Low budget ≠ boring life: Tips on saving money & ways to earn extra cash

This is the first part of the tips and tricks series on “How to still have an adventurous life despite not having a lot of money”. In this article, I will cover tips on saving money and on how to earn extra cash. In the next part, I’m gonna focus on how to find activities that are free and fun and share more tips about how to get things for “free” through an exchange.

*Even though I’m writing in English, some of the references are only relevant for users in Germany.

** The article picture is from Bored Panda

I always struggled with finances and still do because I never settled down choosing a profession. I don’t have that great job that I love and where I earn a ton of money. (That may change in the next years.) Despite being broke most of the time, my life wasn’t boring at all. I just had to develop skills and find ways to be able to do the things I want to do. It made me more creative, more desperate and vulnerable. But I love the growth that came with it.

I still remember those times when I was traveling with my friends, going to parties and hanging around at McDonald’s for hours, waiting for the first train to bring us home. Most of us only got enough money to pay the train ticket, the party entry fee and maybe a few cheeseburgers. We couldn’t afford a lot, but we didn’t care at all. The important things were having fun, meeting our friends and being a part of the community. I felt a lot of freedom and liberation back then. My memories tend to be really hazy at times, but I never forget how things made me feel. 

Did life become complicated? Or did we become complicated because we aren’t kids anymore? My personal answer is, that money can make things easier. We don’t have to think a lot about how to obtain something, it’s more about making decisions on what we want to spend our money on. At least when you earn enough to have that freedom. So why would someone want to go back to the past where it was less comfortable?  I do understand that, but most of us aren’t filthy rich or may never be. Does it mean that our lives are less valuable or bound to be boring? No way I’m gonna accept that. 

Find ways to save money

I know that people like to give the advice “Just stop spending money.” and for some, it might work, but it never did for me. That’s why I tried different strategies and now I’m gonna share some of them with you. So, before you can save any money, you need to know what you spend your money on.

Finances & budgeting

  1. Create an overview of your finances.
    You can use a simple spreadsheet like I do or use apps if it’s more comfortable for you. How to find an app? Just type “save money” in your app store and try out some. (If you want me to test them and share my opinion, just send me an E-Mail and I’ll try my best to write an article about it.)
  2. Find out where you can cut your budget.
    As priorities vary from person to person, this is one thing you have to figure out yourself. You can try out which cuts won’t make you unhappy and adjust the amount until you find something that satisfies you.

PS: Yes, saving money is not always fun and easy. But if you have a goal to strive for and a way that works for you, then you can surely manage!

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An example of an easy spreadsheet. 

Planning ahead

Planning is an essential part of saving money. If you know how much you need for certain things, you can make a better plan to realize it. It can be a boring and tedious process, but it will definitely pay off!

  • Planning meals
    It’s not only helping you saving money, but you end up throwing away less stuff. You can even save time when you go out buying groceries just once a week or with bulk-cooking.
  • Planning travels
    There are last minute offers, but it’s more about luck in my opinion. And I don’t want my life to depend on some luck (not always at least). Decide on a destination and find out when and how to get and stay there with the minimum amount of money possible. I might want to get more into detail in a separate article. If you just want to travel, maybe you want to consider becoming a digital nomad.

Buy things cheap

Sometimes you have to wait a while until you find your desired item on sale, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. Or at least for the timeframe when you need that money for something else. There are new supermarket prospects (on paper/ via app) every week, where you can plan your purchases and meals around it. On mydealz, you can find a lot of special offers for everything you need. You can use websites like Preisvergleich or idealo to compare the prices and choose the best option. There is even an option to set up a notification for when an item is listed at the price you are willing to pay.

Quick tips!

  • Use your money on the things you planned first. You will have less to spend on useless stuff after that.
  • Take the bike; save money and the environment. And it’s healthy!
  • Old but good. The piggy bank.
  • Open up a savings account (and make it hard to withdraw any money from it).
  • Join food-sharing groups or buy meals from “Too Good To Go”. You are helping out the environment as well!

If you have more tips, please share!

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If you plan to open an N26 bank account, please support me by using my referral link! <3

Find ways to earn that extra cash

“Work harder” is not always an option, when you may jungle around a 50 hours work week with three kids at home or if you are plain lazy to work too much like me. Or because of any other reason. The truth is, that money won’t just knock on your door, waiting for you to spend it. The work part won’t disappear, but you can choose something that is flexible for your circumstances. No worries, there are “easy” jobs out there, that may fit your criteria.

  • User-testing
    I love doing user tests, because it doesn’t consume too much time, doesn’t really require special skills and there is no right or wrong. People just want you to try out their product/app/website and tell them what you think about it. Sometimes the company wants you to be there in person, but there are tests where you can just hang out in front of your smartphone or laptop. TestingTime is the platform I made the best experiences with, but I’m currently testing other portals. User-testing is not something you can rely on in terms of regularity, as there are a lot more testers then user-tests, but extra is extra.
  • Babysitting
    I don’t have a lot of expertise on this topic, because I can’t handle being with kids, but it’s a good way to make money easily. Some parents just need someone to be there while their kids sleep because they want to go on a date in the evening. It means that you will just hang around doing whatever you want while earning your extra cash. Or maybe it’s possible to combine it with your own parenting duties.
  • Helping out older people with their everyday duties
    It’s a similar direction as babysitting. There are elderly people that need help with stuff like buying groceries, cleaning up the house or a personal taxi to different destinations. You are doing really valuable work for them and maybe they can tell you some interesting stories or share pieces of advice on life with you.
  • Teaching
    You don’t really have to be a super pro to do this. (Obviously, you shouldn’t teach something you don’t know anything about.) There are people that just need someone to teach them the basics. Maybe some basic chords on an instrument, 5th-grade English, Exel, photography, etc. Just find something you are confident with and only teach the basics if you don’t feel comfortable enough for the expert level. You can do it in person or create video content and sell them on Udemy.
  • Freelancing
    In this era of digitalization, there are endless possibilities to freelance from home. Depending on your digital skills, you can use platforms like Upwork to find gigs that suits your skill level. There is a huge variety of things you can do. Few examples would be personal assistant, ghostwriting, translating, designing a website or doing customer service.
  • Creating a passive income
    As I’m still trying to figure out different ways on how to do this, I can’t provide more information on this for now. I’m gonna share more details in the future.
  • Selling things you don’t need anymore
    I’m sure most of you have stuff that you won’t ever use again in your life. So why keeping them? Sell them on eBay, shpock, Kleiderkreisel or other platforms. If you are more a fan of traditional ways, rent a spot at your local flea market.

That’s it for today! Feel free to leave a comment, follow me and share this article on social media or give me feedback! Writing in English and working on educational content is still new for me and challenging in its own way, (it took me at least 8 hours to finish this article), but I’m enjoying the learning process :).

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