In 9 months we saved enough money to travel, on a budget, for at least the next 2 years! We didn’t have a 6 figure income, we didn’t have lots of assets to sell, but what we did have was motivation, willingness to make changes in how we live and a little bit of creativity.
The best thing is we didn’t have to live in poverty to achieve this, and nor do YOU. In fact, we’ve lived really well, travelled to many key destination in Australia (Including recently: Ayers Rock, Sydney, Adelaide and the Barossa Valley) whilst working in Brisbane full time.
Even if you are not saving to travel, these tips will work for whatever you are saving for!
So here are 90 things, almost all of which we personally implemented, that helped us save over 50% of our income!
- Turn off the lights. I bet your parents used to tell you to do this… Turns out they had a point. If you are consistent about it the savings will add up.
- Use less lights and use power saving bulbs. There has been a trend recently to have lots of little halogen bulbs all pointing in different directions. Instead of using 6 bulbs at 60w each, we use one energy save lamp at 11w. Its not quite as bright but is adequate and use 30 times less electricity.
- Buy a cheapie fan rather than using the air-con. Possibly one of the best energy tips, people who run aircon all the time can spend almost half there electric bill just on that. A 50w fan uses 140 times less energy than a 7Kw Air-con unit running at full.
- Have shorter showers & Don’t run the water whilst doing the dishes. Guess what, hot water is not magic, its heated by the power you pay for. Shorter showers means less heating water = more travel money for you.
- Save water. Not just hot water, but cold too. If you have metered water and are paying by the gallon here is a list of 100 ways to use less.
- Dry Clothes on the line, not in a dryer. Yep, using the dryer costs a fortune, drying on the line is free. If the weather is bad set up a line indoors.
- Adjust the thermostat, especially if you go out – no point heating an empty house! Read up this article for more info on keeping your house warm for less… but remember if you are planning on leaving the country long term you might not want to spend a fortune on re-insulating the house!
- Standby – turn things off, don’t leave them on standby. Or unplug from the wall completely. Many device have more efficient standby functions than they used to, but leaving your desktop computer running all day and night rather than turning it off at night or when you go out costing you lots!
- If you have variable rates for electricity then run your washing machine at night. Or any other appliance that takes time.
Savings Example 1
Based on Item 2: Use less lights
The thing about energy saving is that you don’t notice the daily costs, but at the end of the quater you’ve saved a bundle if you make all the little changes that are really easy to do.
Cost of running 6 mini halogens (60w) at 25c per Kwh: (6 x 60w = 0.36Kw) x 6 hours per day x 92 days = 199Kwh x $0.25 = $50 /quarter
Cost of running 1 x 11w energy saving lamp: 0.011Kw x 6 hours x 92 days = 6Kwh x $0.25 = $1.50 / quarter
Total saving = $48.50 per quarter
Just for one small change – so imagine if you make all the small changes! Our energy bills have been less than half the local average.
- Change your supermarket and buy budget brands. Buying brand name products is not all its cracked up to be. We saved up to 50% of our weekly grocery bill by doing most of our shopping at Aldi. Search google to find budget supermarkets in your area.
- Buy in season and what is on offer. Don’t pay over the odds for out of season produce, stick with what is on cheap. Check google for lists of what produce is in season in your area and plan meals to use those ingredients…
- Plan your menu every week and write a shopping list. On average Americans throw out 25% of the food they buy. Avoid waste by only buying what you need for the week. Don’t get tempted to buy food that is not on the list!
- Budget food doesn’t have to be boring – find free recipes online. Its not all pasta bakes and there are so many “thrifty” food recipes on the internet that you can cook up almost any style on a budget. Variety is the key to keep things interesting, not the price.
- Make take away style food at home. Everyone loves take out for two reasons: Its convenient and its comfort food. The solution is find recipes online for “takeaway style” food, and choose ones that are quick to cook. If you can cook up a feast in less than 30 minutes then why wait for delivery?
- Make your own lunch. Making your own salad or sandwiches for work is way cheaper than buying subway every day.
- Buy non perishables in bulk and cook in bulk. Not only will it save on cooking time, but also energy as reheating in the microwave is much cheaper than cooking from scratch. Storing portions in the freezer and then a quick reheat is convenient too when you have no time to cook.
