How did you save £10K each? A question asked often. Mainly by asking myself ‘Canada or crap, Gemma?’ and executing Two Scots Abroad’s 5 S’s of Saving. This guide will teach you how to save money, rapidly. Scroll to see us share these tips with the Royal Bank of Scotland and STV.
1. Separate Your Salary
Open three bank accounts. One for income/bills, the second for untouchable savings, the third for temporary savings that can be dipped in to. Regardless of any travel trip on the horizon, wedding invites will still happen and gifts still need to be bought.
I get paid monthly. As soon as I get paid I move £600 into my house account for rent, bills, etc and £500-£600 into a separate account. Initially, savings were put into an ISA but once we reached the £15k yearly allowance we moved the funds over to a second account which does not charge you when taking money out of ATMs abroad.
In the beginning, you need to work out what you can live off. Make a list, calculate how much that list costs you (you don’t need a new leather jacket, doubtful you will wear it in Costa Rica) and minus that from your income.
Craig is self-employed so his wages don’t work like that. Every time he makes £1000 he banks it. He doesn’t recommend this way of saving but it’s the nature of his job.
For my birthday, Craig bought me a ceramic pot – one of those pots you have to break to get into. And it’s pretty so I don’t really want to break it. When I initially stopped eating sweets (my vice) I put a £2 coin in every second day. The pot can hold £1000 worth of £2 coins. Craig has a tin that he puts his £2 coins in, his last count was £206. Nice.
It really is a question of needs and wants – when I feel the urge to purchase I say to myself ‘Canada or crap?’
Now I know there will be times you need to spend money – birthdays (like my Mum’s 50th, Granddad’s 80th, all of my friend’s 30ths), weddings (all 6 of them) and the like, but gifts don’t have mean splurging. Friends and family understand – it’s time to get creative!
2. Sell Your Stuff to Save Money
What’s the point in buying things? You will ask that question when you are selling off everything and making 50p on a top worth a tenner. I’ve participated in two car boot sales at the (Greenside) Omni Centre in Edinburgh.
It’s actually an enjoyable experience but you need to be prepared to sell low and accept that punters want everything for less than £1. The first time around I made £95 and the second time I went for the ‘everything for £1’ strategy and made £83.80.
I was determined not to sell our DVDs for 30p to Music Magpie. It felt like such a waste but I only managed to shift one of three boxes over the two car boot sales so Music Magpie was the only option left. You can download the app and scan the DVD barcodes which is easy.
You then need to box them (they have to be covered, we made that mistake) and leave them in a designated area on the date agreed for collection. It takes one month for the company to processes the cheque so you do need a bit of time. Our total was £41.65 for 99 DVDs (two were deemed unacceptable, they keep and ‘recycle’ these!)
I’m lucky because I have a great relationship with a pre-loved clothes shop owner of Glorious, formed through my shopping habits (addiction to second hand/vintage clothes)! This relationship has progressed from shopper to seller.
Twice a year I pass my beloved Top Shop goods on to Glorious, the owner decides what will sell and I collect funds from previous sales (£150 last time).
Failing that there are shops that buy your clothes, bedsheets, towels etc but don’t expect much from it. I put in four black bags worth and got approx. £7. There are apps for selling clothes too. What about a clothes swap party with friends?
eBay. Love it? I’ve never had much success selling on eBay. Two items never made it to the buyer (jewellery which went for about £1 each) but Craig has made a fair bit – £200 on worky things kicking about the garage.
Remember eBay charges you at the end of each month. There are ways to save money on the road too, like swapping your skills for a bed and meal. We did this, read about our experience here.
3. Speak and Find Money Solutions
I’ve always been against speaking to my bank. I just assumed they wanted me to take out more bank accounts or loans but the meeting I had last year was really useful.
The adviser went through my accounts and cleared up any outstanding direct debits, not in use. She also pointed out that I had a whopping bill from Sky one month (two films and the boxing – Craig). This made us really assess our spending (back to needs/wants).
I am never against complaining!
