When you want something bad enough, you’ll do anything to accomplish that goal. For me, that goal is traveling as much as possible on my measly income. Over the years I’ve discovered a number of ways to make ends meet while still saving enough money to fund my adventures. Some of these I practice daily or have utilized over the years, while others were presented to me in my research for more ways to save. Some take more sacrifice on personal comfort, while others take little to no effort at all. No matter what you’re objective is, these tips and lessons should be able to help you get the ball rolling towards your mission.
Where is Your Mind?
1) Make Travel Your Priority
Start with your decision making. Compare the price of all your purchases with what you could buy instead if you spent it on something travel related.
2) Study Your Patterns
Make a weekly journal of the things you’ve spent money on from the distances you drive a day, your diet, to the things you do for fun. At the end of each week, evaluate what can be changed/sacrificed in the future in order to save a few bucks.
Make the Proper Lifestyle Changes:
3) Keep Your Wardrobe Versatile
If you’ve never heard the term “capsule wardrobe,” it’s simplifying the clothes in your closet down to the essentials in a way that all articles of clothing can be mixed and matched easily with one another. These items are usually limited in detail, so if you’re a self-professed fashionista, this may be tricky.
4) Save Household Energy
Turn off the lights when you’re not using them and/or use energy efficient lightbulbs. Unplug appliances when they’re not in use. Use the heat and air conditioning as little as possible by layering up in the cold, and stripping down in the heat. Programmable thermostats are great for this if you can commit to a degree.
5) Go Solar
It might cost you in the meantime, but if you’re less nomadic and plan on keeping your place, solar energy is a great investment which can save you a lot when it comes to your energy bill.
6) Find Different Means of Transportation
Walk more, drive less. If your commute isn’t too far, try walking or riding a bicycle to work. There’s always public transport, carshare programs, and carpooling.
7) Downsize your Housing
Most people live beyond their means in this department, when they can live comfortably with less space. A large house usually means larger expenses. Not only the initial cost, but more rooms means more heating and cooling to pay for which increases your energy costs. It’s a huge step when you’re already settled in a house, but still worth considering.
8) Get Friendly Assistance
Get a roommate or two to help with the bills. If you live in an ideal location and are away from home often, you can always be a Airbnb host and rent your place out to others.
9) Drink More Tap Water
Unless you live in an area with unsafe drinking water, get a reusable water bottle and drink from the tap rather than spending crazy amounts of money on bottled water.
10) Sell Your Things
If you’re like most people, you probably have tons of objects laying around the house serving no purpose but to collect dust and to clutter your living space. Throw a yard sale, or list items online through eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, as they say.
11) Find Free (or at Least Cheap) Things to Do
Instead of spending tons money out at the bar/club, at a show, etc., opt for something free, to do instead. Look up free local events or start a new hobby that will keep you distracted so you can stick to your goal.
12) Utilize Free WiFi Hotspots
My go to when I’m traveling is McDonalds or Starbucks, but if you’re afraid of giving into temptation, there’s always the library.
13) Utilize your Local Library
The library isn’t just good for WiFi, there’s also books, magazines, movies and music that can be borrowed for entertainment. Many libraries are transitioning to the digital age, so you can borrow eBooks and magazines, and/or stream audiobooks, music, movies, and tv shows.
14) Take Advantage of Special Days
Got a birthday coming up? Is there some other gift-giving-and-receiving holiday nearby? Be specific with what you would like gifted to you, and be smart about it. Instead of getting something you don’t really need, how about asking for money, a travel essential, or even something to help you out with your savings, like a grocery store gift card?
Eliminate Unnecessary Costs
15) Ditch That Gym Membership
Take up running around the neighborhood instead, or buy cheap gym equipment to use at home. There are also plenty of workouts you can look up online that require no equipment at all while still providing the results you want.
16) Ditch Your TV
This will help out your wallet by eliminating expensive cable/satellite packages, and reducing your bills. Fewer commercial ads also means less temptation to spend money on products you don’t need.
17) Ditch Your Landline
Most people don’t use them anyway, and half the calls you get are usually from unwanted telemarketers and scammers.
18) Ditch or Downgrade on Other Media Accounts
Less time on the couch means you’ll likely be more proactive. If your addiction is too strong, cut the cost of that Netflix (or other media) account by downgrading. If you got a good friend or relative who’s willing to share their account with you, that’s also an option.
19) Cut Soda and Juice From Your Diet
Drinking water is cheaper. It’s also better for you in the long run to eliminate all that added sugar.
20) Quit Coffee Runs
If you can’t quit coffee altogether, you can at least skip that trip to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. It’ll cost you less time and money to brew your morning caffeine fix at home versus driving to your favorite morning establishment before work.
