When I decided to move abroad, I had no clue where to start, how much money I would need, or how much I could save a month. All I knew was I needed a plan!
So I got down and dirty with my finances and with myself to make my dream to live in Australia come true. What I loved about this system is that is absolutely universal to any savings goal you have in mind. If you want to travel for a year or buy a house, you can. Use my simple method for saving money to move abroad.
KNOW YOUR GOAL
WHAT DOES IT COST TO MOVE ABROAD
Before I started saving money, I did research. I needed answers to simple questions like the cost of a visa or the cost of living in Australia?
- Working Holiday Visa: $350
- Plane Ticket: $1250
- Travel Items: $650
- Money to use in Australia: $8,000
I instantly began second guessing myself. There was no way of saving more than $10k to move abroad. But after I calmed down and got honest with myself, I realized I wasn’t trying to save a million dollars. $10k to move abroad and push myself out of my comfort zone wasn’t bad.
WHAT SAVINGS DO YOU HAVE?
For a long time, I didn’t have a proper savings account. Well, I had one, but I didn’t use it correctly. Every month, money would go into savings and later in the month, that money would move back into my debit account.
It wasn’t until I had a few realizations on why I couldn't save money that I finally used my savings account properly. I did pretty well too. I had nearly $3k before I embarked on this journey.
HOW MUCH DEBT DO YOU HAVE
$20k. That’s a huge number. And it was all mine. Thanks 18 - 27 year old me!
I couldn’t stop from thinking, how $20k was a down payment on a house! Where did all that money go?
Then the roller coaster of doubt came circling around again, “Could I do this? Maybe it’s better to pay off the debt and save money to buy a house? But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity!”
I was able to talk myself down from the ledge, but this debt was no joke. But it wasn’t about the money, it’s about moving forward with achieving my personal goal.
HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU NEED
All you need is a simple equation to get this sorted:
[COST TO MOVE ABROAD + DEBT = MONEY GOAL]
IE This is what I had [ $10,000 + $20,000= $30,000 ]
It was a hard number to swallow. $28k!!!! that was 2.4 years of rent. Car insurance for over 3 years! I could get $400 of groceries every month for six years!
But it didn’t matter. I had to buckle down, pay my debts and save!
Maybe a vision board is not your style, but a vision board can come to life in many different forms. Yes, cutting up magazines and sticking them on a board is old school, but it’s amazing how well this concept works. I created a private Pinterest board with everything I wanted to do in Australia. I added pins of the lifestyle I wanted to live, like enjoying a latte’ at a coffee shop, running through amazing parks, laying beach side taking in the sun, or seeing cute animals like Roos, Quokkas, and Koalas. Then there were amazing pics of beautiful places across Australia.
Once I finished my Pinterest Board, I printed it and pinned it to my mirror. This way I would see it every morning when I woke up, and every evening before bed. Other places I could have placed it include a door, or on the ceiling. Heck, put it in the bathroom ;)
This everyday visualization is a reminder you of your goal.
Another popular option is to create a wallpaper for your phone.
FIND A MONEY MENTOR
I looked to Suze Orman, she had a show on CNN Money talking to real people with real debts or money related issue. My favorite segment was Can I Afford it.
Her sound advice not only kept me on track but gave me insight to paying off my debt and contributing to my 401k.
RESEARCH SPENDING HABITS
WHERE IS YOUR MONEY GOING?
A great resource to sorting finances is researching your spending habits. I use Mint.com to get an overview of my spending habits. It’s easy to setup and I also feel like my information is safe. Choose whichever service suits who you are.
Once I added my accounts, I had a huge reality check. It was like Woah girl! Where did your money go? Alcohol, Overdraft fees, clothes, and a whole lot of other crap I didn’t need. No wonder I had $20k in debt.
Peak times for my spending included: lunch time, Thursday - Saturday Night, and special occasions.
Spending a lot of cash on groceries, which didn’t make sense because I rarely cook! This means not only was I spending too much on Groceries, but the food was going to waste!
An excess on entertainment like Netflix and Spotify. Did I need these extra services?