- Make your own (Bread, deserts etc). Not only do homemade things contain less preservatives/e-numbers but they are super cheap! You can make a cake for a dollar, rather than $5-$10 in the store.
- Stamp deals – get free stuff. If there is somewhere you shop/eat regularly then see if they have stamp deals and get free stuff back.
- Carry snacks… if you are going out and about always have some cheap snacks in your bag so you don’t have to buy them at high corner-store prices.
Savings Example 2
Based around item 15: Make your own lunch.
You’d be lucky to find a lunch deal under $5, and its often more, so this is a conservative estimate, you’d probably be saving more.
Buying Lunch $5 per work day = $25 per week = $325 per quarter
Making Lunch $1.50 per work day = $7.50 per week = $97.50 per quater
Total Saving = $227.50
Even if you just made your own lunch a couple of days a week you can see how the savings easily add up over time, even when you are only saving a few dollars per day.
These saving can be even better if you make cheaper lunches like pasta salad (as cheap as 25c per serve!)
- Cheaper Wine. All wine drinkers love a fine vintage, but the most shocking thing we found is that price doesn’t always dictate quality. We’ve found a lot of sub $10 wines that are much better than $25 wines.
- Happy hours. Many places have them, make sure you know when and where.
- Carry a bottle of water EVERYWHERE. At up to $4 per bottle in many place (cinemas, gas station, shopping centres) always having a bottle you filled up at home for free will save you a packet!
- BYO restaurants. Why pay $40 for wine when you can bring a $10 bottle with you and just pay the $5 corkage??
- Stop drinking coffee out. At $3 for a tall latte, even one coffee a day is $730 a year. What else could you do with $730? If you have to drink coffee buy a thermos and fill it up at home before you go to work.
- Duty free alcohol. If you have family and friends travelling overseas ask them if they’ll pick you up duty free liquor on their way home.
- Drink at home with friends rather than going out. Invite friends round and tell them its BYO – you always end up with a fridge full of leftovers!
- Drink water. Don’t order soda or juice, just have a free glass of water.
- Just drink less alcohol. Sad times for booze fans… but if you drink 3 nights a week then cut back to 2. Its not much fun, but when you get travelling and are paying less than 50c for a beer think how many more beers you’ll be able to afford!!
Savings Example 3
Based on Item 22: Carry a bottle of water.
Although the price varies for a bottle, if you are thirsty you are going to buy what is closest: from a corner store, gas station, street vendor etc. Lets put a conservative estimate of $2.50 per bottle.
Any day where you are out you may want water, so 5 days a week? at least.
$2.50 per bottle x 5 days per week = $12.50 per week = $162.50 per quarter
- Avoid late fees. Always pay off your credit card every month to avoid interest and fees, and other bills.
- Get a credit card with no annual fees. Credit cards normally balance annual fees by having higher interest rates, but if you are saving, rather than in debt, you should easily be able to pay off your credit card each month – so the interest fee is irrelevant!
- Get a credit card that offers cash back. Make sure that the other fees on the card don’t negate the benefit though.
- Bank account without monthly fees. Some banks charge you a monthly service charge, make sure yours doesn’t. If they do, change to another bank.
- Get a better savings account and your saving will grow faster. If your bank account offers a poor interest rate then get an account with a great rate! Many banks offer introductory rates so wait until you have a good chunk of savings and then open a savings account and maximise your interest! Don’t feel bad about moving between banks often to get the best rates.
- Cancel memberships (online and offline). If you are paying subscription fees for anything then cancel everything that is not essential – bare in mind if you are going off to travel for 6 months or more that paying for a service you won’t be using is pointless. Most subscriptions you quit will offer you something to come back – take up the offer when you get home. Double bonus.
- Go paperless on all your bills. Some companies charge a fee for paper bills now, going paperless only saves you a little, but it also helps the environment.
- Always withdraw your money from an ATM with no fees. your own bank or partner – check which international partner your bank has to get free or cheaper withdrawals abroad. I withdraw money as “cash out” when buying groceries or fuel – no fees!
