How We Saved Enough Money to Travel the World!

There are many ways to cut down on spending. Although, nobody ever said it was easy! Here’s a quick question for you; If it was easy to cut down on your expenses, would you actually save your money? At first most would say answer “Yes, of course, why wouldn’t I save?” BUT… Would you really?

MORE: 25 AWESOME WAYS TO SAVE MONEY FOR TRAVEL

My belief is that most people tend to make changes to their lifestyles and the way that they spend their money only when they’re feeling under pressure financially. I truly believe that it sometimes takes something unfortunate like a recession or a loss of a job to happen in order for you to make some of the most important financial decisions of your life.

How We Saved Our Money

We’ve put a lot of hard work and effort into saving as much money as possible for this trip. Admittedly, we’ve had to make some drastic changes in our lives in order to save the money that we have. On top of that we have created a short list of money saving techniques below that have really enabled us to reach our savings goals and we’re hoping that you’ll be inspired to do the same after reading some of our best tips on How to Save Money for an Around The World Trip!

Cut your habits by 50%

If you smoke two packs of cigarettes per day, try smoking just one pack today. If you dine out 4 times per week, try dining out twice this week.

You wouldn’t believe how much you can save by cutting your habits in half. If 50% is too extreme for you, start at 25% and slowly make your way towards 50%! Saving is all about CUTTING DOWN!

Track your expenses!

Try writing down EVERYTHING that you spend this month. Track every dime for accuracy. Yes, it’s a lot of work but at the end of the month you can look back and break the numbers down to find out an average of how much you spent on a daily and weekly basis.

Once you figure out your daily and weekly averages you should set goals for yourself based on your spending. Why not try to cut your averages down by a couple dollars on a daily basis? Think about it this way… if you cut $2/day off of your daily budget you could end up saving yourself $60 this month with this method alone!

Avoid dining out like the plague!

This one was tough for us! Liz & I love dining out. We really cut back on dining out about a year ago and it’s saved us a TON of money.

Instead of dining out, head to your local grocery store with some of your favorite meals in mind and for the money you would’ve spent dining out you can now throw together a weeks worth of meals!

Don’t get us wrong, we still dine out occasionally but usually only when there’s a deal or we have coupons. To find out how we manage to find coupons to all of our favorite restaurants, SEE BELOW!

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!

You don’t have to feel like a cheapskate to use coupons. It’s not called being cheap, it’s called being SMART! Believe me, once you get over the initial embarrassment of using coupons you will NOT turn back!

I’ve had this infatuation with finding deals and coupons for about 2-3 years now and I cannot even tell you how much money I’ve saved by using coupons and doing a little research on the web to find deals on things I’m planning on purchasing.

Tip: Here’s a few of my favorite coupon websites: RetailMeNot , Coupons Inc, Coupon Surfer , Coupons.com , Smart Source.

To find the best deals on technology/gadgets I always search Google Products first! My second choice is Amazon.com a company that gets a LOT of my business! (If you’re planning on purchasing anything on Amazon in the near future, be sure to click through on this link and I’ll make a small commission if you buy something). Just throwing it out there!

In order to get restaurant coupons, you’ll need to sign up for the email clubs of all your favorite restaurants. Once you sign up you’ll soon start to receive coupons for free desserts during your birthday month, buy one-get one entrees, $10 OFF $20, etc. Liz and I are both signed up for a bunch of different email clubs and we probably receive an average of 3-5 good deals per month.

Some clubs like Fridays, and Smokey Bones offer free Member Cards that you swipe every time you dine at their restaurants. Once you reach a certain amount of “points” on your member card, you’ll receive a free dinner and even $20 credit towards your next meal! It’s a no-brainer if you dine at these places regularly, even occasionally!

Tip: Create a few different email accounts for yourself and sign up for the email clubs with all of your accounts! This way if you receive a coupon that can only be used once, you’ll have a few of them!

Unplug EVERYTHING!

Yes, I’m serious about this one! Unplug anything and everything that you’re not currently using in your house. Did you know that a lamp that is plugged in but is OFF still draws power from the outlet it’s plugged into? Yep! Anything that is plugged in and is in the OFF position still uses a small amount of electricity!

We’ve been unplugging anything deemed unnecessary in our home for over a year now. Since putting this plan into action we have saved an average of $50 or more per month on our electric bill. We have saved so much energy that National Grid sent us a Home Energy Report letting us know that from the month of (12/19/09 — 1/20/10) we used 46% less energy than our EFFICIENT neighbors.