I learned so much about myself and how often I was throwing money away. I used everything I learned and created mental triggers for myself. If I knew I was going out, I would take cash with me. I made my own lunches, and I stopped shopping for clothes because I knew I couldn’t control myself.
Mental triggers may not work for you, but find something that does. Go as far as freezing your credit cards in ice or cutting them all up. The goal is to break any habits that are preventing you from moving abroad.
OPEN MANY SAVINGS ACCOUNTS
HIGH-INTEREST SAVINGS ACCOUNT
If you can, find a high-interest savings account. An account with no minimum balance and zero fees. When I started my savings journey, I used what is now Capital One 360 (formerly ING.com). It was easy to create many savings accounts and name each one.
Keeping each savings goal separate, helped me visualize how far away I was from my goal. To be honest once achieved each goal, it was better than marking something off my To-Do list. It felt so good!
Don’t forget an emergency fund. I kept a minimum of $1k in mine for anything that could come up before I left to Australia. Planning for the worse means you’ll be better off in the long run. I never touched it either. It was for emergencies only!
CREATING A BUDGET
ZERO BUDGET METHOD
I used the zero budgeting method. I actually didn’t know this was a thing until recently. Get your copy!
Once you set-up your budget, you should have a zero balance every month. This means every dollars and cent has a home. There isn't a "just in case fund" or "miscellaneous line," your money has a purpose and place.
- Download the budgeting excel
- Input your income sources.
- Next, add all your expenses.
- Enter all your current debts.
- In the last table, list each savings account including your emergency fund.
- Lastly, update the AUD to USD exchange rate with XE.com.
- Override any expense, debt, or names of savings accounts, but don’t rename the Total and Sub-Total lines.
Use Auto Pay for all and any bill. Including rent, home bills, credit cards etcetera. Set credit card payments to the minimum payments to prevent late fees. This alone can save lots of money.
One of the easiest ways to save money is by trimming expenses. It's not easy and sometimes you will have to sacrifice for the greater good, but it's well worth it.
For each expense, you want to do one of three things:
- Analyze your bills and see if you adjust the services you receive to lower the price
- Call and negotiate a new deal
- Cancel your service
LOWER HOME EXPENSES
Rent, Electricity, Gas, Water.
LOWER FOOD EXPENSES
Meal planning is the best way to lower food expenses. The hardest part is choosing the right type of meal planning for your lifestyle
Blue Apron or Similar: Meal Delivery services send at least three meals to your home a week. You can cancel, suspend, at any time. Perfect for singles who want left overs.
Real Plans will create a weekly meal plan and grocery list. You can edit or replace any meal or ingredient. I used this while I was in Australia and saved $100 a week and reduced food waste.Plan to Eat I’m currently trying Plan to Eat now and will write a full review once I have tested it out. It’s very like Real Plans, but you add and curate your meal plans versus having a meal plan set for you.
LOWER EXTRA EXPENSES
Depending on your lifestyle, try limiting alcohol, eating out, or buying coffees. It’s amazing how much this will save you long term. For example, if you like special coffees for $5 for a cup, that’s $35 a week, $140 dollars a month! Depending on how long you’re saving, $1,820 a year. $1,820 is your plane ticket, Visa Fee, and some!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to cut them out completely, but think wisely about the choices you make. Instead of having one of these “luxury” items every day, use it as a reward on the weekend.
Remember whatever you don’t spend, contributes to one of your savings goals.
USE AIRLINE POINTS/ REDEEM CC POINTS
Redeem credit card rewards in exchange for a plane ticket. If you have an Amazon rewards card, try using the points to buy a backpack or something for your travels.
I smart way to use your rewards cards is by using it for everyday purchases as it's assigned in your zero-budget. Then pay off your cards immediately or every night. This way you stick to your budget and accumulate more points!
If you don’t think you can do this, then I would recommend against this method.
DITCH THE CAR
Cars come with maintenance, gasoline, insurance, all which cost money. So if you live in a city where you can travel by bike, carpool or public transport do it!