Savings Example 4
Based on item 36: ATM fees
Oh no!? no cash in your wallet? Don’t get caught short, withdraw your money somewhere without fees when you are doing your shopping or passing your bank, rather than waiting and withdrawing from expensive machines.
With fees hitting $2.50 per transaction its going to add up! and all for something that is just a matter of remembering to get money out when its free.
$2.50 fee x 2 withdrawals per week = $5 per week = $65 per quarter
- Home Phone. Do you need a home phone if you already get free minutes on your cell phone? Some people make more calls than others, so you have to decide for yourself. If you already have home broadband you can make skype to skype calls for free, so get your family on skype – you’ll want them on there when you travel anyway.
- Home Internet. Do you need home internet if your cell phone can be used as a wi-fi hotspot? If you don’t download masses of data each month then your cell phone plan may already be enough data for you without having home broadband too. By checking on google how to make your phone a wi-fi hotspot you can then hook up you computer to the phone’s data package.
- Skype, don’t phone. Email, don’t text. It all depends on what plan you have, but most people you know probably have a smartphone and get email straight to their phone, and can install skype. Don’t spend to text when you can email free. If you are on Wifi then skype for free rather than paying to make a call.
- Balance you commute with your rent, if the commute is cheap and easy then live further out of town. No one likes commuting, wasting 2 hours per day sitting behind the wheel in traffic is my idea of hell. But paying to live inner-city can kill your budget.
Avoid a false economy though, if you spend a fortune on fuel and car maintenance when you could save hours of time and lots of money by living closer to work and walking/cycling then that might balance out the pricier rent. On the flipside, could you get a job closer to where you already live?
- Make sure you get your bond/deposit back. We all hope to have an honest landlord, but it doesn’t always happen. If you trash the place, thats also gonna be a problem. Read more about ensuring you get your deposit back.
- Take in a lodger. If you have a spare room why not make easy cash by getting a lodger? Not everyone likes having other people around, but if you need the money… If you’d rather not have someone full time then there are people who travel around and only want a place for a month or less.
- Run a homestay. Similar to taking in a lodger but people may only stay a few nights. You set the rates and have a choice about dates the room is available and what service is provided: food, bedding etc. Read our guide to homestay and sign up as a host to one or more of the paid homestay sites. You may even meet some awesome people who will offer to host you abroad when you travel!
- Move into a share house. Also not for everyone but its normally a lot cheaper than having your own place. Convince your house mates to get on the “saving money” trip and turn off the air-con etc. and save even more money!
- Don’t take on what you can’t afford (extra costs for a place with a pool etc). If you are living somewhere that is costing more than 30% of your income then think about moving somewhere cheaper. It’s nice to have a pool, a view etc. But think about all the views you’ll see travelling and realise you can forego your view at home in order to reach your travel goal!
Savings Example 5
Based on item 43: Run a homestay
Unlike a hotel, a homestay doesn’t mean you have to become a B&B manager. It pretty low maintenance, you can even decide if you provide food or not, and the price reflect what is on offer.
Even if you only had one guest a month for a few days you could get quite an income boost. Get more guests and it could become a serious cash injection.
If you hosted 5 days a month at $25 per night (minus $5 per night food/energy bills) that equals:
$20 x 5 nights x 3 months = $300 per quarter
Just for having someone stay a few nights a month, washing towels and sheets and letting them share your dinner. If you live in a prime area you can charge more than $25 per night too!
Saving tips for Women
- Clothing Swaps. Have your girlfriends around for a night of shopping but with each others unwanted clothes. You might be able to swap an old unwanted item for a new exciting one thats been hiding out in a friends closet all this time.
- Skip the Salon and Spa – Not only can you have a party to swap clothes but also get the girls round for a night of beauty. Face masks, manicures and painting each others nails (if your friends bring round a few of their favourite colours you can get a new paint job with out having to buy a whole bottle of polish) More ideas here.
- Have a friend cut/colour your hair. If you have a friend who is good with hair offer to cook them dinner to do your hair for you or babysit so they can have a night out.
- Get Cosmetics Cheaper – You don’t need brand name food and you certainly don’t need brand name cosmetics. Try using the pharmacy brand or if you have a friend that is heading overseas see if they will pick you up your favourite brand duty free!
