“I Can’t Afford a Vacation!” Yes You Can- with some Money Saving Tips
The New Year is coming up. It’s a fresh start- that time for seeking out some money saving tips, setting new goals and making some changes to revitalize your lifestyle.
You’ve probably exhausted yourself working constantly, paying bills, getting out of debt, all the while neglecting to take that well-deserved vacation you promised yourself.
We all do it. With the growing number of responsibilities and expenses, we never seem to get around to saving up for a getaway.
That ends now!
You really can make some improvements this year to be able to afford to take a vacation! Let’s take this beyond just vowing when the ball drops to make the time and actually work towards your goal.
Here at Sundance Vacations, I’m offering five core money saving tips that are some of the best ways to save money and get your budget on track for 2017.
1.) Review and Monitor your Expenses- Seriously.
I bet you’ve read this before and are looking for a new, easier break-through to save money, but guess what? Saving takes work. You must monitor your expenses to save. Without increasing your salary, the only way you can increase your finances is to know what you’re spending, reduce and save.
“If you can’t measure something…you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it,” said James Harrington.
Money seems to whisk itself right out of your account almost immediately when your direct deposit alert comes through. You know this, and you know that it’s hard to make ends meet some months, but do you know how much you’re profiting or how deep your deficient is?
Sometimes it’s too scary to even look at your debt, so you just keep swiping that credit card. This is like digging a hole in the sand that gets deeper and deeper. You want to ride the waves and enjoy a vacation, not drown in the hole as the waves crash over you.
Keep a Record
Write down all your mandatory monthly bills like paying on your car, phone, student loans, or anything else. Then write down your other necessary expense averages like gas cost and your grocery bill.
From there you can compare those costs to your monthly income and see where you stand, before any of those other unnecessary purchases like eating out, shopping, etc.
REALLY DO THIS!
You’ll realize how much you have left for day-to-day purchases and how much you can afford to save with your current lifestyle, which is probably pretty low.
Fear not, knowledge is power and from here you can track daily what you spend your money on to see how much you have left and the wisest way to invest the leftover cash flow. This is the ultimate money saving tip.
This means saving those receipts or printing off your credit or debit card transactions and tracking daily; don’t let it stack up after a week because you’ll be more likely to forget expenses or be less motivated. The point is to catch the spending as you go along, not realize three weeks into the month that you can’t afford your bills.
I recently started carrying around a pocket-size journal where I write down my expense with three points: where I paid it to, what it was and why I had to pay it, and how much it was. It’s easier for me to just shove the receipt in the back of the book and set two minutes aside at the end of my daily to calculate my daily spending.
2.) Opt in for Automatic Deductions
It’s easier to not spend money that’s not there. You have no choice!
Look for a bank that offers you multiple saving or spending accounts at no additional cost. You’ll have your everyday spending account, a travel fund account and your legitimate savings account.
By setting aside a small portion of each check immediately when it’s deposited to your travel fund (or second savings account), that money is safely being saved.
Even if it’s only $20 out of each biweekly check, you’ll be saving $40 a month, or almost $500 savings a year. There’s your plane ticket there and back to your vacation destination!
Try not carrying around any links to that travel account, so you’re not tempted to slide a card to deplete it. Act like it’s not even there until you’re ready to plan your trip.
3.) Look for Ways to Chop off Expenses
Sometimes I look at my credit card statement and think, “how did this get so high? What did I spend it on this week?” Sometimes it’s those daily purchases of just a few dollars here and there that add up.
Here’s some ways you can cut your spending:
If I have to read one more post telling me to skip the morning coffee run I’m going to dump my New Years champagne!
For those of you that already skip the latte like me, good for you. Let’s say you’re saving $2.70 each day on a piping hot macchiato. Over 270 days, you’re saving almost $730 a year.
If you pack your lunch and skip the hoagie delivery at lunch, that $7 average a day turns into almost $1,900 a year savings.
*Cue the cartoon eye bulge GIF*
But let’s say you are already frugal with your money. You eat in, you bargain shop, etc. What are ways you can chop of expenses?
Have you looked at your other “mandatory” monthly expenses closely?
