“It’s impossible to save!” I surmise that’s the dominant thought in your brain, right now. I understand, with the high prices of commodities today, you may think it’s almost impossible to keep money in the bank. But, I challenge you to be still, relax for a while, and read up for just a bit. Pretty soon you’ll nod and agree with me.
Yes, there are many ways to save some cash for your next trip. In fact, there are even Apps, available now, that can help you save.
I’m your self appointed saving mentor (even just for now!) Here are some easy ways to save for your next travel abroad.
Reduce gas, water, and power bills
How do you exactly do that? There are countless ways, believe me. And they won’t make you feel you’re back in the dark ages, either.
Let your hair air-dry when you can, instead of blow-drying it and make it a point to only run laundry machines and the dishwasher when they are full. Keep heat and central air set at the mildest temps, and avoid using them when they are not needed. For every one-degree change in temp, the savings could be up to 6% of your monthly bill. You’ll be delightfully surprised how much savings add up. You can also unplug appliances (which still suck up about 40% of normal energy usage even when turned off — yes, there are appliances like these) when they are not in use. Let me mention two other ways to save: shorten your shower time and turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Easy, right?
Savings: $8-$50 per month. $110 – $550 per year.
Renegotiate phone, internet, and cable
Many people don’t realize that their cable, phone, and internet bills can be renegotiated. Most of the time it’s easy, just make the necessary effort: call your provider. Calling and saying your bill is too high will often result in it lowered. This will absolutely make your pocket smile. Majority of companies won’t take the risk losing one of their businesses — yours, so they can offer a lower rate if you threaten to leave for one of their competitors. These bills may not result in much, but all three add up, especially if you can get all three brought down to the minimum.
Savings: $15 – $55 per month. $120 – $300 per year.
Reduce or eliminate your caffeine addiction
Your favorite coffee joint may do its best to make you think you need caffeine on a daily basis in the form of fancy lattes and mocha-whippa-cinos, but the $3-$5 you’re spending each day on brew could be put to your savings account instead. If you can’t give up the treat, switch to home-brewed especially if you work from home or you can drink the free stuff at your workplace if you are employed. Cutting out the pricey coffee a few days a week can make for big savings.
Savings: $30– $80 per month. $360 – $960 per year. Based on 3-7 drinks per week at $3 each.
Eat packed lunch at work
Packed lunch at work doesn’t always mean resigning yourself to Cheese and pineapple jelly sandwiches. There is a large number of alternatives to them that you can make at home and bring to your office. Get ideas from places like Food.com, cook an extra large dinner and pack the leftovers for the next day’s lunch, or make and freeze everything on the weekend to save time. We love to cook on Sundays, where we’ll make a few large batches (hot soup in the winter, pasta — any time of the year, or fruit and veggie salads) for the week. At $5-$10 a day, you’ll save a lot over the course of 6 months by brown bagging your own lunch to work.
Savings: $11-$35 per week. $528-$1680 a year. Based on 3 lunches per week.
Make a meal plan and cut coupons
Coupons are not a thing of the past. Keeping track of them may seem daunting, but with the proper attitude and good planning you can do it. OK, here’s what you can do. List down a grocery list and create a meal plan for the week based on the coupons you have collected.
Avoid buying items just because they are on sale. Even if your coupons only save you an additional $5 each trip, that’s still $20 per month.
Savings: $20-$40 per month. $240-$480 per year, based on saving $5-$10 per week.
Learn to cook
Home cooking costs much less than eating out. That’s pretty obvious. You could get salad fixings, 6 ounce fillet, potato, and a bottle of wine for around $25 at most grocery stores, yet the same meal will cost you at least $50 in any restaurant. At that rate, cutting back on your restaurant meals by just 3 times per month will quickly save you around $100. If you are not adept at cooking, convince a friend to teach you some essential cooking techniques or take a simple class (even better – take cooking classes on your next travel to learn a new cuisine). The small investment will pay for itself, many times over, in the end.
Savings: $60-$90 per month. $720-1080 per year, based on eliminating 3 $30 meals per month.
Put your savings in order
Lastly, if you want to go on a trip, you’ll need to save for it. If you’re thinking that you’re not traveling for a while, you can easily become complacent, thinking you have an eternity to save. And that means you can put off some saving tips for a while. However, you know you’re better off starting now, as unexpected costs of living can arise anytime. The first thing you have to do is to open a savings account specifically for your travel: That way, you know that account should not be used for other purposes. Additionally, you won’t be tempted to use your savings for other expenses.
The second step, if possible, is to contribute to your savings weekly or biweekly instead of monthly — this way, you’ll have to be more focused on your budget. Setting up automatic deductions will help, but you can also find other small ways to save, like having a coin jar on your desk. Instead of throwing your loose change into your pockets, place it in your “loose change jar” and pour it into your travel savings when it’s filled up.
Photo Credit: Sam Churchill