Saving Money as a Digital Nomad Freelancer

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It’s hard to save money. When we have it, we tend to spend it. With all the upsides and downsides to living your adventurous, digital nomad lifestyle, one thing is certain: you need to make sure the money is flowing. The goal is to sustain your lifestyle and be able to save. You don’t want to be scraping by or left with no choice but to move back into your parents’ basement when you run out of money.

When I first started traveling, I was living off savings. I actually depleted most of the money I had saved while working my office job traveling through epic mountain ranges, desert landscapes, and tropical beaches. It was totally worth it, but at some point, I needed a reality check. I had to stop spending so much staying in hotels and Airbnbs, get to work, and learn how to become a frugal traveler.

In order to make the digital nomad lifestyle work, you must learn the ways of frugal living. Here are some of the tips that I learned:

Live Like a Local

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Let go of luxury. Staying in fancy Airbnbs and nice hotels is fun for awhile, but it’s not sustainable. If you live your life as if it’s a permanent luxury vacation, your money will literally slip through your fingers. Stay in hostels, homestays, workaways, or cheap Airbnbs. You will be able to save for trips, set some aside for emergencies, investments, and reduce your financial woes.

Eat Right

You might need to pass up eating out all the time. Definitely don’t be a regular at that Michelin star rated restaurant with the sunset view. Get yourself a spot with a kitchen, find a local grocery store or market and cook yourself some delicious meals. If you eat out, keep it minimal. Find some local joints or pick up some clean street food. Consider going into areas where there isn’t high concentrations of tourists (so long as you feel safe) and ask about the nearest farmer’s stand or food truck; the prices will be less inflated.

Public Transport

Photo by Jakob Scholz

Don’t spend all your money Ubering or taking taxis everywhere. This can add up. Consider learning the metro routes or taking a bus to get around. When I was in Europe, most cities had app-based motorized scooters you could rent and ride around for cheap. Make some extra time in your schedule to walk if it’s within reasonable walking distance. I prefer this because I discover hidden gems of a city and get some good exercise while I’m at it! 

Stay Put For Awhile

Consider staying in one spot for awhile. This can make it possible to find a cheap apartment to rent for a month or more. Most hostels or Airbnbs will provide a discounted rate the longer you stay. Just make sure that wherever you are, you have WiFi or a hotspot connection so you can get some work done. 

Bank Right

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You got a bank account. But, do you have two? Do you have a savings account that you pretend doesn’t exist? Do you have a card that you can withdraw foreign money without extra fees? These are important questions to ask yourself when traveling around. 

Avoid Fees

You’ll first want to make sure that your bank doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee every time you use it. You could end up paying up a 3% fee every time you use your card, which can add up over time.

Sign up for a debit card that doesn’t charge ATM fees. I made this mistake by traveling around for a whole year taking cash out of ATMs. I was charged a few dollars every time I did, and it added up to a couple hundred dollars by the end of the year. 

Set Some Money Aside

Once you start making some money, put some of it aside and let it accumulate interest. Open a second bank account or savings account and don’t touch it unless you really need it. Most financial advisors recommend you save at least 10% of your monthly income. Budget your life and try to save a specific amount each month if possible; you never know when you’ll need it.

Travel Points

Find a credit card that will give you travel credit to cover some of your travel related purchases. The Venture card from Capital One and Chase Sapphire both have great deals, and if you spend a certain amount in the first few months of signing up, you will get some bonus travel points. I signed up, spent $3,000 in the first few months, and received enough to cover my round-trip to Mexico! 

Always Wait For Cheapest Flights

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Always use a cheap flight search-engine, like Google Flights, Skyscanner, or Kayak to find the cheapest tickets to wherever you’re going (check out the articles I wrote to get some great deals and the 411 on this). You can save a few hundred dollars to put in savings or towards another future trip. 

Passive Investing 

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Stocks, Bonds, Property

Consider opening an investment account in the form of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. An investment account accrues interest and dividends based on the stock market. If you don’t know where to start, call a reputable investment company or broker. They will interview you, find out your financial goals, and take it from there. If you own a home, you can rent it out and make money that way, or Airbnb it while you’re traveling around. It’s a great way to save money and build up savings.

Affiliate Marketing

Creating and managing a blog or YouTube channel can bring in passive income as well. This is a rapidly growing market, with billions of YouTube views happening every month. Ads on your blog or channel can bring you some passive income. Depending on your following or your carefully curated content, your profits can continue to grow with minimal effort. Consider creating content on YouTube or your blog and researching the ways to grow your affiliate sales.


The future of money, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Tezos make up a ton of options to invest in the new frontier of digital money. Cryptocurriences shatter traditional financial institutions and put the power of border-less transactions in your pocket. Early adoption into some coins have resulted in gains far greater than you might find in things like stocks or bonds. We’d recommend swinging at no more than 10% of your income to passively invest and see what happens. Think about major projects like Bitcoin or Ethereum, or interesting new technologies like Tezos.

What are your tips to save money while traveling? Let us know!

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