10 Ways we Saved Money Before Moving Abroad:
Saving for a move is always a challenge, whether you are moving down the street or across the globe. First things first, you need to determine how long you plan on being gone for. At least a general knowledge. Our original assessment was to leave for a year but now we have extended that to about 3 or 4 years. We absolutely fell in love with the idea of being a nomadic duo for a little longer. But once you’ve decided that will help you figure out how to proceed. Having a plan will help, but there are some tips that will make your savings grow and help you get going soon!
Sell off unnecessary Items
We decided that moving abroad was going to be a longer journey than we initially anticipated, more than a few years in total. This made selling our house hold items very easy. Craigslist was a very useful tool in that process. Snapped a few photos, made the asking price a little higher than we actually wanted, and set a mutually safe pick-up location. Not too bad. Yes, it was hard saying goodbye to some things I held dear to my heart, such as my large, unnaturally comfortable couch, but it was the best thing we did. Things such as shoes, clothes, backpacks, and household items sell pretty quick. We were able to grab a few hundred dollars off everything we sold and it didn’t take that much extra effort. Plus a lot of that stuff would have been impossible to store. We made money, and got rid of the burden of storage fees.
Cut back on weekly spending
Ok, we completely understand that this is an easier said than done kind of thing. We are also aware that everyone and their mother has probably told you to do this at one point in your life. Honestly though, it’s great advice. We started simple with carpooling together. Kate needed to be at work early so I would drop her off and then either go to the gym, or work on side hustle projects with the extra time that I had. This was both cost effective and did wonders for my time management. We started buying generic brands, or purchasing food in bulk instead of prepackaged. Also, we tried not to eat out as often. We tried to cut back in ways that didn’t impact our happiness. We didn’t let the savings plan interrupt our lives or anything! Simply being more aware of our spending helped us save for the move abroad.
Make a daily budget
This is where Kate and I got creative. Making a daily budget, rather than a weekly or monthly one, let us manage our funds better. We were able to see how much we spent on food each day compared to entertainment or transportation. The daily budget also came with a satisfying win each night when we had money left over. We included in our daily budget food, transportation, entertainment, drinks, saving, and bills. It seemed unreasonable for us to sit in our apartment every day until the moment we moved. If you don’t want that to be your life, be sure to account for the time you have left. Keeping track of what you spend will help add in that guilt factor if you go over your allocated spending limit. We find that incredibly motivational to keep us on track for our savings goals.
Leftovers have become a critical part of Kate and Josh’s saving routine. We are not the type of people who have the time or willpower to meal prep for the entire week. So instead of meal prepping, or eating out for lunch, we cook a little extra every night. It takes very little effort to add a few more items to the pan but gives back 10-fold when you are budgeting. Seriously people, chipotle costs around 10 bucks and if I have a leftover meal, it’s much easier to fight off that temptation. Developing that routine also carried over to after moving, saving us money upon arrival too. Eating out adds up, and when you have just moved somewhere it is easy to justify not cooking. It’s great to strengthen those habits before moving.
The side hustle is routinely the method of choice for people who are strapped for cash. Use some of that spare time you have left over and the end of the day or on weekends to complete some easy tasks. We chose WAG!, FIVERR, and Care.com to supplement the extra savings we wanted to have. WAG! Is a seriously rewarding gig, if you’re a dog lover that is. You can walk anywhere from 20-60 minutes with a pup and earn some easy money. Almost $24 an hour plus tips. Fiverr is a great way to show off some of your more disciplined skills. Any design talent or bustling means of creativity can really bloom here. You make a gig, “I will blank for you,” charge roughly $5 and have people purchase your service. It took about a week for us to get our first customer, so be patient. We still currently write articles for people and love the extra income. Care.com mostly helps connect people looking for childcare with people willing to nanny or babysit. We used the date nights section to find people who wanted a one-time or infrequent babysitter, rather than a full time nanny. These usually pay pretty well ($10-20 an hour), especially if you’ve got some relevant qualifications like child or infant CPR, lifeguarding, babysitting, or education experience. This is also a way to find tutoring gigs. Those are much more lucrative ($15-25 an hour), but more difficult to score, and require some time commitment once contracted. We recommend the babysitting, since you are leaving town soon! Side hustles come in all shapes and sizes so look around to find one that fits your skills. We love the simplicity of these apps, and the little bits of extra cash here and there.
