You may have noticed that I became a .com this week! anorcadianabroad.com is official! I’ve also made a new Facebook page for the blog and I’d really appreciate it if you could give it a like!
To celebrate, I’m putting together some guides on saving money and getting the best value out of travel. The first was my Australian backpackers budget guide, which garnered a lot of interest on Facebook so thank you guys! This one focuses on how YOU can save money to travel, no matter what your situation is.
I know. There are so many of these guides on the internet. Move back in with your parents. Sell everything you own. Work a second job. Take out a credit card that gives you free flights. Stop buying coffee every day or going out for cocktails. Set up regular payments into your savings account.
These are basic cut-backs and travel hacks, many of them aren’t feasible for everyone and you probably already do half of them. (and if not, you SHOULD because they’re all very sound advice) Plus in the UK these credit card schemes aren’t even available to us – with the exception of American Express for which you pay a hefty monthly fee that probably takes away any benefit of having it.
So here are some of my own tips for saving money and even earning a little extra to put towards travel. And of course, this isn’t exclusive to travel. Maybe you’re saving for a car, or perhaps even just want something put away for a rainy day.
Whatever your reason, everyone likes to save money, right? It’s just easier when you have an end game to focus. Make travel (or a car, or paying off debts, or a house deposit, etc) a priority!!
1. Take online surveys
A lot of people have heard of online surveys but don’t take them seriously. The problem is, there are so many low-paying companies or even sites that verge on being scams, and people don’t know where to look, but I’ve been doing this for years. The survey site I’ve been with the longest has made me over £250, and I’ve managed to cash out £150 from one that I’ve only been using for a year. And I’m pretty lazy with them.
Surveys are market research tools used to gather your opinions on new product ideas, advertising, and sometimes even blockbuster movie trailers before they’re released to the public. Occasionally you may even get a free product to try and review. And a couple of survey sites I use the most focus on political and social issues, which I find more interesting as the questions are a lot less repetitive and mundane!
Some sites give you vouchers; others cash via cheque or PayPal. Personally, I think both options are good – an Amazon voucher can buy a gift or a treat that you would have bought anyway, and one of my sites does Tesco vouchers so you essentially save money on food.
Here’s a list of my favourite survey sites:
PopulusLive (£50 cashout by cheque, usually political surveys)
YouGov (£50 cashout by cheque, usually political or TV surveys)
ToLuna (80,000 points for a £15 voucher, or 180,000 points for £35 via PayPal)
NewVistaLive (£50 cashout by cheque, free £5 on sign up)
GlobalTestMarket (1,080 points for £30 via PayPal)
Valued Opinions (£10 vouchers including Tesco)
Plus: e-rewards offers Virgin air miles, so if this appeals to you then it’s definitely worth signing up! I’ve got around 10,000 air miles since joining them.
2. Stop buying brand names
This applies to food as well as clothing and accessories. It’s amazing how much money you can save just by buying a supermarket or own brand instead of a big name. Turn up to a supermarket in the early evening and look out for reduced stock too. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve spent under £1 on a meal between us because we’ve bought it reduced. Even if a loaf of bread is going out of date that day and is going for 10p – buy it and put it in your freezer!
I rarely buy expensive clothes either – in fact, most of mine are from frugal shopper heaven Primark. My sunglasses were $5 from Hot Topic, and I bought my sandals on sale in New Look for £5.
3. Download apps or do “online jobs”
What? Download apps? Yep. There are tons of apps out there that can earn you money. Some of them aren’t much, but more and more are emerging that focus on “gigs” in your area. Tasks vary from checking prices in your local supermarket, to doing full reviews on a service received – it’s almost like mystery shopping but with more flexibility on the types of jobs. Clic N Walk is supposed to be a good one although I didn’t have time to use this before I left the UK.
There are also a few where you are paid to read ads (Qustodian), one where you download and review apps (AppNana), and lots more. People have mixed experiences with these apps so give it a test run and see how you go! You’ve got nothing to lose.
Occasionally you might find lucrative mystery shopping, too – there are tons of mystery shopping companies out there, but some of the best ones are MarketForce and Grassroots. A lot of the tasks will be visits to pub chains or restaurants, but you get a free meal and drink out of it – and sometimes better jobs come up, like enquiring about a mortgage and receiving £30 plus travel expenses in return.
One of my favourite little money-makers is an extension for your browser called Qmee, which comes up with sponsored ads when you search on Google, Amazon and eBay. You can click on these ads and earn 5-10p per click! The best thing about this program is there is NO minimum cash out. I’ve cashed out £2 a few times now! It doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve essentially earned a night’s accommodation in Australia for a few minutes work.
There are TONS of “paid to click” websites out there but I haven’t found many worth my time yet. Lots of people love Clickworker and Swagbucks so take a look at those, but they take more time.
And finally, another couple of great websites I discovered recently are SliceThePie where you can review music and get paid (not much but if you love music then it doesn’t matter!), and WhatUsersDo – a company that pays you quite generously to review websites!
4. Save money on your bills
If you are still living away from home (we don’t all have the option to bug our parents!), save money on what you are having to spend. Turn off lights, unplug chargers, get one of those things to reduce water waste on flushes, put on a jumper instead of the heating.
You can usually save some money on your utilities by paying direct debit or opting for paperless bills. I saved over £60 on our BT phone/broadband by paying £120 upfront for 12 months line rental. I always pay insurance annually rather than monthly, and there are always deals on changing providers if you want to overhaul your bills altogether.