ONLY BUY ESSENTIALS
This part is hard, especially when you go into Target. (I don’t know anyone who can’t buy one thing from Target). Buy only essentials like food, toilet paper, and anything else you need to live. Living with less not only keeps money in the bank but can also help you get more time in your life.
Get rid of non reusable items, and replace them with longer use items.
All these items can become expensive when you buy them many times a month or year.
If you need to buy things for your travels, try looking for used items that are as good and cheaper than buying new.Clothes & Shoes - Poshmark (Use code NWDFJ to save $5) & ebay.com
Electronics - Refurbished Apple or Amazon
Salvation Army / GoodWill / Thrift Stores / Facebook Marketplace- Furniture, Books, Clothes, Shoes, Kitchen Appliances
GET RID OF SUBSCRIPTIONS OR ADD SUBSCRIPTIONS
We live in a world of subscriptions, and it’s easy to subscribe! You don’t want to watch YouTube ads anymore? Cool subscribe to YouTube Red, and no more ads. It’s pretty awesome. But, after awhile subscriptions can get pretty pricey, so what can you live without?
On the flip side, say you love going to the movie theatres and you go every single night of the week. That can cost you $300 a month for tickets. In this case, a subscription to Netflix would be an affordable replacement for the movies. Using subscriptions as a cheaper alternative is still contributing to your goals savings.
Moral of the story: If you can do without cancel your subscription! Or if a service is a less expensive alternative, get a subscription!
- Entertainment: Cable, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, YouTube Red, etc.
- Music: Spotify, Pandora,
- Fitness: Gym, Workout Apps, etc
LIVE WITH FRIENDS/FAMILY
Three months before moving abroad, I moved in with a close friend. I was so lucky to have someone like my best pal to live with! I saved on rent and utilities. We would also cook and go out on walks which saved us both tons of money. It’s a win win.
MAKE EXTRA MONEY
RENT YOUR HOME
Only if you own your home, you can also rent it out using services like Airbnb and VRBO.com. I’ve seen couch rentals on Airbnb too, and if this is an option for you, DO IT!
Car services are definitely the way of the future! If you’re friendly, a good driver, join Lyft. You can earn up to $10 per passenger and also get bonuses for referring new drivers.
GET A SIDE GIG
You can get a second job or you can use the internet to gain some extra cash. For those interested in making money online try:
- Monetizing a Blog
- Affiliate Marketing
- Create Your Own Online Course
- Sell Products on Etsy
If you’re not an Amazon user, you can get great deals from big brands using eBates. But, I would only recommend them once you are abroad for hotel stays, flights, or car rentals. You can get up to 10% back when you book a car rental or a hotel when using Priceline.
SELL YOUR STUFF
Not only is having less better for you, but it can help you earn extra cash. Start selling items you don't use using the following sites or apps
Or if you want to kick it old school, have a yard sale!
PAY OFF CC & LOANS
Now that you have cut expenses, and are making extra money on the side it's time to pay off your debts. Paying off these debts first will reduce interest payments. Start by paying credit cards with the largest balance and highest interest rates. After a card/loan has a zero balance, move onto the next card.
Like I said, I had $3k in savings. $1k went into my emergency fund, and the other $2k went to a credit card. Because I had less debt, I wasn't paying as much interest, which gave me more money! All the money went to paying off more debt.
After you get rid of your debt, contribute to your savings accounts. Focus on one savings account at a time, and once you've reached your goal move to the next account.
Watching your savings grow is as addicting as watching Game of Thrones. At least it was for me.
STAY ON TOP OF IT
Every week check in with yourself. What worked? What didn’t work? What could you do better? Regular check-ins with yourself and your goals will keep your mind focus on the bigger prize. IE MOVING TO AUSTRALIA!
Every person is different so keep working at it until you have a system that works for you.
Changing your money spending habits is not an easy task.But once you follow the steps above, moving abroad won't be so out of reach.
Are you currently saving money to move abroad? What are some practical ways you save money? Will you be able to pay off debts and have enough money to move abroad this year?
Please note, throughout this blog post I have used affiliate links. This means I may receive a commission if you click on and purchase, but this does not affect the price you pay.