Working holiday, as the name tells, is a holiday combined with working and earning money. Australia is one of the most common working holiday destinations but the country is really expensive. One night at a hostel costs around 25 – 30 Australian dollars, and when you add food and other compulsory expenses, you easily end up spending at least 50 – 70 dollars per day. It is also not 100 % sure that you will find work easily or quickly after arriving in the country. So you will need savings. But how much is enough? How did I save money before and between my two working holiday years?
Australia and working holiday: how much savings do you need?
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I started looking for a job right away when I came to Australia. I got my first job in a month, but it took two months before my first paycheck. I also bought a car during my first month, and the repairs took a huge lump from my savings. Of course, the amount of money you need depends on each person and on how safe you want to feel. However, consider at least these things:
- It might take a couple of months before you get your first payslip. Luckily, in Australia, you usually get paid once a week or once in two weeks.
- Before you can start earning money, you will need to have a personal tax file number. It can take several weeks until you get it.
- If you are planning to rent an apartment /room, you will normally need one month’s rent as a bond and then the first rent. I paid 160 dollars per week for my room that I shared with two other girls. If you live in a hostel, prepare to pay 250 dollars per week.
- If you cook everything yourself, like I did, prepare to use around 100 dollars per week on food and drinks.
- In case you want to do your farm work to get the second year visa, make sure that you have a bit savings when you go to your farm. If the place is horrible, at least you have means to get out from there!
As a summary, I would say that it would be ideal to have 5000 euros saved before your working holiday year. I know that many people have survived with a lot less, but I am too “better safe than sorry” -oriented person for that. I actually prepared to spend 5000 € but I had some extra on my savings account “just in case”.
Start with budgeting
At first, I made a tight budget and listed my monthly incomes, aka the salary. Then I summed up all my expenses, which consisted of rent, water, electricity, insurances, internet, and mobile phone plan and food. I left a bit extra for surprising expenses and to have fun. This way I could really find out how much I can save in a month.
Then I set myself an exact savings target in euros and a deadline to reach that. I added all the costs that I paid before my Australian trip, like flight tickets and visa costs. Then I divided the target amount by the number of months I had left. I used a simple excel sheet to count everything and to follow-up my progress. I also kept myself inspired by collecting Australia-themed walls on Pinterest and tried different ways to keep my goal clear.
Then the saving began
- As soon as I got my salary, I transferred money to my savings account that didn’t have a card attached to it.
- I canceled all newspapers and magazines and started bringing my own lunch to work.
- I compared insurance and electricity companies.
- I only used my credit cards to buy flights and I paid back 100 % of the balance next month.
- I tried to meet my friends at home instead of going out to eat or for a coffee.
- I sold some of my furniture and my car.
- I took my old clothes to a second-hand store.
- Between my first and second working holiday years, I stayed at my childhood home.
- After my first working holiday year, I worked on several different jobs. I had a normal 8 – 16 job on workdays, and then I worked at a night club during the weekend evenings. I also did occasionally some mystery shopping and sales gigs.
- I got also some tax back from the government, and I saved all of that.
- When I had reached my savings goal, I continued saving but to a couple of different index funds. There is a bit more risk in them but also the estimated return is higher.
I succeeded in my savings project, which made me feel so good. I felt that my finances are firmly in my own hands when I knew exactly where the money comes and where it goes. Two small decisions really paid off. The first one was to cut down small spontaneous purchases, like magazines and takeaway coffees. The other one was to get extra work besides my day job. I was really exhausted sometimes but I knew for what I was working for. It felt really good noticing that you can actually get extra 500 – 1000 euros per month if you work really hard for it.
Good luck to everyone with your savings goals. I would love to hear your savings tips so don’t hesitate to leave a comment. 🙂