See The World
Seek Adventure Travel Happy
Over the years I've been asked by a lot of friends and family how Pat and I manage to travel so much...they know that we're not rocking high paying jobs or independently wealthy. There are a few things that I try to do to save money here and there. Some of those things I've shared before here in a post about saving money for traveling. Here are a few of the other things I do and I hope they help you if you're looking for better ways to spend your money.
1. Look close at your student loan. Most people I know have a student loan, it's just a fact of life these days. If you have a loan, I strongly suggest you look into a couple of things 1: Income based repayment plan 2. Public service loan forgiveness. If you don't make much money, the income based repayment plan can significantly reduce your payments, event to $0 a month. You'll still accrue interest, so I would suggest paying what you can to stay on top of things, but it can be a great relief you've got limited income but don't qualify for an unemployment deferment. The second item, Public Service Loan Forgiveness is another great program. If you work for a Federal, State, or local government entity or a non-profit 501(c)(3) you'll qualify for this. The type of work you doesn't matter as long as you are working full time. Find more information here. No-one who goes to work in the public sector does so because of the money. So if you combine the income based plan with the loan forgiveness, after 10 years of service you can have saved yourself a lot of money. There are also programs for teachers that will forgive your loans in only 5 years, so worth checking out! Money we save each month doing this: $450/month
2. Unplug! Seriously, unplug things that you are not using. Go through your house and unplug lamps and electronics that you do not use regularly. Even if they are not on, they are still drawing power. Also, get into the habit of unplugging your phone chargers when they are not in use. It may not make a huge difference each month in your power bill, but over time you will start to see the savings. Also, whenever we go out of town, I unplug everything, the microwave, the coffeemaker, everything but the fridge and the oven...because that's just a pain. I can actually see a difference in our bill when I'm being really good about this. Pat thinks this is overkill, but I think it's worth it...and it's good for the planet. Money we save each month doing this:~$5/month
3. Reduce your food bill. We pretty much never buy junk food. We don't buy cookies, chips, soda, ice cream, hot pockets, and the list goes on. Not only do you not NEED that food, but it's bad for you and it all adds up. That's not to say that we don't eat well. We often have steak or lamb and wine with dinner. But we do that sparingly so that we don't feel deprived. I try and plan a couple of nice meals a week and a couple of budget meals a week, I also buy generic when I can. Budget meals like rice and beans or whole wheat pasta and veggies. Take a look at your most resent grocery receipt and add up all the junk...you might be surprised how much your spending. You can fatten your wallet and trim your waste at the same time. I call that a win-win. I also try and make a little extra to pack lunches with the next day. We always pack our lunches, lunches out are a budget killer!Money we save each month doing this: ~$300/month *Note: I do not actively coupon. If I run across one that is for something I actually use, then I set it aside for my next trip to the store. I found that the typical coupons out there are for things that we don't eat or are highly processed and it can turn into a huge time suck. Where are the coupons for fruits and vegetables, seriously?! But to each their own.
4. Sell your stuff. I bet if you went through your house, you could come up with at least a few hundred dollars worth of stuff that you could sell. Did you think you wanted to get into mountain biking, but only went twice and realized it wasn't for you? Buy some workout equipment and hate it? Sell it, sell everything you can. It is such a freeing thing to de-clutter your house with stuff you don't want/need and to have cash for the things you do you need/want. We don't do this monthly, but we've sold about $5,000 of stuff over the years.
Don't end up like Michael...I miss the office.
5. Turn off services that you aren't using. Cancel your cable subscription, stop magazine subscriptions, get a smaller phone plan (if you aren't using the full amount of minutes etc). Think about suspending Netflix, Hulu, and XBox Live for the spring and summer. You'll save some money and it will encourage you to get out and enjoy the amazing weather.Money we save by doing this: $60/month(netflix, hulu, Xbox live and negotiated smaller phone bill)
6. Be a smart shopper. This is a little hard for me at times. I'll see a really cute outfit and feel like I NEED it or DESERVE it. Unless you really don't have enough clothes or work appropriate ones, then really try and cut back on shopping. I used to shop when I was bored and I would justify it that I bought everything on sale. If I didn't need it then, it wasn't a bargain. If you live in the Pocatello area, there's a great store called the Paper Doll. They buy second hand clothes that are in like new shape and will either give you store credit or cash. They sell new and used clothes for an amazing price. So if you do NEED to buy new clothes, think about ways to really get a deal. Also, think about quality. Sometimes it's smart to pay a bit more for something that will last for years. Pat loves hoodies and can be hard on them. Last year for his birthday, I bought him and American Giant hoodie. Not only is it his favorite, but it is built to last. GQ ranked it the best hoodie in the world and it's supposed to last a life time and only continue to get more comfy. It was more than we ever spend on clothes, let alone a hoodie, but we will save money over time because he wont need a new one for basically ever. It's hard for me to put a dollar amount on this a month, look at your expenses and see how much you can save. I bet it's at least $50/ month for the average person.
