The ROI On Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can be an exciting opportunity to travel and live in another culture. However, depending on the destination, it may be considerably more expensive than staying at home in Canada – especially for those students still living with their parents. The costs can add up – tuition fees, accommodation, food, transportation and other living expenses. The big question is … is it worth the extra expense?

Studies say: YES. Studying abroad can have a positive impact on your career goals, marketable skills and general employability.

According to the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE)’s World of Learning: Canadian Post-Secondary Students and the Study Abroad Experience report, 91% of employers thought that studying abroad was an advantage and identified an extensive list of benefits, including a better understanding of cultural differences inside and outside the workplace, and more world experience which makes for an easier adaptation to unfamiliar environments and enhanced life skills.

In today’s economy, it is more important than ever to “stand out from the crowd’ and time spent studying abroad can give graduates that competitive edge which will improve their chances of landing their dream job.

An online survey conducted by Higher Education Strategy Associates of 2,742 Canadians enrolled in an undergraduate program in a degree-granting institution during the 2009-10 academic year revealed that more than half of the students had either studied abroad, or were at least considering it. Of these, 93 percent felt that their studies abroad had improved their ability to work in a culturally diverse environment and had increased their knowledge of international affairs and that these two factors were important in getting a job after graduation.

Many universities in Canada now have partnerships with international universities and encourage students to participate in study abroad and exchange programs.  Classrooms around the world are becoming ‘global’ and offer a plethora of opportunities to learn about other cultures and to form long-lasting friendships and potential business contacts across borders.

At the Study and Go Abroad Fair in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, universities from around the world will be showcasing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees as well as Certificate and Diploma programs abroad.  Check out the Travel Zone for Gap Year, work abroad, internships and language travel opportunities.

- Katie Idle

Study and Go Abroad Fair, Canada’s largest international university and student travel expo www.studyandgoabroad.com

StudyGoAbroadSpring2014

SWAP Working Holidays will be at the Study and Go Abroad Fairs in Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto. Come talk to us about any of our fantastic work and travel abroad programs! #ThisIsYourYear #GoSWAP

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Posted in Bloggers that Travel, Fairs and Expos, Travel | Comments Off

Cupid struck at SWAP!

love

We’ve heard so many stories of SWAPPERs finding love on their working holidays, but this one might be our favourite! Thanks to Kelly and Chris, who were excited to share their story with you.

Kelly and Chris first locked eyes in September 2009 at the SWAP Toronto hosting centre. That same evening they partied with new friends at a SWAP party: the Boat Cruise. Somehow they squeezed in some alone time to watch the sunset on the CN Tower. Totally intoxicated (by the warm summer breeze and engaging conversation, of course) their love story had just begun.

The SWAPPER romance bloomed in Canada with vacations, adventures and even a few months of long distance. Their love affair continued growing in the UK as they settled together in Glasgow. Two years later, Chris asked to put a ring on it… and Kelly said YES! In 2013, they stepped it up from their backpacker days and said “I do” in a castle! Kelly dazzled in a princess-like wedding gown and Chris was dashing in a kilt; a new, but *true Scotsman* he was…. At their wedding reception, they themed every table to represent something that was special to bringing them to their wedding day so it was no surprise that one table was themed for the Boat Cruise and another one was called SWAP.

Kelly from Scotland and Chris from England opened their minds and hearts to the world and the world gave them love in return. Their wedding song by Avicii sums it up nicely: “Life’s a game made for everyone and love is the prize”.

What will your story be? Open your heart this year to living abroad and see what this amazing world has waiting for you!

- Written by the awesome Roxy!

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Posted in SWAPPERS on the Ground, Working Abroad | Comments Off

The 23rd STUDY AND GO ABROAD FAIR gives students an opportunity to plan their trip abroad

The Study and Go Abroad Fair, to be held in Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Vancouver and Calgary between September 21-28, features top universities and student travel organizations from Canada and around the world offering undergraduate and postgraduate programs, gap year options and adventure travel for students of all ages.

