Saving is hard. I don’t care who you are or how much money you make (or don’t make), it’s a lot easier to spend than to save. Unfortunately, that mindset usually thwarts adventure and travel plans. Gas, airfare, rental cars, cabins, campsites, and food expenses are notoriously expensive. I’m definitely no Dave Ramsey, but I do have a few good habits, apps, and travel services to share that might help you get where you want to go.
Eat at home and use that coffee pot that’s using up counter space.
If you are constantly short on cash, take a quick look at your bank statement for the past month. Assess how much you spent on fast food and starbucks. Frightening isn’t it? OKay, now that you’ve wiped away the tears shed for dollars wasted, buy some peanut butter, bread, and a bag of coffee. Eating in, and making your own caffeine fix can save you upwards of $100 a month, easy.
YNAB - There are a ton of apps and online resources for creating a monthly budget. Many of my friends speak highly of YNAB (You Need a Budget). I believe there is a monthly fee involved, but it’s worth a look!
Mint - The mint app is a great free service that links your bank account to the app so that you can file all transactions into the appropriate sections in your budget.
Make your Own - Personally, I like creating a simple excel sheet that lists out all my income, expenses, and calculates everything for me. Sometimes a premade app or service doesn’t quite fit all my needs so I do it myself.
Acorns - This is a savings and investing app rolled into one. When you open an account, you link your checking account and acorns monitors your transaction. The main feature is that acorns takes your spare change from each transaction (say you spend 3.50, it takes 50 more cents) and puts the difference into an investing account. There is a slight risk, (it’s the stock market, duh!) but I loved using it. It saved me a ton of money and I was able to pull out cash at any time - though there is a three to five day waiting period since they have to sell stocks.
Digit - Digit has a similar method of savings but w/o investing your money. You link your checking account and digit starts learning how you spend. Then it begins taking money out of your checking and moving it to savings without you even noticing! You are able to tell the app to save more or less whenever you need and dictate special goals you’re saving for. I love this app due to its simple interface and how quickly you can withdraw money when needed.
Qapital - This is the only app mentioned that I haven’t personally used, but again, it’s a similar premise to the first two but sort of meshes them together. From what I understand, it creates a savings account and deposits your spare change from each checking account transaction. All three of these apps are a great way to save money in the background without much effort.
The last tips I’ll mention are some travel sites that can help you save money as you are actually booking your trip.
Kayak has a lot of great features that let you book your trip for the best price. It has a calendar feature that allows you to see if you there’s a chance prices will fall at a later date.
Southwest Airlines also has a calendar feature letting you find the cheapest flights during the month. This one has helped me a ton of times in my previous trip planning. And seriously, who can beat the two free checked bags? Southwest is forever a favorite.
There are also many budget airlines that have incredible deals on airfare as long as you don’t mind sacrificing a few comforts. Personally, I have only used Frontier and I actually had a wonderful experience. Some friends have had some travel issues with them but ultimately go to and from their destinations and in the process received some sweet perks that made up for any previous inconvenience. I’d encourage you to make sure you have some wiggle room in your schedule and maybe pack some extra ‘grace’ in your carry on just in case!
None of this stuff is new to you, I’m sure, but if you’re anything like me, it helps to be reminded of the little things that can help you save! Now, lock down your wallet, and get trip planning!