A Practical Guide to Saving Money for Travel in 2019

Every year in January, our Facebook feeds are full of people making public declarations of their new year’s resolutions. And one of the most common resolutions for young Malaysians is saving money for travel.

Unfortunately, travel isn’t cheap and most of the time, unless you’re super lucky to win contest giveaways, it most certainly isn’t free! With the price of everything going up, it might feel as though saving money for travel is a truly daunting task.

However, the good news is that, it’s only the second day of the new year, so we have plenty of time to amass the money we need for an epic year end vacation! Here are 6 simple ways that I personally use to save money so that I can go makan angin! Check them out, they might help you too!

1. Cancel your Netflix/gym membership if you don’t use them!

The first thing you’ll want to do is to look at your monthly expenditure. That’s super important if you’re saving money for travel. Are there things that you’re paying good money for but don’t really use? One very good example is a television subscription. Think about it, when was the last time you watched TV? And do you even watch TV on a regular basis? If you don’t, then it’s time to think about cancelling your monthly subscriptions (if any).

The main question here is: do you REALLY need it? For example, if you’re paying RM100 every month for a gym membership but can’t even seem to find time to GO to the gym, why are you paying for it in the first place?

And I get that we’re always on the go and access to the Internet is essential these days, but unless you REALLY need 20GB of mobile data, then downgrading your plan can also save you a lot of money in some cases.

2. Stop hoarding stuff!

Once in a while, take some time out to do some spring cleaning and go through your belongings. Pick out things that you can sell. I did this two years ago when I finished my studies and you’ll be surprised just how much money this can get you.

I followed what I call the “three-month rule”. It’s simple. If you find something that is still in working condition, ask yourself, have you used this in the past three months? Will you be using this in the following three months? If the answer to both questions is “no”, then it’s time to sell it.

Thanks to online platforms like Lazada, Shopee and more, it’s so easy to sell your stuff securely online. Not only does it help you raise more money for your travels, it’s also a nice feeling to clear out all your old stuff!

3. Change your lifestyle

This is probably the most obvious way to save money passively. Sadly, it’s also one of the hardest things to do. There are actually plenty of small changes you can make to your lifestyle habits that can save you a lot of money in the long run. As they say, sikit-sikit, lama-lama jadi bukit.

One change that I found most helpful was learning how to cook. Even though I decided to eat out less (which meant I also spent less on additional cost like petrol, service tax etc.), I was still able to enjoy the occasional indulgent meal. I just had to make it myself! Plus, cooking is a really impressive skill to pick up!

Fried pork chops with sweet garlic and gochujang sauce topped with fresh Thai basil. PM for recipe :p

Some other things you can do are:

  • Drink water when you’re eating out instead of overpriced fruit juices
  • Cut down on novelty drinks (like expensive coffees and bubble tea) and alcohol
  • Smoke less (it’s illegal to smoke in public restaurants now anyway!)
  • Buy less clothes/shoes/bags etc. – instead, sift through your wardrobe for old clothing you can reuse. You could also donate old clothes at stores like H&M and get a shopping voucher in return!
  • Only go to the cinema for movies you really want to watch – cuz we all know you’ll end up spending money on popcorn and other snacks as well as the movie tickets

  • Take public transport more often – take advantage of the newly minted My100 and My50 Transport Passes
  • Walk across short distances – petrol not cheap wei!
  • Pay your bills and loan commitments on time – this might come as a surprise, I know. But every time you make a late payment, you usually have to pay some form of penalty. And over time, these penalties can stack up on you without you even noticing it.

However, one important aspect to this is to give yourself some space to indulge a bit occasionally. Instead of completely giving up the good things in life, save that fancy frappuccino or that romantic candlelight dinner for special occasions.

4. Keep tabs on your spending

One major aspect of saving money for travel is knowing where your money goes to. It’s a good idea to keep a diary or journal to record your spending. This is a great way to keep track of just where your money is going and helps you weed out unnecessary expenses. When I started keeping track of my spending, I used Google Sheets. That way, I could update it immediately everytime I spend some money.

To my surprise, I realised that I spent an average of RM200/month on snacks and food outside of my proper meals. Once I cut down on that, I managed to save a little extra every end of the month. And I lost a few pounds to boot!

5. Be practical with your savings

We all have different ways for saving money for travel. Some of us might transfer a lump sum every month to a savings account. Others restrain their spending by sticking religiously to a strict daily budget. If you’re planning on starting your own plan to save money, make sure it’s something that works for you.

Don’t over commit. If your monthly salary is RM2,000 before tax, don’t commit to saving RM1,000 every month. It’ll only make your life miserable and pretty soon, you’ll probably abandon it anyway. Instead, think of a practical way to save money. When I started working, what I did was I would take out any RM5 notes in my wallet every day and put them into a sealed jar.

That way, I can’t take out the money even if I was tempted to. What’s more, losing one or two RM5 notes wasn’t going to severely affect my quality of life either. So, I managed to stick to this plan and by the end of the year, I’d saved up nearly RM2,000! So, look for a savings plan that works for you.

Is that skepticism I hear? You might think that looking at the list, it doesn’t feel like any of these things will lead to any significant change in your travel budget anytime soon. However, all you need is to be patient, keep your eye on the prize, stay committed and by the end of the year, you’ll definitely have some extra cash left over to go on that dream vacation!


By Darren

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