How I saved for Europe in under a year

My Top Saving Hacks

We all have hopes and dreams of visiting overseas destinations, of fulfilling a magical and adventurous life - however we often doubt ourselves and our abilities to save such a drastic amount of money. Let me tell you, it's not easy. But, it is doable if you really, really put your mind to it.

Let me start with some background information. I've been dreaming of visiting Greece for as long as I can remember. But with so many life obstacles and events having been put above everything else, it was nearly impossible. Aside from this, I had spent the past five years working in fast food, which provided one very short and unfulfilling shift per week (if I was lucky). I really began to save when I moved into work at a retail department store, which saw my shifts increasing to anything between 2-5 shifts a week. As soon as this happened, I began to hardcore save. It took a lot of hard work, restraint and willpower, and a hell of a lot of motivation - but, I did it. I funded not only my own trip, but also paid for my younger sister to accompany me, and boy am I proud of it. So let me give you my tips on how I saved roughly $9,000 in just under a year.

1. Create small, manageable goals

A goal as big as this can be so hard to achieve, as it can become quite overwhelming to think "I need to save x amount of money by this specific date". What I did was set myself a smaller money goal. I was lucky enough to be able to save roughly $500 per month - sometimes more. So I would write this down in my journal, "by the end of this month, I will have saved an extra $500 towards my goal." Obviously this type of goal has to be tweaked in order to suit individual income, living situations and priorities, however setting a monthly goal is so integral to saving a large sum of money in a shorter span of time, and it feels so rewarding to see your savings increasing every month.

2. Open a savings account that generates a decent amount of interest, and lock it.

This one is so important. When I was saving for my trip, I simply had an every day banking account and a general savings account. I've been working from the age of fifteen, and have never been able to save a substantial amount of money because my savings have always been accessible. Whenever I needed extra, I'd dig into it and transfer my savings over to my access. In order to crack down on this and really save, I opened up a progress saver account with my bank, which generated a better interest rate with a certain deposit every month and no withdrawals. Additionally, I locked my account and set it to require both mine and my mum's signatures to be unlocked. This meant that I could see the balance in my bank app and could be motivated by the increase every month, but would not be able to touch it without physically attending the bank with mum. This is so helpful for saving and a tip that should be looked into regardless of your savings goal, because it's a real lifesaver.

3. Willpower, willpower, willpower

It can be so hard to save in this day and age, with constant expenses and constant encouragement to spend money on coffee, avo toast and the next best material item. Coffee and brunch are my favourite things to splurge on, but let me tell you - I managed to restrict myself, and you can too. Whether it means saying no to brunch one day, or choosing to go for a walk as a catch up rather than heading out for coffee, having the willpower and the motivation to achieve your goals means that you won't struggle as much as you think in this field. Even though I had to say no to a few social events, grab the cheaper options when I did go out, and spend quite a few weekends at home watching movies instead of being out with friends, the end result was so much more rewarding. Every time I was tempted to spend $80 on a skirt, or $35 on some avocado toast, I reminded myself that I could be spending that money on cocktails by the pool in Santorini, and I think that's enough said.

4. Visualise

I think that this is the most important tip of all. If you're a fan of the Law of Attraction like I am, then you'll understand why. When you visualise your goals and dreams constantly, you drive yourself to want to achieve them. I created a vision board with images of the places I wanted to visit in Greece, the food I wanted to eat and the way I wanted the trip to pan out. I also spent time talking about my goal, thinking about it and planning for it. I watched so many youtube travel vlogs, was on every day looking for my dream accomodation, and planning the restaurants I wanted to visit and tours I wanted to go on. By actively visualising these things, I was making my desire for the trip to happen so much stronger, and in turn this helped me work harder to make my dreams a reality.

5. Pick up a side hustle

This is only a tiny help when saving (obviously depending on your skills and capabilities), but every little bit is important. I opted for completing surveys to get some extra little bits of cash on the side. I use the website Octopus, which allowed me to complete surveys and obtain small rewards in return. I've made at least $60 from using this website so far. Another option is to sell or rent any clothes you aren't planning to wear again. I made quite a bit of cash through doing this, which I put straight into my savings account. Another platform which is great for if you do need to purchase clothing or items along those lines is Shopback. This allows you to get back a certain percentage of your purchase, which is so great and helped me save heaps while I was purchasing outfits and accomodation for my trip.

Whilst saving for big goals can be challenging, it's definitely 100% doable. At the end of the day, it's all about how badly you want it. I so badly wanted to visit Greece that I made it my upmost priority. I put it above every other aspect of life (within reason). Yes, it takes hard work, dedication, and many tiring days/nights at work, but you'll be so proud of the end result. I wish you the best of luck in whatever your savings goals may be. Make sure to let me know of your successes - big or small - every little win counts!

