While I was working an office job in New York City, I managed to travel lots even while paying off $100,000 in student loans.
I never deprived myself of my daily joys (the coffee, the pricey Crossfit membership), I never resigned myself to subsisting on noodles and pasta to save money, I never hustled to make extra money.
Instead, I became very aware of my spending and instilled habits in my daily life that helped me to lessen the amount of money I was spending on pretty much everything. It was almost effortless for me.
Why? Because a strong belief I’ve held for pretty much my entire life is that when you do little things consistently, they add up to big things over time.
If you believe that, then the idea that making small tweaks to your daily habits can result in substantial money saving is a big fat DUH. And best of all, you can do this without having to make any big sacrifices in your lifestyle.
Allow me to illustrate with 15 little things you can do in your daily life to save money for travel:
1. Buy in Bulk
Often if you buy more, you save more. So when it comes to items I use or consume frequently (like toilet paper, hummus, and vitamins), I always try to buy them in bulk or in a larger size to save a bit of money. PLUS it saves me a few shopping trips in the future… and if there’s anything I like more than saving money, it’s saving time ;)
Note: You should only buy in bulk if you’re not going to waste any of it, otherwise the savings is negated!
2. Buy on Sale
As a rule, whenever any of my staples are on sale, I buy them in mass quantities… even if I haven’t yet run out of them at home. Why? Because I know I’m DEFINITELY going to consume them at some point, and I’d rather buy when they’re cheaper than when they go back to being full price when I actually do need them. I calculated that doing this saves me over AU$600 a year!
Another trick of mine is to hold off on buying something I really want if I’m fairly certain there will be a sale in the coming months. This is what I do with swimsuits and activewear: I follow a few of my favorite brands and take note of when they offer sales throughout the year. Many release their items in seasonal collections, so you know that towards the end of the season there will almost definitely be a sale. This is how I’ve gotten most of my bikinis and leggings for 30-40% off!
Note: Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale! Always be intentional with your purchases. Buy something if you really believe it will bring you joy, or if it’s something you use or consume on a regular basis already. Otherwise you’re not saving any money by buying on sale!
3. Never Uber
I know the last thing anyone wants to do after a long day or night out is wait for a bus or train to take them home, but dang do all those Uber rides add up. $20 here, $20 there, $20 every Saturday night… you get the picture.
Here’s my recommendation: only Uber if it’ll save you a huge amount of time vs. if you went by public transport, if you’re seriously unwell, or if you’re heading to/from the airport at stupid o’clock. Whatever you do, don’t make a habit out of it!
4. Don’t Own A Car
I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you live in a city with adequate public transport… do you really need to have a car?
In Sydney, I rely on public transport and if I ever need a car (like for my road trips) I just rent one. I’ll spend about AU$700 in 2019 on transportation in TOTAL.
Now contrast that with all of the expenses related to owning a car. Between registration, insurance, fuel, parking, and tolls, you’re easily spending several times what you would if you took buses and trains everywhere instead.
So if you want to easily save at least a few thousand dollars in a year, stop driving (and polluting the air, ahem) and start taking public transport!
5. Don’t Drink (As Much) Alcohol
I’m not going to tell you to stop drinking altogether, especially if it’s something you enjoy for the taste or the ritual. But can you cut down on how many drinks you order when you go out? Maybe slow your pace or drink some water in-between so that you’re not constantly ordering another drink.
Here’s my recommendation: Cut out drinking just for a month (a la Sober October or Dry July). Not only will your wallet, waistline, and Sunday morning thank you, but you might also find you don’t need as many drinks when you start going out again the next month.
Or if you’re not into that idea, commit to ordering just one drink less than you normally would every time you go out.
Or if you’re like NOPE, never gonna happen… can you drink more at home instead of at bars and restaurants?
6. Order Less Takeout/Delivery
If you’re like me and don’t particularly enjoy cooking, it’s all too tempting to order dinner from Seamless or Deliveroo after a long day of work.
… or you could save yourself, like, $15 each time you opt to prepare your own meal and start making easy crockpot meals that will yield a week’s worth of leftovers from one night of cooking.
7. Turn Off Electricity When Not In Use
This one is SO easy! All you need to do is get in the habit of only having the lights on in rooms that you’re in. Leave a room? Turn the light off. Easy.