The trend towards “internationalizing” education in Canada continues in an upward spiral as Generation Y realizes the importance of becoming “global citizens.” Skills learned while studying or taking internships abroad can enhance a résumé and differentiate graduates from their peers when applying for that dream job. Students and their families visiting the Study and Go Abroad Fair can meet with top-ranked universities from around the world to find out about diploma programs, undergraduate and postgraduate programs abroad, as well as available scholarships.

Exhibiting institutions, several of which rank in the Top 100 universities worldwide, will be showcasing programs in Medicine, Pharmacy, Engineering, Hotel Management, Business, Technology, Science, and Culinary and Liberal Arts and many other fields. Visitors who are planning a Gap Year, to work abroad, intern, volunteer or simply travel, can visit the Travel Zone (this is where you can find us, SWAP Working Holidays).

Exhibitor profiles, scholarship information and seminar schedules for the STUDY AND GO ABROAD FAIR can be found online at www.studyandgoabroad.com, along with details of our Grand Prize Draw.  Prizes include an Air Canada return flight to anywhere in the world, and a volunteer trip in Africa donated by Developing World Connections.

Details for the expo in each city are as follows:

Toronto – September 21: 12pm to 6pm
Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Ottawa – September 22: 1pm to 5pm
Ottawa Convention Centre
SWAP Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/555133684547888/

Halifax – September 24: 10am to 4pm
Canadian Immigration Museum at Pier 21
SWAP Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/504932316266469/

Vancouver – September 26: 3pm to 7pm
Vancouver Convention Centre
SWAP Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/504810556269604/

Calgary – September 28: 1pm to 5pm
BMO Centre, Stampede Park
SWAP Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/167837526739221/

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Posted in Contest, Fairs and Expos, Travel, Working Abroad | Comments Off

Announcing Our 2013 SWAP Experience Contest Winners!

We are thrilled to announce the two winners of our 2013 SWAP Experience Contest! After receiving entries from all around the world, we randomly drew the names of our grand prize and 2nd prize winners. Congratulations to TARA and MARIE-EVE, who both did working holidays on our SWAP Ireland program! Tara wins $500 and Marie-Eve gets a $100 gift card!

We loved seeing everyone’s incredible experiences through SWAP. There were stories of adventure faced, life-long goals met, romances followed, and jobs acquired. We are constantly amazed at what SWAPPERs accomplish on our working holiday programs and it’s your stories that keep us working so that other people can have the same experiences.

We can’t wait to share some of your adventures as part of our SWAPPER stories, so keep an eye out here and on our social media (Facebook and Twitter) for that! Also keep a look out for the new 2013-14 SWAP Working Holidays brochure where some of your photos will be found (you’re in print now)!

Can’t wait to do this again next year!

winners

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Posted in Contest, Ireland, SWAP Destinations, Travel, Working Abroad | Comments Off

SWAP Staff Go Where You Go!

libby

After years of working and travelling all over the world, this January I decided to head to New Zealand to see what all the fuss was about. What I intended to do was to go to the SWAP hosting centre, run by IEP NZ, and check it out for myself since they have been taking care of our Canadians for years, but what I ended up doing was being blown away by all that NZ has to offer. When I arrived at the office in Auckland, the staff were amazingly friendly (I thought Canadians were supposed to be the most friendly people on the planet?!) and the hosting centre was everything I knew it would be. They really do run a great hosting centre there. They let me sit in on an orientation that was going on and it was great since half of the talk is about everything you need to know about living and working in NZ but the other half is about where to travel in NZ, how to do it cheaply and what definitely not to miss. It was so helpful and I learned about all the things I wanted to do in my short visit!

I spent time in Auckland which is a great city with so much to see and do. I ate at awesome restaurants, met lots of international travellers and made some amazing connections. The highlight of my trip was going canyoning with some people that I met at the hosting centre. If you don’t know what canyoning is, neither did I, but I went anyway! Canyoning is when you abseil down rock cliffs and along side of waterfalls and land at the bottom in water. One drop was 50 metres! Believe me, I’m not a hard core adrenaline junkie but this was both challenging, fun, and rewarding for me. The group was hilarious – you have to be when dropping yourself over 50 metre cliffs and nobody had any experience so we were all in it together. I saw some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen, laughed so hard I almost peed (I had to be careful since I was wearing a wet suit!), and did things I never could have done in Toronto! AWOL Adventures offers this amazing experience and I had a blast.

