How to Save Money for Travel
Now that August has arrived, I’m getting excited! My to-do list is still chugging along as I expand my packing list, prepare to sell a lot of my stuff, open accounts, close accounts, and make travel arrangements. I’m armed with lots of shiny new airline miles from signing up with a couple of new credit cards, thanks to advice from websites like thepointsguy.com and millionmilesecrets.com.
In the midst of all the preparation, I received this notification a couple of weeks ago:
This feels unbelievably good. Yes, I know my plane ticket is going to eat away a good chunk of it, but I reached a goal that I set for myself. (To future Auxiliares: I know I don’t actually don’t NEED this much, but I want to have a comfortable buffer.) How did I manage to save up for travel in about one year? Here’s what I’ve been doing:
- Work full time
- Save most of annual bonus
- Participate in focus groups through Schlesinger Associates
- Complete paid online surveys (I’m still torn on the cost/benefit analysis of doing this. Lot of time spent, not a lot of money earned.)
- Attempt to have as many “$0 days“* as possible
- Cook large quantities at home and use the leftovers for lunches and dinners
- Bring my lunch at least 4 days a week
- Sell lightly used electronics & other items on Amazon or Ebay
- Have a garage sale (mine’s coming up this weekend, hope I do well!)
- Make thoughtful clothing purchases: leave the tags on and if I haven’t worn it in the first week after buying it, return it (unless it’s for a special event)
- Participate in community focus group online (selected via an online survey): I’ve earned over $100 in Amazon gift cards so far, which I use to purchase everyday & personal care items
- Utilize gift cards for things I *need* mostly
- Downgrade my cell phone plan to prepaid through Straight Talk ($45/month!)
This doesn’t mean I’m living a completely frugal lifestyle. Because I’m working a better paying job than I’ve ever had, I’ve been able to contribute the yearly maximum to my IRA as well, and buy a few items that I love. I’ve still made some purchases that I regret and can’t return. And I’m still in the market for an amazing camera bag, and I’m looking at the beautiful (and pricey) ONA Bags (while justifying it as a travel-related purchase… 😉 ) Ultimately though, I’m trying to limit my frivolous purchases now so I can enjoy my travels.
*$0.00 Days: I’ve also started tracking my daily spending on things like snacks, lunch, and small purchases so I know how much I spend each day. I keep it on a spreadsheet with the rest of my monthly budget, and some days I get to put “$0.00.” At the end of each month I total up how many $0 days I’ve had. It’s kind of awesome to see how many days I can actually accomplish not spending a single cent.
What are your best financial planning tips? Any other advice for travel planners looking to save money?