30 Ways to Reduce Living Expenses (to have more money for travel)

How are you feeling after pay day?

Elated at the amount you have left for fun after you’ve put away your savings (for travel I hope) and paid off your bills, or slowly dying on the inside because you can’t even pay your bills and your travel dreams have just slipped off the edge of the earth.

I’m really hoping it is the former, but if it is the later don’t fear, you can always rewrite the story.

We love to talk about money on here because we know its what you most need to travel more. Whether that be regular weekend trips away, your annual 2-3 week vacation, or something more long-term, it’s our daily passion to help you do that.

So let’s dive in.

What are the 3 keys to creating more money?


  1. Reduce expenses
  2. Create more money
  3. Save more money

Today we are going to talk about reducing expenses!

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If you make travel a top priority in your life, and it’s something you absolutely desire, you’ll find a way to cut back on unnecessary spending and channel all your finances and energy into the travel direction.

We totally get how difficult it is to save money 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. But we eventually rewrote the story.

Wayne Dyer quote

I don’t have a lot of stuff, but I have a lot of memories. My sacrifice has been materialistic possession for the exchange of something that never fades, or breaks, or becomes outdated and contributes to my personal growth.

Get clear on what it is you want from life.

If you find you have a wardrobe full of clothes never worn, or a garage full of unused toys then you are not clear on what you want from life or your purpose.

Take an honest look at your spending habits.

Go over your last three months of bank statements and you should see patterns. You’ll probably be surprised at the number of things you are subscribed to and how many ways you waste money.

Now let’s make some changes

30 Ways to Reduce Expenses at Home

1. Reduce your bills

Make a list of all your bills. How can you reduce them?

A few tips:

  • Reduce your power, water, and gas bills.
  • Put your appliances on standby mode or unplug all unused devices.
  • Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature.
  • Use a fan instead of AC.
  • Hang your clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer.
  • Use energy efficient bulbs and appliances.
  • Take quicker showers and install a water saving shower head.
  • Can you pay upfront and receive a discount? I recently shaved $30 off a bill by paying for 3 months upfront. YAY.
  • Re-examine your health, auto and life insurance policies.
  • Is there a cheaper mobile phone plan?
  • If you have a mobile and landline lose one!
  • Can you join plans together i.e. family plan?
  • Do you really need caller id, and call waiting?
  • Bundle Your Services – Have Internet, phone and cable service with one provider.
  • As a long term customer, can you ask for a discount?

2. Reduce your accommodation costs

  • Can you move to a less expensive apartment or house?
  • Can you refinance your mortgage?
  • Can you rent out a spare room for extra cash?

3. Reduce bank and interest fees

  • Manage your credit – A poor credit score in the US costs tens of thousands over the years in increased interest rates and insurance costs.
  • Avoid overdraft fees.
  • Negotiate a better interest rate on your credit card.
  • Transfer your credit card balance to a lower credit card.
  • Consolidate loans.
  • Don’t use non-bank ATM machines that charge a fee.
  • In Australia consider a Citibank Plus account for travel.
  • In the USA consider a Charles Schwab account for travel.
  • For everyday banking in Australia, consider ING Direct. They have no ATM or account fees and you get cashback on paywave purchases under $100. We’ve switched all our personal banking over to them and LOVE them. If you join up here and use this code CVT085 You’ll get $75 (disclaimer: I’ll get $75 too, but I’m only recommending them because they’ll save you money and are the best)

4. 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.

  • Can you downsize your car?
  • Can you do without a car?
  • Buy second hand instead of new.
  • Do you have an opportunity to share a ride to and from work?
  • Have the correct tire pressure and save on fuel.
  • Remove excess weight and save fuel.
  • Driving sensibly at a steady speed saves fuel.
  • Make a list before you go to the store so you don’t have to make additional trips.
  • Walk or cycle instead of driving.
  • Use public transport.
  • If you live in a big city and only need a car occasionally, hire, borrow or car share.

5. Reduce food expenses

  • I cut almost $50 a week off my grocery bill by changing where I shop. I’d drive 90 minutes once a month to buy our staple supplies from Costco every two months. I then shopped at Aldi for my weekly supplies, where, some items are half the price of other supermarkets. When I lived near a farmer’s market, I bought fresh produce for super cheap prices. (Extra points for contributing to the local economy.)
  • Do a weekly meal plan and then make a shopping list from that and stick to it. This will stop impulse buying. Or if you have a wide variety of recipes you can make, then always shop to the specials. You should be able to create meals no matter if it’s capsicum or pumpkin on sale.
  • Never shop when you’re hungry!

6. Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions

How to choose your travel destinations

Magazines are expensive and mostly filled with advertisements and uninspired writing. Plus they gather the dust and mess up the coffee table.

I was so tempted to buy an entrepreneur type magazine the other day because Ryan Gosling was on the cover. After a quick flick through, I realised there was nothing in the magazine that would really change my life, no matter how HOT Ryan looked, so I walked away.

Borrow books from the library, read the articles online, and follow blogs.

Instead of reading magazines, use that time for dreaming, planning, and taking action.

7. Cancel cable TV

Do you really need 100+ channels?

Cable TV is an example of humanity’s desire to stuff our lives with useless crap. If I’m ever near cable I spend the entire time channel surfing as I cannot find a decent program to watch.

Stick to free TV. Rent DVDs instead. If there is something you are dying to watch, go visit a friend with a tub of popcorn or head down to the pub to watch that must see football game.

8. Park your policies

If you’re going on a long-term trip and you’re leaving a car behind, contact your auto insurance provider and give them a date to put your policy into “park” mode, which will greatly reduce your premiums on a vehicle that’s not being driven.

If leaving a mobile phone at home, contact your carrier to see if they can put your plan into a suspended mode.

9. Ditch the car and use public transport

woman holding a child on a train

One thing we loved about living in big cities like London, Bangkok and Dublin was that we did not need a car. Cars are expensive. Not only do you have to buy it, you have to insure it, maintain it, and fill it with fuel.

When we were saving for our big five-year honeymoon, we sold my car and kept Craig’s. It meant I had to ride a bike to the train station every morning while Craig drove to work.

We’d pay cash for our vehicles so that we never had the crippling monthly financed payment of the luxury vehicle. The savings went into our travel account.

Save your money, help the environment, and lose the car for public transport or better yet, your feet. This will help you get in shape for your travels physically as well as financially.

Read More: Living without a car

No car payments + no insurance + no high fuel costs = growing bank balance + improved fitness + environmental love.

10. Save on fuel

Hopefully, you are not using your car as much, but if you have to, how can you save on fuel? We often bought our fuel at Costco in the States as they offered special member prices. (There will be queues)

We can get fuel coupons here in Australia and mid-week is always cheaper. We often only save a couple of bucks, but that’s a beer or two in Asia remember!

Downsize your car. Do you really need that BIG SUV?

11. Stop eating out

This is a really hard for those who have traveled long-term through Asia and Africa where it’s cheap to eat out for three meals a day. You get used to the freedom of having someone cook and clean for you.

Substitute eating out for picnics at the park or barbecues at home with your mates. Make eating at home fun by trying new recipes and drinking cheap, supermarket wine while you cook and pump out your favourite Spotify playlist.

12. Buy nonperishable items in bulk

We used to make a quarterly trip to Costco in Sydney and buy in bulk. These bulk items cost less per and last a long time. Think of all of the non-perishables in your home and source them at a discount. And don’t just think food, but cleaning products, and even discount clothes.

13. Buy generic goods

More and more products these days are available in a store-brand or generic form for significantly less money. Look at the ingredients in name-brand products and if they’re the same, go with the generic one.

It’s the same with clothes. Quite often you’re just paying for the label.

14. Cancel the gym membership

I know it hurts. I used to go to the gym twice a day. I loved aerobic classes, but when my desire for travel became so intense I could no longer justify the expense.

There are plenty of trails to run along in your own neighborhood. I also have a lot of exercise DVD’s to use when I want something a little different.

15. Take your lunch to work

Leftovers rock! Cook up large batches of food for your dinner, freeze and take leftovers to work. You’ll make all your colleagues jealous and you’ll save so much money and wastage. Spending $15-20 per day on lunches adds up.

If you don’t have leftovers, take a sandwich and fruit and a slice of cake you baked yourself for the week because you are amazing.

16. Cut out the daily cups of coffee

Coffee at the Lorne Beach Pavillion - Great Ocean Road, Australia

This is by far our biggest weakness. We drink far too much take away coffee, but in Australia, it is so good it’s hard to resist. We cut back in a lot of other areas so I don’t feel too guilty, but I do know we need to pull it up a lot.

We had a coffee machine at home, which was dangerous at first because we upped the amount we were drinking, but then it became a hassle with making and cleaning it. It’s a good way to save if you have a coffee addiction. (We even did a barista course to learn how to make a decent cup!)

Making your coffee at home instead of purchasing your $3 or $7 latte at the coffee shop will save you money.