By the end of my trip, NZ showed me Orca whales, blue penguins, too many gorgeous beaches to count, fascinating cultural history, the best Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted, waterfalls, the oldest tree in the world, and glow worm caves just to name a few. I will definitely be back and am so excited for anyone deciding to do a working holiday there.

To learn more about our SWAP New Zealand working holiday program, click here.

Originally posted in the July 2013 SWAP Newsletter. Sign-up for it here!

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Posted in Travel | Comments Off

Only 9 More Days to Enter Our Annual Big $$ SWAP Experience Contest!

Hey SWAPPERS! Are you doing your SWAP working holiday right now, or have finished one recently? If so, you can enter our $500 SWAP Experience contest! All we want is for you to tell us about your experience abroad by answering 10 quick questions, add some photos of your working holiday and send it in. That’s it!

201307_contestThis contest closes on July 12th, 2013 at 11:59 PM EST so act quickly for your amazing chance at an easy $500.

Full contest questions and details can be found here:
http://www.swap.ca/newsletter/201306/contest.aspx

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Posted in Contest, SWAP Destinations, Travel, Working Abroad | Comments Off

SWAP has a new logo!

We here at SWAP have been using our “box” logo since it was last revised in 2001-02 and it’s served us well with thousands of SWAPPERs recognizing it as a symbol of reassurance during their working holidays abroad. However, it’s time for a fresh look, and we’re excited to update it to this wonderful new version!

logo_swap2

In the coming weeks and months, you’ll see our new logo paired with some exciting SWAPPER stories! Check our Facebook, Twitter and this blog for stories of what happened when people did their SWAP working holiday.

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Posted in Travel | Comments Off

Emerald Isle: Ireland from Space

OurAmazingPlanet Staff 

It’s called the ‘Emerald Isle’ for good reason: Ireland’s landscape, as seen in a NASA satellite image, is covered in lush green grasses and of course, shamrocks.

Ireland

The lush green of the Emerald Isle, Ireland, is clear in this image taken by NASA’s Terra satellite.
CREDIT: NASA

What NASA couldn’t capture is all the fun going on in Dublin and across Ireland!  For more on how you can live and work anywhere in Ireland for up to 2 years, please see SWAP Ireland

 

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Posted in Ireland | Tagged , | Comments Off

Verge 2013 Photo Challenge – Enter for a chance to win a grand prize of $1,000!

photo-contest-200X200

A picture is worth 1000 words…and sometimes also $1000

From Verge Magazine

We know that you are travellers and that you believe in the concept of travel with purpose. You’ve told us that the time you spent volunteering, working, or learning abroad was life-changing. Now we want to see it through your lens—the fun times, the hard times, the once-in-a-lifetimes.

The challenge? Help us see the world differently. Show us a snippet of that life-changing journey, and tell us why it mattered.

Categories for submissions are:

1. People

Photographs that tell a story about the people you’ve met on your travels, the social interactions, the individuals, their lives and livelihoods and special moments you’ve experienced that make a community unique.

2. Places

Show us the incredible landscapes, dark alleyways, crowded marketplaces, dusty plains, chaotic urban scenes, stunning wilderness vistas – all the strange and special places you’ve discovered on your travels.
3. Projects and issues

Meaningful travel involves learning about people and cultures around the world, their traditions, ideas and issues they face. Show us the photographs you’ve taken that step beyond the pictorial to tell a clear story about what you’ve discovered on your travels.

Tell us your story; change our perspective. 

Prizes

Grand Prize The overall best in show will be awarded a prize of $1,000 Canadian. Category Winners The winning image in each category will receive three premium Rough Guides—Make the most of your time on earth – 1000 Premium Travel Experiences; Clean Breaks – 500 New Ways to See the World, and Ultimate Experiences – A Rough Guide to Adventure Travel, a Verge t-shirt and subscription. Short-listed Images Up to fifteen images in each contest category will be short-listed, for exhibition at the 2013 Toronto and Montreal Go Global Expos and for publication in the Photo Annual Edition of Verge Magazine. Short-listed photographers will receive Verge Magazine subscriptions.

