Do they still make those money-saving shows where people are forced to record everything they spend and end up in total shock that they spend 50€ a week on lunch? Well, they’re ridiculous.
If you’re spending 10€ a day, 5 days a week, you don’t have to be a genius to work it out.
Nonetheless, the money-saving tip I’m sharing here as the third part of this Travelling Without a Trust Fund series on how to save for your Big Trip is along these same lines:
Write down everything you spend
Yes, everything. Well, not your monthly expenses like rent, etc – as we learned in the last post, those belong on a different list. But everything you spend from week to week needs to be written down: food, transport, drinks, snacks for your pet walrus, and whatever else you’re spending your hard-earned dolla on.
If you’re fancy with tech, you could put it all together on a spreadsheet and update it from your phone on the go, but for us old-fashioned folk, a piece of paper stuck to the fridge works just as well.
Yes, it’s annoying. If you feel like there’s something missing from your relationship (and that something is frequent, in-depth arguments about lost receipts and whether something cost 2,32€ or 3,23€) this is the way to go. It’s also just one more thing to think about, and – hey – we’re all busy people.
But something so seemingly simple can be a huge help in figuring out what’s going wrong in your saving strategy. Some blogs (and the aforementioned TV programmes) suggest writing down everything you spend during an average week before you start saving. This strikes me as not only completely pointless, but pretty unfair too: you’re not here to beat yourself up about how much you were spending. Much more useful to begin when you think you’re doing pretty well, actually, but somehow you’re just not saving enough.
Start this early on, while you’re still figuring out your realistic weekly budget, and I can promise that certain things will jump out as unnecessary. Yes, a huge revelation is unlikely (you’re the one spending the money, after all), but it is surprising what can slip by if you’re not totally holding yourself accountable.
However, there’s a second effect of this (combined with our other saving techniques), which I hadn’t expected: I now think twice about any spending while out and about – no matter how small. Now, this comes at a price: it can go too far (I’ve gone a whole day on a few biscuits when I didn’t have time to go home for lunch, because I didn’t want to buy a 4€ sandwich, which I don’t recommend). But it does help to always be thinking about what you’re spending.
Come on – do you really need that latte? Really? Well, fine. But at least you’re thinking about it.
In the next post, I’ll talk about what might be our biggest saving revelation. But in the meantime, please get in touch or leave a comment if you have any tips to share.