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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Saving for Travel + Tax Refund Getaways

Happy Tax Day, everyone. Okay, collective groan. I hear it. Everyone hates tax time, but not me, because "refunds, man"! It's money you didn't have before and can use in something fun...hopefully, because hone repairs and student loans suck and  the only thing that sucks more is coming up with the money to pay for them.
Use your tax refund as a vacation fund
If you don't have an official vacation fund started (or you do and want to add a good chunk to it,) you can look forward to using your refund as a "savings account" of sorts. You pay into it all year, so it's basically money you weren't able to spend. Unfortunately, you don't really know how much you're going to get back, but many times it stays pretty consistent if you're doing the same thing year after year. Use your hard earned money to take that vacation you deserve.

Gotta use your tax refund for other stuff? I feel ya. I do too. Here are some other ways to put money in your trip jar:
Pay Yourself Automatically
Set up a savings account specifically for your vacations (make sure it's separate from other household savings) and have a set amount go there every paycheck. If you can afford $100 twice a month, you'll have saved $2400 by the end of the year. Woot! If you don't see it, then you'll be amazed how fast it adds up.

Toss Your Loose Change (into the piggy bank)
Anytime you pay cash somewhere, you're likely to get change back. Don't spend it. Put it in your piggy bank at home or in that cubby hole you throw coins in your car. Before your trip, take it to the bank. You'll be surprised how much extra spending money you've accrued in pennies and dimes.

Sell Things You Don't Need
There's bound to be a bunch of things in your house (like your closet) that you don't need or use. Sell it on consignment, eBay, Craig's List or at a yard sale. (For tips on throwing a great sale, check out this post from Mavis on One Hundred Dollars a Month). Maybe you have some designer duds that don't fit anymore or kids clothes they've outgrown. Make room for new stuff, or just clear the clutter, and make some money at the same time. It's a win-win.

Do Odd Jobs
Got some spare time on your hands? I know, like all those hours you're not spending at work or doing lame stuff like work and sleeping, right? Well, maybe you have some extra time somewhere. Maybe the neighbor needs help in the garden or your friends would like your expertise at card-making. Sell your time. Find strangers who need your help on sites like TaskRabbit and turn your spare time into spare money.

Use Coupons 
You're probably already using coupons at the grocery store (because you're thrifty, after all) but are you using coupons for other things? I find there are coupons or promo codes for the majority of things you use and buy if you do a quick web search. Retailmenot is a great site to find online and offline coupons and codes. Download the app to your phone so you can use it everywhere and show it at the register. No more clipping coupons for places like Michael's, so you save paper, too.

Use Daily Deal Sites
We have a normal routine where we have breakfast or lunch on the weekends and go to a movie. Groupon, LivingSocial and Amazon Local saves us tons with daily deals. You save 50-90% off regular prices (sometimes more), so your outings can be cheaper and your savings can go straight into your vacation fund. We also use daily deal sites to save when we travel. Sign up for notifications about three months before your trip and look for things you wanted to do and places to eat at. Boom! You're traveling even more budgety.

Get Cash Back
You're going to buy stuff. You just are. Ebates lets you save money on your online purchases by offering you a set amount of cash back on participating retailers, including a lot of travel sites. If you're going to spend money, you might as well save as much as possible. Ebates sends you cash back payments four times a year, either by check or deposited to your Paypal account. It's super easy, and those payments can be used as spending money on your trips. Want to know more about how it works? I wrote a whole post on it!

Make Your Own Coffee
I put this one last, because it's a small thing that makes a big impact. If you're someone who frequents the coffee house, be it Starbucks, Peet's or the local mom and pop, those $3-5 cappuccinos and lattes can add up quickly, even if you just stop in once a week. Instead of spending $20+ a month on frothy drinks, invest in an espresso machine, French press, a Kuerig or a Nespresso. In the long run, it'll save you a ton on caffeinated beverages and you can put those dollars you don't spend into your change jar. Either that, or ask everyone for coffee cards for Christmas and your birthday and make them last. (As for pastries, those can cost even more. Trader Joe's has some great ones in the freezer section. You just have to bake them yourself. A pack of four can cost the same as one to go with your coffee.)

Look at all those ways you can make and save money for your vacations. If you make traveling a priority, you'll figure out how to pay for it instead of making excuses about how you can't afford it. Even if you can't fly to France, you can make your way around the country to cool places you've never been before. Remember, my best friend and her husband have five kids and still figure out how to go on trips, with just one salary. Learn some of her secrets here and here.

How do you save money for your travels?

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