Click here for more information and to enter!  The deadline for entries is June 16, 2013, 6pm EST.

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Posted in Travel | Comments Off

3 things you should do on Facebook before any trip

Who wants to meet for a pint in London?

Who wants to meet for a pint in London?

By Corey Breier for Matador Network

1. Post your specific travel plans with a ‘call to arms.’
You’re probably already going to post a status update or tweet about your trip, but be tactical about it. Instead of a simple, “Headed to X today — so excited!” make sure to include reasonably specific details, along with a question. The prior example could become, “I’ll be in X for the next 4 days — who knows something I should see that’s not in the guidebooks?”

The inclusion of a question mark makes your post much more likely to receive responses. Businesses on Facebook know this well — they call it a “call to arms” and have proven that posts with questions receive more comments than those without. You’re not trying to sell a product here, but you do want your friends to respond to you with words rather than a simple Like, and the strategy works the same way.  Keep reading…

 

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Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Jessica Wins SWAP UK!

Congratulations to Jessica who is the winner of a free registration for SWAP UK!

It's easy to visit Amsterdam for a weekend when you live in the UK

It’s easy to visit Amsterdam for a weekend when you live in the UK

Remember, you can register up to a year before you plan to arrive in your chosen destination. So if you know you are going to go for it, register now and make the commitment to your work abroad dreams!  For updates on future contests join SWAP’s mailing list.

 

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Posted in SWAP Destinations, UK | Tagged | Comments Off

A SWAP Talk in the comfort of your home (by popular demand)!

Canada is a big country.  While we will definitely continue to offer in-person SWAP talks, we’re also going to have a SWAP Talk webinar so that Canadians all over the country can join us!

The Online SWAP Talk will be on Thurs., April 18th at 2pm EST (11am PST).  The entire country is invited- so just note the time difference for you (if we list all the time zones it might end up looking more confusing for people).

This SWAPPER is wearing a nice outfit, but you can attend in your pjs (and we won't ever know).

This SWAPPER is wearing a nice outfit, but you can attend in your pjs (and we won’t even know).

It is required that you RSVP.  To do so please email Sarah at sedwards@swap.ca , and let us know what city you are in.  We’ll send you the link and log-in code needed so you can view and hear the talk, and have the opportunity to ask your questions as well.

Let us know if you have any questions or need more information (email Sarah at sedwards@swap.ca).

We’re really looking forward to telling more of you all about your work abroad opportunities!

Cheers,

The SWAP Team

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Posted in Travel | Comments Off

Don’t confuse your bucket list with your grocery list

You can’t “Do” a country in a week or so, more time is needed to really experience the culture, city and country.  All the more reason to work abroad for a year or 2 on SWAP!

By Corey Breier, for Matador Network

Sometimes people confuse  their travel bucket lists with their grocery lists, talking about cities as if  they were check marks. Unlike remembering to pick up milk, you cannot say you’ve ‘done’ a city simply because you spent a weekend there. What you actually mean  is you’ve already been there, and that given a limited window for travel time,  you would prefer to go to a city you haven’t seen before.

But when we say we’ve ‘done’ a city, it sounds like we have depleted the  place of its experiences; it’s as if nothing of excitement remains. Certainly we  could return and hike the nearby mountain we didn’t have time for, or rendezvous  with the barfly we befriended last time, but if we’re already on the road, the  logical tendency is to eschew this strategy in favor of new horizons.  Continue reading… 

 

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Posted in Travel | Tagged , | Comments Off

SWAP Summer USA 2013 Now Open!

The SWAP Summer USA program is a great opportunity to gain very valuable work exerience anywhere in the USA. 

Getting great work experience doesn't have to be all work

Getting great work experience doesn’t have to be all work

Full-time students or graduates of the 2012/2013 academic year in Canadian post-secondary education are eligible.  This year the US Embassy requires you to have a temporary or seasonal paid job offer.  For details please see the Application Pack and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns by emailing swapinfo@swap.ca or calling any of the offices found here.