Read More: On the flip side, we wrote a post about why you don’t have to give up your daily coffee to save for travel (just to confuse you 😉 )

17. Cut back on luxuries like brand name clothes and cocktails

Look for happy hours or drink at home before going out and then just top up once you are out.

There is nothing wrong with shopping at second-hand stores either.

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.

18. Reduce childcare costs

Paying for childcare can add up, especially if you live in Australia where the cost keeps rising.

What options are available to you? Is there something less expensive in your area? Do you live near grandparents who are able to assist with part-time child care as an opportunity to bond with their grandchildren?

Maybe you have a reliable friend who could play that role?

19. Reduce your child’s extra-curricular activities

Some parents never stop running their kids around seven days a week. Not only does it cost money for them to participate, but think of all the extra fuel, uniform and food costs.

Does your child really need to do and play everything? What activities is your child sincerely interested in? Focus on those and cut back on the rest.

20. Borrow clothes

My sister recently sent boxes of clothes to my Mums to put in storage. I was in need of a new winter wardrobe so instead of letting them sit amongst the dust and moth balls, I raided it.

Granted she has a much smaller bum and torso than me, but there were a few things that saved me from hundreds of dollars spent at the clothes shop. (I just have to explain to her about the hole I busted out in the bum of a pair of her jeans LOL)

21. Leave the ATM card at home

When out partying, take a fixed amount of cash and leave the ATM card at home. That way, once you’ve spent the money, you won’t be tempted to take out more.

22. Reduce storage costs

Ask family and friends to adopt or store any possessions. That’s what we continue to do…thanks mum and dad!

Only do this after you have culled all your useless crap. Hold on to only the things you can’t possibly live without and no, it is not that teddy your first boyfriend gave to you in high school who you haven’t seen in 20 years, nor care to.

RULE: If you’ve not used it in the past 6-12 months you probably never will. Be brutal with letting go.

23. Keep an eye on specials in your local stores

I have quite a selection of recipes I know and love. I know the ingredients I need and the staples or ingredients I always use.

Whenever I see these on special, I buy a large supply of them. I know I’ll use them and it saves me so much money – often 50%.

24. Grow your own fruit and veg

My sister currently has a veggie garden cranking. I’m jealous as she has an abundant supply of lemons, oranges, chilies, rosemary, cucumbers, tomatoes and more. All for the price of a few seeds.

When we lived in Queensland our townhouse was overflowing with rosemary, basil and chili. I LOVED walking out to the garden and picking off a few leaves for my cooking. Free and no wastage.

25. Shop at end of year financial sales

We often save hundreds of dollars on items we need by waiting to shop at the end of financial year.

26. Forget the movies

If you ever go to the movies in Australia, you’ll have a heart attack. You can’t go for under $50 for two people.

Either go on the cheap days or watch the movie at home. What about your friends? What movies do they have that you watch together? Or just hire them out from the video store or online. Think Netflix.

27. Host dinner parties

people sitting at a dining table

Staying home from the bars and restaurants doesn’t have to mean you are boring. Host dinner parties instead. Invite friends over, have everyone bring a different dish or bottle of wine, have a BBQ, wine tastings, game nights, movie screenings, or music nights.

Swap houses once per month. Laugh, socialize and save money.

Another option instead of going out to dinner at restaurants, just go out for coffee and cake instead. Moderation is the key.

28. Visit your local library

Borrow books for free, read free magazines and newspapers and get free internet access. Libraries are the bomb!

Cut down on your reading expenses at the library and trade books with friends, or use Paperback Swap the largest online book swapping community in the world.

29. Cut back on alcohol

Drinking every weekend will put a dent in your budget. Either stop drinking altogether or drink more at home.

30. Get really strict the closer to departure

Once you’ve saved your money and your ready for your trip, start culling back your costs even more. For a few months before leaving, limit your purchases to only the very essential items. Lay low, and maybe even move back in with mum and dad.

What two strategies for reducing expenses at home are you going to implement today?

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30 Ways to Reduce Living Expenses so you have more money for TRAVEL

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44 thoughts on “30 Ways to Reduce Living Expenses (to have more money for travel)”

      1. Jessica van Dop DeJesus

        Yep! Totally agree! Sometimes I have friends and family “wonder” how I travel so much. At the end of the day, I don’t have as much stuff as they do, live in a smaller space, and cook a lot at home 🙂

  1. My fav tips are the eating lunch from home which saves a FORTUNE! Garage Sales are excellent as long as you can bear to sacrifice things. My daughter has been selling hundreds of books at $1 each. It soon adds up 🙂 When I first wanted to travel I was very strict on spending (helped that I still lived at home of course). Most Aussies with an income who really want to travel can achieve their dream. How lucky are we that S.E. Asia is so close and so affordable.

