Last week’s techniques toward saving BIG money encompassed the larger ideas I adopted toward reaching my financial (and therefore travel) goals. This week, it’s time for a barrage of simpler suggestions culled from my own experience, as well as the many good travelers on the BootsnAll message boards.
Adopt a few, try them out, keep doing what works for you, and spit out those that leave a bad taste.
1. Bring your lunch to work rather than going out to restaurants or buying food. Not only will you save money, you’ll probably lose weight because you’re exercising control over portion size. By the way, bringing lunch does not mean you have to spend time making it yourself. I eat frozen dinners 4 of 5 days a week, allowing myself a restaurant meal every Friday as a reward for being disciplined.
2. Entertain at home versus going out to bars and clubs. If you’re a social butterfly, do more entertaining at home. In exchange for hosting, ask your guests to bring their own beer or wine. Pick up chips and dip, turn on some music, and you’ll have a gay old time.
3. Cut down on alcohol, nicotine, and/or drug use. Would you rather be drinking a Bud in your apartment, or Sapporo in Sapporo, Japan. Your liver, lungs, and other vital organs will thank you for the break.
4. Open a high-interest savings account. I’m currently using ING Direct, which is an online bank. I’m earning 4.5% interest, which feels like about 10 times the interest I receive through my regular savings account. They even have a little counter which shows accrued interest per month, and year-to-date. I’m currently earning $40/month on a $12,000 balance.
5. Pay for cable TV, or broadband Internet, not both. It is becoming increasingly popular to watch TV shows via the Internet. My brother even bought a plasma TV for his NYC apartment so he could watch shows and movies he downloads on a big screen. I, on the other hand, still pay for both, however I do intend to downgrade my cable in 3 weeks after The Sopranos finale.
6. Document ALL of your spending. The mere act of tracking your spending will likely curb your impulse buys. Reviewing how you spend your money can be an enlightening process. If you’re like me, and the prospect of tracking such information for eternity sounds painful, try it for 3 months. It should be enough time for you to see some trends and areas where you can cut back. Check out 8 months of tracking I did from 2005-2006.
7. Use coupons and shop sales. While I’ve cut back on getting my car washed as my trip draws nearer, when I do go, I clip out a coupon from a weekly newspaper for 30% off.
Adjust your auto-insurance policy. Increase your deductible, and your premium will come down. If you have medical insurance, opt out of medical coverage through your auto-carrier. The maximum payout is normally very low so you’re essentially paying for supplemental coverage.
Further reading: How did you raise the $$$ is one of the most popular dialogs on BootsnAll. Read 216 opinions on how to best save money for a backpacking trip around the world! More recently, Steve James wrote an awesome post on this same topic, beating me to the punch on many of the more popular suggestions I highlighted above. Check it out on Brave New Traveler.