If you do not yet have a job offer our advice is to make a list of companies in the USA that you would be interested in working for.  Email these companies to ask if summer opportunities may be available – and start contacting them asap (meaning, now).  Make a list of several and get in touch- pound the virtual pavement!  Also, check out www.summerjobs.com and  www.coolworks.com

If eligible, you can work anywhere in the USA for any 4 month period between April 24th and September 15th, 2013.  For more information and the application forms please see:   http://swap.ca/out_eng/destinations/usa_summer_package.aspx

If you have finished your post-secondary program you may be able to work in the USA for up to 12 or 18 months with the SWAP USA Internship or Professional Career Training programs, respectively.  You would have to have a job offer related to your field.  For more information please have a look here.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns by emailing swapinfo@swap.ca We are here to help!

 

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Posted in USA | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Tips On How To Pack For A Working Holiday

Don't rely on the method demonstrated in this photo!

Don’t rely on the method demonstrated in this photo!

By Jessie Richardson

Packing.  Oh how overwhelming it can be. Especially if you are about to embark on a 1 year working holiday to a foreign country.

When I was leaving on my first working holiday to Ireland, I reviewed almost every packing list I could get my hands on. Unfortunately I rarely found anything geared towards working holidays.

Moving your life to another country for 1-2 years requires a unique packing style that even The Universal Packing List does not cover.

So if you are heading off to volunteer or work abroad have a look through these tips!

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Posted in Ireland, UK | Tagged , , | Comments Off

This is Your Chance to Score a Free SWAP Registration!

One lucky SWAPPER who registers in March will win their registration for free!  The eligible programs for this contest are the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.  After March 31st at midnight we will draw one name and refund the winner their SWAP registration cost (less the cost of the visa).

We’re encouraging you to go for it now because when you don’t make a commitment to your work abroad aspirations lots of obstacles can threaten to get in your way and keep you from your dreams.  We mean fears, listening to naysayer’s opinions and perhaps even personal doubts in your ability to make it happen.

We don’t mean to be all doom and gloom but we want to see you go for it! There is nothing like the unique and rewarding experience of working abroad.  The visas age limits are strict so take advantage while you can.  Too many people regret not taking advantage.

We agree!

We agree!

You don’t have to have the support funds, your planned travel date, or your flight or insurance to register.  We’ll wait until you are ready to proceed with the visa application. All you need to commit to is that you will arrive in your chosen destination within 1 year of the date you register.

Make sure nothing gets in your way by registering in March!   You can do so online here  or by visiting any of the locations found here.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns by emailing swapinfo@swap.ca  We are here to help!

Happy Travels!

Cheers,

The SWAP Team

swap.ca

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Posted in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, UK | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Unusual travel tricks that really work

(Photo: Dion / Flickr)

(Photo: Dion / Flickr)

These are surprisingly good!  And we know SWAPPERS appreciate a life-hack or 2…  check them out here

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Posted in Travel | Tagged | Comments Off

Study and Go Abroad Fair is back!

With so many opportunities the world really is yours!

With so many opportunities the world really is yours!

 

By Katie Idle

Want to see what’s out there in the big wide world?  There’s nothing like travel to push you out of your comfort zone and believe me, your life will change!  Living, working or studying in another country will challenge your beliefs, your perspectives and even your values … as well as opening new doors.

Here’s a great quote from JRR Tolkien which sums it up:

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Prepare to be swept off your feet and have the experience of a lifetime.  Visit the Study and Go Abroad Fair, Canada’s largest international university and student travel expo, in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver to meet with SWAP and to find out about working abroad as well as studying in another country, volunteering, or learning a language.  It’s a great opportunity to meet with all the experts under one roof and find out how it really works!  Come an hour before the expo starts to listen to our guest speaker, and check on the website for other info sessions throughout the day.  Pick up tips, info and suggestions on where to go, and how to start planning your trip abroad.

Mark these dates in your calendar:

Study and Go Abroad Fair – Spring 2012 Circuit:

Montreal – Saturday, March 2nd Expo opens at 1pm, but come early at noon to listen to a seminar on Working and Volunteering Abroad Le Palais des Congres

Toronto – Sunday, March 3rd Expo opens at 1pm, but guest seminar on Studying in Australia starts at noon Metro Toronto Convention Centre (North Building)

Vancouver – Tuesday, March 5th Expo opens at 3pm, but guest seminar on Studying in Australia starts at 2pm Vancouver Convention Centre, East Building

Check out exhibitors, seminar schedules and other important info online on www.studyandgoabroad.com – and sign up online to save time on the day and to enter our Grand Prize Draw.  Prizes include two flights to Europe on Lufthansa, a flight to anywhere in the world on Air Canada, a volunteer trip to Nepal or Nicaragua, and an iPad.

