The number one thing I hear since I’ve been running this blog is “How do you afford to travel as much as you do?” Two years ago I put together a post called “Money Saving Hacks for the New Year” and it was well received. (If you haven’t read it, here’s the link. Still good info even 2 years later!) I decided to refresh this idea and do a new post with all the new ways to save money that I’ve learned over the last two years!
1. Track Expenses and Follow a Budget
I know, I know… No one likes to be told to start budgeting, but I cannot tell you what a difference this has made in my life this year.
Start by tracking your expenses for a month or two. Categorize and keep track of your spending. I prefer to write everything down and highlight but that’s not for everyone. A friend recently told that Bank of America and other banking apps actually allow you to categorize your spending right in the app and then it will help break it all down for you at the end of the month.
This year I learned how to do a paycheck budgeting system and it helped me gain complete control over my money. The Paycheck Budgeting method is a zero based concept where every dollar has a place to go.
It’s a simple system when you get the hang of it. Take your paycheck income, subtract bills that fall within your two week pay period, subtract variable expenses (such as groceries, gas, health, and fun), subtract regular savings (travel, taxes, car fund) then you can throw whatever is left at debt or savings. Every dollar has a purpose with this system.
2. Spend with Cash
Becoming a cash spender has also been a game changer for me. Withdraw a set amount every paycheck for food, gas, household, beauty and miscellaneous expenses and ONLY spend with that. It makes you second guess your purchase when you have to physically take cash out of your wallet AND it gives you a visual for how much you have left during a certain pay period.
If cash isn’t your thing, there are plenty of apps to use for online budgeting as well. Apps like Every Dollar and You Need a Budget (YNAB) are perfect for learning budgeting and tracking. You’d be amazed how much money you’re blowing mindlessly until you start paying attention!
I said this in my previous post, but if you are interested at all in learning this budgeting method, I would be more than happy to give you a crash course in it! Feel free to reach out!
3. Reduce Debt
This is another thing that no one wants to hear, but when you sit down and add up how much you are spending per month on minimum payments and interest, I guarantee it will light a fire under you to make some changes. I recently realized that if I could conquer my debt, I’d have an extra $500 a month to play with. That’s INSANE.
There are tons of ways to get started doing this. Transferring high interest rate cards to 0% interest cards is a great way to tackle a credit card debt while avoiding monthly fees. If your car payment is burying you, maybe contemplate selling it and opting for a more affordable and reliable option. Used cars aren’t as scary as the dealerships make them seem! Student loans are many people’s enemy but there are ways to reduce these as well. Consolidation or Refinancing can make big changes in the long run. Everyone’s situation is different but it’s worth looking into!
4. Cut Your Expenses and Spending
If you want to make travel and adventures a priority, then you need to take a look at your spending and reduce non-priorities. Calculate up how much you spend on coffee, eating out, nails/hair, alcohol, subscriptions, cable, car insurance, food waste, etc. I promise you, you will find places where you can trim your numbers. Just by making coffee at home instead of buying it daily you can save about $100 a month!
Protip: Learn to love your library! Borrowing books, movies, and audio books will save you a TON of money a year.
When you do need to purchase new things, try searching second hand places first like Facebook Marketplace, Mercari, Goodwill, etc. And if you are going to spend the money anyways, then scan your receipts after for points that can add up to gift cards! The apps I use are Fetch Rewards, Ibotta and Receipt Hog. I’m well over $75 in amazon gift cards by now thanks to those apps!
If impulse buying is your nemesis (thanks to the one-click world of Amazon) start implementing the 24 hour rule and putting something in your cart and leaving it. If you still feel that you need it 24 hours from now, then make the purchase. Most of the time our impulses aren’t as important as they feel at the moment!
5. Open up a High Yield Savings Account
When you’re ready to start squirreling away money for travel, transfer it to a High Yield Savings Account like Sofi, Ally or Yotta. These accounts have higher interest than your standard local banks so your money makes money on it’s own rather than sitting in a savings account making you $0.01 a month. The amounts are small depending on how much you keep in the account but I promise it’s a hell of a lot more than you would be making otherwise!