Not 46% less than ALL of our neighbors, 46% less than our EFFICIENT neighbors! When it comes to ALL neighbors, we use just under 75% of the energy that they use. See our actual National Grid – Home Energy Reports HERE, and HERE.

As you can see in the second report above, over the course of the last 12 months we’ve used 51% less energy than our neighbors. National Grid claims our savings cashes in at around $983/yr. Pretty interesting, huh?

Tip: My best piece of advice that I can give you is to go out to Walmart or a similar store and pickup a bunch of cheap power strips that you can plug all of your appliances, lamps, etc into. Spread the power strips out around the house so that all of your TV’s, DVD Players, Surround Sound Systems, Computers, Printers, Routers, etc are ALL on power strips. This way when you’re done using your appliances all you have to do is switch off the power strip and you’re all set!

Note: Although the power strips are connected directly to your wall outlets, they cut off ALL power to your appliances so you no longer have to worry about unplugging each and every thing in your house after you’re done using them.

Sign up for an Interest Bearing Bank Account

Do your research and find a bank that offers a good APY interest rate. Think about it, it’s FREE money! Who doesn’t want FREE money?

I jumped on board with Charles Schwab Bank a little over two years ago when the interest rate was at 3.01%. Now a days, you’d be hard pressed to find such a deal, although there are still some great deals to be found if you really do your research.

Here are some of the excellent benefits that come from banking with Charles Schwab:

They offer above average interest rates on their checking and savings accounts. They used to offer some of the highest rates until the economic downturn. Unfortunately my checking account is now at a measly 0.25%. Be sure to take a look out for local banks or credit unions where you live and you just may find something a bank offering a decent interest rate.

One of my favorite benefits of banking with Schwab is the fact that there are no such thing as ATM fees. Charles Schwab is one of the only banks out there that will reimburse any ATM fee you are charged WORLDWIDE!

Not only do they waive ATM Fees, they also don’t charge any foreign transaction fees!If these benefits don’t hook you in, then I don’t know what will.Banking with Charles Schwab can and will save you a boat load of money when traveling abroad, believe me. To see what you’re being charged by other banks while abroad please refer to my previous post on how to Minimize International Fees While Abroad.

Apply for a Rewards Credit Card

Warning: Credit Cards are EVIL! In saying that though, it all depends on how you plan to use it and if you’re responsible enough to pay the credit card balance in full each month in order to never get whacked on interest.

I’ve had one credit card in my life and it was for a span of maybe a year when I was 18 years old. Since then I thought they were quite possibly the most evil things on earth. Not that I had any issues with the credit card that I had, it’s just that I have heard and read so many stories about people get themselves into life full of debt and it’s just a terrible situation for anybody to be in.

Normally I would NEVER advise any one to get a credit card but I’m going to recommend a credit card that could turn out to be very beneficial to you if you play by the rules and you use it correctly.

Charles Schwab currently has one of the best credit cards on the market. It offers 2% cash back on ALL purchases across the board. Sure, there are a few credit cards out there that offer 5% cash back, but they’re usually only good for gas and grocery purchases. The Charles Schwab Invest First Visa works best if you have a bank account with them due to the fact that your cash back is automatically deposited into your bank account at the end of each month.

Tip: If you’re planning on making some big purchases in the near future it would definitely be beneficial to apply for this card. I now solely use this card for all of the purchases that I make on a daily basis whether it’s for plane tickets or a pack of gum at the store. If my family is booking a vacation or making a big purchase I simply offer to charge it on my credit card and have them give me the cash that way I make the 2% off of the purchase.

REMEMBER: If you pay off your balance in FULL at the end of each month when the “minimum payment” is due you’ll be in business. If you don’t plan on paying in full, it might not be worth the 2% interest that you’re earning for using the card.

Unfortunately the Schwab is no longer taking applications for this card. You missed out!

Do yourself a favor and make an attempt at implementing one, two, or a few of the above “Ways to Save” in YOUR life. I promise that these methods of saving money will enable you to reach your goals faster. Take it from us, we’ve made changes in our lives and I can tell you with confidence that the changes that we made were definitely for the better.

Do you have any advice, tips, or methods that you use to save money? If so, feel free to share them with us by leaving a comment below!

