Why don’t you travel more often? If you’re like most Americans, it’s probably because you think you can’t afford to. Unfortunately this “I can’t afford to travel” belief is the result of years of paying unnecessary monthly bills that amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Most people don’t know that saving for travel can be an easy, painless process. The secret just lies in knowing where you’re wasting your money. Here are just a few sneaky ways to save money for travel that I’ve personally used to accumulate enough money to take vacations and travel to other countries.
Turn on your tv. How many channels do you have? 70? 150? 300? Now how many of those channels do you actually regularly watch?
Yeah, I thought so.
Cable television is one of the greatest scams of all time. They promise us hours of entertainment on hundreds of channels, but often we’re left clicking away on our remotes trying to find anything half decent of taking up our precious evening hours. Then we mindlessly pay the $150 cable bill month in and month out.
How To Save
One of the best ways to save money for travel is to get rid of the excess crap you don’t need. Cable tv happens to fall under the category of excess crap. Cancel your cable and you’ll immediately realize how much money (and time) you were wasting.
I’m not saying you have to give up your favorite shows and read for entertainment (although that couldn’t hurt). Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are reinventing the way we watch television. All of these cost $7.99 – $19.99 a month. Even if you signed up for all three services you’d still be paying far less than you would be with cable, and you’d get to watch shows on your time…not when a channel’s schedule dictated it.
Unless you’re still rocking a ’90s Nokia flip phone, chances are you have an iPhone or some other smartphone. The problem with these smartphones lies in the fact that service carriers say that you need to have several large voice/text and data packages…extra features that can drive your monthly bill up to well over $100 per month.
How To Save
Inspect the details of your monthly bill. You should see a breakdown of service features, costs, and your actual usage. Got unlimited talk and you only used 500 minutes? Consider switching to a smaller minute package. Enrolled in a 5 GB data package but you only used 2.7 GB of data last month? Reduce your package, or get rid of it all together!
A good trick to remember is that most phones can use WiFi without it counting against your data package. You can easily save anywhere from $25 – $60 a month by reducing your data package down to its lowest possible amount, turning off your Cellular Data in the phone’s Settings, and only using WiFi.
Pre-paid phones are inexpensive and fulfill the need to make and receive calls and texts. Use a pre-paid phone for your calls/texts, and use a deactivated smartphone for social media/email/internet via WiFi.
Financing/Leasing A Car
Remember when you went shopping for your very first car…the first car that you were responsible for paying for? Great feeling, wasn’t it? New car smell, something that you actually own…then you get your first bill. Then your second, third, fourth…and it finally hits you that you’ll be paying hundreds of dollars every month for the next few years to ‘own’ a car.
How To Save
Obviously the best way to save hundreds of dollars every month is to not own a car. Not only will this save you on car payments, you also won’t have to worry about insurance payments. But, if you’re like most Americans, you probably need a car to get to and from work/school/social activities.
So the next best option is to buy a used car with cash. No bank loans, no financing company, no scary repo men waiting for you to miss a payment.
If you’re already locked into a three year financing plan, focus on sending in more than the required amount due each month. Any time you can pay extra you will reduce the time spent locked in a contract, and the amount of interest owed. I worked hard to pay a little extra on my car note each month and sent my entire tax refund two years in a row in to my financing company. The reward was sweet when I finally paid off my car and received my title. Now I have an extra $300 a month I can put towards traveling.
College has become a necessary evil – financially speaking. You can’t afford not to go to college, but unless you’re from a well-off family or manage to land enough in scholarship funds to pay for the entire four years, you probably can’t afford to go to college either! Enter college loans.
How To Save
When applying for student loans, always apply for federal loans first, as these will offer the best interest rates around. If federal loans won’t cover everything, shop around reputable banks for the best interest rates and payment plans. Try to get a co-signer (parent) to lower your interest rate. Once you’re in school, monitor your loan statements and start paying off the interest right away. If you can at least pay off the interest before you graduate, you will have thousands of dollars less to worry about after you graduate.
Credit Card Debt
Credit card debt is one of the most common and most preventable debts many people face. When I was younger, I watched credit card debt nearly ruin my parents’ financial lives, and I vowed to never let myself get carried away with credit card spending.
The best way to avoid credit card debt is to simply not ever sign up for one. I know many travelers like to sign up for several credit cards that offer rewards like 50,000 miles. This looks enticing, but there are other ways to accrue miles, including using a debit card from a bank that issues bonuses and rewards miles for every dollar spent. I highly recommend using a service such as Chris Guillebeau’s Travel Hacking Cartel (note: affiliate link, because I use and love the service myself) to find a good card that is worth the extra miles.
How To Save
If you absolutely must have a credit card for reward miles, budget your bill and other necessary expenses for the month and set that money aside into a separate savings account as soon as you get your paycheck. Then only use your credit card for these necessary expenses like rent/mortgage, gas, and utility bills. Use any extra cash you may have for more frivolous expenses such as eating out or shopping. Keep track of every charge and be sure to pay your credit card bill in full using the budgeted amount you set in the separate savings account.