Don’t Give Up Your Daily Coffee To Effectively Save Money for Travel

They say “money doesn’t buy happiness” but try traveling without it and for us travel makes us HAPPY! The more money we have, the more we can travel and the happier we are!

Because travel makes us happy, we’ve prioritized most of our energy, focus and finances towards travel.

I also love a good cup of coffee and hanging out in funky cafes. My 25-year-old self would laugh at me now if he knew I prefer a comfy couch in a cafe sipping on lattes with friends than getting rotten drunk in pub – well, most of the time, I do still enjoy a few beers, and sometimes a few too many, but I just can’t do hangovers anymore!

There are a lot of articles written about how to save money for travel, heck, even I’ve written a few in the past and possibly will again. Most of them focus on cutting back on the small things, or things that bring us joy, and an outlet from the chaos of life.

They suggest things like:

  • cutting coupons
  • putting all your loose change in a jar
  • use a fan instead of A/C
  • canceling cable TV
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs
  • canceling your gym membership
  • and giving up your daily coffee!!

All those things can and do add up, and some can even be great for the environment and your health, and I do follow that advice for the most part, but I’m tired of scrimping and saving on every little thing and cutting out the enjoyment in life.

We’ve done this in the past too but have slowly learned that sometimes small actions tend to give you small results, and not much joy!

If you want to make travel a priority in your life – and no I’m not talking about quitting your job and traveling the world – I’m talking about more weekend getaways and taking your family on that dream two week vacation each and every year, then it might be time to focus on making bigger changes to create more disposable income than simply cutting out your daily coffee!

One of my favorite authorities on money is Ramit Sethi, founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He speaks about,

“Living a rich life is not about using coupons and cutting out your daily coffee or green juice. This can be a good thing to do when you’re saving for anything, BUT, it’s not going to make a big difference.”

Sure, a $4 coffee per day is $120 per month to fuel your caffeine habit and $1,440 per year you could put towards travel.

$1,400 is nice, and can get a solo traveler an international flight or an all-inclusive domestic trip at home, but it doesn’t go far four a family of four. I’d rather focus on ways to create an extra $20k, $30K, even $50k per year in disposable income.

Can you find other ways to free up a lot more cash than your daily coffee over the long term? I think you can.

Go sunset sailing around Great Keppel Island in Queensland, Australia

I don’t want to cut out all the little things in my life that bring me joy – like my daily coffee!

I enjoy my daily takeaway coffee and sitting at the beach, or working online out of a cafe. I don’t want to give that up. We put a lot of focus and priorities on other areas of our life and this is my little treat. And in Australia, our coffee is so good it’s hard to resist.

You’ve got to enjoy the journey, not just the destination, right?

We’re not 25-year-old backpackers anymore on a round-the-world trip and my days of roughing it are over. I don’t want to eat baked beans out of a can or crash in a 4-bed dorm of a hostel.

Those days were fun, but we have evolved as a family in how we live and travel and we desire a few more comforts than that – and treats.

If you’re a backpacker, or going through a mid-life crisis and planning a never-ending sabbatical or taking a career break for a round-the-world trip, this post is probably not of interest to you. Your focus might be a little different than the typical family, couple, or solo traveler who works a 9-5 and has limited time and money for weekend getaways and just wants to take their annual 2-week dream vacation.

However, if you’re a family (or a couple or solo) living in the burbs and want to create more travel in your life on a consistent basis, this post is for you!

Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

We know from all the emails we get from our readers that “lack of money” is one of the biggest things holding you back from having more travel in your life.

Maybe now is the time to start thinking about your finances and channeling what money comes into your life in the right direction.

Quick disclaimer – I’m not a financial planner and you should always seek professional advice when making big financial decisions. And I’m not a health expert on the pros and cons of coffee. But who is, one-week coffee cures cancer the next week it causes it.

Today I’m not going to be talking about turning off the heat and shivering through winter to save some dollars. I know, saving money for travel can be easier said than done and everyone has different financial challenges and backgrounds and you can only do the best you can with what you have, but I want to share some ideas or choices you can potentially make so you stop working just to pay the bills.

