It's embarrassing, but foreign currency doesn't always feel "real" to me.
"3000 yen? I'm rich! Look how pretty the colors of these euros are!"
It feels like Monopoly money that's burning a hole in my pocket. There's also a certain adrenaline rush that comes with traveling. Something about soaking in completely new surroundings and a different culture makes going to a pricy restaurant and getting a dessert with a cocktail seem like a really good idea.
When you get back and take a peak into your bank account, however, reality sets in. You need to make money, and fast. Over the years, I've learned certain preventative measures and lots of planning are great for combating the urge to make it rain. But if you're already in the hole, fix your financial woes with the tips below:
1. Cut back on expenses.
I really love lattes. They can make an OK morning turn into a good morning. It gives me Instagram likes and I get to see (and possibly flirt with) my favorite barista. The problem with a coffee habit is, it's expensive.
An iced coffee alone at Starbucks costs just under $3 (without tip). If I spend $3 every day of the year, that adds up to $1,095. That's more than a grand on iced coffees a year. I won't do the math for lattes and Frappuccinos. (I don't want to make you cry.)
Making little changes like temporarily kicking your coffee habit (or making your own because I'd never suggest you quit coffee), packing your lunch or having friends over for dinner and drinks instead of going out can make a big difference in your bank account. While you do have to make things yourself, cooking with a friend or partner can be fun. You have the opportunity for a Pinterest fail.
You also won't have a server hovering over you and staring at the check because she wants to get another party your table. You can split a whole bottle of wine for the cost of a glass at a restaurant. Even if you aren't trying to save, staying in for dinner can be a total win.
2. Turn your unwanted items into cash.
I have a lot of clothes. I also have a lot of clothes I don't ever wear because they don't fit, I feel too old for them or I just don't like them. (Why did I think one-shoulder anything was a good idea?) When I was in college, we had to drag ourselves all the way to Plato's Closet. Now, you don't even need to leave your house to cleanse your closet and get paid.
Sites like ThredUp will send you a bag to ship off your clothes, making it easier than ever to trade them for a little bit of cash. You can also turn to Craigslist or have a garage sale to make money from unwanted items, but it requires a little more effort. I'd recommended teaming up with some friends if you go the garage sale route. People will stick around longer and buy more if there's a wider variety of items to choose from.
Either way, tidying up and getting paid has more benefits than helping you pay off your credit card. Having an organized home can be a major stress reliever. Ever have something to do and can't start until your entire room is clean? That was me every time I had a midterm to study for. The less you have, the easier your nest is to clean up.
I'm definitely on the Marie Kondo train. She's a genius.
3. Pick up a side hustle.
I worked two jobs for almost two years. I wouldn't have been able to afford my dream trip to Greece if I hadn't. Working 65-hour weeks was exhausting, but having an actual savings account as a 20-something in San Francisco is the exception, not the rule (unless you work in tech). Find a gig online like styling for Stitch Fix like I did, or waitress on the weekends. I put everything I earned in a separate account to keep me motivated and to help me keep track of how much I was making.
Recovering from travel expenses is daunting, but totally doable. Once you get the hang of making cash on the side, not only will you get out of the hole, but you can start building a fund for your next adventure. If travel is a priority and dream of yours, it's worth the hard work to make it happen.