  2. Good stuff. I found out I do a lot of these already in my austere life. I use the money I save to donate to kids though.

    Another tip for saving money: Get yourself a motorcycle. While lot of fun to ride, it is cheaper on all fronts (fuel, oil, insurance, parts and repairs). It is quite safe if your aim is to be safe so don’t give me that reason for not getting one.

    A useful skill to acquire which will save money in the long run is basic car maintenance and repairs, like oil changes, brake replacement, tire rotation, lubrication. With shop labor as high as $85 per hour in the USA, annually you might save around $500 per car and get to use premium products instead of the cheap parts the shops use. Of course, if you get bundle coupons for any of these services, it might be a better deal.

  3. Great to stumble upon this article! We love to travel and have recently welcomed a new baby, which means expenses are on the rise with another mouth to feed, and that sort of prices for baby’s stuff – good grief!
    Thanks for the wake-up-call to reassess our needs vs. our wants. Travelling is a good way to build memories in this lifetime and from this time, we are bring our little one to create those wonderful memories! 🙂


    1. Congrats! My hubby and I have 5 kids,and before anyone asks, no we are not rich but very middle class lol. But following a lot of these means we can afford them and do some of the things we want. I loved the bit about cutting extra curricular it gives us so much more time together. Just remember by the time ur Lil one reaches one you will ask urself why did people say I needed all that baby stuff? Nursing saves about $1000 a yr on formula for 1 kid and cloth diapers another $1200 for 1 kid. All they need are diapers food about 10 outfits and you. Maybe a few toys 😉 good luck to you! 🙂

  4. Good tips! It can be so hard to cut down on your material POSSESSIONS and luxuries, especially when you get used to having them, but it is so worth it!

  5. I am so happy to be following most of it. 🙂 I think I am pretty good at saving now. There was a time when I spent a great deal on clothes and shoes, but not anymore. I can do anything to save to be able to afford a life of travel. Thanks for inspiration.

  6. Great post Craig! In particular, I really liked the part about reducing bills.

    Having just lived with two other girls for the last 6-months I was shocked at how my bills went from being a happy $50 – $100 (water and/or electricity) to being $600+ dollars per quarter.
    I questioned what we were doing differently that when my male housemate lived with me and it was shocking when I realised that one of the girls would shower in the morning and have a bath each evening, they both only used dryers because air-drying clothes was something they weren’t familiar with and how whenever we were at home every light in the house was left on instead of, as I do, using a small lamp to light up the lounge or turning off main lights when you don’t need them.

    I don’t drink a lot of coffee but was given a Nespresso machine as a birthday gift. It has to be one of the best presents any one has given me because now coffees, when I do feel like drinking one, cost just over $1 instead of the cafe prices between $3-$5!!

    One of the best things my Nan has – given in the local newspaper quite a few years back during one of Australia’s droughts – was a time turner aimed at getting people to have quicker showers.
    My Nan never asked me to use it when I was at her house but, being a kid, I wanted to play with it and loved racing the falling blue sand. Even as an adult – I’m 24 – I love using it!
    It’s a fun way to teach kids (or big kids 😉 ) to be water-wise and save dollars at the same time.

    I know it’s not saving money but if you ever do need to buy new appliances or clothes consider getting them from places like Myer where, if you are a member of their rewards program, you’ll receive a $20 voucher every few months if you buy something from their store (can’t remember the exact minimum spend).

    If you do insist on shopping at Coles use FlyBuy’s and use the coupons they send out every few months – I often use them to buy cleaning products or the such. Same with Woolworths, collect the frequent flyer points (and make sure you have 2x point option selected instead of points + fuel discount!) . While they’re not cash they can still act as money towards your next travel adventure at home or abroad! 🙂

  7. “Use a fan instead of AC.” THIS WILL NEVER WORK on hot summer days! If you understand anything about thermodynamics, then you will understand that using a fan will not work very well at all when it is hot outside. Utilizing fans can bring the TEMPERATURE down a little, and in some cases, to a comfortable level. If it’s comfortable outside, in the shade with a breeze, then if you have a powerful enough fan, and if you keep radiant heat from the sun out of your home, and if you install the fan in such a way to create a vacuum that pulls air through your house, then you can be comfortable. But if it’s hot and humid out and even shade isn’t enough (In other words, if it’s summer), then the only way to stay comfortable is to remove the heat from your home, and the only way to do that is via some type of a/c system.

