some saving tactics. If this sounds like something you are up for then consider these E-bae options:

Sell things:

Ebay or Gumtree are your best friend if you are committed to your savings goal - we all have some things that we have bought in the past and are not using and probably won’t use again that can be sold pre-travel for a sweet little profit. What about that ice-cream machine you bought last summer and have used once? Or old electronics like a Xbox One or PS4? If you are keen on this idea but have trouble letting go, one tactic is to gather any items that you haven’t used in a while and then rank them from most likely to be used to least - this will give you some clarity as to what you actually need and what you don’t, and then you can start earning some cash!

Go 2nd hand:

Stop buying new things, especially clothes. So many people fall into the trap of wanting to buy outfits specifically for events coming up rather than going through their wardrobe and being creating with the things they have. If you really need something specific then figure out where your local 2nd-hand stores are and get thrifting, you’ll be surprised how much you can save with this simple tactic.

Get hosting:

So your friends want to go out on a friday night? Host pre-drinks at your place! Not only will everyone make the effort to travel to your place but everyone else will bring drinks and you often get left with some leftovers. What about food? Organise to host dinner for your mates and ask them to bring one thing each - you’ll get left with a bunch of leftovers that will cover your meals for a few days, and everyone will be grateful for your generosity of hosting. All this tactic takes is a little bit of organising and being proactive when a get together is proposed, and the ability to subtly mooch off your mates without the guilt.

The Ultimate Thrift Hound

This is the most extreme level of student saving tactics, the person who wants to be the Ultimate Thrift Hound needs to be willing to commit to some tactics that to some may seem absurd but are definitely effective in saving the most money you can before you head overseas.

BBQ Fiend:

We all know that University clubs and societies are pretty heavy handed with the amount of BBQs they plan throughout the semester, and the Ultimate Thrift Hound needs to take advantage of this free food to meet their travel saving goals. Sign up to a bunch of clubs to get access to their BBQs - the bigger the club the better, and definitely hit up the foodie clubs as they are a goldmine for free samples. Do not skip O-week or early semester club gatherings as clubs use these events to reel people in and food is a key part of that. Basically stop paying for food on your uni days; one of my legendary uni mates would bring ziplock bags to uni and use them to slip a sneaky sausage or two away for dinner that night - it may seem really stingy but that guy travelled overseas so many times I lost count, it can be worth it for sure.

Go offline:

This one is surprisingly easy for uni students as most unis give you constant access to free wifi while on campus - so why pay for it at home? Get that work/life balance going and only do your online study at uni - yes you will end up spending more time on campus to get it done but you will also be less distracted as you will be out of the comfort of your own home. Actually use the uni library for borrowing books so that you can continue some study at home, or plan your day so that you can download the “study materials” you want to watch when you get home while at uni. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to get by without wifi at home, plus if you are homeless you aren’t wasting electricity or gas either so all the bills go down; this is only for the real Thrift Hounds, so make sure you are committed before you take this one on.

Make money off your skills:

This may sound a bit suss but get your mind out of the gutter - what I’m suggesting is getting on board with apps and websites like Sidekicker, Airtasker, and Weploy, where people post anything from a day’s office work to assembling a trampoline as paid positions. If you have a skill that you think people might need (again, mind out of gutter) or have experience in a particular field I’m sure you can find someone who is willing to pay you for it - this is an easy way to pick up some money for work that you can fit around a uni schedule and that can be fun as well!

Whether you decide you are more of a Reducer, E-bae, Ultimate Thrift Hound, or even a hybrid thrifty monster, these tactics are sure to help you reach your savings goals, especially if they are working alongside a bigger plan like taking an intensive short course overseas with YMCA Global Study who can let you in on what funding you can get to help you study abroad and assist you in crowdfunding your trip as well!

Written by Kate Cook

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