BudgetThumb

First things first! It’s finally time to start using that savings account! Never heard of it? It’s that other account you get when you open a checking account and never put money into. Well the time has come! Set a tangible goal for your monthly savings and stick to it!

Here are 10 ways to cut back and determine attainable goals for yourself and get you that much closer to seeing the world!

1. Reconsider your ongoing household expenses

Do you really need cable? Could you turn the lights off if you aren’t in the room? Could you hand wash your dishes instead of running them through the dish washing machine? I cut out cable television three years ago and haven’t thought about it once since. What else could you live without? Consider what you would be giving up while you travel and start to cut those things out of your daily costs now. Instead of watching it on TV go out and live it!

Approximate monthly savings: $50

Sun “set” in Costa Rica vs Television “set” at home

2. You’re beautiful the way you are

Beauty services are EXPENSIVE! Hair styling, tanning, waxing, etc. Think about how much money you could save if you simply stuck to your natural hair color! This may not apply to all girls but I used to rack up the service expenses to maintain my mop. Now I stick to my natural blonde and let the sun do it’s job!

Approximate monthly savings: $70

Let your natural hair down!

3. Paint your own nails

Again, beauty services… say so long! Until you are in Thailand and a pedicure only costs $3 get over it. I know some girls say they can’t paint their own nails… I promise, practice makes perfect! Still not convinced? Ask a friend for help! I can buy a bottle of nail polish for 1/10 of the price of the service and it lasts me months.

Approximate monthly savings: $30

“Hand”made manicure… get it?

4. Reinvent that wardrobe

What goes around comes around… literally! Fashion trends repeat themselves so dig deep in that closet and you’ll be sure to find something. Bored of the same clothes? Have a friend come over and ask her to put together five outfits for you from your wardrobe. You’ll be surprised how different someone else might style the same clothes you wear the same way every time. It’s like getting a whole new wardrobe!

Approximate monthly savings: $50

“I have nothing to wear!” “SHUT UP!”

5. Sale does NOT mean shop!

I cannot stress the importance of this enough! Seriously though, don’t be deceived into thinking that a “good” sale can’t be passed up. It can. Only shop when you absolutely need to and if walking into a sale is a serious problem for you, like it is for me, avoid them! Don’t browse the racks, get in and get out. My best advice is that coupons are classy! When you really need something, use websites like www.RetailMeNot.com or browse the ads in the newspaper for discounts on things you need. Beware of websites like Groupon and LivingSocial from now on. They are amazing but I have a hard time resisting something that I absolutely do NOT need simply because it’s 50% off. AND it shows up every day in my inbox! Talk about temptation! Keep your eye on the prize and your money in your bank account!

Approximate monthly savings: $50

Might as well spell “SPEND”

6. Dining In

Don’t know how to cook? It’s time to start learning! In all honesty, nowadays, it’s sometimes cheaper to eat out. But here’s where my classy coupons come in handy! Be sure to browse grocery ads for weekly savings. If you’re only cooking for yourself I’ve found that it can be much more expensive, so stick to the basics and get creative. Plan out a menu for the week BEFORE you go shopping. One of my tricks to saving is sticking to the same meals with small twists every few days. The less variety I buy the less I waste.

Approximate monthly savings: $100

Get back in the kitchen!

7. Social Spending

I don’t suggest you cut off your social life but it’s time to make some changes. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is one of the most expensive mental conditions I’ve ever experienced. A new outfit for the weekend, going to the movies, going out to dinner, one drink leads to another, cab fare… weekends can literally wipe out your savings in one unforeseen swoop! I can’t even imagine what damage a date night does on the male bank account! Consider inviting friends over for wine or homemade cocktails or research local “free-tivities” in your city and get a group of friends together.

Approximate monthly savings: $100

BYOB! Bring the party back to your place!

8. Technology

This can be a hard one to get around. The computer dies, the camera is stolen, the iPhone screen shatters… what to do? There goes my savings! Especially if you’re even half the Apple snob I am! Here’s a tip that some people aren’t aware of when it comes to buying new tech gear. Ever heard of a little word called “refurbished?” I try to buy all of my tech gear refurbished. It comes just like new, from the manufacturer, with a warranty and usually at a dramatically discounted price. My iMac, Mac Powerbook and Canon PowerShot S95 are all refurbished and I couldn’t be happier!

I won’t include this in my monthly estimate, but, so you can get an idea of the price difference between new and refurbished, a Canon PowerShot S95 costs $399.99 new and $279.99 refurbished! That’s a $120 savings!

Buy Refurbished!!!

9. Name brand vs. Generic

I’m guessing that if you’re interested in budget travel and looking for ways to pinch your pennies you aren’t rocking Louboutins or Chanel out on the weekends. I’m not talking about designer vs. cheap! Consider that name brand Kleenex costs $.50 more than a generic brand tissue so you buy the name brand because it’s a small price to pay for a perceivably better product. If you do that with everything you buy it adds up! Even if it’s only an extra $5 for the better item… don’t do it! You need to change your mentality about the cost of goods vs perceived value and save any amount that you can whenever possible.

Approximate monthly savings: $40

Name brands want you to THINK they’re better than generic… don’t be fooled!

10. Sell it!

Have boxes of “junk” sitting in storage collecting dust? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Have a garage sale or list your stuff on eBay or Craigslist. It costs you nothing to make a little something and you could even cut the cost of a storage unit if you cleared out stuff you won’t ever use again.

Make that money!

Just using modest approximations for monthly savings I’ve demonstrated how you can easily cut back expenses of almost $500 a month or $6,000 a year! Not everyone spends that much and a lot of people spend a lot more, but consider that cutting back even $100 in expenses each month would save you $1200 a year.

So when people ask me how do I afford to travel so much it’s quite simple.

It’s how little I spend rather than how much I make.

We all have the ability to choose between spending our money on things like a new flat screen TV or experiences like a month in South America… and you know which I’d choose! If your expenses meet or exceed your earnings it’s hard to imagine taking time off from work to travel.

Start cutting back your unnecessary expenses and you’ll see that simplifying things makes life so much sweeter!

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Kiersten Rich

Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad. She began traveling the world after leaving her career in corporate finance to explore local culture, try new foods, experience international festivals and volunteer in developing countries.
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