7. Take care of the stuff you do have. Some of the big costs that creep up can be from not taking care of what you've already invested in. Make sure you are getting your oil changed on time, that your tires are properly inflated, wash your clothes on cold (this may seem crazy, but modern detergent is designed to clean just as well in cold water, trust me). Washing your clothes on cold will help them last longer and save you money from not having to heat the water. Also, if you have a newer washing machine, use less detergent. They are designed to use less, but detergent measuring cups are still large...they want you to use a lot. But you'll not only be wasting money, but slowly gunking up your washing machine. Avoiding big repair or replacement cots will save you huge over time!
8. Be strategic about how you pay things off. One of the worst things you can do is to pay the minimum on loans or credit cards...especially credit cards. If you have debt, there are two strategies that you can use, both have advantages to them. The first one is to pick the one with the smallest balance and pay that off first. The other is to pick the one with the largest interest rate and pay that one off first. It will depend on the rates and balances for which one would be smartest. For me, I like to take the smallest ones first. I put everything extra I can on those small ones and the once those are paid, I pile everything I was paying on those onto the largest one. You have to be consistent and dedicated to it. Once you've paid these off, you will have all that extra money every month. The important thing here is that after you've paid these off, don't rack up debt again. Save and pay cash. Last year, we bought Pat a new dirtbike. It was around $8,000. We used our Southwest credit card so we could get the miles and then immediately paid it off because we had been saving for months for it. Those extra miles were enough to push our miles balance up so we could fly to Florida for a cruise and we didn't pay any interest on that $8,000 which would have been a doozy. If you have a mortgage, making an extra payment a year can reduce the life of your loan by 5 years! Spread it out over the year so it's not such a huge increase. If you have a $800 mortgage, that's only an extra $67 a month to save you 5 years of payments and interest! You can also just make a half payment every two weeks, which will eventually add up to an extra payment.
9. Reduce waste. This can be everything from wasted food, to loss of heat in the winter. If you find that you're throwing away a lot of food because it goes bad before you eat it. Think about making a meal plan and buying only those items. Throwing away unused food is just like throwing away cash. If you don't have energy efficient windows and doors, invest in some weather stripping. You could end up saving a ton on heating and cooling costs over the year. A roll of weather stripping costs about $3.50 at home depot. You could easily save 10 times that in heating costs in the winter. We did this shortly after we bought our house, and it made a huge difference. Money we save by doing this: ~$20 a month.
10. Pay yourself first. Try and set aside 10% of each check into savings. Let's say that you are only making $25,000 a year and you get paid twice a month. Before taxes, that's about 1040 dollars per pay check. That means, you should set a goal of saving $104 per check. That could seem like it is impossible, but believe me, you can do it...especially if you're using steps 1-9. In this scenario, you'd save $2496 in a year and $24,960 in 10 years and that's not even counting interest. Your first goal should be to save at least 3 months of living expenses for a rainy day fund. After that, start planning for retirement, or a year in Spain, or whatever your dream is. You can do it!
For us, in just items that I can actively see how much we save each month, that total comes to $885 a month! And $10,620 a year! Think about all the awesome stuff you could do with that! As soon as you save money, put it straight into savings and watch your dreams get closer and closer.
I know that getting your finances into shape can be daunting, so if you need to bounce ideas off someone or if you've got a great tip that worked for you, let me know!
Hi there! I'm Skeeter. I grew up moving a lot and that makes me a bit restless for travel and exploration. I started this blog with my husband Pat when we decided to backpack New Zealand for a year. We are always looking for the next adventure and are loving life. We're just your average couple with two sassy dogs and a love for travel. We're sharing our travels and the tips we pick up along the way.
Hello! I'm Liz. Blogging is very new to me, but I'm so excited to finally write as much as I talk!
"Don't forget to travel happy"-Skeeter & Liz