What I love about the three banks I mentioned, is that they have organization systems called “Vaults” or “Buckets” that allow you to divide your money into categories like Travel, Taxes, Christmas, Car funds, etc. It’s a great way to get organized and make sure you’re not dipping into savings allocated for other things.
Sign up with Yotta and get 100 free tickets!
6. Declutter and Sell your Items!
You wouldn’t believe the kind of things that you can sell on Facebook Marketplace! New years is the perfect time to make it a goal to declutter your house. Go room by room, drawer by drawer, and take everything out all at once. Then one by one, put the items that you REGULARLY use back in. Anything else, you can decide to store away, throw away or sell. We’ve sold furniture, clothes, kitchen gadgets, purses, decor items, tools, plants, pretty much anything you can think of. The money adds up!
And once you start bringing in that cash, it gets pretty addicting and your boyfriend will have to stop you from selling everything you own! (That might be just me!)
I’ve had less success on other platforms like Poshmark, Marcari and Ebay but if you have the energy and patience for shipping-based platforms then I know you can make GOOD money on those as well. Many people go to Goodwill and buy a bunch of stuff for cheap and flip it on websites like this. It can become a side hustle in itself!
7. Speaking of Side Hustles
Side hustles are a game changer when you are trying to bring in more income. First step to save money is to bring more in! We have been dogsitting on Rover for years now, and recently I’ve picked up small “on your own time” kind of gigs like Instacart and DoorDash! They are a ‘set your own schedule’ kind of app, and you can work as much or as little as you’d like. So it’s nice to have the option when you’re feeling ambitious. I know a lot of people like to drive for Uber or Lyft as well but I’d only recommend this if you have a fuel efficient car.
Protip: If you do these kinds of side hustles, make sure you track your mileage for tax season, and that you squirrel away 25-30% to pay taxes.
A lot of people have skills that they can monetize as well. Here are some examples of ways you could bring in money:
– Sell things on Etsy
– Offer up services on Craigslist, Fiverr, or TaskRabit
– Start a blog, Youtube channel or a podcast
– Teach kids online with VIPkid
– Freelancing creative work (writing, editing, photography, web design, graphic design, etc.)
– Become a virtual assistant
– Rent out a room long term or on Airbnb
– Focus groups or online surveys
– Become a bartender or a waitress
– If you live in a city, rent out a parking space.
– Rent out your car on Truro
– Rent out you camper in the summer on RVshare.com
This is only a small list to get you started. There are tons of ways to start bringing in extra income!
8. Saving while Traveling
There are plenty of ways to travel hack and save money on flights and all that but that is for a separate post. What you can do is to switch up your mindset around travel. A lot of people think of week long Caribbean vacations when they think of travel but there is so much more to see and do that won’t cost you a fortune.
Traveling locally, long weekends, and camping are just a few examples of how to cut down on costs. If you can avoid flying, you will save a ton. Especially with people in New England, where everything is driving distance, you have a ton of places to explore.
Need some ideas? Check out 5 Architecture Destinations to Visit in New England, A Winter Guide to New England Weekend Getaways or Explore Your Own Backyard: A Guide to Local Adventure.
Long weekends don’t require much time off from work and it still gets you out in the world without breaking the bank. Chose to go hiking, or exploring nature for a trip instead of exploring a big city or brewery hopping. And if you’re open to the idea, always try to stay in an Airbnb with a kitchen instead of hotel rooms because you can save $100s of dollars just by cooking a few meals instead of eating out all the time. That’s an easy way to save money.
If you’re looking to jet set on a budget, sign up for emails like Dollar Flight Club or Scott’s Cheap Flights to get flight deals sent straight to your inbox. You can choose preferred airports and base your travel plans off of which deals you can find and when! Flexibility is key here!
The World is your Oyster!
This was just a quick summary of ideas to get your wheels turning around ways to save money. I am FILLED with knowledge and advice on this stuff so if you have any questions or would like me to explain anything further, please do not hesitate to reach out! This whole blog started to inspire others to get out and explore so I’m more than happy to help you out and get organized!
Have any great money saving tips or side hustle ideas? Write them in the comments below! Love to hear what you’ve come up with! And until next time…