Check out TopCashback for some of the best deals.
5. Speaking of which… get cashback on as much as you can! (or use coupons)
Some of the best websites for this are TopCashback and QuidCo (sign up using the link to get a £2.50 bonus). If I’m buying something online, I ALWAYS check TopCashback first. More often than not, they offer something for what I’m buying and I get a little money off. This is especially great for travelling because they give 5% off HostelBookers, Agoda and Hostelworld!
Similarly, I always pick up the free Tesco magazine as there are normally some good vouchers in there too.
6. Buy things to resell
This is probably the entrepreneurial side of me coming out, but have you ever gone into a second hand shop and thought, ‘HOW much?! I’m sure that could sell for twice that!’? There are countless stories of people finding absolute bargains at car boot sales and making a fortune reselling them on eBay – either luxury brands or collectible items the owners didn’t realise they had.
Reduced stock in supermarkets and large chains, and deals in Poundland are worth scouting out too. I know of people who have bought things in Poundland to sell on for up to a tenner!
One of my best finds was on a buy one get one free deal on Disney DVDs. I stocked up on a few for £7.50 each, then checked on eBay… a week later, I had sold Peter Pan for £26 and The Little Mermaid for £22!!
7. Medical tests, ID parades and other “odd jobs”
There are lots of medical tests which pay good money for essentially being a guinea pig. Keep an eye out for them online. These are also worth looking out for if you are in a place for a while. A friend we lived with Brisbane managed to sign up to a 4 week trial where she had to visit the clinic every day for ten minutes – but she’s been paid $2,500 for the effort!! Another guy did a higher-risk trial and was paid almost $4,000!
And yup, you can get paid to be one of those people lining up along with suspects of a crime. Just make sure you haven’t actually committed it. Not all police stations run ID parades any more, but apply at your local one to find out.
Something I have ALWAYS wanted to do is be a TV or film extra. Ash (my partner) has done it before and got paid £60 for a couple of hours “work” being in the background. You can have a browse on BeOnScreen or apply directly to shows or companies.
Donating plasma is also a fantastic way to make money – but unfortunately this is a scheme that ridiculously isn’t available in the UK yet, and Australia don’t pay you for it. However I’m including it because you can do it in the US and most of Europe. Donating plasma is very similar to donating blood, except you can do it every couple of weeks, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had tattoos etc, and YOU GET PAID FOR IT. Have a search online for the nearest clinic to you. (if you’re in the UK, this is probably Germany!! Don’t expect them to pay travel costs)
8. Write shopping lists
…and don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry. It’s surprising how much you pick up that you really don’t need when you haven’t walked into the shop with a plan. Even if you only spend £1 on something you don’t need each week, that adds up to £52 a year, or 10 nights in Thailand. Of course, we all spend way more than £1 each week on non-necessities, and shopping lists will cut down on wasting food AND money.
Again, make travel your priority. Do you need that Krispy Kreme doughnut? Or would you rather have a plate of noodles in Vietnam?
9. Get freebies!
I’ve had tons of free samples of shampoo, shower gel, food and much more! The toiletries especially are brilliant for taking away on weekend trips where I only take hand luggage. I follow MagicFreebiesUK as they’re consistently the best at sourcing deals.
10. Play free bingo
If you’ve got some free time to kill, I know a few people who have made a decent amount on bingo sites. The thing is, you don’t have to play any real money, but you can win it. Most bingo sites offer a sign up deal with free money to spend, and you’ll probably get “beginner’s luck” to draw you in to play more! Cut away while you can, with your winnings.
One of my favourite money-saving blogs, From Aldi to Harrods, has the best guides on where to find the best deals on free bingo.
And again, the winning part of this is CASHBACK! Read Emma’s post on playing bingo for cashback here. You might have to make a deposit but you’ll get it back with additional cashback from the two websites I mentioned above. THIS IS LITERALLY FREE MONEY.
(as always with things like this, don’t get drawn in to spending lots of money. Gambling is a slippery slope and only do bingo if you have the self-discipline to know when to stop!)
11. Offer your services on Fiverr
If you have a unique skill or service to offer, advertise yourself on websites such as Fiverr, Fivesquid, PeoplePerHour or even places like Gumtree! While this is similar to freelancing and you’re unlikely to make your main income through these, some people have done, so it could definitely be something worth looking into if you put your thinking cap on!
Or if you’re a budding creative mind, try making something awesome and selling it on etsy!
There are tons of freelance jobs out there too, but depending on your area of expertise it can be a very competitive market. Sign up with elance.com or try contacting some companies you’re specifically interested in working with.
12. Start thinking ‘do I need this?’ in regards to your travels
For the last few months before we left on this trip, every purchase highlighted one question: is there any point buying this if we’re leaving?
I stopped buying cute homeware and started selling some of what I already had. We started being strict on using our food up and not buying anything we weren’t definitely going to use soon. Clothes that were wearing out weren’t being replaced, and we weren’t making any impulse purchases unless it was going to benefit our travels.
In addition, I constantly stopped myself buying “another” drink or a takeaway or a coffee by thinking “this could be 3 lunches in Asia”. This was by far the most powerful way of saving money. MAKE TRAVEL A PRIORITY!
What tips do you have for saving a little extra?