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Thought Piece

5 Ways To Save Money As A Volunteer

By Rianna
Successfully sending volunteers abroad for 10 years

Whether you are a volunteer on a budget or not, there are always different methods of saving that you may use. There are bigger ways to save, such as putting money away every month but there are also smaller ways you can save money. Many of us love to be in with the trend and naturally become consumers, so whatever your reason is for living frugally, we can help. Maybe you are a student and are on a student budget, or simply did not fundraise enough to cover spending money. Who said you can’t live on a budget and still live luxuriously?  

Many of us turn to look into the bigger ways to save, especially when abroad, but this doesn’t always work out. There are many ways I have thought about budgeting and planning how much I’m going to spend when I’m abroad. Despite all the rigorous planning and organising, I always tend to forget these once I’m there, or, often, things don’t go as planned and you miscalculated how much things are really going to cost.  

Here are five tips that can save you money and make your pennies go further: 

Travel With Friends And Split The Bill

Before planning your trip, think about whether a friend may want to travel with you. Travelling with a friend can save money in a lot of different ways. For example, finding deals on flights and airport transfers to splitting the cost of a taxi ride. 

If you have travelled solo, you’ll be sure to make friends when you’re volunteering. For instance, when food shopping for the week you and your friend can share a loaf of bread or a carton of milk. On top of this, if you forgot to pack a small bag for daily activities, you can save yourself some money and borrow one from a friend! Your friend can also be a useful way of helping you manage your money. If you know you’re a big spender, you can kindly ask your friend to look after your money whilst you’re out and they can help you budget. 

Only Take A Total Sum Of Cash Out With You

It is often said that even at home only take cash out with you when shopping as this saves you spending over your limit. However, when travelling this also serves another purpose; it reduces the chances of losing large amounts of money should pickpocketing occur or you lose it whilst you’re out. 

After working out your bearings and figuring out how much you may need daily, e.g. for food, travel, souvenirs you can then decide how much cash to take out with you. This ensures you don’t overspend, especially if you have a limited amount of spending money. If you’re still unsure how much money you may need, a quick Google search can help or ask previous travellers for their opinion. This is also a good way of finding out recommended cheer places to eat or shop. 

Shop Around And Haggle

Before you settle permanently on buying something the first time, pause and think about whether you can get it for cheaper. Especially in markets for souvenirs and such - the vendors will often try and make a lot of profit from tourists. They will give you the highest price they would like for the product, and although you may not be used to it, it is more than okay to haggle. That’s how they do business! Make sure you start very low with your offer and work your way up to the highest you would like to pay for the product. 

More time? If you know that you’re likely to want to buy everything because you tell yourself you may never be back at that same country again, consider coming back to the shop later on in the week. Think about whether there are other places other travellers or locals know that you can get the same product for cheaper. 

Opt For The Supermarket’s Own Brand

Food shopping abroad never has to be expensive. If you’re volunteering you may not want to splash out on food, you’re here to help and not be in complete holiday mode, after all. You’re probably used to a wide range of meals and foods at home, but there is no room to be fussy when you’re abroad as they may not offer the same foods you are used to at home. 

Often you can still buy luxurious foods just for a little less! Consider buying the supermarket’s own brand and don’t be afraid to try something different. After all, you are there to immerse yourself in the new culture and try to live a little more like the locals. 

Have A Homemade Packed Lunch

It’s tempting to buy lunch out at restaurants and the corner shop, but it isn’t always the best at saving money. Yes, we may find that having lunch out abroad is cheaper compared to eating out at home, but it still adds up. 

When you’re volunteering and working in the week, it is best to meal prep at home, particularly if you are planning on volunteering for longer periods of times, e.g. for a month. The best way to save is to make yourself some lunch to go and bring some snacks with you too. This will save both time and money as you won’t have to shop around during your breaks and lunch! 

If you would like to volunteer in Africa, get in touch with us and see which programme would best suit you.


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