Last October, I headed over to Ireland for the first time. I was going with my girlfriend, who back in college decided to take a semester overseas in Ireland at the University of Galway.
Her one semester turned into three years and an undergraduate degree. Now we were heading to Ireland to see one of her friends from college get married and reconnect with other college friends.
Seeing as how it was my first time visiting Ireland and her wanting to see all of her old friends, we decided to take a 10 day trip. Our plan was to fly out on a Thursday night, arrive in Dublin at 8am Friday morning, and drive up to Belfast for a day of sight-seeing. From there we were driving the country, staying at a different bed and breakfast almost every night.
On flights, the rental car and nightly accommodations, we spent $3,400. When you take into account food and other incidentals, the overall cost came to roughly $4,500. We paid for this trip with simple savings tricks that anyone can use.
I don’t like clutter. When I buy a new shirt for work, I make myself get rid of one that I haven’t worn lately. Along this same idea is cleaning up around the house. There are many things that we no longer use that are a waste of space to us. So we routinely clean out our house. For some of the items, I will list them for sale on Craigslist or eBay.
When I do sell them, I take the money I made and deposit it into a separate savings account. I do this for an entire year and then decide what I want to do with the money. In this case, I knew the money was going to be used for Ireland.
My other income adventures don’t stop with selling random household items. I sell old books that I no longer read on Half.com. I also take short surveys online that pay me a few dollars when I complete them. Finally, when I shop online, I use cash back websites. When I get the cash from these activities, I deposit the money into the same account above.
For 2012, the amount of money earned for Ireland totaled $1,550.
I started doing this trick when I bought my house to help me pay more of my mortgage each month. Where I shop for groceries, they list how much I saved on the bottom of the receipt from coupons and sale items.
When I get home, I put the groceries away, then go online and transfer this savings amount from my checking account to my travel account. My budget will show the total spent still so the savings are a slight of hand.
For example, if I spent $45 on groceries after saving $5, I would put on my budget that I spent $50 in groceries. The $5 savings will go into my travel account.
On average, my weekly groceries savings is $20. But I don’t just stop there. When I buy clothes or other items, I always make it a point to transfer the savings from those purchases to my travel account. If you want to really see your savings increase, use this trick. Just from groceries alone I put over $1,000 into my travel account.
For 2012, the amount of money earned for Ireland totaled $1,825.
Just from the two tips I mentioned above, I paid for the airline tickets, rental car and a few of the overnight accommodations for our trip. My next trick is using a rewards credit card.
Personally, I use the American Express Gold Card. With it, I earn double points on gas and groceries, triple points on airfare and one point on everything else.
When I fly, I usually watch a movie. So, I head over to the grocery store and buy an iTunes gift card for my movie rental. The purchase at the grocery store earns me double points since it is a grocery store purchase. Same goes for eating out and movie theaters – I’ll buy a gift card or two at the grocery store.
I will also buy a generic Visa or Mastercard gift card there as well and use that for everyday shopping. I then turn around and use the points I earn for travel. Unlike most frequent flier programs, there aren’t any special conditions with using the American Express points that I earn. I just redeem each point for $0.01.
Note that I don’t redeem points to pay for airfare since I earn triple points on airfare when I use my Gold Card. I do use the points as a statement credit however. After I make charges, I log into my account online and select the charges I want my points applied to for credit.
For 2012, the amount of money earned for Ireland totaled $400.
Budgeting get s bad rap from many people, mostly because it is looked at as restricting your spending. I choose to look at budgeting as giving me a goal to spend less than what I think I should spend. I turn it into a game.
I budget on a zero based system, which means that I account for all of my income in my budget. There is not a single dollar that isn’t allocated to a category. At the end of the month, when I look over my budget, any money I allocated that I didn’t spend, I transfer to savings. In this case, I transferred that money to my travel fund.
For example, let’s say I planned to spend $200 dining out for the month. At the end of the month, I review my budget and see that I spent $150. I take that $50 I didn’t spend and I “spend” it by transferring it into my travel fund.
In the event I overspent in a category, I will move money from an account I didn’t overspend in and then transfer the difference. In this example, if I overspent my gas money by $10 for the month, I would only transfer $40 of the unspent dining out money.
For 2012, the amount of money earned for Ireland totaled $1,000.
Overall, using my four tricks above, I saved $4,775 for the trip to Ireland within one year’s time. Since we spent $4,500 we have a few hundred dollars saved for our next trip already! The tricks I use are completely painless. I don’t even notice the money is not there for spending. All that it takes is a little bit of time to make sure you do everything you can to save some money and to make the transfers.
The trip itself was a blast and I already want to go back! I’m always looking for other tricks to save money, so be sure to leave yours in the comments below!
Bio: Jon writes for MoneySmartGuides, a personal finance blog that helps educate people on personal finance so that they can reach their financial dreams. He focuses on investing, savings and paying off debt since those are the most challenging personal finance topics we face.
Hey everyone! Today I have a post from an awesome blogger. Enjoy!
