The Reality of Saving Money…
Let’s face it, saving money is especially tough in this economy. While the economy is at an all time low, prices continue to rise. Many of us have mortgages, children, car payments, school loans, insurance, household bills, and more. So, how in the world are we supposed to save money?
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?
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 daily, weekly, and monthly 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.
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!
[box type="info"]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![/box]
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?
[box type="info"]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![/box]
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!