To create some serious money for travel, I believe you have to…

Focus on the BIG wins!

Changes that will potentially free up much more disposable income than simply cutting coupons or your daily coffee. Some of these strategies are exactly what we are doing behind the scenes in our life.

These bigger problem areas can make a BIG impact on your life and finances not only for this year, but for many years to come.

So, what long-term changes can you implement that will allow you to have that dream trip year after year after year? Let’s find a way to create consistent travel in your life, shall we?

Maybe pick one big problem area each month and work on that.

 1. Affordable living

Many of us are over consumers, especially when it comes to real estate, and even more so when it comes to having kids. Do you really need that big of a house, in the most expensive neighborhood?

Can you move into a cheaper home, in a less expensive area of town, that will make a sizeable difference to your financial position?

Not only can a cheaper home lower your monthly mortgage payment, but your property taxes, insurances, and everything else that comes with it. The smaller the home, the less our bills each month, and the less stuff we feel inclined to buy to fill it – call it the ripple effect.

I’m not saying move house for the sake of moving, the numbers have to make sense for the long-term. Do the math!

If you are renting, can you move to a less expensive apartment or neighborhood? Do you need three bedrooms or could you consider living in a two-bed apartment or bringing in a flat mate and splitting the costs?

How to save money for travel

2. Refinance your mortgage

If you don’t want to move out of your existing residence and neighborhood, can you refinance your mortgage so that it’s more manageable?

Be careful, you don’t want to create a situation where you end up paying more for your home in the long-term for short-term gain. But is there a way you can restructure your loan that allows you more breathing room to have a life? Again, do the math and talk to an expert!

3. Relocate to one of the cheapest places to live

I understand not everyone desires, or has the option, of moving their life to a new city or state, but the way things are going more people are becoming location-independent or starting new careers and having that option.

Maybe your employer allows you to work remotely, or the company you work for has other locations you can transfer to?

When we lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, we met many people who had downsized their life and relocated from more expensive cities such as New York or Chicago. Now, Raleigh is not NYC of course, but you can have an excellent quality of life in a great city for a lot less financially!

Is there a similar comparison that might be an option for you?

Would you like to have more disposable income to play with, rather than working just to keep your head above water?

4. Consider moving abroad

This will seem extreme for most of you, but again, this is becoming more common as people become entrepreneurial via web-related businesses or their company being located off shore.

If you’re not tied down geographically, and you can qualify for a visa that allows you to live in another country, is this something you would consider if it meant having a better quality of life?

There are expats in almost every country, and if your services or products allow you to earn a strong currency like the US dollar, British pound or the Euro whilst living in a country with a weaker currency you could come out way in front!

Not to mention all the unique travel opportunities this brings by basing yourself in a new region of the world.

The Golden Mountain
That one time we lived and worked in Bangkok and travelled a lot.

Read More: 5 things to consider when living abroad

Our podcasts share how we’ve lived in 5 countries and made travel a priority

  1. Episode 1: Solo Travel and Working Abroad before we met
  2. Episode 2: Our 5 year honeymoon living and traveling the world
  3. Episode 3: The Dark times and Birth of the girls and travel blog
  4. Episode 4: Embracing Family Travel and our 18 month Australian road trip
  5. Episode 5: Getting a green card and traveling the US (our dream realized)

4. Pay off those pesky credits cards in full each month

I know, this is never a popular topic, but honestly it seems like the one thing that causes most people financial hardship are credit cards!

Not everyone has a mortgage, not everyone owns a car, and not everyone has kids, but most people have a credit card. And after personally accumulating $30,000 in credit card debt I’m familiar with the dark hole you can dig yourself into.

Credit cards aren’t all bad – if you have self-discipline and know how to manage your money – some even help you accumulate points towards travel and when booking tours or accommodation with a credit card you have a level of consumer protection.