I always thought this was super obvious and common sensical until I had housemates who seemed not to care about saving electricity and would flick on ALL of the lights at home and then forget about them. You’re literally throwing money away by doing this! So cut that out and start being more mindful about your electricity usage.
8. Take Shorter Showers
In a similar vein, taking shorter showers means less heat used to warm up your shower water, which means you spend less money on gas or electricity (whichever your home uses for hot water).
Also, apparently we humans aren’t supposed to shower every day, so you could always opt to take fewer showers (I know, the horror!).
What I do is I take most of my showers at the gym after I work out. I’m not sure if I’d be as enthusiastic about it if my gym’s showers weren’t so nice, but saving money by not showering at home is definitely an added bonus.
9. Line Dry Your Laundry
Fellow Americans may balk at this one, but here’s a good money-saving tip: quit using the dryer and start hanging your clothes up to dry.
Considering it takes at least an hour of tumble drying to dry a load of laundry, you will definitely save money if you stop using your dryer.
10. Use Things To Death Before Buying Replacements
If you’re someone who always has to have the latest and greatest then oh boy, this one tip can save you SO MUCH MONEY.
Here’s the idea: buy something and use it until it dies (breaks, rips, no longer fits, etc). Don’t decide you’re over it in a year or two and replace it with something newer and shinier, because that is money you really don’t need to be spending.
Honestly, at least half of my wardrobe is clothes I wore back in my NYC days (which means they’re 5+ years old now). My current iPhone is at least 5 iterations behind. I rocked an 8 year old MacBook Pro til it crapped out on me last year (and I relied on that thing to earn my ENTIRE INCOME, mind you).
Do you REALLY needed the newest tech or the latest trend? Or would you rather save that money for travel instead?
11. Buy Used Whenever Possible
But if you do buy things, try to buy them secondhand whenever possible. In addition to getting them at a much cheaper price than if you bought them brand new, you’re also utilizing the sharing economy and saving one less item from ending up in landfill. I actually bought most of my camera lenses secondhand.
So where can you buy used? Thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Gumtree, the refurbished section on any tech website (yes, even Apple has one!).
12. Return Cans & Bottles For A Refund
If there’s a bottle return station in your area, why not save all your empty cans and bottles and return them there to get some money back? At 10 cents an item (at least in Sydney), a small bag of them should earn you a free coffee or two.
This might not seem like much, but if you recycle and return cans and bottles on behalf of your entire household… it can definitely add up to some serious cash. In high school, I would do this with my family’s recyclables and accompany my parents to the supermarket every weekend to return them. I ended up saving hundreds of dollars for my school band trips to Disney World!
13. Travel Hack
Travel hacking, as I trust many of you travel lovin’ readers know, is the art of hoarding (er, collecting) miles and points to cash in on free flights and hotel stays.
One way to earn miles is to be loyal to one airline and keep flying with them so that you eventually accumulate enough miles to qualify for free upgrades or even a free flight.
But another potentially easier way to earn free travel is to apply for a credit card that offers points for every dollar spent, which you can then transfer to an airline partner to book free flights, or a hotel partner to book free hotel stays. Use this card to pay for EVERYTHING and the points will definitely add up over time.
Note: Many credit cards offer a signup bonus of 50,000 miles or more, so aim to apply for one of these. 50,000 should be enough for a free flight!
Flew business class from NYC to Sydney for FREE thanks to travel hacking!
14. Reduce Your Subscriptions
Netflix, I’m lookin’ at you!
But not only Netflix. Think of all the subscriptions you have right now: gym, yoga, phone, meal kit delivery, Netflix/Hulu/Stan, Spotify, Audible, etc…
Now ask yourself if you REALLY need or use all of these subscriptions. Can you cancel or downgrade any? Is there a cheaper option? Do you know anyone (perhaps your housemates) who would want to join forces on a family account so that you both/all save money on it?
15. Download My 5 Life Hacks PDF
Want to know how I save $10,000 in a year to put toward travel? Well you’re in luck because I put together a free PDF with the 5 life hacks I swear by.
These are very easy lifestyle changes, much like the items mentioned in this blog post. I explain them in great detail *with* dollar amounts, so you can actually see just how much money it’s possible to save.
Just click here to download it!