43 Simple ways to save money for travel and life
There are countless ways to save money for travel or life in general. Some are big, some are small. Some are easy, some are not. Any changes you make can help you towards your travel dreams, paying off your debt, or saving for something you have had your eye on for far too long.
One easy way to track your savings is to set up a travel savings account. Just make sure there are NO monthly or annual fees that eat into it. Otherwise you can try to keep a separate line-item in your budget. You do have a budget, right? If not, don’t worry, we’ll cover that in our 44 tips as well.
1. Make coffee, chai lattes and tea at home instead of buying at a coffee shop. Even if you have to buy yourself a little espresso maker you will be saving yourself a bundle in the long run.
2. Invite friends over for brunch instead of meeting them at the latest breakfast hotspot.
3. Pack your lunch. If you spend $10 a day on lunch then you could be saving $50 a week, minus the $10 or so that it will cost you to buy bread, lunch meat and/or salad fixings fpr your lunch box.
4. Prepare meals at home instead of ordering take-out.
5. Make a grocery list. Stick to that list. It’s the last minute purchases that usually throw us off our grocery budget or the “well, we could probably use this” mentality. I don’t want to even talk about how much food we throw out each month that has gone bad because we didn’t get to it.
6. TwoKidsandaMap.com recommends, “Make a meal plan. I don’t plan out by day but I write out a week’s worth of meals and then I feel guilty grabbing something quick knowing that I could take twenty minutes and have a taco dinner or whatever was on the list.”
7. Eat through your pantry and freezer. If you are like me you have a stock pile of food that you continue to add to with each week’s groceries. Challenge yourself by making meals solely with what you have on hand. You may surprise yourself.
8. Eat your leftovers! Do not let them go bad just because you are bored of eating the same thing. Freeze it for a future date if you can, or suck it up and eat that last slice of lasagna in the pan you have been eating for the past three nights (true story!)
9. Cut out junk food. This is the hardest for me, but it can save money. Those snacks that look cheap on the shelf will not fill you up and only have you wanting more.
10. Drink water. It is FREE! Soda is not. Coffee is not.
11. Two Kids and a Map says, “We also carry snacks and water with us everywhere we go and that saves us from making gas station stops.
12. Ride your bike or take public transit to work (if available). You will cut down on your gas bill, save the environment and get in shape (if you bike) or get in some extra reading time (if you take public transit)
13. Ever in Transit suggests: Check with your employer to see if they will cover or reimburse transit fares, many do. We totaled one of our cars in an accident almost two years ago and have been lucky to be able to live with only one car between the two of us ever since. The reduced cost of insurance and licensing fees have saved us over a thousand dollars, plus the reduced cost of gas because (by necessity) we are much more careful about when and where we drive.
14. Find a gym near your office and join it. Go there every day at lunch to work out. Yes, this may be money up front, but if it stops you from going out to eat and/or shopping during your lunch hour then it will save money in the long run. Some offices have small gyms or discounts to the local gym.
15. Find a walking, jogging or biking buddy to workout with in your neighborhood. The hardest thing to do when trying to get into a workout routine is to get motivated to actually do it. You don’t need a fancy gym; you need a friend who keeps you motivated and accountable.
Cut back on amenities
16. Get rid of cable, try Netflix or, better yet, your library.
17. Cut down on the pricey extracurricular activities. Parents have their kids in lessons, clubs, classes and sports leagues from a very early age. Trust me, I know. I was spending almost $200 a quarter for my son’s swim lessons from the time he was 4 months old until he was just over age two. This added up. Then he started soccer. Plus preschool costs! Now we have a rule, except for preschool, each kid gets one activity and that is it.
18. The Great Family Escape has a great tip — buy a sweater and a fan. In other words, turn down your heat and turn up the air conditioning to save on energy costs. I have been wearing two pairs of socks all winter. Sure it’s because our heat is acting funny and doesn’t always turn on (yes, I know I need to get it looked at), but my heat bill has gone way down, too! Thankfully in Seattle we don’t have central a/c in most homes so we already save a ton there.
Added tip: Try this trick to keep your A/C bill in check this summer: Open the windows in the early morning to let in the cool air. Then close up and turn your blinds or window shades down to keep the summer sun from heating your home.
19. Teach your kids about water conservation. It drives me crazy that it takes my toddler son five minutes to wash his hands. Doesn’t he know the fish need that!? Apparently not. So I told him the fish needed that water to swim and remind him of it often so he knows to turn off the water. We will be working on this for a long time I have a feeling.
20. Skip the little indulgences like manicures and pedicures. Trust me, this is a hard one for me. My guilty pleasure is a pedicure every other month. It’s a seemingly cheap pleasure- only $20- but that adds up. I can paint my toes myself for a $2-5 bottle of polish. I can scrub my own feet too. Now to convince hubby to get better at his foot massages- the real reason I go!