Living well on less is a popular concept these days. And it makes sense why people try to live more frugally.
Being frugal means you need less; when you need less, you spend less.
When you reduce your expenses, you have more money left over in your own pocket. Getting frugal is the easiest way to free up your income to save for a house, pay off debt, or invest in your retirement.
When you do begin to cut expenses, you’re taking advantage of the first and easiest way to build wealth. If what you spend is less than what you earn, you will have a surplus.
The simplicity of this equation may help to explain why there is so much great information out there on how to be frugal, how to save money on this, that, and the other, and how to pinch pennies without driving yourself (or your family) crazy. All you have to do is reduce your spending, and just like that, you’ve increased your wealth!
But if you’ve started out attempting to maximize your wealth by creating a surplus in your budget, you’ll get to a point where there are no more expenses to cut.
You’ll become such an amazing budgeter that the only things you spend money on are things that are truly important and meaningful to you. Being frugal and mindful about how much money you spend won’t be enough to create the kind of significant wealth that allows for financial independence. So what’s a smart, sensible, and frugal individual to do when you’ve squeezed every last “extra” dollar from your budget?
At this point, it’s time to focus on increasing your income.
This can seem challenging, but don’t worry. You simply need to think about the opportunities that may already be at your fingertips and how you can create money-making situations from them.
If you currently have a job, this may be the first place to look to get an income boost. Ask to take on new tasks, an additional role, or more responsibility at work. When it comes time for annual reviews, this hard work may just result in a bigger paycheck.
If your company doesn’t have annual reviews, you’ll still benefit from taking on new things and showing some drive and initiative; when you go to superiors to ask for a raise, you’ll be able to show them exactly why you deserve it.
A side gig, or hustle, is a bit of work you pick up and take on in your time off from your full-time day job. The best way to determine where to start in finding and aquiring a side gig is to analyze your skill set. Are you a talented writer?
Start a blog, do some freelance writing, or produce content for websites. Does your day job provide you with unique knowledge, or do you know of something like a second language that you readily understand and could pass on to others? Teach a class or tutor students and share that knowledge. Do you enjoy DIY projects or getting crafty and have an eye for diamonds in the rough?
Try scouring thift shops or yard sales for furniture that has the potential to be “flipped” – refurbish pieces and sell them yourself at a profit. Love animals and have busy, pet-owning neighbors? Offer to pet sit or start dog walking.
Many people produce brilliant products or works of art as a result of an activity they enjoy, like photography or pottery, as a hobby. And there are plenty of people who appreciate niche items and artwork and would be willing to pay for what you create.
Lots of people also enjoy learning new things just for fun, like app development, and even this can be turned into a money-making endeavor if what you learn translates into a product or service. If you already do something that you love, consider if there is a market for what you make.
If you have extra space in your home, put it to use! Rent out a spare bedroom to a friend, family member, or aquantaince. If you don’t have room to rent, consider if your car could make a little money for you. If you’re often on the road, some companies will pay you to have your car wrapped with their company name and logo.
Reach out to local companies to see if they would be interested in paying you a small fee to use your car for additional advertising. It could be easy marketing for the company, and an easy way for you to make some more cash.
If you don’t have enough space in your home, it might be time to start going through all your possessions and determining what can be thrown out, what can be given away or repurposed, and what can be sold. Old furniture, appliances, clothes, collectables – these are all items that can be sold on sites like Ebay or Craigslist. You’ll not only clear out a bunch of stuff you don’t want, need, or use anymore, but you’ll also make some cash to add to your monthly income.
When you find there are just no more expenses to cut out of your budget, don’t despair. There’s still money to be found to add to your monthly surplus: you simply have to take the initiative to go after it and make it yours!
About the Author: When Kali isn’t working her 9-to-5 office job, expanding on her experience as a living Dilbert cartoon, she is blogging about common-sense financial advice at Common Sense Millennial. She’s passionate about helping fellow millennials figure out how to make the most of their money and how to live well on less, and is currently working on turning the ultimate dream of self-employment into reality.
What would you need to do to if you needed to find an extra $500 in your budget?
Hey everyone! Happy Monday. Yesterday, I published a post wondering where we should travel to. Today is a giveaway!
Have you ever heard of the website Chippmunk (click here to sign up for their newsletter)? It was created in January of this year. Chippmunk is a savings search engine that helps people save the most money possible by showing where to shop based on who has the best online deals.
If you are looking to shop online for the fast approaching holidays, then Chippmunk is a place that you definitely want to check out.
Specifically, their CouponRank algorithm calculates the best deal based on your stated budget, which means you don’t need to run multiple Google searches for coupons, or open several tabs on your laptop/computer in order to check different retailers’ sites.
If you are like me, then you haven’t started shopping for the holidays yet. I keep reading on other personal finance blogs how others are already done, and well, you all amaze me. I tend to save mine for the very last second, but it does help that I don’t have too many presents to buy.
Below are ways for smart holiday shopping to save more money:
How do you save money when holiday shopping?
How much do you plan on spending this holiday season