51 Ways to Save Money (for Travel)

I have often been asked over the years how I am able to travel so frequently. While I do shop around to try to find the best prices when actually booking a trip, a lot of it also comes down to how I live my day to day life. I try to be relatively careful with my spending the majority of the time, which allows me to save for big ticket items like travel.

*Note: These ways to save money apply to my lifestyle and may not apply to everyone, but hopefully they give you some creative ideas on how to save.

Here are 51 ways I save money:

1. Don’t go to an expensive salon to get your hair cut. I go to Hair Cuttery and pay around $20.

2. I like having my nails done, but I do a “color change” on my toes instead of a full on pedicure. It’s $12 versus $32 for the pedicure at my salon. Or do your own mani-pedi!

3. I clothes shop at relatively inexpensive places and use coupons. I mostly shop at Kohls, Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, and Nordstrom Rack.

4. I compare prices for any moderately priced to large ticket item in a store to Amazon and Walmart before buying.

5. I make coffee at home (and bring it to work).

6. I have a stash of snacks at work so I am not tempted to go to buy overpriced snacks elsewhere.

7. I compare prices between grocery stores and shop at the ones I find most reasonable. For the area I live, Trader Joe’s, Target, Walmart, and Giant have the best prices. I also compare specific items and buy them at the store where they are most affordable.

8. I use reusable water bottles at home and work, and have a stash of water bottles in my fridge so I don’t have to pay for overpriced water bottles when out.

9. I drink (wine) at home instead of going out!

10. I buy wine at affordable places, like Trader Joe’s and Total Wine. I rarely spend over $10 for a bottle. I often spend closer to $5-$8.

11. In summer, I turn my AC off or down when I am at work or not home.

12. In spring and fall, I try to avoid using my AC or heat entirely.

13. In winter, I try to dress warmly and use blankets to avoid spending too much on heat.

14. I bought a fuel efficient car, the Honda Fit, last year. I pay around $20 for gas a week and get about 36 miles to the gallon. If you are in the market for a new car, consider gas mileage and reliability during your decision making process.

15. When I do go out to eat, I try to go to places that have happy hour or that have don’t have the cost of eating out at a full scale restaurant (ex. Chipotle, Panera, Potbelly’s, Chik-fil-a).

16. I have the Capital One Venture card that gives me rewards back for money spent and does not charge any international fees when I use it abroad.

17. I am part of the rewards program for several airlines and hotels that I frequent. I have used mileage points to help curb the costs of my trips over the years.

18. I stay in AirBnBs or hostels instead of hotels to save on costs.

19. I pack snacks when I travel so I’m not stuck buying overpriced airport or convenience store food.

20. I rent books from the library. My library also has ebooks and audiobooks available which I’ve made use of as well.

21. I am not a cable cutter since I enjoy watching a lot of cable channels, but I do share memberships with family and friends for many of the premium channels (Netflix, HBO, Amazon).

22. I share an Amazon Prime account with a friend.

23. I buy greeting cards for $1 at the Dollar Store or Trader Joe’s. I also buy gift bags for $1 at the Dollar Store.

24. You need to be tactful for this one – but if I am gifted something I don’t think I’ll use, I save it and regift it later.

25. I am a member of Planet Fitness, a low cost gym. My membership is $22 a month. For those that like exercising outside, you can avoid a gym membership entirely!

26. I rarely buy collectible items, trinkets, or random items unless I have a specific use for them.

27. I write a list before I go grocery shopping and more or less stick to it.

28. I turn lights off as I leave rooms and when not home.

29. I pay $10 a month for unlimited, no commercial music on Spotify and share the account with my son.

30. I listen to a lot of podcasts. Free entertainment!

31. Be careful doing this, but I sneak my own snacks and drinks into the movie theater.

32. I try to go to our local movie theater on Tuesday’s when tickets are $6 a piece.

33. I have cost compared auto and home insurance and bundled them to save money.

34. I buy generic brands for many items at the grocery store.

35. I used to rent the basement in my house, and have also hosted on AirBnB in the past.

36. I take leftovers from restaurants and eat them the next day.

37. I do my own mulching and try to fix what I can in my house. YouTube is very helpful in learning home and car repairs!

38. I have a high interest money market account with Capital One that I keep the bulk of my savings in. I typically make $15-$30 a month just for having my savings in there.

40. I pay attention to which gas stations have the cheapest gas and try to frequent those. The one near my office is often 20 to 30 cents cheaper per gallon than the ones near my house!

41. I do “zero sum” budgeting – my process is to pay all my bills first, then set a budget for spending till my next paycheck, and put the remainder in savings.

42. I create a list at the beginning of each year to account for the large ($1K+) expenses I want to budget for. This year was a renovation of my master bathroom and a few international trips.

43. I have embraced many free activities. Hiking, checking out museums, or live music are all free activities I enjoy.

45. I check for online coupons or discount codes when making online purchases. Where I get my oil change has a coupon online that saves me $10 every time.

46. Learn to say “no”. Sometimes it’s tempting to do the activities others are doing, but the cost can add up. Learn to say no or propose more cost-friendly activities.

47. Get rid of the memberships you don’t need. I was part of a wine club but cancelled my membership. That saves me about $300 a year.

48. Bring your lunch to work. I pack mine the night before to save time in the morning.

49. I eat dinner at home most nights of the week.

50. I meal prep once or twice a week – large batch chili and rice with fish are my favorite items to prep.

51. I put the majority of my tax returns in my savings.

How do you save money for travel? Will you use any of my tips above?

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