Saving money pre-hiking
When I finished paying for school, in January, saving for the hike became my first financial priority. Of course, in a minimum wage job, saving is a challenge. Especially now that I’m not even working full time, and have moved into the city. When I realized that I’m earning money in Canadian dollars, but will be spending it in US dollars, I panicked a little. But then I made a plan, and hopefully some of my thought process can help you make one too!
Before I moved, I managed to save half of what I’m hoping to have for the hike. So in the next four months, I have a lot of scrimping to do. Luckily, I’m a well-practiced penny pincher. Here are a few of my tips for saving money:
1: Create a budget, and stick to it
My budget is quite strict, and leaves very little space for nonessential spending. I sat down and thoroughly thought through (whoa that was a lot of words that look the same) what a regular week looks like, and how much money I realistically needed to have access to, so that I’m not completely sacrificing having any fun, but still am saving as much as I possibly can, and then made an itemized budget, which I update as I spend, and adjust accordingly. If I spend more than budgeted in one area, that money has to come out of the budget for another area.
2: Use a separate bank account for savings
Once I pay my non-negotiable bills, almost all of my dispensable income goes into savings. I have two savings accounts, one that I use for long-term savings and the other for shorter term funds. Right now I am using the short term savings for gear that I still need to purchase before leaving, and the other is for the hike itself. Doing this helps to make sure I don’t spend any of my savings by accident.
3: Think critically about what qualifies as “essential”, and cut out as much as you can that isn’t
It’s taken some time and practice, but this former online shopping addict has learned to decipher the difference between a ‘need’ and a ‘want’. As simple as that sounds, trust me, it’s not easy. I’ve found that the littlest things make the biggest difference. I used to go buy a coffee, or a new shirt, or fancy cheese instead of the cheap kind, without thinking twice, because “It’s only a couple bucks, it’s fine”. Don’t give in to that line of thought! A couple bucks, a couple times a day, adds up really quickly!
4: Cook at home
This one may seem obvious, maybe because it is. But as clear as it is that a homecooked meal is cheaper than eating out, it can be hard to be motivated to cook for yourself. Especially a young single person living within a 5-minute walk of more than 10 relatively cheap take-out places. Just say no! There are countless easy meals that you can cook at home for a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest fast food restaurants, and it’s a much healthier option, too!
5: Set some money aside for recreation
I’ve found that when I don’t do this, I am much more likely to blow my budget very quickly. By setting a limit on what I can spend on entertainment, I am creating a boundary, and so when I go out for dinner with friends, or to a movie, or have to take the train to visit my mom, that expense was already accounted for. Without entertainment in my budget, I tend to give up on saving, and spend way more than I should on those things. It’s easy to say they aren’t essential, but if it’s something that you are going to spend money on, put it in the budget!
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I’ve been going through this too! Spreadsheets for days. My dad is pleased at least…