BUT, if you don’t use credit cards wisely then accumulating those benefits will be offset by paying too much interest on your balance each month!

For example, there’s been times in our life when we didn’t pay off the balance in full each month and our interest fee was well over $400 – which is a lot more than a coffee per day. So that became our focus!

We automated our accounts so that we paid off the balance in full every month avoiding high-interest payments. This is the best way to take away the worry and angst. Set it and forget it.

If you have to use a credit card to pay for necessities, you MUST commit to paying off the balance in full each month otherwise you will start drowning in debt.

We want to reduce our liability footprint as much as we can. We now only have a business credit card. We don’t want the luxury of ignoring our budget and purchasing ability because we have the security of a personal credit card.

5. Pay off your credit card debt

A few years ago we found ourselves using credit to pay off other credit – a recipe for disaster –  but eventually we woke up to ourselves and paid off $30,000 in credit card debt.

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, consider these questions:

  1. Which credit card has the highest interest rates?
  2. Which credit card has the smallest debt?

Optimally, the one with the smallest debt will have the highest interest rate. It’s important to tackle the highest interest rate cards first as they’re the ones you’ll be getting charged the most money for the debt on it. The less you give to the bank the better.

But, if you have a huge debt on that card it might not be the best for your mindset to pay that one off first. You might feel so overwhelmed by it that victory seems far away, so you give up. In this case, it’s probably best to go with paying off the card with the smallest debt first.

That way you get some wins quicker and build the momentum and confidence to pay off the higher amounts.

Read more – 5 tips to get out of debt so you can travel more

6. Trim your insurance premiums

I hate paying insurance premiums as much as anyone, unfortunately, they are a necessary evil.

But maybe it’s time to re-examine your health, auto, life, and any other insurance policies you have to see if you can bundle for a better deal on your premium and benefits.

We currently don’t own a vehicle so we have that one off the table, but many people, especially families, own more than one vehicle. Can you switch insurance companies so you save?

I have life insurance and disability insurance via my superannuation policy but I know those premiums can rise over time and I’m researching options. Do you have the best available for your circumstances?

By shopping around and evaluating your benefits and coverage amounts you may be able to save a significant amount on your premiums each year.

7. Reduce car expenses

Besides being a depreciating asset, having an automobile is like having a hole in a bucket. They constantly leak money through fuel, insurance, repayments, and repairs!

And most people buy a more expensive car than necessary. As long as your car is safe, fuel efficient, reliable, and practical that’s the main thing.

We’ve been traveling consistently since 2002, well before we started travel blogging and many people often asked how we afforded it. One reason was instead of buying a brand new $40,000 car we bought a $10,000 car. Having a fancy new car wasn’t a priority, travel was!

Do you really need a $400-$500 car repayment each month? The lower the purchase price, the lower your loan payments are. The less fancy, the less your insurance premium.

Buy a car you can actually afford, not for looks. Having champagne taste on a beer budget when it comes to vehicles will leave you with a constant hangover!

Simply buying second hand instead of new can save you a lot more than giving up your daily coffee.

8. Live without a car

We’ve been living without a car for 10 months now. We live in a location where we can walk to all the necessities of life: school, shops, banks, the beach, parks, cafes etc. Living without a car has been liberating, not to mention the health benefits of all the short walks we do.

If we need to go further we jump on public transport. On the odd occasion we need a car for a few days, we hire one.

Do you live in a major city where you can walk to most things or use cheap public transport? This could save you a bundle.

Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia
We walk everywhere on the Gold Coast

9. Manage your credit score

Probably the least sexy topic of all but one that can impact your life in a big way – especially for you guys living in the States.

I’m not going to say I’m an expert on the topic of credit scores, but we did live in the US for four years and I know how much the credit rating system impacts your life. Because of our weak credit history, we had to put down an extra $800 just to get a cell phone plan. And our rental bonds were huge!

A poor credit score in the US can cost you tens of thousands over the years in increased interest rates on loans and insurance costs which I’m sure would set you back much more than your coffee habit. Instead of giving up your $4 daily latte focus on a much bigger win and seek expert help and fix your credit!

