Money,  Travel

Why Being Low Maintenance Allows You to Travel

In the previous blog post, I shared my experience having too many mini-retirements aka six holidays in a year.

How could I possibly have the money?

Well, basically I’m a low maintenance girl. I’m conscious of my spending so I can save enough money for travel. Here are some habits that help me travel often:

I’m Staying with My Family

What else do I need to say? I’m waived from house rental, electricity and water bills, and the food is provided. In Asian culture, children stay with their family before they get married, which is an advantage if you love travelling.

If you’re working overseas you may need to pay for accommodation but your salary is (generally) higher because of the currency rate so it doesn’t affect much.

*Of course, you still need to give your parents money every month, especially if you’re already working

Get a Job on Your Semester Break

During the internship, I have to attend events and take some photos

After my first internship and earning my very own money, I took another one. The boss liked my work and accepted me to work for him again in the next semester breaks. I managed to save a lot every month.

The trick is to focus on your goal. If you take the internship & part-time job to earn money for travelling, make sure you save the money.

Control Your Coffee-drinking Habit

Luckily, I prefer tea and milk. A cup of your artisanal coffee costs more than my 1 liter of milk. The price of a cup of coffee is almost equal to a box of 50-bags green tea. Just imagine how much I can save!

If you love coffee so much, make a budget on how much you would spend on good quality coffee in a month.

Don’t Spend All Your Money on Food

Love at first bite – Prague 2015

A survey by JP Morgan shows that millennials are willing to spend more on food than the previous generation. This habit needs to be controlled so you don’t overspend.

It will be better if you set a daily lunch budget too, but remember to take a break on weekend. Nice food is too good to be missed and it’s ok to treat yourself once a while.

Eat Healthy Food

Since I started going to the gym regularly and lifting weights, I love eating clean, healthy food such as vegetables and fruit. I seldom eat red meat but complete my daily protein from tempeh, spinach, egg, chicken, and fish.

To be clear, healthy food doesn’t mean an expensive salad bowl but could be the one you find in mix rice stalls and affordable food court.

Healthy food is cheaper than junk food or eating the so-called ‘healthy’ food in the restaurant that high in salt & MSG.

Don’t Spend All Your Money on Makeup

Skincare + BB cream + lip balm + lipstick are all you need – Cuba 2018

Rather than Sephora and Mac, I visit Innisfree and Watson. My daily makeup, or should I say skin care is revolving around toner, eye cream, day cream, lip balm, lipstick and BB cream (sometimes mascara too).

Unless you’re a celebrity or model, it’s better to focus on skincare rather than applying full makeup every day. Even models wish to get their skin a rest. Let your skin breathe and enhance your natural beauty.

Another option is to not to be a slave to a certain brand. Buy only what you can afford.

I’m Not Into Gadget…

The new iPhone is out. So does the new Samsung phone. Oh, GoPro is also on sale! So? I don’t care to spend money on gadget unless mine is broken or very outdated. And no thanks, I don’t need iPad or iWatch when I already have my laptop and watch.

All this time I’m lucky that my phones are all inherited from my family – whoever buys a new one, they will pass me their old one. This point is very subjective, though.

If you’re a gadget person, think twice before you buy a new gadget. Ask yourself if you really need it. Your new iPhone could buy you a return flight ticket to Europe!

…I’m Into Fashion

My most favourite unbranded dress – Italy 2017

Clothes are definitely cheaper than gadget (depending on the brand) and every end of the season there will be sale. Unless it’s a  very nice, limited edition clothes, put the clothes you’re eyeing on in your wait-until-it’s-sale list.

Brand Doesn’t Always Matter

Some people are so brand conscious, they’re willing to starve themselves to buy branded items. I’m not a brand conscious person but I have some brands that I always buy because the design and the quality are good thus the product last longer.

It’s OK to Go to the Club Once a While

Actually, I prefer bars than club. This bar has a unique concept – cinema seats with a stage in the middle! – Estonia 2017

Going to the club in big cities is not cheap. If you open a bottle or reserved a table, it will cost hundreds to thousands of ringgits. So if you go to the club every week, you know where your money goes to. And how much other people, travellers like me, could save.

Do Your Nails at Home

As a millennial earning modest salary, I’d rather use the money to buy clothes instead of doing manicure and pedicure. Clothes last for years, nail routine is probably weeks or a month.

Use Public Transport

When in Lisbon, remember to take the famous tram 28 – Portugal 2018

If you don’t have a promising career and a steady income yet, don’t buy a car. Having a car is a total commitment (down payment + petrol + regular service + parking ticket + car insurance).

Why would you buy a car when you could use public transport? If you could use public transport to the office, why not?

Expensive Accessories Aren’t Necessary

If you’re taking public transport most of the time, there’s no point of having too much branded, expensive accessories. They will end up in the closet and only appear during the weekend, date night and special occasions.

Surely, you don’t want to wear your 8 million rupiahs or RM2k Pandora bracelet in RapidKL bus?

All of these, my dear friends, will be useless if you don’t have this one trait:

Stick to Your Monthly Budget and Goal

This tea house in one of shopping streets has a warm & unique interior design – Beijing 2018

Minimum 50% of my salary will go to my bank account. I’m disciplined with my monthly expenses. I make sure I have the money to pay what I need to pay, the rest comes later.

If I have RM300 left till the end of the month yet dying to buy that RM100 dress, I have to endure whatever it is so I can pass the month without withdrawing any money from my saving.

So, do you want that dress? Cut back some activities, like no movies or cafe outings ’till next month.

With all of these traits, I’ve managed funded myself trips to many destinations. Even if you think these habits are tough to follow, you can still save some money and go travelling by sticking to the last habit.

In the end, it’s all about priority and how you manage your money. Happy saving and traveling!

*This article is first written for and published in The Jakarta Post, 6 March 2017

Leave a Reply