“Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.”

Dave Ramsey

Is it just me or does it seem like this whole adulting thing is filled with student loans, rent/mortgage, working 40 hours a week, and an insane amount of Netflix and Chill? Definitely not what most of us imagined this would be. Most of us assumed adulthood would be wayyy cooler (and much cheaper). But, what if there was a way to make adulthood a little bit cheaper and slightly cooler? Luckily, you have a frugal friend that’s here to help you do just that! Here are six ways to save your bank account from one of the toughest parts of adulting…that dreaded payment on the first of the month.

Option #1: Work on a Cruise Ship

Imagine living in Hawaii for FREE and seeing these views on your lunch break.
This was my sweet reality 🙂

In June 2015, I was blessed with the opportunity to be a crew member on Norwegian Cruise Lines Pride of America. I got to live and work in Hawaii FOR FREE!!! I signed a five-month contract, and the company paid for flights, food, and accommodation. They provided three meals a day in the crew mess (cafeteria) along with room and board with 2-3 other crew members of the same sex. They paid for your flight home upon the successful completion of your contract.

Working on a cruise ship may be for you if:

  • You enjoy meeting new people / are a “people person”/ extroverts
  • Enjoy traveling
  • You aren’t afraid of hard work
  • Open to new experiences
  • Don’t mind sharing a room with 2-3 other people
  • You are able to be on your feet for 12-15 hours a day
  • You can be away for extended periods of time (5-9 month contracts)

Working on a cruise ship is not recommended if:

  • You highly value alone time/ introverts
  • Don’t like traveling
  • Prefer being in the comforts of your own home
  • You shy away from hard work
  • Personal space is a top priority
  • You’re unable to be on your feet for extended periods of time
  • Being away for a long time is difficult

Funny thing is, I found this opportunity while searching for jobs on Craigslist (LOL). I had just gotten fired from GEICO so I was willing to take on any job to get back on my feet. I just happened to be in the food/beverage/hospitality section online and a job for a server on a cruise ship popped up. They were conducting an open house at the Marriott about 20 minutes from my home. I sent in my application and resume, they sent me an invite to attend!

Here’s the process in layman’s terms:

  • Send in an application and resume
  • Attend open house/open interviews
  • Receive an initial job offer
  • Accept job offer and recruitment coordinator is assigned to you (this is your point of contact that helps you get from point A to Hawaii)
  • Undergo physical exam, drug test, and apply for credentials. You’ll need a TWIC (Traveling Worker Identification Card) and an MMC (Merchant Mariner Credential). A TWIC means that you’re a legal traveling worker (think flight attendant) and an MMC is verified through the United States Coast Guard that says you’re certified to work on water. This costs about $265 total ($125 for the TWIC, $140 for the MMC), however, the company will reimburse you upon submission of your receipts and successful completion of your first contract.
  • After you’ve received your TWIC, MMC, and physical exam results, send this information to your recruitment coordinator. They will confirm that they have received it. From there, you wait for your ship out date. The process of TWIC, MMC, and exam usually takes about 4-6 months, so don’t quit your day job.
  • Your recruitment coordinator sends you a ship out date. You have the option to accept or decline. I will say that if you decline, you may not get another ship out date for months. Take the first offer if possible.
  • Once you accept, your coordinator will send your flight details, along with information on what to expect, what you bring, what not to bring, and the particulars of your job onboard (position, pay, description, etc.)
  • Now you can put in your two weeks (or two-day notice) and pack your bags cause YOU’RE GOING TO HAWAII!!! ALOOOOOOHA!!!
This will be your FREE home in Hawaii 🙂

Working on the cruise ship was the best thing that ever happened to me. The people I met, the memories I made, the sights I saw were unimaginable. It was my first time being away from home and it transformed my life. Being 5,000 miles away from home catapulted me out of my comfort zone and threw me into greatness. This is also where I was bitten by the travel bug and haven’t stopped going ever since. 30 Countries by age 30 is my goal!!!

Disclaimer: This was also the hardest work I’ve ever done in my fucking life. We worked for 5 MONTHS STRAIGHT, 7 DAYS A WEEK, NO DAYS OFF, 12-15 HOURS A DAY! You are hired to tend to 1,500-2,000 passengers per week. On Saturday, we drop the passengers off in Honolulu and 1,500 new passengers embark the same day. This was not a vacation. Yes, we got hours off to go explore the island, but you are still expected to represent the company on and off the clock. Also, your feet are going to hurt like hell for the first two weeks. I’m talking blisters on the bottom of your feet from the 12-15 hour shifts. The pain becomes manageable, especially if you drink enough alcohol like we did 🙂

Overall, I definitely recommend this opportunity. It was an unforgettable adventure that lives in my soul. I wouldn’t change it for the world. If you’re interested, Norwegian Cruise Lines constantly conducts job fairs. Here’s the direct link to their website that provides current career opportunities. Also, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email if you have any questions. I can be reached at mycurrencycanvas@gmail.com. Cheers!

Option #2: Housesitting

Wanna see how I’m living in Japan for FREE? Check this video out 🙂

Imagine a babysitting job, without the kids. Replace watching children with watching a house or pets. That’s essentially what house-sitting is. According to Wikipedia,

Housesitting is the practice whereby a person leaving their house for a period of time entrusts it to one or more “house sitters”, who by a mutual agreement are permitted to live or stay in the property temporarily, in exchange for assuming any combination of responsibilities.

This opportunity was a PURE BLESSING (or some might call it luck). My dear friend, Justina serves in the United States Navy and is stationed in Japan. She FaceTimed me and asked if I’d be willing to watch her home while she’s on deployment. My heart stopped beating. I was like, “your house in Japan?! Like, Japan JAPAN?!”. It was an offer I couldn’t resist. As a Christmas present, my parents paid for my flight from Spain to Japan.