I know fixing your credit is a pain in the ass, but not as much as “just scraping by” each month!

Read more – My blogger friend Michelle has a helpful post on improving your credit score.

10. Luxury vs. Needs

You don’t need as much as you think to have a great life. Your life will feel less cluttered, which will free up even more energy in order to attract more money to you.

Would you prefer your life to be full of memories or full of stuff?

Ditch the $500 Coach handbag, the expensive shiny car, and the fancy restaurants you walk out of still hungry.

Often we choose to spend more on these luxury items because we want to raise the perceived value of ourselves in other people’s eyes. You’ll be far more attractive and inspiring to others if you have a life of enriching memories instead of a new outfit every day.

“Most people spend money they don’t have, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t even like”

Start living on a needs basis, not a want. I’ve been wearing the same Billabong jacket for 10 years, lol.

Read More: 19 life hacks for luxury living

11. Educate yourself

I don’t think it’s ever too early to learn about managing and investing money.

They should be teaching us this stuff in high school instead of algebra and Pythagoras’s theorem – which I’ve used once in my life in my former construction job when pitching a roof.

But there’s nothing stopping you from self-education. We’re always looking for ways to learn about managing money and taking control over our lives.

Recently we’ve been learning about the best bank accounts to funnel our money through for business and personal use, which credit cards are best for our needs, ways to put money away for our kids that will grow by the power of compounding interest, the best way to structure our superannuation accounts, and how to invest in the stock market.

We listen to podcasts and subscribe to online blogs like the Barefoot investor.

Books we’ve enjoyed recently include Tony Robbin’s Master the Game, Ramit Sethi’s I will teach you to be rich, and Esther & Jerry Hicks Money, and the Law of Attraction.

We’ve been on a journey for the past couple of years repairing our relationship with money.

Caz even created her course the 30 Day Money Cleanse to guide people like you to reach their own conclusions of what money means and to better understand its role in your life.

12. Automate your savings

You’ve heard this a million times before but pay yourself first! Don’t just read about it, act on it. After paying down bad debt, savings should be your priority.

Set up an automatic transfer that deducts 10% (or higher) of your wage each week and have it transferred into your travel savings account (a high-interest account online).

If all your money is easily accessible and sitting in your everyday spending account the temptation is always there to spend it.

It’s a lot easier to keep track of your savings if you have them separate from your spending money. If you don’t touch or see it you won’t miss it – trust me.

Say you earn $800 per week and you put away 10%, that’s $320 per month. Now we’re getting somewhere.

13. Set savings goals

Just like you would for buying a house or a car, decide how much you need for travel then set goals and time frames to accomplish them.

Start short term. Set a particular date for accomplishing shorter-term goals, and make sure the goal is attainable within that time period. Figure out how much you need to save per week or per pay check.

  • First save for your airfare.
  • Then accommodation.
  • Then spending money.

14. Make travel a priority

Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia
Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia

If you want more travel in your life you have to make it a priority. It’s that simple!

Fix those bigger issues draining your finances and no more wasting money on things that do not bring value into your life – get clear on what it is you want.

If you find you have a wardrobe full of designer clothes never worn, or a garage full of unused toys, then you’re not clear on your purpose. We don’t have a lot of stuff, but we sure have a lot of memories.

We totally get how difficult it is to save money for travel and pay down debt, especially if you have children and are living paycheck-to-paycheck, or you have student loans.

We’ve suffered through losing our home and massive credit card debt. We’ve sacrificed a lot in the way of possessions in exchange of something that never fades, or breaks, or becomes outdated.

And remember, nothing changes if nothing changes!

What changes can you make that will reduce your outgoings by more than $120 a month (a coffee per day) so you can save money for travel?

31 thoughts on “Don’t Give Up Your Daily Coffee To Effectively Save Money for Travel”

    1. What is your secret to going 10 years without coffee?? Yeah, it all helps, but $1,500 doesn’t really get you far as a family of four. I’d rather focus on ways to create $20K, $30K, $50k per year in extra disposable income.