- Get your Cosmetics EVEN Cheaper – Make your own Makeup! There are heaps of sites that will teach you how to make your own make up and skin care products. If you check out youtube there are also some great tutorials on how to apply your own make up professionally.
- Get Fit in the Park – Look up your local city council website to see what free events are on offer in a park near you, everything from Zumba and Pilates to Yoga and Tai Chi
- Delete your online Subscriptions. 30% of coupons will expire before ever being redeemed, if you are having deals emailed to you every day the temptation to buy that discount eyelash extension that you will never use might be too strong. Delete the temptation!
- Make Youtube your friend – learn how to make things online. There are tutorials on everything from how to decorate your bedside lamp to making cute hair clips…..do you really need to buy that cute item at the market, or could you make it yourself? In fact, do you even need anything new at all?
- Buy on Ebay or Amazon. Don’t buy anything in store until you have checked the online price. Having a smartphone makes this very easy as you can browse ebay or amazon whilst in a store and even barter with the clerk based on the online price!!!
- Clothes. Buy what you need, not what you want, you can’t take them all travelling with you anyway! Or, as suggested in item 46, consider doing clothes swaps with friends.
- Never go shopping hungry – you will buy snacks or extra food that you don’t need (carry snacks with you).
- If you HAVE to buy something consider secondhand. Take a look on ebay, craigslist or gumtree at the secondhand prices before buying any brand new item.
- Just don’t buy “stuff”, EVER. ie. always think about whether you really need something, how is it going make a big difference to your life, really? We discuss this fully in our Saving to Travel 101 Email series. Subscribe in the opt-in box at the top of this page.
- Don’t go window shopping for entertainment, you will almost certainly end up buying something you weren’t planning on getting. Hang out at the park rather than the mall.
- Don’t buy books. For fiction go to the library, otherwise find information online on blogs and websites. If you have to buy books then buy E-books, they are always cheaper and you can take them all travelling with you – no more boxes of books to pack in storage either!
- Book Swap/DVD swap. Swap your old books/DVDs for ones you haven’t read/seen – or sell them and make some cash. You can sell books etc. on Amazon.
- Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’s. I could write a whole article on this… oh wait, I did. Sign up to our Saving to travel 101 email course at the top of this page. In a nutshell, your friends and neighbours should be more impressed that you cycled across South East Asia than that you have the latest iPad. If they aren’t, who cares!
- Work out at home. Why pay for a gym when you can keep fit at home? Firstly nobody is watching you, secondly no commuting to the gym, thirdly if it isn’t as much of an effort to start a work out you are probably more likely to actually do one.
- Do free stuff around your city. You’ll be surprised how many cool things there are to do in your own city that you never thought of because its where you live. Go to the tourist info centre and ask or just research online.
- Fix stuff. Don’t just replace stuff that seems broken. We replaced our iPod touch screen for $5 (ebay!), rather than spending a few hundred dollars on a new one. You could even fix things up cheaply and then sell them!
- Finally give up that vice… Smoking, drinking, gambling. You’ve been talking about it forever, maybe now is a good time to quit? Focusing on saving money to travel might be the motivation you need to keep you from relapsing.
- If you do have a student or military card always ask about discounts. You’ll be amazed how many places offer discounts, from restaurants to bars to shops and especially attractions.
- Car pool. Ask if anyone else you work with lives near you. Or put an ad out saying the area you live and where you work and see if anyone is doing a similar journey. Not only will you save money but you can use the carpool lane!
- Park and ride. Don’t pay inner city parking prices!
- Stop taking taxis. Organise a designated driver or use public transport. Some bars offer free soft drinks to the driver, so offer to drive and have a free night out! If a venue offers a free courtesy bus, use it!
- Have the right change for the bus. Some bus services will not give change, so don’t overpay, just make sure you have change before riding the bus.
- Buy a travel card, don’t pay full fare. Many areas have a “travel card”, its more convenient and normally cheaper than paying for the fare each time you use public transport.
