I capitalized the word “we” in the title of this post for a reason. As Montell Jordan so eloquently put it in his 1995 radio hit “This is how WE do it!” and by “it” I am referring to saving money to travel more.
The idea for this post came after being asked (repeatedly) “How do you save for travel?” Before now, I feel as if my answers were too vague. Answers like “We set a budget and stick to it” or “We have a vacation fund” have escaped my mouth too often. While these statements are true, they are not specific enough. After giving general, sweeping answers one too many times I want to (finally) give a clear and specific answer that outlines realistic and functional tips on how WE save money to travel more.
Last weekend I picked up the camera and walked through our house in search of specific ways WE are actively and passionately saving for travel as we speak. Here is what I came up with.
1. WE make a list of needed groceries before we go to the store: I grew up in a household where both parents worked full-time and shuffled me and my brother around town for various extra curricular activities. Yet, we ate a home cooked dinner together most nights. How? My mom planned our evening meals in advance and created the grocery list based on this menu. She made the list before grocery shopping. Having grown up with this, making a list is second nature to me, but I know this is not the case for everyone. A detailed, organized list will help you buy only what you need – saving you money each week on your grocery bill. No more duplicate bottles of ketchup. No more random I-can’t-remember-if-we-have-this purchases (those are so annoying!) or impulse cookie buys. Create a list, stick to it and watch your grocery bill shrink (*Bonus: A list is also a real time-saver and great way to plan healthy, wholesome meals for quality family time around the table!)
2. WE use a reuseable water bottle: Most health experts suggest that our daily intake of water be around 64 ounces, give or take some based on your age, activity level, etc. Most companies sell 17 ounce bottles of water. If my math is correct, a person should consume roughly 4 bottles of water a day. If there are typically 24 bottles in a case, this equates to about one case, per person per week. (Bear with me and this math): (one case of water) $20 x 2 (the number of people in OUR family/household) = $40/week, or $2080/year! I think those numbers speak for themselves! Wouldn’t you rather spend $5.00 on a reuseable water bottle and save your money for Heaven’s sake! (*Bonus: Reuseable water bottles are also a great way to save on the amount of plastic waste created by us humans everyday!)
3. WE (OK, only Diane) buy “drug store” makeup instead of “department store” makeup: I’ve never had the luxury of wearing expensive makeup, which might a good thing since I don’t know what I am missing. But honestly, I think we, as women, spend waaay too much on beauty products as it is! Want a suggestion on how to cut your spending in this category? Buy a less expensive product. I’m not suggesting you stop buying makeup altogether, just shop around for a lower-priced item instead. This strategy won’t work for everyone, but remember, this is how WE do it! 😉
4. WE use a programmable thermostat: This little device has single-handedly saved us hundreds in heating and cooling costs over the last year. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’s also a great way to save money. Michael and I have programmed our air conditioner’s thermostat (because let’s face it, we live in Florida and our heater hardly ever runs) to a higher temperature during times of the day we are not home (work hours, trips, etc.) and more when we are (nights, weekends). This makes sure the unit is not running more than necessary. They’re easy to program (If I can do it, so can you!) and you can change the temperature, schedule or settings at any time. We did not have to upgrade our AC unit or make any special purchases, other than this device to start saving the green, both leaves and money!
5. WE make our own coffee: Mike and I love a good, strong cup of coffee most mornings. It would add up very quickly if even one of us bought a cup of coffee a few days a week! I did more math (I thought blogs were about words, not numbers!) and found that at $3 a pop, even 4 coffees a week can add up to over $625 a year! Now, since I think in terms of airplane tickets – that could be 2 round trip flights from South Florida to California!! We are not willing to give up our mid-week java fixes, and we shouldn’t have too! We just buy our favorite blends (his caffeinated, mine decaf) and brew at home!
5. WE make and pack our lunch daily: I’ll save you all the math with this one and just tell you that we save A TON of money with this one! (Like, well over $1,000 each year) Two people, two lunches, 5 days a week; it adds up quickly! This is also where having dinner planned weekly helps, as my favorite lunches are leftovers from dinner! Just make sure you include lunch food on your grocery list so that you have food to pack for your mid-day refuel all week!
So, here it is – my precise, detailed answer to a question I’ve unintentionally skirted around for long enough. I hope these real life examples of how WE save can help you! These strategies work in OUR home, but I know that they are not one-size-fits-all. We want to travel as much as we can, so these changes/sacrifices are worth it to us. It’s a mindset; a lifestyle. It’s how WE do it!
Do YOU think your family can adopt even one of these habits? Does your family have other cost cutting tips? Leave your ideas and tips below!