      Now if we didn’t drink all the alcohol we’ve consumed over the past 10 years I’m sure we’d have some extra cash. But we enjoy a drink as well, especially when traveling, and especially at sunset, and I’m not giving that up either 🙂

  1. Craig, I stumbled on your blog and signed up yesterday. We are traveling Thailand in December with our kids and doing research hit your site. I love the life you and Caz have created. Lisa and myself have now been married 21 years and have two daughters in College. We have lived this life you write about and I can attest you are spot on. Great job mate. We also are normal people that don’t come from any money, and had to earn it and figure it out. Alas we will take care of the parents/grandparents, but it won’t slow us down on our dreams in future. We are now planning a full year of traveling, just me and Lisa this time… And will launch in 12-24 months. We are excited for this next phase. Your financial advise is accurate. Without being to cheeky if people don’t take the track or road so many buy into in this life anything is possible. We started planning our dreams in our 20’s and so much of it was playing great defense with money, but also living along the way.. Different track equals different results. Part of our year long trip will include a couple months in Australia to see friends. Living in Seattle coffee is very important to me… Maybe we can enjoy a cup and compare sometime. Nice work you guys.

    Cheers, Curt

    1. Hey Curt. Glad you stumbled on our site. Sounds like we have a lot in common and yeah, coffee in Seattle and anywhere for that matter would be great. All the best with your travel plans, they sound awesome!!

  2. Love this! There are so many things that can have a huge impact on a person’s budget. I’m all about finding ways to make extra money to afford travel 🙂

    1. Hi Michelle, totally. And glad you’re the expert on fixing credit scores and thanks for writing that post that I linked to in this one. That stuff just wrecks my head!!

  3. Love this post! I esp love #7. We just took our third trip to Australia (from Ohio, USA) and everyone would say, “Oh that’s the trip of a lifetime, I could never afford that!” I wanted to say, “Have you seen my 2005 minivan and my 1200 sq foot house?” Ha! It’s all behavior- if you want to do something, you’ll figure out a way. I’ve never read any of the financial books that you recommended, I will have to check them out.

    1. Yeah, no need to go ridiculous with car purchases. Yep, it’s all about priorities. Some people spend money on their wardrobe, I’ve been wearing the same Billabong jacket for 10 years lol.

      Yes those are some good books, worth a read.

  4. Great, practical advice! I think the best point here is making travel a priority — not the car, not the house, not the next thing you “just have to have.” One thought I’d add to the car advice is to become a member of a car share if that’s an option in your city. Best thing my husband and I have ever done. We don’t feel deprived of having a car when we need one, but it’s cheaper (and less hassle) than owning one.

  5. Loved this post! I’m a bit behind on the money cleanse but it’s been an eye-opener regarding my attitude and beliefs about money! Can’t even go into some of the aha moments and what’s already manifested (not so much immediate cash but man the future prospects are developing significantly!!). A lot more work to do before our trip but it’s so damn exciting!

  6. So true Craig about choosing your housing carefully. I know when I purchased my first few properties I chose less luxurious homes, thereby not maxing out my budget so that I could still live the lifestyle I wanted – which was a yearly overseas trip.
    However I do think not splurging on drinking big every weekend or buying the absolute latest fashion on technology gizmos will save you huge $$$ in the long term. Plus set up a separate bank account for travel savings.

  7. Regarding the car, yes, now I don’t really use my car, as I could use train and Uber to commute, so I don’t need to pay the parking ticket that becomes more expensive now. I also don’t really buy things that I don’t really need, but I do spend more on going to the coffee shop or restaurants, as I could make a review and post it on my blog haha! 😉

  8. Love this! Especially #14. That’s probably the most key tip on this list because, no matter what you do, if you don’t prioritize travel, it’s just not going to happen. #10 is also one I’ve been practicing. I try to buy the least amount of new clothes as possible, I don’t get my nails done, don’t have super expensive car payment, etc. etc. etc.