Attending the fair is the first step .. to becoming a citizen of the world!

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Posted in Travel | Tagged , | Comments Off

February Firsts – Bring it on. (guest blog from Laura in Ireland)

laura-napier

By Laura Napier, SWAP Ireland

Top of the mornin’ to ye all!

Actually, it’s not morning at all – it’s 11pm. And, did you know that it’s actually super offensive to say that here, in Ireland? Yeah… we’re off to a bad start here, Laura.

About a week and a half ago, I announced that I would be dedicating this month to doing something new every single day (and writing about it… Every. Single. Day. Oh brother…). I don’t know where the time went but here we are! I’m super excited for the jam-packed month ahead and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all. Here are some things I’ve already got penciled in:

  • Attending the ‘Walking Festival’ in Dingle, where I will hike up Mount Brandon
  • Trip to London (this is not a first, however it is the first time I’ll be going alone and I know it won’t be hard to find some firsts to do while I’m there!)
  • Concert in Cork that I chose at random. It’s actually this super awesome band from Scotland that I had never heard of; Admiral Fallow I’m already addicted!
  • Trip to Galway. I can’t believe I’ve been in Ireland for 5 months and have still yet to visit this coastal town!

Read on…

…and check out more of Laura’s blog while you are at it!  Seriously, if she doesn’t get you excited about all that is so wonderful and special about Ireland, maybe you should just consider the UK or NZ.  Laura has the attitude that SWAPPERS should aspire too- carpe diem for reals.

 

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Posted in Ireland | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

RRSP? TFSA? WTF? A Guide to Personal Finance and Saving for Travel

By Nicole Farrell

At first glance, moving abroad sounds too good to be true. Weekend trips to Paris?  International experience on your resume? Hot foreign accents? Sign me up. Then reality starts sinking in. How much is this going to cost? 

There are better ways to save.

There are better ways to save.

If you have no idea where to begin to learn a budget, don’t worry. Neither does most of the population. School is meant to prepare us for the big, scary world that awaits us after we graduate. I finished high school knowing how to solve for x, how to play “Oh Canada” on saxophone, how to synchronize swim, and many other useful talents I figured would take me far in life. I thought I was all set, until I stepped foot in a bank and realized I had no idea how to do anything with money. There was never a mandatory personal finance class I had to take to be considered a functioning adult, so I was stuck doing it all on my own.

I started university with a goal in mind: have enough money saved to go to Ireland as my graduation trip. 4 years later, I graduated with more than enough money to get to Ireland, along with a nice nest egg growing slowly to fund future travel as well without having to go into debt.

Here are my tips for you to save you the time and energy I spent as an unprepared English major in the world of finance:

BANK ON IT. The best thing I ever did to start my education in personal finance was switching banks. When I was with my original bank, I was pressured to buy credit cards and upgrades I didn’t need, so I felt completely intimidated talking to them about my options. I was terrified I would get roped in to signing my soul away for a good deal on interest rates. I looked into switching and was recommended to try a Credit Union.  I was able to get to know my financial advisor and he took the time to explain everything to me without pressure of any commissions. Having someone on your side that you feel comfortable with is a really important step in taking the fear out of banking, along with getting the necessary information on how accounts work. It’s your money, and they’re there to work for you, not the other way around.