21. Try off-brand products. Even if you only save $10 each week, if you are disciplined enough to put that money in your change jar, in a year, that’s $500 by avoiding paying more money for marketing.
22. Do not stock up! This sounds counter intuitive, I know, but I am guilty of hitting a sale, and not always a good one, and grabbing five bottles of shampoo because eventually we will use them. True, we will use them, but it may take us a year or two. Do I really need that much shampoo in my house? No! Could I have saved $20 by not taking advantage of that sale? Of course. Will there be another sale? YES!
23. Set up a toy or clothing swap with friends. Instead of heading out to buy the next size jeans for your little ones (or yourself, for that matter), host a party and invite everyone to bring things they want to get rid of and trade away.
24. ThisIsMyHappiness.com recommends, “Stop buying clothes! I unsubscribed from all those sale emails from my favorite online stores and have completely stopped buying new stuff. I am learning to use and be content (with) all the stuff I already have.”
25. If you think you see something that you just can’t live without – new shirt, jeans, CD, the latest BlueRay, etc. – write it down on a piece of paper on your fridge. Don’t buy it. Let it sit for a while. After a month or two look at your list again. Can you still not live without it? Or would it just be nice to have around? Chances are the desire will fade and you’ve just put another $50 in your travel account.
26. Go to your library. With Kindles and eReaders everywhere these days, books are just a click away. But you don’t have to use that click to buy. You can borrow electronically from your local library. OR go to the library and get a paperback book to read. Remember books printed on paper? Yeah, they still exist.
27. Find free fun. Chances are there is a festival or some sort of free event happening in your town or a short drive away. Scour your local paper, parent magazines and circulars. See what is out there that can cost you nothing, or at least next to nothing.
28. Cheap date nights do exist! Can you put the kids to bed and then snuggle up with a good movie, a bottle of wine and some tasty eats? Of course you can! Oh sure, you are still at home, but get creative and you can have loads of fun.
29. Sell your stuff. How many of us have unused toys, clothing, books, DVDs (or VHS!) just sitting around the house? Most of us I’m sure. Do some spring cleaning to find stuff you can sell at consignment shops, used book stores and have a yard sale. Even if you don’t get the full amount you paid for, you will still get some money for something collecting dust.
30. Head to your nearest consignment or thrift store. You would be surprised at how many adorable clothes there are for your kids and you. Yes, someone else wore them, bu,t especially for young kids, they usually only wear them twice before they grow out of them. This past fall I got two name-brand, almost new winter coats for my oldest son for $25 total. He had one coat for this year and has one waiting for him to grow into next year. Major score for this mom!
31. Start with small changes. Trying to cut too restrictively can backfire.
32. Create a household budget (and stick to it!) Track your spending so you know where you can cut back and what is actually a necessity.
33. Save your extra change in a jar and cash it in once a year to use on that year’s travels.
34. Set up an auto save function on your bank account.
35. Feed your savings account. Set up an auto deposit for a set amount that will be taken from your checking account and deposit it into your savings account. It will add up quicker than you think.
36. Consider budgeting an extra couple hundred dollars in your travel plans in case your flight is cancelled and you can’t fly until the next day. This money could cover cab fare, hotel fees and extra meals as the airline will not cover this in most cases. It will save so much stress knowing you have a back-up plan and allow you to get a little much-needed sleep you will not get crashing on the floor of an airport. You may never need to use it and, if you’re really disciplined, you can keep the money stashed away for the next trip’s emergency fund.
37. Track savings on a poster board for everyone in your family. Maybe make it a little competition. Even grown ups respond positively to the gold stars acknowledging their successes. And kids will love a chance to outshine their parents in saving their pennies.
38. Minimize pricey birthday gifts in lieu of travel account deposits.
39. ArrowsSentForth.com has a great money tracking plan we have been doing. “One thing that has helped me is, at the end of each day, I write down everything we spent that day down to the penny. I keep a running tab. We’re much less likely to make unnecessary purchases when we have to own up to it on paper later. And each week, we try to beat the previous week’s total.
40. Sign up for Mint.com. It is excellent free budgeting software that can be shared and keeps track of spending for you!
41. Don’t spend more on your credit card than you can pay off every month. Interest rates are no joke. If you don’t have the money. Don’t spend it!
42. Put $100 in an envelope each month. That is your fun money. No more. Once it is used up for take-out, movies, pedicures, a new CD, etc. it is done. No more spending until next month’s allowance.
43. Do your taxes! If you have kids you may be getting a refund this year. Might as well snag your money back from the government and put it into your travel savings.