21) Quit Smoking
I had a long battle with my nicotine addiction, so believe me, I know this one is easier said than done! However, the price tag on smokes is rising, and swapping for a vape is no cheaper.
22) Quit Alcohol
I love, love, love, love beer! But when times are tough, and I need to save up, I take an alcohol intermission, and save plenty of dough. I’m actually taking a year-long breather as I’m typing this. Craft beer isn’t cheap, ya know!?
Get Your Finances in Check
23) Mind ATM Fees
When you need cash, try to withdrawal funds in person at your bank, or use an ATM that won’t charge you per use. Some cards will charge you for just checking your balance through an ATM. Internet banking is a better option and will save you the trip.
24) Pay With Cash Instead
For some people, having a card in your hand can give you the illusion that money is infinite. If you tend to spend more money with plastic, try a more disciplined approach and only spend the cash you allow yourself to withdrawal a week. It’ll make it easier to manage and to commit to that strict set budget.
25) Stay Out of Debt
If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it. Cut those credit cards in half if you’re struggling with self control. If you do use your card, try to pay that bill off before interest is tacked on.
26) Use Plastic With Benefits
If you’re a safe handler of debit and credit cards, use one that helps you out in the long run, such as a one that provides flyer miles. A bank account I use and highly recommend for home and travel is the Charles Schwab Bank High-Yield Checking account. Not only are all ATM fees reimbursed at the end of each month, there are also no foreign-transaction fees when you’re overseas!
27) Time Your Shopping Wisely
Never shop for groceries hungry, and don’t go shopping when you’re stressed out and are more likely to splurge because, “damnit, I deserve it!”
28) Make Weekly Meal Plans
If you plan out your meals for every week, you can lowers food waste, which is also money poorly spent. You can make a grocery list you’ll commit to in advance which will reduce excessive spending, and will make it easier to stick within your grocery budget. My husband and I usually allow ourselves no more than $100 per week, and money that isn’t spent goes to the travel fund.
29) Keep an Eye Out for Deals
Does a purchase have a rebate? Mail it in! Grocery stores always have special deals during the week, so grab one of their flyers and plan your meal plan around it.
30) Buy in Bulk
This doesn’t help you save with everything, but for those things that last and always get used, such as toilet paper or frequently used pantry items, purchase in larger quantities so you’ll have them for the weeks ahead.
31) Remove Your Online Presence
If you have your personal and/or credit card information pre-saved from online shopping excursions, delete your accounts. You’ll be less likely to spend online if you have to fill out the forms manually as a guest.
32) Buy Generic
Most items are sold at a higher prices strictly for their fancy label. Purchase the generic brand rather than name brands with medicine, pantry items, toiletries, you name it! Odds are you won’t be able to tell the difference once they’re used.
33) Clip Coupons
I can’t give advice on extreme couponing (I’m not that advanced), but when done right, you can save. Don’t just buy something because you happen to have a coupon. Only use coupons when it’s something you plan on utilizing in the near future. There are people in my family who go coupon crazy, and it results in a lot of food waste which also equals wasted money.
34) Buy Used
If you need something, remain frugal. Head to the thrift store or to a yard sale.
35) Cook Your Own Meals
Instead of going out to eat, make your meals at home. If you’re short on time, there are plenty of quick, easy, and low-maintenance crockpot and casserole recipes out there. You’ll also usually get a whole lot out of them which you can eat over several days.
36) Grow and/or Hunt for Your Food
I don’t have a green thumb, nor do I have it in me to go hunting, but if you’re not like me, you can save some money. I always try to grow a veggie garden when I’m home for the year, and I never turn down venison hand-outs!
37) Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
This is another tip that I’m inexperienced with, but cleaning products can break the bank! With a few lessons from grandma (or the internet), and some vinegar, making your own solutions and pouring them in a spray bottle can help with that!
38) Get Handy with Repairs
If you have the confidence, know-how and/or willingness to learn, you can save major moolah if you can do your own home improvements instead of paying for a professional. My husband used to do electrical work, and he has gone to houses where he only had to switch a lightbulb, because the homeowners didn’t bother to do some basic problem solving. This small task cost them a pretty penny!
39) Repair Clothing Yourself
Take up sewing lessons from scaling back those pants legs to sewing a button back on. It’s sometimes only a YouTube video away!
40) Get Crafty and Creative
Make or provide your own gifts for friends and family rather than buying them something. This is what Pinterest is for! You can also offer to babysit, petsit, or perform some other form of labor (cooking, cleaning, household repairs, etc) instead. Just make sure it’s something they’d appreciate!