What I wish I knew about treating acne in my teens

The lessons I learned the hard way

As someone who has suffered with acne from the young age of 13, I can without a doubt confirm that it is not a fun time. I remember my acne being so bad that it hurt, and I would feel so self conscious about how my face looked. I remember children younger than me would ask me why I had spots on my face, and I remember once being told that I “looked like a monster”. As you can imagine, this would cause intense levels of stress and a lot of panic buying of products that were supposed to help.
What I wish I knew back then is that these products were harsh, and were doing more harm than good to my skin. I used soo many drugstore brands, I spent so much money on Proactiv, and would visit Mecca and The Body Shop almost every week to look for some miracle product that would clear me up. I would also take advice from youtubers and instagrammers who had the clearest skin and were promoting products without much knowledge about skin.
After making significant changes in the past 3 years, my skin has completely changed, and cleared up so much. Sadly, I ended up with a lot of scarring, some of which I’m still dealing with today. However, what I can say after all these years is that I’ve learned A LOT about how to treat acne and the things that you should steer clear from if you have acne as bad as mine was.

1. Stay away from drugstore products

As a young teen, I did not have a heap of money to be spending on good quality skincare. I would try so many drugstore brands, only to have them dry out my skin and cause me to break out even more.
About three years ago, I went for a free consult at Laser Clinics Australia. The skin therapist provided me with a step by step skincare routine using the brand Skinstitut, which consisted of ingredients that were suited to my skin needs. This took away the guessing game of figuring out what products to use, and provided me with consistency. I’ve been using these products ever since, and my skin has completely changed. A lot of my purple/red scarring has faded, my complexion is much brighter and I break out a lot less. I do still have the deeper scarring, but I’m working on it!

The point of this tip is, don’t use skincare that’s not designed for your skin concerns. You end up spending a heap of money trialling new products and do not get the results you need. I recommend speaking to a professional and putting together a routine with skincare that will benefit you personally.

2. Take youtube/instagram recommendations with a grain of salt

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of buying products because someone you look up to on social media has recommended them, but it’s important to remember that what has worked for them will not necessarily work for you!

I remember when I was about 17, a youtuber I was obsessed with was recommending a serum that they were absolutely loving, so of course I rushed to Mecca and grabbed a sample. I used it every night for 3 nights, and by the fourth day I had gigantic, angry breakouts all around my chin and cheeks. They were so horribly painful that I could not even touch my face. I stopped using the product and they eventually went away, but the scarring was so not worth it.

Recently, I tried out a brand that was being hyped up all over social media, and it completely broke me out. It was so upsetting because I had been doing so well and had minimal breakouts before this.

My point is, what someone else uses and loves is not necessarily going to have the same results for you. Everyone’s skin is different and it’s important to focus on products that you notice have a positive effect on your skin, rather than what’s popular or recommended by others.

3. Do NOT pick!!

Probably the most difficult thing is trying not to pick. This is way easier said than done. I am a notorious picker, if I see it, I have to pick at it.

I have really cut back on this recently, but when I was younger I couldn’t stop picking. This left me with deep scars on my cheeks and another on my chin, which I really hate to see now.

If I could go back, I would refrain from picking at my face because honestly, no one lies when they say you will be left with scars.

4. Invest in regular facials

Okay, this is an expensive one, so I completely understand that depending on age and income it may not be possible for everyone. But honestly, this alongside my own specific skincare regime has made such a huge difference to my skin.

I received 6 chemical peels at Laser Clinics Australia a couple of years ago in order to target my active acne, and they had such an amazing effect on not only my acne but the texture and look of my skin.

I also invested in a couple of skin needling treatments for my scars, and the immediate effects are incredible! I only had two (they are quite expensive) but I had such amazing results that I can only imagine how beneficial the recommended 6-10 would be!

The great thing about Laser Clinics from personal experience is that they have regular sales on the skin treatments, so whenever there’s a sale I snatch up a few treatments at a much cheaper price!

5. Diet is important

In my teens, I was probably eating at my worst. I really didn’t think this could be linked to the severity of my acne, and so what really caused me to change the way I ate was my gut. I started to feel sick when consuming lactose, and at about 16 I decided to switch to lactose free milk. Slowly, my acne started to clear up, and I really do think that dairy has a huge effect on acne.

It’s also important to be drinking a lot of water and eating a lot of fruits and veggies as they contain the important nutrients and antioxidants that influence the way your skin looks and feels. I’ve definitely noticed a different just from changing what I put into my body.

Obviously everyone’s skin is different, and therefore requires a different approach depending on their individual needs. For my own skin, I wish I knew back then what I’ve learned now and focussed more on the products that really worked for me and were made of high quality ingredients suited to my concerns rather than looking at recommended or popular products that really didn’t benefit me at all. I also really wish I had opted for professional help sooner and took the “don’t pick” advice seriously. It’s a lot easier to prevent damage than to fix it later on, however I’m so happy with the way my skin has changed and improved and I can’t wait to see how it changes with my continued practices.

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