Money Talks, So Should You

Travel Junkie: Living like an adult on a student budget

Katherine O'Meara
by Katherine O'Meara, Dimesprnig 30

Working a limited schedule has a lot of perks: long weekends to travel, less take-home work, fewer possibilities for my students to ask awkward personal questions. But a reduced schedule means something else: reduced pay.

And while I love my co-workers and want nothing more than to spend time with them, they often forget that I don’t earn as much as they do. To fake an adult lifestyle while earning little more than I did during college, I’ve adapted a few coping strategies.

READ: Why you should say no to debit cards

Start with rent. Before I can plan anything out for the rest of the month, I immediately subtract my rent from my pay check. If money’s tight I can always skip going away for the weekend, but for some reason my landlord doesn’t have the same flexibility when it comes to my bills.

Cut out unnecessary expenses. To put my money toward more entertaining pursuits, such as traveling or going out on the weekends, I’ve learned to live without a few other things I used to consider essential. For example, I don’t have internet in my house. Instead I use the computer at work or grab coffee at a café with wifi. I also don’t have a car. Although sometimes it makes my life a bit more difficult, for the most part I manage fine with walking or riding a bike. Plus, no need for a gym membership.

Brand names are not your friend. There are few products with a significant difference between generic and brand names. We all have our favorite brand-name items, (for me it’s peanut butter and ketchup), but it really is surprising how much saving you can do by buying the cheaper version of everyday products.

READ: Little Miss Moneybags: The oddest jobs I've ever worked 

Neither is the ATM. Because my life abroad is pretty spontaneous, I never really know what each day will bring. That makes daily budgeting nearly impossible. Instead I map out a rough plan for the week, and take out that amount of money from the ATM. I often find that if I use my debit card or just take out money whenever I need it, my cash always finds a way to get spent. It’s better if I am consciously aware of the amount I have, and adjust my spending accordingly.

Find a rich significant other. Just kidding, although I can’t say I’m opposed to the idea.

Katherine O’Meara is unable to turn down any chance for adventure. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, she can now be found teaching English in northern Spain. She does her best to balance her travel and shopping addictions with her desire to eat and pay her rent. Katherine is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.