    1. Yeah, if you want to get better at something whether it’s travel, sport, music, whatever, you’ve got to make it a priority.

  9. I think I would never be able give up my daily coffee for any trip. I am glad that you agree on keeping that pleasure in our daily routine. Thanks for giving great advices other than giving up our addiction. 🙂

  10. Mahee Ferlini

    Those are some big changes to make, but the return is massive so I suppose it’s worth it!

  11. My husband and I make travel a priority over “things,” such as new furniture, etc. But we don’t give up good coffee or wine, the simple pleasures that make each day enjoyable. And I have to agree, Australia has the best coffee we have ever tasted!

  12. I stopped following you because of snide comments I’ve and heard on snap chat that I have found offensive. I popped back in to have another look and what do read? If you are “going through a mid-life crisis” and planning a never-ending sabbatical this post isn’t for you. How can you not think that is offensive? I am 49 and planning an extended break that has nothing to do with a crisis and everything to do with enjoying life. This is only one example of thoughtless comments from this blog that show what you truly think.

    1. Hi Audrey,

      I’m really confused. It would have been great for you to contact us personally via email because accusing us of being offensive in a public space in the manner you have chosen is essentially just as rude and offensive.

      I can slightly see how the mid-life crises can be taken as offensive, but I don’t believe Craig meant it in this way and I think we all perceive things based upon our own beliefs and way of looking at the world. I’m not sure why you’d be offended by mid-life crisis unless you feel it’s an issue for you. I myself often feel like I’m going through a mid-life crisis and have indeed wanted to pack my bags and take off for an extended trip. I wouldn’t get offended by anybody saying this to me however. It’s something I laugh about quite often with friends. Again, it’s a choice. I choose not to be offended. In regards to us making thoughtless comments. It’s not the case at all. We think carefully about what we chose to write, but we are still going to write from our perspective and share our opinion and lifestyle. Some people will see that as us sharing our opinion and lifestyle and nothing more, others will interpret that as us making snide comments. Who’s right and who’s wrong? If we were to think about every single person and how they’ll interpret it (and please remember we have over 300,000 visitors to this blog a month) then we’d never write anything. That’s a lot of people to worry about unknowingly offending and words are always interpreted by an individual’s perspective. Trying to balance that would send me totally crazy. Wouldn’t you agree?

      There are thousands of things I can interpret daily as offensive through the words that others say, but why would I do that? It would just upset my day and I know that really people don’t say things to be intentionally offensive to anyone. They just say things. If I do get upset, I generally look as to why – usually I find there’s something around what they said that is bothering me in my own life. Which is fantastic because then it highlights for me my struggles and what I can then go on work on.

      I’m totally confused about the Snapchat thing. I find our snaps quite boring as generally I’m showing my obsession with smoothies, cooking healthy cakes with my daughters, or snaps of our beautiful Burleigh beach. Then when we travel we share our travel experiences in region. Whatever we share is our lifestyle that we love. We don’t talk about other people, or judge or criticise anyone, nor make snide comments. So if you find our lifestyle offensive, then I think perhaps you are judging us and somehow taking it personally rather than the other way around.

      We’re certainly not for everyone Audrey. And we’re happy for those who don’t like us to leave. We’d much rather that than have people stay in a place that makes them happy or feel compelled to come back and check on us to verify we’re awful people and then leave a comment telling us so on our public home.

      Thanks and all the best for your upcoming travels. Have a wonderful time.

  13. I would find it hard to give up my coffee! You make some great suggestions here. No 10 hits the nail on the head! When we cut back on the things we think we need and focus on our actual needs we found we had more time and money that can be spent traveling.

  14. Hi Craig!

    Thanks for the tips! I always say that you have to observe the cost/benefit ration of every financial decision you make. If taking a cup of coffee will make you more aware and productive in the afternoon than just do it! Additionally, if we apply Pareto’s Law we will find out that 80% of our overall savings will come from 20% of our actions.

    Cheers!
    Christian

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