The Small Things: 9 Little Ways to Sock Away Travel Money

Spending Diet update! You can track how my own savings are progressing here.

In last month’s money update I wrote about major life changes you could make to save money. While incredibly effective, I know those aren’t always the easiest things to implement, so today I wanted to go in the opposite direction and round up some small things you can do to help build your travel fund.

None of the things I’ve listed below are huge sacrifices, but over time they can add up to be fairly significant sources of money:

  • Stop Buying Food- Not all food obviously (you still need to live) but you can save a bundle in the long run by brown bagging your lunches and cutting back on coffee breaks. That $3 Starbucks latte every morning is going to run you over $1000 a year.
  • Start Stockpiling Change– Any time I get change back from a purchase I pour it directly into my large glass change jar.
    Once it’s full I head on over to coin-star and convert it back into lovely dollars. It’s inspiring to watch the jar fill up and I know from experience that once my jar is full it’s probably holding at least $100.

    money in jar
    Creative Commons License photo credit: sciondriver
  • Stop paying for entertainment- There’s this really amazing place called the library, where you can borrow all the books and movies you want for free! It’s kind of amazing when you think about it.
  • Buy Generic– Now is not the time to be all snobby. It is the SAME STUFF, I swear. Save yourself the $2 and pick up the store brand shampoo, Advil, Tostitos, whatever.
  • Quit impulse buying– this has saved me a bundle. I used to spend a lot of money online (clothes) shopping. When I started my Spending Diet the very first thing I did was impose a 24-hour waiting period between putting anything in my online cart and pressing buy. The difference is incredible- I very rarely buy anything online these days. And I don’t really feel any worse off for it.
  • Quit the Gym– You’re leaving soon hopefully anyways, so now is as good a time as ever to start learning to live without your gym. Easy for me to say, as I’m only vaguely familiar with the idea of a workout room, but I DO know that those memberships are expensive.  Make the sacrifice and start working out at home or jogging.
  • Become a Little Lamer– Last month we determined that the biggest money suck for twenty-somethings is nightlife. If you can find free things to do or start staying home even one weekend night month you can save yourself a bundle. One suggestion for ruining your social life? Start a blog! I’m writing this on a Saturday night right now.
  • Sell stuff– I’m going to be talking about this in more detail in future columns, but it’s always a good time to start looking around your house and thinking about what’s expendable. I guarantee you probably have some junk that you could pass along to another grateful owner in exchange for a few bucks.
  • Push yourself with a Savings Challenge these little things add up over time, but sometimes you need a surge to keep you going. If you are feeling ambitious you might try Ramit Sethi’s “Save $1000 in 30 Days” challenge, which includes a lot of great tips for how to squeeze every last cent. Or the Untemplater 30-Day “No Spend” Challenge.

In addition to padding your bank account, I think that doing these things has a positive psychological component. Just like World War Two home front efforts, making these small daily sacrifices reminds you that you’re working towards something bigger. Every day you put away a little change and bring yourself a little bit closer to reaching your travel goals.

For lots of money saving tips check out:

Dumb Little Man


What small things do you do to save money?

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65 thoughts on “The Small Things: 9 Little Ways to Sock Away Travel Money”

  1. We did a lot of these during the time we were saving to leave. Its amazing how much you can save when you put your mind to it!

    Thats why I get so frustrated when people use money as an excuse not to travel! They are usually spending money on all of the above and more, so its not that they don’t HAVE the money, its that they use it on less important things.

    I have a friend who wants to travel long term (she hears all the stories we have and wants the same… which is great! Thats why I blog about it!)… But she tells me she has no money to do it. However, she is still buying the designer clothes and handbags, eating lunch and diner out most days and drives around in a very expensive car!

    I just don’t get it. If you are working full time and can afford to live an affluent lifestyle, you can well afford to live a lifestyle of travel. Why do they keep on making excuses when the answers are clearly there!!! (Sorry, that may be a little anger at my friend coming out there lol)

    1. What I’ve found is that a lot of people like the idea of long term travel but they aren’t actually interested in the reality of it. If they were those excuses would dissappear fast.

  2. These are all great tips, even those in the comments. I’m a big fan of libraries, coupons and even buying stuff from second-hand stores to help keep cash in hand. In addtion, one of the things that helped me afford to travel, was to put the majority of my essential purchases on my credit card and earn Air Miles. Gasing up the car and buying groceries were the main things that at the end of the year gave me a good start on airline tickets that were practicaly free. Of course, it helps to be diligent about saving money in other areas to be able to afford to pay off 100% of the card balace before the due date to avoid exorbitant c.c. penalty fees.

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