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 bring to you another question post. When I published the post What’s Stopping You From Living Your Dreams, many of you said that you want to do long-term travel or move to a new country.
I see that some of you are in the planning stages to move to a new city, but then there are some of you (like me) who are making a ton of excuses about why you can’t live your dream.
One of the reasons that we stalled our next home purchase and have decided to stay in our current house is because we don’t know where we want to live.
We have been thinking about traveling to new places, but we just are not sure what we should do.
W’s parents are moving out-of-state because his dad received a promotion, and my sister and her boyfriend are leaving for Chicago.
Some of my friends have moved away from St. Louis also, which occasionally makes us wonder why we don’t consider moving somewhere else. Or even just testing a new place out.
I mean, we are young, we have no children, and we are not bound by our jobs.
I love St. Louis.
I do enjoy living in St. Louis, and we of course still have family members and friends left, but moving to a new place or even just traveling around the world before we have children has always excited me.
Plus, I have been sucked into the travel blogging world and I’ve been reading personal finances blogs where some bloggers such as Erin (at Red Debted Stepchild) and Cat (at Budget Blonde) have moved to exciting places.
I of course can’t help but to wonder what else is out there since I have only lived in Chicago and St. Louis.
When we went to Gulf Shores earlier this month and we stayed in a rental home, it made us wonder if we should spend the next few years traveling and seeing the whole world (with spending every few months in a new state or new country, and possibly still keeping our house as our home base).
Luckily, I can work from wherever and all I need is my laptop.
And then, we would maybe move to a new area if we ended up loving it.
Also, if you are a new reader, I would just like to say that occasionally I ponder “what ifs” in my life a lot and think of wacky new ideas. This is one of them. I don’t always follow through but everyone has dreams, right?
Would cost of living be cheaper or more expensive?
St. Louis is definitely very cheap place to live. However, I’ve been reading certain blogs and websites, and we could definitely do cheaper in other areas. I’ve heard of many people living in places in Asia such as Thailand for $1,500 a month. Or we could try the Caribbean (which would probably be more expensive). Or we could possibly live closer to a U.S. beach!
Would you ever move to a completely new place? Why or why not?
Would you move to a new place if it meant cheaper living?
Hey everyone! Happy Monday. This past weekend was nice and relaxing, but the weather was all over the place. It was 16 degrees on Thursday or Friday, and then on Sunday it was a warm 80 degrees. Makes no sense!
Here are some pictures from our trip to Gulf Shores.
For some reason, I thought I already did a recap on our trip, but I can’t find anything! We had a great time in Gulf Shores, but it was like a ghost town.
We stayed in a beach house, and there was not a single person staying in ANY of the houses around us. The restaurants were also completely empty.
For example, many of you said that we should go to The Hangout, and when we went there was literally only one other group there besides us, so that can show you how much of a ghost town it was.
It was nice though, and we knew we were visiting during the off-season. It was very calming and relaxing. We laid on the beach a few times but it was just a little too chilly to even think about getting in the water.
We took our dogs with us, and sadly this was our first road trip with our dogs. It went very well! We converted the back of our Jeep (took out the seats) into a full dog bed so I’m sure they couldn’t have been any happier. Just the life of a crazy dog-momma.
One bad thing that happened on the trip? I dropped my iPhone getting out of the car to go to the bathroom and completely shattered the screen. Boy was that an expensive bathroom break!
Rental house ($650) - We rented a beach house for 4 nights/5 days. The total for this including all taxes, cleaning, pet fees and so on was around $650. We could have saved money if we weren’t so close to the beach and we didn’t have dogs, but that’s not we wanted.
Gas ($200) - We thought we were going to spend a lot more on gas, according to my calculations. I must have way over estimated because somehow we managed to do much better! The Jeep usually gets around 15 to 18 miles per gallon, but a lot of the time we were able to get 22 or 23.
Food ($250) – On some days we splurged on food and other days we just bought groceries and cooked at the house.
We didn’t really buy anything else besides that! It was a fairly cheap vacation, and it was mainly a working vacation. It was just a nice little change in scenery
We are doing okay with spending. We spent around $500 on carpet for one room in our house (got a great deal because we kept holding out!). We are getting around $400 off so we are really happy with that.
We also spent around $500 on hiring someone to fix some leaks in our house and while they were here we just had to install some new faucets and sinks (all for that $500 price). Some of the valves for our water pipes were dripping like crazy. Yes, we could have just done it ourselves but we have had some pretty bad luck with trying to fix water problems ourselves so we did not want to risk it again.
Water + House = my nightmare pretty much.
The only thing that we really need to do now is to replace the garage door. I can’t wait until that’s done because our house will be PERFECT after that.
Self-employment is still going great. November has been a very busy month and I have added a few new clients so far this month already. Even though November has been busy, I still have had a lot of free time and it’s been really nice.
Since we plan on going on a two to three month trip, I do need to start figuring out a way to schedule some of my work ahead of time. I don’t want to eliminate any of my jobs, and I of course don’t want to risk the quality of my work. Luckily I can schedule a lot of my writing ahead of time so that will be a lifesaver.
If anyone needs any help, check out my Hire Me page and let me know what services you are interested in. Lately, a few other website owners have asked me to help run their website while they are gone for just a month or two, so this is a new service that I am also offering. If you are starting a new job, about to have a baby, want to do some long-term travel or something else, please let me know.
Posts from Making Sense of Cents:
My sister has been reading my weekly updates (oh hey Lexy!) and she thinks I have been too positive about my progress in my “being healthy” section. Haha and she is right. I have been doing so bad! I really need to buckle down and start focusing on working out more. And eating healthier…
I have actually done quite a lot of wedding planning in the past few weeks. I have looked into caterers, DJs, florists, and rental companies. I just need to finalize the agreements soon and sign the contracts.
Have you been doing well with your extra income, spending and being healthy?