attend Free Events
We knew we wanted to move in January, but we had eight months before the big day. It would have been ridiculous for us to close ourselves off from the world for that long, and not have any fun. We all know that moving is expensive, and that we shouldn’t just blow through our paychecks each month. So we looked into finding free or cheap events whenever possible. If a bar was having a special, our work offered tickets to something, or there was some city event we would be much more interested then. We also got to see a lot of cool things in our city that way. We were living in Denver, where there are some really fun free art events regularly. The free event scene is easy to get into. Not just in Denver, most cities have stuff going on, you just have to look for it. We also took up cheaper alternatives to activities we already did. Things like hiking instead of paying for gym memberships helped us keep physically active without the price tag. This was a fantastic way to build some fond memories of our city, and save a bit of cash for our next adventure.
Look for Budget Services
More creative ways we cut corners included finding budget services. We got our hair cut at a beauty school instead of a full-on salon, we found friends who were bartenders, or had connections that helped us save some change. Whenever possible we made our own repairs rather than calling a (costly) professional. Online videos helped us repair household items that broke, and allowed us to keep up with necessary maintenance tasks without breaking the bank. We got our immunizations done at travel clinics rather than pricey primary care physicians. Tapping into these resources helped us save money, it really adds up over time. We found free places to stay when traveling too, through either free campgrounds, or couch surfing style accommodations. Friends and family are usually amenable to letting you stay with them, as it gives them a favor to call in sometime down the road. We definitely recommend finding someone to stay with upon arrival in country. It gives you time to get a feel for the city before choosing where to live, and lets you create that crucial first connection. Remember, whenever possible opt for DIY instead of professional help.
Buying flights far in advance
We bought our tickets about six months in advance. This gave us plenty of wiggle room and let us find the cheapest day to fly. Most airline websites are pretty good at letting you know what is the cheapest day to fly and if there are deals going on. We are regular users of kayak.com to find tickets. Cheap-O-air is also a good source for finding flight. If you can wait and plan it right, we suggest buying tickets on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. If you want to get even deeper into the rabbit-hole of finding budget flights, we recommend shopping in an incognito browser window (that doesn’t save cookies) on a Tuesday. Both of these tactics can help you skirt around airline price hikes. Either way you will save hundreds of dollars if you plan ahead.
Look for jobs with relocation stipends
People told us that Cambodia is a country where people only ever interview in person to get hired. While that is a valid option here, it’s not the ONLY option. Many schools and businesses offer a relocation stipend to help new employees move into town. These packages can be quite inviting, and include things like airfare reimbursement, temporary housing allowance, or startup cost bonuses. We unfortunately got none of those things, as we simply didn’t know they exist. We highly recommend doing research on what jobs would offer you a relocation stipend before you move. And this isn’t a phenomenon specific to Cambodia. Many countries also have these available, so ask around!
Prices are not always set in stone. Even in fairly developed places you can still find situations where haggling is appropriate. We found that it was frequently beneficial to ask if there was some sort of discount or coupon available whenever we could. We took full advantage of our (somewhat expired) student and military ID cards to get us an extra percentage off. When buying things on craigslist or e-bay we tried to talk the price down as much as possible. This is easier in some places than others, for example Southeast Asia is much more friendly to the negotiation of prices than the United States. However, do not let that dissuade you, there can be some serious savings here. See if your work has any businesses they partner with, Kate’s work was connected to the local outdoor gear stores and we got 15% off new backpacks. Anything helps when you are preparing to move! It never hurts to ask for that little bit off, the worst thing they’ll say is “No.”
These 10 tips are by no means the only way to save some money. We tried to find activities and jobs that didn’t take away from our time together or decompression moments we still desperately needed after a full work day. We know that moving abroad is a challenge, but if we can manage to work a 50 hour week each and college classes on the side anything is possible! Keeping your eyes on the prize will get you through the difficult savings time, but hopefully these tips help make that time less difficult for you!
You’ll be Away Traveling in your new country soon enough.