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About the Author

Ryan Gargiulo is a location independent blogger, world traveler, and adventure enthusiast who loves nothing more than to share his stories from the road with his followers via blogs, photos, videos and more. When he's not out wandering the world, you can likely find him Instagramming his current paradisiacal location or hunched over his laptop, typing away, somewhere in the tropics.

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64 Comments

  1. Great money saving tips. I especially love "the write out your monthly expenses" and see if you can subtract $2 from each week. I never really thought of it that way, but that is an extra $60 in your pocket by the end of the month. Agreed with the eating out aspect. I feel like eating out drains your money. I'm glad your goal was to save money for travel experiences!
    My recent post Suzy Stumbles Over Travel: Week of April 5, 2010

    1. Suzy, thanks a bunch! Yeah, it's amazing what $2/day adds up to. How about the days that you order out lunch at work. Around here, the average order out lunch will cost around $8-10 w/ tax depending on what you get. Now think about that on a weekly, and monthly level based on a 5-day work week. $$$

  2. We love dining out, too! It has really been the hardest for me, I just find it really exciting to go out and meet friends. We've cut back A LOT but still could cut out more.
    My recent post Goin’ Show Webisode: #3 Australia

    1. Jade,

      I know it's VERY tough for us too! We love socializing and eating just as much as yourself! It's all about CUTTING down… that's all.

  3. Groupon is another great source for coupons if they're available in your city! Working for an energy efficiency campaign also made me super vigilant about turning off lights and electronics when they're not in use. Things like microwaves, etc–that have lights on even when they're not in use–actually use MORE energy when they're turned off than when they are in use.

    Great tips overall–I'm sure I would have saved much more if I tracked every penny, but Mint.com definitely helps track debit/credit card spending!

    1. Christine,

      Groupon is another great one! Thanks for the tip. Liz has mentioned Groupon to me on several occasions. I have personally never purchased any of the "groupons" but I have noticed some pretty good deals on there!

      Yes, the whole unplugging/energy saving methods are amazing aren't thy? At this point, I turn things off and unplug things instinctively.

      Mint.com is cool, although I found it tough to label each transaction. It seems that it's tough to organize it so that gas purchases go into the Gas category, groceries go into the food category, etc.

      Thanks for contributing!

  4. Great tips. We also used to eat out a lot and decided it was costing too much. Everyweek we sit down and plan out a weeks worth of meals and then go to the grocery store. It has saved us a lot of money! I didn't know about the electricity thing. Good tip!

    1. Thanks a bunch! Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. Good luck on saving for your trip to S.America. Give some of our money saving tips a shot and get back to me with your progress. We'd love to hear how you do!

  5. Awesome suggestions! I'm definitely going to implement some of them. My biggest indulgence is definitely eating out and Starbucks. Selling stuff on Ebay helps a lot btw!

    My recent post imgp2629

    1. Thanks Andi! Yep, eating out and Starbucks will definitely kill your attempt towards saving! You're right, eBay is great, and so isn't Craigslist!

  6. Great Post… I hope people follow your advice. You have so much added consumption and unnecessary spending in our lives. Sometimes it takes travel to figure that out… before or after we leave.

    1. Thanks Brendan. I hope so too! The people that ask me how I can afford to travel around the world are the same people who don't even want to attempt to try any of the methods of saving money that I listed above. You have to start somewhere! I agree with you, sometimes it does take some traveling to figure all that out.

    1. Thanks a lot Axel. Yeah, we're leaving with about 25lbs in each of our bags. They dont' feel too heavy though. I'm sure we'll end up dumping some things along the way…

  7. I just wrote about this last week – 11 tips on how to save money for your next vacation. I love budget travel stuff and am always looking for ways to save.

  8. Spent the first few years of my marriage getting us to zero revolving debt. Since then, been making about $600/yr just on credit card rewards. And, in order to be making that money, it means we AREN'T spending money to just to maintain debt. So, it's actually a double savings.

    1. Same here Ayngelina. I always say that once you realize how much you REALLY need in life and start living minimally it becomes a LIFESTYLE, not a hobby or a goal anymore. I continue to save while traveling as well. It's just the way I operate now a days…

  9. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

  10. I work for a credit card company and I see a lot of people not using rewards cards to their full potential, but there are clever people who really work it to their advantage. In the right hands, it can be a great tool!
    My recent post Delays- delays- delays

    1. That is so true Ashlea. You really need to know what you're doing otherwise you can totally defeat the whole purpose of saving money in other areas if you get yourself caught in debt or you make a stupid mistake when managing your Credit Card.

