One of the biggest questions I’m asked about moving abroad (aside from the big WHY?!), is how did I manage to save money to actually pack it in and head across the pond. Let me tell you, it was the cliché “change your lifestyle” bs. Without taking on a second job, I couldn’t bring in more money than I already earned, and I didn’t want to take on a second job. I had to think of ways I knew I could save money and alternative ways to make money (no, I didn’t start doing dodgy shit).
The first thing I did was make the honest decision: I’m moving abroad. Then I decided when I was going to do it. I knew I’d need about a year to actually get my head wrapped around it, and to save enough money to go, so I arbitrarily picked a date and started to work backwards from that to see how much per month I needed to save. As I was managing a massive annual event at work in June, I knew I didn’t want to leave before then. I wanted to make sure I facilitated the event & that it was successful, before I left the company. As such, I picked my departure date as a rough, middle of June 2015.
The next thing I did was review the visa requirements. I was planning to move to England on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa. At the time, I was required to have about $3500 in cash in my bank account as part of the visa process + all the visa fees + the cost of flights + the cost of living in the UK.
I estimated that I wanted to have about $18,000 in savings that I could allocate specifically to moving / the visa. From there, it meant that I would need to raise more than $1000/month in order to make the move happen.
I broke this down even further because realistically, I knew I would never save $1000 per month. I had an apartment + bills + still wanted to have a semblance of a social life. What did I know would be guaranteed (read: likely to happen) income over the next year that I could count on?
I knew I would be selling everything I owned. Based on what I thought I could get for all of my worldly possessions (literally everything I owned bar one suitcase, one backpack and a large box I’d leave at my mum’s), I figured I could save about £2000.
I knew I would sell my car. I figured I’d break even on that. I made $300.
I knew I would get profit sharing from my company the year before I was going to leave (but not in the year I left). I knew I would get a few grand.
I knew I would have holidays that would have to be bought back from me by my company. I estimated I could possibly get a grand.
Leading up to a major annual work event, my boss agreed to pay me overtime for a reasonable amount of extra hours I was putting in. I mentally added this to the account.
I knew if I cut back on my monthly drinking / going out to dinner with friends, I would easily save $450 / month. I instantly emailed payroll and asked that that pay my wages into 2 accounts. I figured out what I needed to live on and what I could do without. The “what I could do without” funds went to a separate e-account that I didn’t really have a whole lot of access to. I then increased the $450 to $700 once the $450 became easy to live without.
13 months before I was due to leave, I moved out of my uptown apartment and into the suburbs. I figured if I was inconvenienced by having to travel uptown to go out, I would go out a lot less. This is very, very true and it worked.
What did I think I needed before I left? $18,000
What did I save:
Selling My Furniture $2800
Profit Share / OT / Holiday Pay Out: $5700
Monthly Savings: $8600
Miscellaneous extra savings: $1800
Before I left, I actually was able to save an additional few hundred dollars just by completely cutting things out – no shopping, no coffee, no drinking, no takeaways.
The three best things I did to save money:
- Set up a separate bank account that I had limited access to and that payroll was putting regular savings into. I knew monthly that my salary was being split for me into savings and into what I needed to live off of. Once the new amount being deposited into my every day account was comfortable, I moved more into my e-account I didn’t have access to.
- At the end of every month, whatever I had left in my every day account, even if it was only $1, I moved it to my e-savings account. I made a conscious effort that any extra money I had was transferred into my moving abroad account.
- Figure out my priorities. I didn’t need to live uptown, so I moved to the suburbs. By doing that, it immediately changed my lifestyle which meant an immediate effect on my bank account. I could see more money in my account each month. By not going out 3-4 nights a week for dinner / drinks, I instantly had several hundred extra dollars a month available. Knowing that I was moving abroad and couldn’t take a lot of stuff with me meant that I stopped clothes shopping. It also meant that I didn’t buy anything for my house I didn’t need as I knew I would just have to get rid of it.
Being mentally prepared to move started with being financially prepared. Knowing I was embarking on a major life changing journey meant I needed to be prepared for it. I didn’t want to half ass it and end up on this side of the pond struggling. What if I didn’t find work? What if an emergency occurred? How would I survive?
All of those questions, coupled with how badly I wanted to move, made saving easy.
What are you saving tips? Have you ever had to quickly come up with a large amount of money? How did you do it?