Want to take a gap – here’s how to save for it

Johannesburg – Taking a gap year may not necessarily be for everyone, but there still seems to be a growing appeal of a gap year amongst matriculants and graduates, presenting a time to explore both the world and oneself.

Depending on what you plan to do in your gap year, your finances could play a big role. Whilst gap years are exciting – a year off without an income can be quite taxing so it needs to be planned for meticulously.

“Whether you are a young person who needs more clarity to consider future goals or you plan to travel before settling into your studies and ultimately your career, once you decide about what you want to do in your gap year you need to plan how you will fund this lifetime experience,” says Lezanne Human, CEO of FNB Savings, Investments and Fiduciary.

A few basic tips to help you save towards your gap year:

Set you savings goal

Whether you plan to spend an entire year travelling or volunteering in a specific country, you will need money for food, accommodation and transport costs.  Start listing what you want to do, where you want to go, how you will get there and link costs to each of these items. This way you will be able to determine how much you will need to save.

Open a savings or an investment account

Now that you know how much you will need to save, open a savings or an investment account, specifically for your gap year. Make sure you take the time to find an account that works best for you as savings and investment accounts have different features – consider when you will need access to your money.

Get a part-time job before travelling

Take up a part-time job, as you will need to earn money that you can put towards your savings goal. Depending on your current situation, you may be able to take up two jobs, not only will you earn more but you can reach your goal sooner. Working more hours will likely keep you from spending more.

Cut unnecessary expenses

Review your monthly spending by listing all of your expenses to identify where you can cut on things you don’t need. Things like takeaways, cappuccinos or club entry-fees. Less spending means more savings that you can put towards your gap year.

Think about volunteering or taking a gab year job

Take the time to research gap year programmes, where you still get to travel and explore different places but at the same time get paid or provided with food and accommodation. You can also look at jobs such as au pairing, which are available in most countries.

Get a gap year buddy

Partnering up with a close friend not only means you will have good company to share the experience with, but financially it can assist as you will have someone to share some of the costs with.

Set monthly targets

Set monthly targets, on a monthly basis aim to settle expenses such as costs related to acquiring a Visa, airfares, accommodation and travel bags. In this you will be able to settle major expenses before the trip commences.

Consider destinations where the Rand is stronger

If you are planning to travel during your gap year, whether to one or more destinations, you may want to look at countries where the rand is stronger, such as:

  • Philippines: Exchange rate – R1 is equal to 3 Philippine pesos
  • Thailand: Exchange rate – R1 = 2.2 Thai Baht
  • Vietnam: Exchange rate – R1 = 1,428 Vietnamese dong

Taking a gap year is not a cheap exercise; however, it’s possible to take a gap year without incurring debt. What’s most important is to start planning early and ensure the plan is adhered to.