  11. These are great tips. I especially need to start tracking my expenses. I saved a crap load of money before my RTW trip by just making coffee at home rather than buying it everyday.
    My recent post Travel Photography- Blenheim and Picton- New Zealand

    1. Thanks Lindsay. Definitely do yourself a favor and start tracking your expenses. You'll be amazed of the money you spend on non-necessities. Making coffee at home is one of many great ways to save money. Good luck!

  12. Just buy all the necessary stuff. Avoid meals out, going to the movies, theatre, beers and everything you can. you can enjoy that later. You can also work while you’re travelling and earn money. I gave English and Spanish classes and earned enough money to go on. Save money: there are a lot travel tours conducted to any place in the world that are really cheap. Also another good way to save money is getting a low price in hotels for example, by making reservations in advance. Still, on the Internet you can find several pages with hotel deals where you can surely get rooms at low cost.

  13. Ok so I am way late to the ball game here, but this is the best post on saving money I’ve ever seen. Mostly because your #1 about cutting certain habits by 50% is so smart. I balk every time a finance blog writes “Stop going to Starbucks, you’ll save yourself X dollars a year!” I love Starbucks. I don’t want to stop going there.

    But I could certainly cut it back by 50% without too much sacrifice :)

    1. No problem Kyle. Better late than never, right!? Thank you for your kind words. Yeah, you know I think the problem is that many people fear that they will have to cut out bad habits 100% and go cold turkey.

      This thought process makes it so much harder to cut down on your expenses because you feel guilty if you’re still purchasing a coffee each week versus the two coffees you’re used to buying every week. This is the wrong way to think when attempting to save money. Cutting down is the first step, and cutting down means trying to cut back on your bad habits about 50%. Nobody said you have to go cold turkey! ;) You have to start somewhere, why not at 50%?

      Thanks again, and don’t stop stopping by! Your comments have been thoughtful and insightful. ;)

  14. Great site!
    I would love to take some time and travel the world.
    What would you suggest is a good “number” to have as a goal?
    Obviously, this number would be different depending on where we are traveling to and from.
    But, i am looking for a general idea of how much money it would take to take one of your “world trips”.
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  15. You are smart. The only possible way to see the world is to watch every dime. That’s just reality. People ask me all the time at my work place how I afford to travel so much. I don’t have tons of money. I work in a factory. They pay us a decent wage, but I still have to watch every penny. I don’t eat out or shop at the mall or go out to bars on the weekend. I work as much overtime as I can get my hands on. When I go to a movie it is on cheap tuesday nights. Half price. I always take a lunch to work and bring my own tea and coffee. I work and travel. I always find the money. Travel is my life. I am a fifty three year old woman who travels mostly on my own, and it feels kind of good that that crowd at work is full of envy when I decide to take off from work for a week and go to Jordan or the carribean or some place cool like that. It is not rocket science. If you want it, it’s there for the taking. Just save it up, and you’re off! Good luck to all of you, and I hope you all get to travel goals! Don’t forget to pack a lunch!!
    mary…travelingpants1@rogers.com

  16. It takes a post like this to reinforce the idea of saving for me.

    I need and want to save, its a daily battle. Cutting the habit by 50% is some advice I´ll definitely heed, maybe even take it to 75%.

  17. I learned a lot from you and I could say that people would also like this. I have to say to you that it is great money saving tips. I especially love “the write out your monthly expenses” and see if you can subtract $2 from each week. I’m glad your goal was to save money for travel experiences!

  18. I wish I smoked so I could easily quit and start saving money on it :) But I don’t so I guess I’ll need to pass on that restaurant invitation tonight.

    Great tips!

  19. Fantastic breakdown, I’m not sure how you managed with less caffeine, but my body was not amused!

    If you don’t mind me asking, how did you manage to get your “Like us on Facebook” link on the end of the post? Some sort of plugin, maybe?

  20. I live in Bridgewater and traveled the world as well – thanks to the U.S. Navy and 25 years was able to live abroad twice – Morocco and Italy, both fantastic beautiful countries. Our daughter who also attended BR and MIT moved a step further. She has traveled to 50 countries – her favorites are South Africa, Tibet and New Zealand. She also traveled around the world and I accompanied her for part of the trip. People who travel look at the world totally different than folks who don’t. As they say “See Naples then die”.

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