12 Money-Saving Tips for TEFL

If you’re planning to TEFL abroad then you might need some money to get you started – to cover things like visa fees, flights, spending money before your first pay cheque, etc. – or maybe you want a savings pot for travel while you’re out there. Perhaps you’re thinking about doing a TEFL internship or just need to save up to take the first step and purchase a TEFL course?

I like to think I’m reasonably good at saving money. For the past 9 months I’ve been working toward a big savings goal and so far I’m on track thanks to many of the tips in this blog post. Hopefully these tips will help you save as well – and if you have any of your own please share in the comments, I’m always on the lookout for money-saving ideas!

#1 Set a goal

Work out how much you need/want to save and set a date for hitting this goal so you can work out mini-goals for each month. Telling yourself you’ll put whatever’s left at the end of the month into savings or sporadically depositing sums is setting yourself up to spend when you could be saving. Set a goal and be strict with yourself!

#2 Make use of different accounts

I have accounts for different purposes that I divide my money into each payday. My rent and some other bills are due later in the month so every payday I put this money into a different account so it’s kept separate. I then put the amount I’ve set to save each month straight into savings accounts. What’s left in my current account is my spending money for that month – simple.

Digital banking alternatives can be a huge help for managing your money. Monzo is one of the most popular and lets you set targets and track your spending all from your phone. More on why you should think about opening an account with a digital bank in the next tip…

#3 Get a Revolut and/or Monzo card

Since getting a Revolut card I’ve said goodbye to rubbish exchange rates and bank fees when withdrawing money abroad. It’s all managed from an app and you simply transfer money from your bank account and convert it into the currency you need at an interbank rate. You can use the card abroad just as easily as you would use a debit card at home and there are no fees involved except for a 2% charge on cash if you withdraw over £200 per month.

So it’s very handy for travel but that’s not why it’s featured on this list! A recent feature Revolut has rolled out is ‘Vaults’, which is a savings account. What’s great about it is that you can set it to round up transactions, so if you paid £2.70 for a coffee it would round it up to £3.00 and put 30p in the vault.

Monzo also offers a similar feature called the ‘coin jar’ and, unlike Revolut, offers much more in the way of managing your money. Get Monzo for using daily at home and Revolut for when you’re abroad.

#4 Use a savings app

Plum and Cleo are handy apps that operate via Facebook messenger helping you to save and keep on top of your money. They monitor your spending and automatically make savings based on what they calculate you won’t miss.

I’ve been using Plum since January and have been saving at an ‘eager’ level (Plum lets you choose from five different savings levels, from ‘shy’ to ‘ambitious’) and so far I’ve saved a pretty considerable amount with zero effort on my part – money that I would have otherwise spent!

#5 Budgeting Software

Mint and YNAB (You Need a Budget) are the major players here. It can be a little daunting at first to work out where your money is going each month but knowing exactly how much you’re spending on bills, groceries, eating out, etc. is crucial to cutting back and budgeting software makes it incredibly easy for you.  If saving is something you’ve always struggled with or you’re ready to get serious about it then consider getting Mint or YNAB.

#6 Assess your direct debits

It’s easy for direct debits to mount up to quite a considerable sum each month so it’s a good idea to take stock and work out what can be cancelled and what can be reduced. With things like insurance and energy providers it’s always a good idea to check if you can be getting a better deal elsewhere.

#7 Walk more

Just over a year ago I used to work on other side of the city I live in and money was very tight so I didn’t renew my travel pass and saved myself £70 a month by walking instead. A journey that took half an hour by public transport took around an hour to walk and meant I avoided overcrowded train carriages, got some exercise, had time to listen to albums and podcasts, and I generally found it put me in a better mood during the work day!

It might not be realistic for everyone to walk to work but maybe taking public transport up to a point and walking the rest could help you save a bit of cash each month. Plus, it’s good for your health!

#8 Have a ‘dry’ month

Another health-conscious money-saving tip for you – if you drink then consider taking a month off. Many people do this in January after the excesses of the Christmas period but it’s something you can do at any point throughout the year. Calculate how much you’re spending on alcohol each week and stick that money in savings as you go along. There are lots of sobriety apps you can download to help you keep on track and calculate how much you’re saving.

#9 Bring your own

Stop buying bottles of water and cups of coffee, instead buy a reusable water bottle and flask so you can take your own when you’re heading out.

Do you buy your lunch every day when you’re at work? Take a couple of minutes to add up what you’re spending on that each month and I bet you’ll be surprised at how much it is. Taking your own lunch is a really great way to save some cash and only requires a little bit of planning and preparation. Check out these great ideas for what to make! Preparing your own lunch at home also has the added bonuses of usually being healthier and reducing the amount of plastic you use!

#10 Teach English Online

Put your TEFL qualification to use before you go abroad to earn some extra cash for your savings and gain some teaching experience! It’s a win-win. You can find out more about getting started with teaching online here.

#11 Sell your things

You’re heading off abroad so now is a good time to have a clear out – why not make some money while you’re at it? There are so many options for selling your belongings – eBay, Gumtree, Depop, Facebook Marketplace, a good old-fashioned car boot sale, to name a few – and while it might take a bit of time and organisation to list and ship items that extra cash will all add up.

#12 Get smarter about your grocery shopping

Making a meal plan for each week can really save you money and helps towards reducing food waste. Most of the supermarkets deliver for a small fee and by doing your shop online and cutting down on the number of trips to the supermarket during the week you’re less likely to be taken in by the latest offers and end up buying things you don’t really need.

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