One of the best options for short- term savings would be to open a TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account).  Although it’s best not to touch these savings too much, you can take the money out more easily than with other investment accounts and true to its name, you aren’t taxed on any withdrawals or interest. However, there is a limit on how much you can deposit each year. For 2012, it was $5,000 and for 2013 it is $5,500. This accumulates each year as your total contribution amount, if during that year you are 18 or older, have a SIN (social insurance number) and are resident in Canada. Be sure that you don’t over contribute to this account either, because while the government is throwing us a bone with this no-taxes bonus, if you over contribute they will tax you on it just to show you can’t get away with anything. Also be aware of how much you can contribute because once you put that amount in, it’s registered for the year. Let’s say you have a limit of $10,000 and put in the full amount in January. If you decide to take out the full $10,000 later in the year to spend, decide against it and want to put it back in, you can’t. The first time you put that $10,000 still counts, so for all your account knows, it already had its limit fulfilled. You’ll have to wait until the next calendar year when your amount goes up to contribute. Having fun with all this exciting tax talk? This will get your attention: Depending how much you have in your account, you can earn possible $100’s of dollars each year by doing jack squat. You have compound interest to thank for that.

Bonus Banking Tip: Try to open accounts with the lowest fees possible. I managed to open a chequing and savings account with unlimited transactions at no cost, as long as I keep a certain amount in my account and don’t go under. I found this to be a great way to learn not to touch my savings along with getting free transactions. I also never use ATM’s. Plan ahead, take out as much cash as you need for the week, and don’t use the ATM at your convenience.  Those $1.50 transaction fees add up, which brings me to my next point:

CUT THE CRAP. How much money did you spend today? 5 bucks? 10? Maybe you think you didn’t spend anything since you can’t remember buying anything. Now, tomorrow, write down everything you spend. Getting in the habit of writing down what you spend is also a great way to start budgeting, since it makes you aware of where your money is going and what you need to reasonably spend. The coffee you buy in the morning, the lunch out with co-workers, the impulse magazine and gum purchase. It adds up VERY quickly, let me tell you. Even if you only spend $5 or $10, think of how much that is over the course of a month-and how much those small amounts would add up in a savings account instead. If you put $5 away each day for 30 days, that’s $150. If you put that amount every month into a savings account, by the end of only 1 year you would have $1,800. Depending on your interest rate, you could earn an extra $30-50 bucks as well without even trying. All of that just by drinking one less latte each day.   See 10 ways to save for travel and if you want more 28 ways to save for travel for tips.

Another way to cut the crap: stop shopping! I’m not saying be extreme about it, but I am definitely not an impulse shopper which has benefited my savings account greatly. If there’s something you see that you want, wait a day. Just one day. That’s all. Usually by the day after, you’ll either have forgotten about it completely or won’t want to bother going back to the store to buy it. If you’re still interested, consider buying it now that you’ve had a rational amount of time to think before blindly throwing money in its direction.

A note about credit cards: The bottom line of using credit is if you don’t have the money in your account, you can’t afford it. Credit card limits do not equal free money. Credit card companies have made billions off of compound interest, which is what YOU need to start taking advantage of instead. Student loans are a bit different since education is a good investment. $500 designer shoes? Not so much.

MAKE IT AUTOMATIC. You’ll find this suggestion in almost every self-help book or article related to saving money ever written, so I unfortunately cannot take credit for its simple genius. I can attest to the effectiveness of it, though. It is so, so much simpler to save when you literally don’t have to think about it at all. Remember your best friend/financial advisor? Go back and visit them (they will appreciate the company, working in a bank is more boring than learning finance in the first place) and get them to set up automatic deposits for you. This means that when you deposit a paycheque, a portion of it is immediately added to your savings account (I recommend choosing one that’s not easily accessible through debit card use.) Start small, maybe just 10% of every paycheque, but definitely bump it up the more you want to save. Since this will happen automatically, start pretending that it’s just another tax deduction. It softens the blow a little of losing that money each paycheque, since you’ll no longer see it as potential spending money. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when a few months down the line you check your savings account and see that it’s gotten much fatter.

Getting yourself together financially is the most important step in becoming an adult, especially if you want to move abroad on a SWAP Working Holiday.  There’s no getting away from paying rent or buying food, so know going in that budgeting is an essential life skill. Once you’ve mastered that, other opportunities become less fantasy and more reality. Surfing in Australia, clubbing in London, bungee jumping in New Zealand- let the sky be the limit, not the depth of your pockets.

This article is only meant to get you started, and to show you that it’s not as intimidating to educate yourself as you might think. All I had to do was talk to an advisor at my bank and do some Googling. It’s not hard to learn, and it pays off-literally.

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