    1. Fan has worked well for me when I travelled around the tropics. We’re in sweltering heat every day at the moment and the fan is definitely helping. That’s all I need to know. It’s up to each person’s tolerance levels I suppose

  8. Great advice. I’ve called our phone and cable companies a few months ago and were able to negotiate to lower Both bills, which has been a savings of $70 a month.

    Love the new website!


  9. Some very good tips and very true. Mostly I didn’t really have about 75% of that list, but oh man owning a car was super expensive! So was subscribing the magazines, which is a shame because I loved Sight & Sound and The Week when I was in the UK. Ahhh.

  10. Great tips! I already do most of those things, but one thing I am guilty of is putting my little boy in lots of activities. I justify it because we don’t pay for child care. 🙂 Eating out is another weakness… especially since we just moved to Melbourne and everything is JUST SO TASTY!

  11. This is a great list for anyone trying to cut back on expenses whether for travel or just to save more money. I would also add that one does not need to update their cell phone or laptop every time a certain company comes out with a new gadget. I wait to upgrade until there is a substantial gain for me with the new technology.

    I cut out cable TV 11 years ago and have’t missed it! I can rent movies from my library – I always have a book or two on loan as well.

    As for alcohol I haven’t necessarily cut back on consumption but I cut back on cost by purchasing 6 bottles at a time in order to get the 10% bulk discount 🙂

  12. These are things that i have done for years & on a very modest single income i have manage two 6-8 week European trips in 10 years. Not back packing! People waste so much money, because they are lazy. They can’t be bothered shopping around, being organised, planning, driving down the shops when they could walk. Not owning a car has save me ten’s of thousands in my adult life.
    I also don’t allow myself to hold on to more that $1000 debit. Credit is the biggest trap. if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
    This summer I decided not to purchase any new clothes. As a costume designer I have made a pledge, if it isn’t in my fabric & pattern stash to make, I don’t need it.

  13. Scott @ VacationCounts

    I’m impressed you came up with 30 ideas to save money so you can have more vacations. It looks like you could have made it to 50 if you tried 🙂

    I always recommend trying to ditch cable TV. How much can you really watch each month? In the US you can receive the local stations over the air for free. Plus video streaming and pay-per-view with Amazon, iTunes, or Google Play is much much more economical.

    Another way to save money for travel purposes is to leverage your benefits at work. I just wrote up the 10 Google Employee Perks that do just that. You don’t have to work for Google to take advantage as most companies offer at least a few of these benefts. For example you talk about cutting out coffee. Many employers offer free or subsidized coffee which is a reasonable trade-off. Bring your own flavored coffee syrups if you need to make it taste better 😉


  14. Your post is a great reminder of how we can save on little things that all add up – We live by most of the steps you have listed – rarely get take away food etc.. My hubby is also great at fixing old electronics stuff such as laptops and tv’s – and sells them on Ebay which brings the much needed extra cash! Loving all your insta pics of Broome looks amazing

  15. Sally@Toddlers on tour

    My tip are:
    1. don’t spend what you don’t have. Credit Card interest is a killer.
    2. Re-think those interest free loans, pauing cash is way cheaper.

  16. Great! I was happy to see a lots of things that I hav already done! Yahoo.
    I have never thought I could afford to travel,but now you’ve got me thinking I should start dreaming of a place to go, and save to make my dream come true. Thank you!!!!!

  17. The Educational Tourist

    Great tips! Always looking for more ways to travel!

    Thanks for posting,
    Natalie, The Educational Tourist

  18. I’m totally in this situation in this moment and I’m thinking about saving money for a trip. Therefore I liked your article very much 😀 thanks for that and greetings from the little St. Leonhard.

  19. This is a joke – we have to live like this in South Africa just to get to the end of the month, the economy is such a mess. Saving for travel? Haha, I wish.

  20. Great minds think alike, that’s all I have to say. Check out my blog when you have the time, I write a lot about money saving for travelers and expatriates, and there’s some striking resemblance in the way we view things. Your site is 10 times more comprehensive than my new blog, and I hope to get even a fraction of your following and authority in the field 🙂 Take care!

  21. Hi.
    You have a lovely and very informative blog. I am not sure if you already have added this to your blog or not but it would be helpful to know the best ways to keep fit while travelling. Sometimes working out becomes a challenge and with so many options and variety it gets a little confusing. It would be of great help to read about how you stay fit.

    Thank you.

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