Now every situation is different, everyone has different incomes, bills, circumstances etc. But I’ll say things that helped us, tips and suggestions and then I’ll talk about how much you actually need to have saved up to go there, based on a student budget. If you are going to teach English or other similar work visa, honestly you just need enough to start up an apartment and the first couple months of bills (you get paid monthly in Japan, so you don’t get paid for two months when you start).
First off, if you are a teenager in school……….get a job at a restaurant! A host, busser, anything. You will eventually become a server and work your way to a nicer restaurant. It’s more money than you could ever make without a degree and anyone can do it. And I mean anyone, because Andrew’s first job was a busser and everyone bet on him that he’d quit within 2 weeks. He wasn’t a good worker, was awkward, but eventually he learned the trade and he was basically the only busser there to ever get promoted straight to server (it was a really fancy restaurant, $30-50 a plate, crazy expensive wines, etc). Applebee’s and the like won’t make you as much but it gets you in the door and you might have to go from host–>server–>host–>server again depending on the quality of the restaurant and, well, the fact you have to relearn an entire menu. Me on the other hand, chose a housekeeper job in high school and I got paid shit for hard work and wish I had been persistent in getting the host job I wanted. (But I’ve found my love being a barista at cafes and depending on the cafe, can be lucrative with tips!) Use care.com for babysitting, pet care, and tutoring gigs. Use any talent or hobby you have as a way to make money. Scour the internet for any possible way to make even an extra $50/month. Also start learning the value of money and what it translates to. Make $10/hr? Think about how long it took you to you make that Chipotle burrito with guac & chips and an Izze. Maybe just stick with a burrito and water! With that, here’s a list of things that have helped me, last time and this time around.
FANCY BULLET POINT LIST OF TIPS
- Portion sizes. This was big for me and still is to this day. I’ve always had a little bit of chub that I’m trying to diet off but I’m SUCH a binge eater (Andrew too) and when I go on Pinterest I realize how much I actually eat and how much extra money I spend on excess food. I portion control now and suddenly it’s easier to stick to my food budget goals.
- Meal plan and CSA shares if you’re into lots of produce. Waste little with a good weekly meal plan.
- Food budget based on your needs. If you’re like me, you LOVE to eat out! I love going to restaurants and, well, not cooking. (I love baking, though!) Before I tried just saying “lets not go out” but that really doesn’t work. I’ve learned to accept and budget it in! Realize also if you’re eating out, then you don’t need to get as much groceries. Right now we’re trying a $200 grocery and $200 eating out monthly budget. We both get to eat at work but we also tend to buy more natural, sometimes organic foods. Because there’s me and Andrew, we have a higher income but also twice the food budget. We also both aren’t very frugal by nature so we often get more than we can even eat (but then eat it all anyways) and it racks up the bill. We’ve started not buying drinks as often, getting cheaper menu items, and eating at Chipotle more than sit down restaurants.
- Rent. Instead of renting 1/3 of your income, try 1/4 or living with roommates for 1/5. Or parents for free (although mine started trying to charge me rent when I turned 18 >.>) I personally love having roommates, more people to talk to and I’ve always found great friends in my roommates!!
- Minimize your bills! Depending on your saving time frame, it might make a huge difference. Take the $15 or $100 you saved and put it in savings directly. Right now I’m considering forgoing our phone contract because we’re both at work all day and are surrounded by WiFi. The only time we need it is for GPS but we’re thinking about not keeping the car because we moved within walking and busing distance of our jobs! Skype has a phone service for like $2 a month, or so I’ve heard. But again, still thinking.
- Groupon- Just, incredible.
- Hotwire- for any vacations within the US, this is the website to use!! Expedia for international vacations.
- Coupons- if you really want to save as much as possible, use coupons! I never did before because $10 a shopping trip didn’t seem like that big of a deal but it is and it adds up.
So there’s probably like 50 more tips that are applicable but it depends a lot on you’re actual income and situation. I think really figuring out how to save is mostly dependent on your situation; if you get coffee out every day, it’s simple to cut that out a few times a week or to get a less expensive drink but if you are a young person with little income, you have a lot less options, but you know you’re situation best.
I would like to say I’m a number cruncher maniac and LOVE budgeting, planning, and figuring things out so I’ve spent a lot of time on our personal budget. If you have any questions, comment below or if it’s more personal, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Ja ne 🙂