Recently, as I’ve been talking to people about our upcoming trip I’ve heard a lot of comments such as “Isn’t Hawaii so expensive?!” and “You’re going back again..how can you afford that?” It was those types of comments that sparked the idea for this post and I thought I would share some of the tips and strategies we use to save extra money for traveling. Now, keep in mind this is certainly not an all-encompassing list. My husband and I are both blessed with careers we love in the marketing industry and are currently living the DINK life (dual income no kids) so we automatically have a bit more dispensable income.
With that being said, YES Hawaii is a more expensive place to vacation than most other places and may not be possible for everyone. But I hope you can take away at least one or two tips from this list to help you save for your next adventure – even if it’s simply a weekend getaway in your home state!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Benefits Checking – Our credit union offers a Benefits Checking account which gives you 3% APY on balances up to $10,000 just by doing things you would anyway (12 debit card transactions, having online banking, etc.) This allows members to earn up to $25 a month simply for having their money in the account.
It’s Your Change – Our credit union also offers a change rollover program. This acts in the same way as an old fashioned spare change jar (except I never seem to use cash). At the end of each day, each of your debit card purchases is rounded up and the extra change is placed into a savings account. You’d be surprised how fast it starts to add up!
Credit Cards: Find a credit card you like and make it work for you. There are so many options out there that offer cash back on purchases or miles/points that can be used directly for travel. I’ve never been a fan of the miles cards and prefer cash back but I know people who have booked entire trips using their credit card miles. Just make sure you read all the fine print – I personally don’t think it’s ever worth an annual fee to have a credit card.
I can’t say enough good things about Ally Bank! They are a completely online institution which may make some people wary but we’ve used them for two years and their customer service is some of the best. We primarily use their credit card which offers 2% on gas and groceries and 1% on everything else. Once we’ve gotten our 12 transactions on our debit card (see above) we put EVERYTHING – and I mean everything – on our credit cards. This allows us to receive cash back every month and if you have an Ally savings account (more on that below) you’ll get an extra 10% when you transfer it to your savings. For example if you’ve earned $30 cash back that month, you’ll get $33 deposited in your savings account. Keep in mind we also never keep a balance on our cards and pay them off in full every month to avoid interest charges. I realize this may not be feasible for everyone and if you don’t think you can pay them off every month I wouldn’t recommend using credit cards the way we do as the interest will end up hurting you in the long run.
Savings Account: This is a tried and true way to start putting money away little by little. But the important thing is to find the right savings account. Many savings accounts offered at big name financial institutions offer around 0.20% APY (you guys I’m not kidding – not even a full percent) so you’re likely only gaining a few dollars each month – if that! Again, we use Ally Bank for a majority of our savings and their current savings rate is 2.00% APY. This is a significant difference in the amount of money you’re earning each month compared to most other places. And the best part is their rates just keep going up. Within the last year we’ve had our savings account they’ve raised their interest rate 10 TIMES!
Ebates: There are so many different apps out there that will help you save extra cash while shopping. My personal favorite is Ebates – a free cash rewards network that offers up to 25% in cash rebates when you shop online at over 1,000 brand-name stores and service providers. You get cash for buying things you normally would anyways – what could be better?! I’ve been using Ebates for years and there really is no catch. You just need to start your shopping trip on the site and then you are redirected to the retailer to shop and complete your purchase as you normally would. The best part is there are a number of travel related sites on Ebates such as Hotels.com and Priceline so we’ve earned money back on a number of the trips we’ve taken. You can earn $10 simply by signing up and making a $25 purchase within 90 days using my link!
Eliminate Unnecessary Spending: Enough with the financial tools, this is more of a lifestyle change. One of the biggest ways we consciously save money is by limiting our food and beverage spending. If you look back as your past few months of bank statements and add up all the purchases you made from eating out you’d likely be shocked! I try to pack my lunch for work almost every day and my husband only goes out for lunch a couple times a month. Think of it this way – if you’re buying lunch three times a week at $10 a meal, that’s around $120 you could be saving each month (or one night in a hotel)! Neither of us drink coffee but the same goes for that $5 Starbucks drink. It may not seem like much at the time but it all adds up. Consider putting the money you would spend on a lunch/drink into a travel fund for your next trip!
Prioritize Travel: This may seem like a no brainer but most people don’t live in this mindset and then wonder why they never seem to go on vacation. For my husband and I travel, or experiences in general, is what we live for. We aren’t big shoppers for materials “things” like clothes or shoes or whatever if may be. In fact, I would say about 80% of my closet is from thrift stores, clearance racks, or clothes swaps with my coworkers. Don’t get me wrong, every now and then we’ll splurge on a new pair or shoes or something we really “need” and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with new clothes, or getting your nails done, or a great new pair of boots or the list goes on an on. We’d just much rather go on a trip or to a concert or a sporting event than have a bunch of material things.