21 April 2020

There's no getting around it, social distancing and quarantine are going to cost you money. Any money you've saved towards your career break will probably be used for necessities now, and you might need to save even more. Most career breakers put a lot of effort into saving up for their career break. Here are some tips we've got from them, plus a few of our own.

Dreamstime image of money

© Andrew Bruce | Dreamstime.com


Tip 1: Carry only cash

If you take only the cash you need for the day when you go out and leave your debit and credit cards at home, you'll be better able to resist the urge to impulse buy when you're out and about. Most shops are short on necessities, so it's even harder to resist impulse buying now, but having a limited amount of funds on hand will help. 

Tip 2: Use the envelope system

Keep your cash for necessities in one envelope and extra cash for wants and impulses in another. Organize your shopping so that you can pay for the items separately. This will give you time to think about whether or not you really need that magazine or another box of cookies. Never take money from necessities for impulses, but, of course, take money from impulses for necessities.

Tip 3: Carry only cards

One of our career breakers said she only took her card when she went out and never carried cash. So if she fancied a sandwich or magazine or something, she'd first have to go to the cash machine, and having to take this extra step made her stop and think - and usually forgo the impulse buy. If this works for you, go for it.

Tip 4: Organize your shopping by card

Use one card for necessities and another for things you don't need, but want or for impulse buys. Having to sort your shopping between the two types of items will give you the opportunity to think twice about the non-necessities.

Tip 5: Put reminders everywhere (and we mean everywhere!)

The quarantine won't last forever. Even if you can't save for your long-awaited career break now, continue to plan for it by having reminders all over the place. Print an image-heavy picture from this website and stick it on your fridge. Write down some of the things you're planning to do and put the list in your wallet. Find a big picture of your destination(s) and set it as your desktop or phone wallpaper. Look at all our career breaks, print out the results, circle the ones you fancy doing, then put it by the bathroom or in your bag (to read on the bus or in a queue).

Travellers Worldwide image of lion cub

We suggest pictures of much cuteness. Image © Travellers Worldwide

Tip 6: Switch your insurance and energy providers

There are loads of comparison sites for you to find cheaper gas and electricity suppliers, phone, broadband insurance, mortgages, etc. We asked some of these about average savings, and on fuel it's about £180, and insurance £280 (that's for car and home). Quite a bit of cash for less than an hour's work!

Tip 7: Have the odd treat

Career breakers who've done the whole "living on a budget" thing say it's not as bad as you expect. However, the odd treat will keep you going - you can just cut down on some of your favorite luxuries instead of giving them up altogether. For example, if you eat out once a month instead of once a week, you'll still save over £1,000 in a year.

Tip 8: Save for future travel, if you can

If you follow the split shopping plan, you might find yourself with a little extra cash when you've finished shopping. Put that money in a separate envelope or jar or however you store your cash at home. Keep your career break/gap year/travel dream alive by adding those extra bits of money to that stash and label it for the trip. You may have to use the money for necessities before this is all over, but knowing that you have that extra stash could buoy your spirits with hope for future travel.

Tip 9: Hold onto whatever savings you already have for as long as you can

If you've already got some savings for your future career break, gap year, or extended travel, try to hold onto it for as long as you can. Even if you end up using it to get through the pandemic, your money will last longer if you do what you can not to have to spend your savings.

Stay safe and well!


This post was written by The Career Break Site staff writers, with contributions from real career breakers. If you are excited about doing a career break, have a look at all the organisations which can help you here.