- Shop around for car insurance. Don’t just stay with your current insurer,current insurer, shop around when its renewal time or even do something like get a black box or find somewhere to store your car when you’re not on the road to push down your insurance. Although shopping for car insurance is a great way to save money, calling multiple insurers and comparing quotes can be tedious. Fortunately, you can use comparison websites, like Cheap Insurance, to find a coverage type that suits your needs. All you need to do is enter your zip code and insurance type to populate dozens of quotes from local insurers.
- Walk/cycle instead. If you do happen to live close enough to work then don’t drive. Not only will it save you money but its healthier too!
- Get creative about going out less. Invite friends round instead of ending up at expensive bars/clubs/restaurants. Get them to BYO food and drink, you’ll probably end up with a fridge full of free stuff after the party too and the only cost is you’ll have to do the cleaning!
- Get online deals (scoopon etc.) You can still go out but at a fraction of the cost by taking a look at sites like Scoopon, groupon, deals.com. There are loads! Do a google search and find out what fun things you can do in your area for very little cash – just remember, don’t go crazy and buy loads! These are to keep you sane whilst saving, not an excuse to spend all your savings. Unsubscribe from the emails and just go on the site occasionally when you are specifically looking for something to do.
- Go out mid-week rather than the weekend. Going out at the weekend can cost a fortune. Grab those mid-week deals instead.
- Free concerts. Or Comedy, festivals, who knows?! Keep an eye on your local paper or website that advertises what events are coming up in your town, then go out and enjoy the free stuff without getting dragged into purchasing anything!
- Cheap night at the cinema. Is there a night of the week which is 2-4-1? or discounted? Only go to the cinema that night.
- Combo deals. Free drink with your meal? $1 tacos if you buy a beer? Always look out for value, but don’t be fooled into paying $12 for a beer just to get a $1 taco! Stay savvy 🙂
- Sell your stuff. Not the stuff you need, but the stuff you don’t use. It’s amazing what people will buy, get rid of your crap on Ebay, craigslist and gumtree – or have a garage sale!
- Unsubscribe from Sales emails and throw out sales catalogues without reading them. We all get them, and the really good ones convince us to buy things… avoid temptation by unsubscribing or trashing them. If you never knew you needed it, you can probably live without it.
- Don’t spend money to de-stress. Do something free like yoga, go for a walk, watch TV. Don’t just eat a tub of ice cream or go shopping!
- Work as a team. If you are planning on travelling with a partner, family or friends, make sure to discuss your plans often to keep on track and stay motivated.
- Agree NOT to buy gifts for people and they won’t buy for you. As you are going away you just don’t need a bunch of gifts to go into storage, and spending money on them is going to kill your savings plan. Ask people for money or e-book/mp3 vouchers as a gift.
- Enter competitions. Lots of them. You may not win, but the more you enter the higher the chance. Just make sure you ignore promotions and unsubscribe from everything they send you as a result.
- Search blogs and websites for tips and travel information, rather than buying guide books.
- FREE STUFF. Always look out for free stuff. Anytime the word “FREE” is used, so long as there are no strings attached, jump on it! If you get something for free you don’t need, sell it!
- Think about it. This page is not an exhaustive list of tips! Think of more, every time you do something that involves you parting with money think “Can I do this cheaper or do I really need this at all?”. Successful saving isn’t just about knowing the tricks and tips, its about having the right mental attitude. We’ve given you 90 tips, maybe give us one back in return by leaving a comment on this page.
- Focus on your goal. If travel is your goal then read blogs, look at photos and live and breathe travel. It’s so much easier to give up other things if you constantly remind yourself why you are giving them up… remember: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”
Do you want to save more money to travel?
Just by using ONLY the 5 Saving Examples through this page you could already be saving an extra:
$803.50 per quarter
And there are 85 other tips on this page to try too!!!
So if you use them all its easy to start seeing how we managed to save over 50% of our income to go travel for 2+ years!!!
The best thing is, each tip is just a small change. You don’t have to do them all at once. So start implementing changes now.
Follow item 33 and get a savings account. Having a separate savings account makes it easy to track your savings. Then you can feel good as you see the changes you make to your lifestyle have a positive, quantifiable result.
Start making changes from the list above daily. 90 changes = 3 months. After 3 months of only doing one small thing per day, you savings will be growing faster than ever.
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Have you got any other great saving tips that we haven’t mentioned here? Leave us a comment.