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?
- Reduce expenses
- Create more money
- Save more money
Today we are going to talk about reducing expenses!
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It’s about PRIORITIES and DESIRE
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.
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 My sacrifice has been materialistic possession for the exchange of something that never fades, or breaks, or becomes outdated and contributes to my personal growth.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
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
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
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
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
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?