- Most recently I called to ask about closing my mobile account and I wish I had done this sooner as they moved me down a tariff! Prior to that, I made complaints as the online team kept telling me different things from the phone team, the phone team reduced my tariff and gave me a refund too
- I complained to a bank as they kept sending me letters about loans – £50 cheque for my inconvenience
- When an Airbnb renter cancelled stay, Airbnb gave us $25 credit to spend in the future and that didn’t even need a complaint – just really good customer service! Have you used them? I highly recommend we’ve stayed in Airbnbs all over the world including an airstream in Austin!
- Cancel Sky, get Now TV. It’s a fiver a month for the entertainment package! Sky actually called us and offered Sky back for free since we had our phone line and broadband through them
4. Searching Helps Save Money Too
Setting aside time to search online is worth the input but you don’t have to as I’m happy to save you time and share what we found out. Why sell your soul to the car boot sale when you end up losing a chunk of cash when spend that hard-earned money abroad? There are debit cards that do not charge you from their end and credit cards that you can accrue points which can result in flights and free hotel stays!
Searching for accommodation for your travels can really put in perspective how expensive a country is. If you are travelling alone, consider hostels; if you are travelling as a couple do consider Airbnb as a cheaper alternative to hotels.
Naturally, the type of holiday that you are taking dictates the saving process. If you are looking to laze for a week in the sun why not try for a last-minute deal? Avoid school holidays too, sorry fellow teachers!
Travel deals often advertise money off, kids go free, upgrades or extra days. Off-season options can be a steal and keep an eye out for the increasingly popular Black Friday deals in November.
I’m a big advocate for buying experiences and avoiding ‘things’. For my last birthday, Craig surprised me with a trip to Iceland. For his… well I can’t say because he doesn’t know yet! How long do you think I can keep him in the dark?
If you are flexible with your flights you will benefit. Use the ‘fly anywhere’ options for the cheapest routes. Sign up for airline newsletters, join a credit card scheme which offers points for flights, avoid checking in baggage surcharges (here’s a guide to carry on bag sizes for note).
A flight issue we’ve faced many times – cheap flights don’t always work out cheap when you arrive or leave during the night or very early morning. This often results in an expensive airport hotel (often not even in the airport vicinity), taxi rides or car rental. Pay a little more to arrive/depart at a reasonable time which allows you to use public transport.
Another tip for keeping flights cheap is baggage.
The budget airlines are really hammering down on the amount and style of baggage you can take on the flight.
For example, EasyJet only allows one bag – whether that be a small wheeled cabin bag, small rucksack or a purse style handbag. Regardless if you get through security with your wheeled carry-on case they will still target you are the departure gate.
I managed to get around this by taking my new Cabin X One which is a hybrid suitcase and backpack. You just unzip the straps and cover the wheels with a discreet piece of cloth which is attached to the bag. It is really a great option for a few days of travelling or for those who pack light.
I spent months searching and making several phone calls regarding travel insurance.
I am one of those annoying customers!
We settled on True Traveller because the team answered my ongoing questions, they were reasonable for 18 months’ worth of travel that including winter sports (skiing in Canada) and they covered high altitude for our hike to Machu Picchu which many of the cheaper insurance packages did not.
We witnessed two members of our hiking group being taken away by donkeys (there is no transport until you reach Machu Picchu Pueblo) because of altitude sickness and poor health.
Click play to see our saving tips in action [with RBS and STV]
5. Sobriety – The Unthinkable Answer to How to Save Money?
Whhhhhhaaaaat? Seriously, stop drinking – it saves money and you’ll feel like a boss at gym.
Have you seen what South American girls look like in swimwear? I still drink, just not every weekend. We have too much to do to waste a day on the couch under the dark cloud of hangover guilt. We also can’t justify a take away every weekend (ahem Craig). When you are headache-free there is more chance of going outdoors.
There is so much of your own country that you can see for free by using your legs! I did the West Highland Way last April and I am in awe of Scotland, she is such a beaut.
Here’s a biggy – quit your vice. Mines is sweets (chocolate, jelly sweets, just sugar in general, not really cakes bizarrely).
If I can go four days without eating sweets I am in control again. And it means more £2 coins for the pot (and pounds off the waistline)! So that’s number five of The 5 S’s of Saving. Update – as of January this year I have not had any chocolate, sweets or cakes – it can be done!
To recap – less Singapore ‘Slings means more kerching, use your searching abilities for more than just Tinder, seek out support, sell what doesn’t fit in a backpack, and lose it before you use it (to another bank account).