Are you dreaming of looking out over Paris at the top of the Eiffel Tower, or marveling at London’s legendary Big Ben? Perhaps you’re captivated by the Roman Coliseum or the Parthenon in Athens. Regardless of where you want to go, if you’re a student planning a trip to Europe, you need to have money in the bank to make your dream trip a reality. Don’t worry – Vistas in Education is here to help! Here are some useful money saving strategies for students so you can make your European trip a reality.
Create a Budget
Budgeting is extremely important when trying to save money. With a budget, you can lay out all of your planned and potential expenses. Try and think through what you’ve spent money on in the past month. Some of your costs may include gas for your car, food, cell phone bill and going out with friends. Whatever you’re spending your money on, it all adds up, ultimately detracting from your potential to save for your trip. A budget will help shed light on areas where you can trim excess expenditures.
Open a Bank Account
If you don’t already have a bank account, you should open one as soon as possible. A savings and checking account makes money management much easier. Consolidating your money in one place lets you track your savings progress and keeps it safe. Almost all banks also offer incentives to store your money in their vaults in the form of interest. If you’re new to banking, research your options – many banks offer a sign-up bonus, giving you a little monetary boost that you can put towards your trip.
Avoid Using a Credit Card, Use Cash (Sparingly) Instead
With a credit card comes the responsibility of self-discipline when buying. A credit card makes it easy to swipe away any items you want to purchase without thinking of the spendy repercussions. Another downside to credit cards is accrued interest. This means that if you don’t pay off your credit card balance every month, you could end up paying excessive fees, often up to 30 percent of your total expenditures. Instead of using plastic, try using cash instead. Physical money lets you reconsider if you really need to supersize that meal or purchase that expensive shirt.
Watch for Bank Fees
Bank accounts, while very useful, often carry certain fees that can be devastating to your saving efforts. For example, many bank cards won’t absorb ATM fees when you withdraw cash, which can vary from $2-5 every time you get cash. Try using your bank’s designated ATM, which should be free. Or, you can get cash back by buying something cheap, like a pack of gum at a cash register, using a debit card. In a similar vein, don’t overspend on your debit card. With overdraft fees, that apply every time you overdraw on your account, it can really eat into money that you’ve saved up.
Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Whether you’re buying school supplies, books, clothing or even coffee, there are tons of companies that offer student discounts. Take advantage at checkout by asking the clerk if they offer any discounts for students. For more information on which stores do offer discounts, check out this guide, 40 Stores that Give a Student Discounts.
Learn How to Cook / Don’t Eat Out
Even if your local sub shop does offer a student discount, avoid eating out regularly. Instead, learn how to cook a few good meals that you can store over the week and reheat as needed. And always pack a lunch, or at the very least a snack. The average meal when eating out costs an $12.75. It will add up quickly if you go out a few times a week, which really puts a dent in your wallet.
Get a Summer Job
If you have the summer off from school, look into getting a part-time or full-time job to help you generate some income that can go towards your trip. Whether it’s bagging groceries, mowing lawns or working at the movie theater, there are no shortage of jobs for high schoolers during the summer. Not only will you save up some extra dough, you’ll be able to get out of the house and away from your parents!
Lower your Cell Phone Use
Instead of chatting on your phone, try using free video calling programs like Skype, chat programs like Facebook Messenger, or the always classic email when you’re connected to wi-fi. Avoid watching videos, downloading large pictures, or talking on the phone for hours when you’re using LTE to decrease excessive data charges. As cell phones evolve from a luxury to a necessity, it’s becoming all the more important to monitor your usage of mobile devices.
Avoid Impulse Buying Situations
If you’re prone to making impulse purchase, curb that behavior by avoiding shopping completely. Unless you’re buying something you need, such as food, don’t even put yourself in a situation where you could spend frivolously. If you happen to be in a situation where you feel like buying something, stop and consider how many hours you would have to work to pay for it.
Ready to See Europe? Start Saving Today!
Whether you’re dreaming of walking along the beautiful beaches of Croatia, watching a soccer match in Madrid, or seeing the Mona Lisa in person at the Louvre, it will cost you a pretty penny to make it happen. Follow these steps and in no time you’ll be well on your way to saving enough money for your dream trip to Europe. Bon Voyage!