Habits- Smoking, Drinking, etc.
In 2015, about 15 of every 100 U.S. adults (at least 18 years old) smoked cigarettes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Prices vary per state for the cost of a pack of a cigarettes, but here in the state of Pennsylvania where I live, a pack currently costs about $8 (based on rates in Philadelphia).
For our pack-a-day smokers, that’s $240 for a 30-day month, or nearly $3,000 a year.
Going out to the bar once or twice a week can add up for our drinkers as well. That extra $20 a week could be going towards your vacation fund!
Sometimes you negate your monthly services because they are tiny purchases, but slashes them off your “I have to pay” list could be one of the best ways to save money fast.
Could you cancel your Spotify and opt to stream YouTube on your short morning commute? You could make your own playlist or pick your favorite artists on Pandora too for a comparable shuffle experience.
Look at your other expenses. Let’s be honest, you went to the gym twice last month. Cancel that membership and stream some workouts online for a full body workout you could do right in your living room or throw on some sneakers and take a walk outside.
Here’s some great suggestions for subscriptions or memberships you could consider canceling:
- Music services like Spotify
- Upgraded accounts like Amazon Prime
- Gym memberships
- Streaming services like Netflix
- Magazine subscriptions like Glamour
- Monthly sample deliveries like Birchbox
Think of how much you could save if you could cut down that huge student loan payment you write a check for each month? Look into ways to refinance to reduce your payment or consider reducing your payment by getting rid of it all together.
Do you live in a city where you could easily bike to anywhere you’d need to or take quick public transportation? Sell your car to knock off not only paying off your vehicle, but also saving on car insurance.
Do you use all that data on your phone you pay for each month? Call up your cell service provider to see about modifying your plan to save a few bucks.
This is my favorite! Did you know that electricity companies charge more during certain peak hours each day? You could be paying more to do your laundry at 10 a.m. than you would at say 7 p.m. Find out when those hours are and save your dish washing or stove cranking until that cheaper time zone.
4.) MAKE Money Without Getting Another Job
When it comes to making money without getting another part-time job, your best friends are phone applications or cash-back incentives. These are things you can opt to do on your own time without the commitment of a second job.
Apps looking for Service
You can APPsolutely save or earn money by downloading some great free apps.
Tons of companies are looking to pay someone like you to take surveys, refer friends, watch trailers and more. How easy would it be to share some content on your social media or take a picture of the sandwich you ate at that cute coffee shop and get paid?
Apps for Selling
Other apps just provide you a platform to get rid of stuff you’ve accumulated over the years and no longer need.
My favorite app is called Poshmark. It’s that place that I can finally get the money back I deserve for that designer purse I keep in my closet literally only because it was expensive. After all you spend on something, it’s hard to just donate it without feeling like you’re throwing money away.
But these applications aren’t just great for women’s fashion products, you could make back nearly what you paid for that like-new guitar you used once by selling that and more on other apps like EBay or Mercari.
Apps for Cash or Gift Card Rebates
Some apps partner with big stores to give you virtual coupons or rebates and are another way to save money, even earn it.
Ibotta gives you cash back for shopping at huge food chains like Wegmans, retailers like Banana Republic and more.
You simply scan in your receipt and the bar code on the product you bought and within 48 hours, the funds are deposited on your account. Think 25 cents back on that bushel of bananas or $5 back for every $50 you spend at Express… It doesn’t sound like much, but after a few weeks it adds up fast.
On Ibotta, you can redeem your points once they collect to $25 for gift cards to restaurants, stores, or even towards major airlines for travel services.
Credit Cards with Cash Back
This is one tip that you have to be careful with, because if you’re not monitoring your spending, using a credit card can lead down a slippery slope.
If you don’t have the money to pay off the transaction before your next billing cycling, this method won’t help you. You’ll likely lose the percentage you make back to interest rates for not paying it off in full.
I like using credit cards that offer cash back incentives, however, I immediately pay off my transactions so I reap the full rewards. After a couple months or so, I’ll have enough to redeem a $25 or $50 gift card for any number of retailers, restaurants or services. This is all dependent on who your bank partners with, so be sure to ask the bank about that if you’re interested before signing up for a card. Often I’ll use this as a gift to someone to avoid an extra expense to my monthly budget.