I plan on using this house-sitting opportunity as a platform/reference for other house-sitting gigs.

Speaking of housesitting gigs, here’s a list of websites if you’re interested in housesitting. Some of them require a membership or sign up fee, but it’s still cheaper than rent 🙂

This list above was provided by GlobeTrotter girls. The author is an experienced housesitter and goes into great detail on housesitting in this article. Also, the links provided above have referrals from the original author, so you get to use her discount for signing up. I’m still learning about the whole affiliate marketing thing, but legally I think I have to mention it, so here it is lol.

BONUS (for couples): A lot of homeowners actually prefer couples to watch their home. So you and your significant other can explore an amazing place TOGETHER, RENT-FREE!

Option #3: House-hacking

Want to live in your own house for FREE? Give house-hacking a try.

House hacking is when you live in one of the multiple units of your investment property as your primary residence, and have renters from the other units pay your mortgage and expenses.

Source: auction.com

Basically, house-hacking is when you buy a house, live in one room, and rent out the rest. You use the rent that you collect from your tenants to pay for your mortgage.

Let’s say you purchase a four-bedroom house and your mortgage payments run $1500/month. You can live in one room as the owner of the home, and charge each tenant $500 per month (or more) for each room. Multiply that $500 by your three tenants and that’s $1500/month aka your full mortgage payment! You’re literally getting paid to live in your own house.

My brother is a house-hacker. He has a two-bedroom house, lives in the master bedroom and rents the other room to a close friend. His friend pays more than half the mortgage, utilities are included, it’s in a nice area, everyone wins.

Alternatively, you can Airbnb your home. You can let people book your home for a predetermined period of time. It gives you the option of posting one room, multiple rooms, or your entire house for people to vacation in.

One of my friends listed her place on Airbnb and would just crash at a friend’s house whenever there were guests checking in. It helped her TREMENDOUSLY. People renting out her house two nights a week would bring in an extra $500-600 a month, sometimes twice that amount. Do check the laws and regulations for Airbnb in your area before giving it a try, but it’s not a bad deal at all!

Option #4: Volunteer in exchange for lodging

Imagine living somewhere that includes room and board for FREE in exchange for your time. Volunteering is the name of the rent-free game! There are plenty of places to volunteer both domestic and abroad. Your frugal friend got to volunteer in Spain and lived there for FREE. Thanks to worldpackers.com, there is an entire community designated to doing just that. You can volunteer in hostels, NGOs (non-governmental organizations), homestays, language schools, surfing camps, yoga retreats, etc. There are endless possibilities.

I was selected to volunteer in downtown Tokyo, Japan at a language cafe, teaching English in exchange for accommodation, but it was canceled due to COVID-19. Coronavirus, YOU SUCK.

My friend, William also hooked me up with an opportunity to volunteer on a diving boat in Cairns, Australia. I was going to help out on a boat that takes divers into the Great Barrier Reef in exchange for a free room, board, and food, but once again Coronavirus 🙁

I’m super bummed about these volunteer opportunities falling through, but still wanted to share all the possibilities that are out there for you!

Option #5: Move Back in With Your Folks

Moving back in with Mom & Dad can be seen as “taboo”. People may consider you a “failure”, but screw those people cause it’s not about them. It’s about doing what you need to do to get where you need to get. In May 2019, I moved back in with my parents until October. I had just finished working in Washington, D.C., and was preparing to move to Spain. It didn’t make sense to sign another lease when I was leaving in a few months. I asked my parents about this ahead of time, so the consensus was clear. Beforehand, I asked my Mom if she wanted me to pay rent and she said “no”, but she started making passive-aggressive comments about the water and electricity bills being higher. My Mom is the most loving person in the world and she’s my best friend, but she has a tendency to talk ABOUT YOU, not to you. Luckily, my dad is a straight no-chaser and said, “give your Mom $20 or something for rent. If she doesn’t take it, give it to me.” So, I started giving my mom $10-20 a week and the passive-aggressive comments ceased. (Sidenote: In my defense, I was never “freeloading”, as I purchased groceries for the house, kept the house clean, filled the car with gas, and cooked for my folks)

Disclaimer: This recommendation is meant to be temporary, not a forever thing.

I would say moving back in with your parents can definitely be a challenge because even though you’re an adult, you’re still their kid. You’re under their roof, so you have to respect their rules. The best advice I can give is to keep the house clean, buy your own food (and food for them too), give your parents some money/offer to pay a bill (even if they don’t ask for it), and don’t come in drunk at 2 am. Most importantly: HAVE A MOVE OUT DATE AND STICK TO IT.

Option #6: Homestay

A homestay is an AHHHHMAZING way to live rent-free while exchanging lifestyles with another family. Basically, a homestay is when you exchange work for food and accommodation. From October 2019 to January 2020, I did a homestay with a family in Valladolid, Spain. A city about one hour from Madrid. I was required to have conversational English with their children for two hours a day, Monday-Thursday. This is how I was able to spend three months in Spain RENT FREE. On top of that, all of my meals were included and I got my own room and bathroom! The best part of the experience was the family. They were some of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. They treated me like family before I even landed, making sure I arrived safely and coordinating picking me up from the bus stop. Complete and total strangers opened up their home to me and made sure I felt comfortable. They showed me around their city, introduced me to their extended family, and taught me sooo much Spanish. They invited me to come back anytime, and I’m seriously considering it. It was an unforgettable experience that warms my heart and soul. 10/10 I highly recommend it.

And there you have it! The first of the month doesn’t have to hurt so much 🙂 Which options are you interested in? Have you tried any of these options before? Any that we should add to the list? Feel free to message me if you’d like more information, I’d be happy to send some links. Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments below!

Stay frugal, be brilliant!