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?

About The Author

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

  1. I collect change, save a set amount each paycheck and whatever cash I have left over from that pay period, I dump into my travel fund. I’m excellent at saving money but knowing I have an actual goal makes it that much easier.

  2. I’m not wild about the idea of staying home on a Saturday night or giving up my gym membership….but you are spot on with the library thing, generics, and waiting period! I try really hard to do the waiting period thing and give myself time before making a purchase on clothes or bags. Doesn’t always help, but I’m overall less impulsive for sure. I think I’ve mentioned this in a comment in the past, but one of my big tricks is setting up an automatic savings account at an online bank like ING and having it set up to deduct a small amount from your regular checking to that savings account each week. You barely notice it disappearing and you forget it’s there since it’s at a different bank, but it adds up so fast!

    1. Definitely a great tactic. Personally I like the boost I get from transferring the money myself every payday. Once it goes in the savings account I do NOT touch it for non-trip related things.

  3. I’m on a spending diet so I can comfortably move to Australia. I’ve started many of these things already – but love some of the things you suggest that I’m not currently doing. I have a mean impulse online spending habit that I need to curb!
    .-= Ashley´s last blog ..Passport Day in the USA =-.

    1. now that spring is kicking in I have to work hard to fight the urge to spring for a new wardrobe. I’m practicing a “just dont look” policy.

  4. Great list, but why does everyone always pick on coffee? I’m a coffee shop owner and if people followed your advice here (and the advice of ever other financial consultant to cut out coffee shop spending), I would be put out of business . . . not complaining, just sayin.
    .-= Michael´s last blog ..Simplicity =-.

    1. ahh fair point- nobody ever things of the coffee shop owners! I think that coffee gets picked on but it’s really just representational of something people pay premium for when they could make their own for cheaper (same with smoothies, sandwiches, mixed drinks). Of course hanging out at a coffee shop has certain less tangible rewards that can’t be recreated in your kitchen.

  5. I can never do the saving up change because I never use cash. When I use my card I’m apprehensive about every purchase, but with cash that stuff just flies away. I should see if my bank does that round up bit where they send the ‘change’ into a savings account.
    .-= Cornelius Aesop´s last blog ..2012 A New Beginning =-.

    1. It’s definitely different for everyone. I find myself more cautious with cash because I can physically see it dwindling away, where as plastic money just seems imaginary to me.

  6. I think buying generic is a big one. We used to always buy “brand” name in the U.S., but when we started traveling, we couldn’t necessarily find those brands and are willing to use generic or equivalent alternates. They work just as well.
    .-= Akila´s last blog ..just another city: bangkok =-.

  7. Great tips Steph! Especially the one about becoming a little lamer…nightlife is so expensive, and they’ll be plenty of that once you get abroad!

  8. My tip: Coupons. You can buy lots of the food you like for little to no money and with pharmacy loyalty programs like CVS’s extracare bucks you can get make up, shampoo, etc for free. There are tons of blogs and websites that help like and It does take extra time and effort, but if you want to completely cut that out of your budget it is worth it. I would also recommend using your local supermarkets loyalty programs to catch all their sales and to use the supermarket that doubles manufacturer coupons.

    1. My problem with coupons is that they sometimes trick me into spending money on something I wouldn’t have before because it’s a “deal.”

      I do however love my Safeway club card.

  9. We had a budget, and every month we were spending no more than we were earning. Pretty good, right? But then we totalled up how much money we earned that *didn’t* go to basic bills/debts (mortgage, phone, electricity, his car, my student loans), and were aghast!

    So we cut the number in half, divided it by 4 (weeks in a month, roughly). We take that much cash out at the beginning of the week (Sunday, the day we buy food for the week) and that’s what we have to spend. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Anything under $50 comes from the fund, including doc copays and those annoying kinds of things. Things like new tires go on the credit card, which is paid online as soon as we get home, so there’s never even a bill, much less a balance.

    It has worked wonderfully!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top