Also, some cards offer points towards travel! If you pay your bills on time, you could be funding your vacation piggy bank without so much as depositing a penny in that travel savings account.
5.) Avoid the Temptation!
When you’re trying to go on a diet, are you going to walk into a candy store? No way!
So why are you constantly tempting yourself by flicking through your email coupon offers or going to your worst trigger stores? It’s time to purge, my friends! Out of sight, out of mind.
Unsubscribe to Advertisements
If you’re like me, half the time you open your email, eight of the ten new messages are from retailers I gave my email address to years ago. They send you coupons, special offers and just put their glamorous products on your mental radar every day.
The temptation to impulse buy is sometimes too great when they make you think you’re getting such a good deal! But if you hadn’t seen their ad, you wouldn’t have wanted it before.
Sure, it’s impossible to avoid all advertisements, but your inbox is definitely something you can control. Unsubscribe to Old Navy or toss out that Boscovs paper ad without even looking at it!
My aunt used to take things to the extreme. When she was tempted to eat a piece of cake left in her fridge while on her diet, she would throw it away and spray Windex on it to make it impossible to scoop it back out and ravage. Maybe it’ll help to rip up a coupon you receive when you don’t need anything in particular from the store!
You could take it to the extreme and download AdBlock, an internet extension that blocks most advertisements on Google Chrome. That means no more Facebook ads for baby diapers (do I look pregnant to you?) or other gender and age centered demographic ads that you’re tired of seeing. There’s other ad blockers for your specific web browser too!
Reason through Your Purchase
So let’s say that you did it. You threw all you learned about money saving tips out the window, caved and went into your favorite store. You’re holding something you love but really don’t need. Now the gears are turning, all the ways your mind is trying to justify why it would be a worthwhile investment.
The first thing you could do is ask yourself if the thing you have is something you need to buy right this second, or if it’s something that could wait till later. For example, do you need those discounted shorts if winter’s rolling around? Or do you need to buy that expensive luxury chocolate when you could you wait till you get home and make yourself a hot cacao to squash your craving?
Also ask yourself if this product would still be useful to you a month from now? How about a year from now? Oftentimes instant pleasures like food can wait.
If you still are struggling with a decision, ask yourself how much you would have to work to pay for the item or experience. Is an 8-hour shift worth a one-hour massage or that flat screen TV worth two weeks pay? Converting prices into hourly value helps you understand and appreciate opportunity cost.
Give yourself a cooling off period. A walk around the store will give you some time away from the initial “ooo I want this so badly” feeling and subdue you back to a “this is nice but I don’t need it” feeling.
The more ways you can stack up reasoning behind why the item isn’t necessary, the less likely you’ll be tempted to make that impulse purchase.
Only Carry Cash
If you really can’t help yourself, write a list of items you need and determine an estimate of the cost. From there, only carry the amount of money you need for that purchase.
So if you only went to Target for toothpaste and laundry detergent, you couldn’t even buy just those $30 boots if you wanted to.
Even if the item isn’t costly, given the choice between what you intended to buy and an impulse buy, you’ll come to appreciate your needed item more.
Another reason that using cash is oftentimes a more effective budgeting tip is because of the psychology behind spending it. A buyer will feel more remorse handing over two tangible 20 dollar bills than swiping a card. The paper bills are objectives you possess, and spending them feels more like losing something to get the thing you want than just magically getting it and putting your credit card back into your wallet.
You Can Never Go Wrong with Budgeting Tips
Whether you need to focus on saving or earning money, often the best way to save money is to monitor and adjust your spending habits.
Setting a goal and sticking to it is often difficult because people do not follow their plan long enough to build a habit. After 30 days of budgeting and following these money saving tips, you’re more likely to continue to manage your money responsibly.
In the end, having a hold on your budget is empowering and a useful tool to last you a lifetime. Why not start 2017 with a life-changing revision?
If you have more money savings tips, please comment below and share!
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