Do you want to travel more but don’t have the cash? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s the single most used excuse we hear when discussing travel with our friends and family. Many travel sites will tell you how to get the best deal on your vacation, from getting cheap flights and hotels to planning free activities once you arrive. But what happens when you don’t have any money to begin with? That advice isn’t really helpful, is it? The advice we’ve come up with isn’t your typical travel blog advice. It’s more like the advice you would see on a money blog, but it’s proven useful for us and allowed us to travel more.
The main reason we can travel so much isn’t dependent on our income as much as our expenses. Even when we made very little money straight out of college we still managed to go on 2-3 vacations each year. They weren’t extravagant trips to Europe, but we got away from the rut of everyday life and created an adventure. The key to having more money is spending less, and it’s much easier and within your control to decrease your expenses than to increase your income. Said simply, strive to live below your means. In a world where we try so hard to keep up with the Jones’s, it’s easy to say “live below your means,” but if you are determined to develop a simplistic or minimalistic mentality it will be effortless to stop comparing yourself to other people and be happy with what you have instead of always wanting more.
A list of items that have the biggest impact on our savings is below. No coupon clipping or homemade laundry soap required. I’ve listed tricks that can save you hundreds of dollars each year. After all, the average person can’t plan a vacation on the 50 cents per month you save on clipping a coupon for Hamburger Helper.
Eat Out Less
The easiest way to decrease your expenses is to eat out less often. Limit eating out to one or two times a week, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, bottled water and premium coffee. (I’m looking at you Starbucks crazed coffee snobs out there). Learn to plan ahead by making your own coffee at home, pack your lunch and snacks, and find a few dinner recipes that you can cook well. Eventually eating in will become part of your lifestyle, and an extra bonus is that home cooked food doesn’t typically have the amount of calories and fat that restaurant prepared food has, so you will most likely become healthier too!
Stop Smoking/Limit Alcohol Consumption
This tip can be much more difficult than eating out less, but cigarettes and alcohol can contribute greatly to your expenses, and it can be within your means to control these habits. Stop right now and add up how much money you spend on cigarettes and alcohol each month. What would you do if you had that much extra cash floating around? Over time, the money saved each month by quitting smoking alone could buy a really awesome trip to Peru. And another extra bonus is that you will be healthier and much better equipped to hike to the top of Machu Picchu!
Stop Buying Things You Don’t Need
Let’s think back to your elementary school days when you asked your mother for a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure. You needed it didn’t you? So much you thought you might die without it, right? I’m sure your mom reminded you that you already had two at home. You probably responded that this one’s arms moved while the two at home just sat there! How could she not understand! I’m sure by now you realize I’m going to talk about the difference between needing something and wanting something. When you see something you think cannot possibly live without, implement a 48 hour rule for purchases over a certain dollar limit. Stop the impulse purchase, go home and take two full days to consider if it’s a necessity or a desire. Think about if the money spent on this item could be better spent on something else. After 48 hours, if you are still determined that you need it, then buy it. Many times you will find that you don’t need it after all – you just got caught up in the moment, or it was on sale and such a good deal (this one gets my wife every time).
There are lots of things you can do to save energy around the house. The easiest is to turn off the lights when you’re not in the room. It can be difficult when kids zip through every room in the house three times in about ten minutes, but if you remind them enough they will eventually learn to turn the lights off before they leave each room. Also, programmable thermostats are a great invention. They are affordable and can prevent you from heating the house when you’re not there. If your clothes aren’t dirty, don’t wash them. You can not only save energy and water but also the replacement cost of your worn out, over-washed clothes.
This can apply to most anything you spend money on. Need a kitchen table? Don’t just go to the most convenient furniture store. Think about options like Facebook selling walls or Craigslist. Is your cable, internet or phone contract up? Call your television or internet provider and renegotiate the contract price. If you don’t like negotiating or long phone conversations, you can hire a company like BillCutterz or BillFixers to negotiate for you. For cell phones, think outside the box and consider prepaid options like Republic Wireless or Google Fi. Need car or home insurance? Get quotes from at least three different companies, making sure you are comparing apples to apples and ensuring the policies quote the same coverage limits.
Rethink Major Purchases
This tip isn’t something you can do every day, but when the time comes, it can save you more than anything else on this list. When purchasing a car or house, put as much money down as you can to lower your monthly payment. For example, if you are able to put 20% down when purchasing a house, not only is your payment going to be lowered dramatically but also you won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can save hundreds of dollars per month.
Do you have different money saving tips? Please comment below and let me know what works for you!
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