‘So, LT and I recently booked flights to take us to the great state of Texas for our annual road trip (despite the fact that we said we were giving it a miss this year but, what can I say? the temptation was too much…)’
Ever since the flights were scheduled, I’ve been all about saving as much as I can so that I can lessen the burden on my finances. These are my top tips for saving money for your travels:
I am a coffee fiend. Seriously, there are few days when I drink less than 10 cups and although that’s an expensive habit in itself, I’m not entirely sure my mental health could cope without it, so let’s not even pretend I’ll giving up that particular vice. What I *am* doing is cutting out the cups of coffee I buy. I work as a freelancer on a Friday and this involves me travelling around North Wales and beyond so, it’s not uncommon for me to grab a coffee at Costa or Starbucks. Instead of parting with £3.25 for a reasonably small skinny vanilla latte, I now fill up my cute little thermos cup (purchased for £1.99 in Home Bargains, no less) and buy flavoured coffee (‘We Are Littles’ is my current favourite) in French Vanilla or Coconut and take it with me on the road. The coffee isn’t cheap (around £2.59 for a 50g jar), but it smells amazing and a full jar is still cheaper than a single serving from one of the leading brands. Instead of spending £5-6 each Friday on take out, I now shell out £2.59 for the month.
Stop Throwing Stuff Out
I’d like to preface this by saying, obviously, if something’s nasty, then totally get rid of it. If it’s not, however, you can find a use for it. I was recently sent some shampoo and, although it smells divine, it rather made me look like I hadn’t washed my hair for a week, so there’s no way I could use it. What I would usually do is give it away or throw it out. What I’ve done instead is use it as shower gel. That way, I’m making use of it and won’t need to buy any shower gel this month. I can’t tell you the volume of stuff that gets thrown in the cupboard in my bathroom when I suddenly find a New Favourite Thing. It’s full of half empty bottles and jars that I’ve never quite gotten round to finishing. I’ve now imposed a moratorium on buying ANY kind of cosmetics or hair care products until I use up what I already have. I reckon I’ll be saving money until around 2057.
In the same vein as the cosmetic ban, I’ve gone through my regular subscriptions to see where I can make savings. I have countless books that I buy on a £7.99 per month subscription from Audible; programmes I never get round to watching on Amazon Prime, and music I download and then never listen to on Apple Music. This adds up to around £27 each month which, granted, isn’t a big deal, but it is often a waste of money. I have 100+ books in my Audible library and I’ve listened to 75% of them. The remainder are either partially listened to or not even started, so I’ve suspended my membership until I finish every last one. This in itself will take me a few months, so that’s a saving right there. For reasons unknown, I seem to be frightened to cancel my Amazon Prime membership despite the fact that I scroll through it CONSTANTLY and still never seem to find something that catches my attention. After a few minutes of this, I’m back watching videos of Doug the Pug on Facebook, which are totally free (I love you, Doug). I’m not suggesting that you give up your TV package and go watch dog videos*, but do you have an alternative that doesn’t cost as much? Like that box set you got for Christmas in 2012, for example? Or do what I did recently and delve into the world of audio and video Podcasts. They’re completely free and come in a dizzying array of topics.
*I am absolutely suggesting you do this.
Now, I know this isn’t for everyone, but if you haven’t at least tried it, you simply must. The dresses, shoes, scarves, books, and countless other gems that I’ve purchased in my local stores in Dolgellau would blow your mind. My closet is full of Warehouse, Next and FCUK dresses; I have knee high suede boots from Laura Ashley; heels from Office, and scarves with *actual* dogs on them. No joke. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always find something l like, but when I do, it costs me a fraction of what it would be to purchase it first hand. Also, I find I’ve changed my style a little and moved away from the things I previously bought in every different colour from Dorothy Perkins, and that can’t possibly be a bad thing.
Some people are slaves to specific brands and even I have a few that I tend to stick to religiously (Fairy Liquid and Lloyd Grossman sauces). While buying cheaper products can often be a false economy, it isn’t always the case. For example, many of the major brands produce supermarket’s own branded items, which are less expensive. Don’t automatically pick up a big brand item thinking that it’s better quality; it’s often not. This can be a bit hit or miss sometimes, but when you find something that you frequently use for a fraction of the price you usually pay, it’s a pretty good feeling. And the savings can mount up. I have a Nespresso machine at home that costs me an arm and a leg to keep fed with all the capsules it likes munching, but recently found me a website which offers Nespresso compatible pods for about 3/4 of the normal price. I can’t say I’ve noticed a difference in the taste, but I’ve certainly noticed a difference in the amount that disappears from my bank account. If you physically don’t think you can do without your favourite brands, why not mix and match? Keep buying your favourite Fairy Liquid and mix it up with a cheaper brand (honestly, that W5 in Lidl that you keep walking past is really good). This way, you’re still using it, but it’ll last you longer and you’re saving at the same time.
Use Your Freezer:
Your freezer should never be the place where Things Go To Die. Your freezer should be a haven for the extra portions of Spag Bol you made when you batch cooked last weekend, or the place where you keep that block of ginger that would simply have gone off if you’d left it in the fridge like you usually do. Use it wisely, people. Made a little too much dinner last night? Freeze the leftovers and eat it for lunch next week. Haven’t quite gotten round to eating all that fresh fruit you bought on Monday? Wash and freeze the berries and use them for baking or smoothies. Do you make soup with fresh veggies? Stop it and buy them frozen; they’ll keep longer and cost you less. If you mulch your soup up with an immersion, what difference does it make anyway? Don’t have a use for that half loaf of bread? Yep…. stick in the freezer and use if for toast at the weekend. We tend to throw out SO much food, but a bit of smart thinking will go a long way to saving you money in the long run.
I’m the world’s worst at picking up crap that I don’t need from the checkout at every supermarket I’ve ever visited. There’s not a new chocolate or snack product on the market that I haven’t bought and, the ironic thing is, I don’t even eat them myself. I generally bring them home for Les. While I know he loves an unexpected bar of chocolate on a Tuesday night, it doesn’t really help my wallet any. The amount of money I shell out over the month on little purchases here and there really adds up. Neither of us needs it and my bank balance could live without it.
As an introvert, saving for my travels is my favourite EVER excuse for not leaving the house. And while that’s easy for me, I understand that some people actually *like* going out socialising (WTF?). If you’re trying to save pennies, though, this can be a very easy and very lucrative endeavour. For my trip to Texas (since spending money going out isn’t exactly an issue for me), I’ve promised to swear off having fun in my house, too. By this I mean that my lovely cottage, with its selection of wines, tequilas and gins, is a strictly no alcohol area on the run up to our next adventure. And since it’s not uncommon for me to buy 1 or 2 bottles of wine during the week (plus the associated checkout purchases that seem to accompany them) the potential saving for me is, well…it’s sizeable. Let’s not work out how much it actually amounts to or I’ll start to feel bad about my wine intake and that’s not really the purpose of this post… If you’re someone who regularly spends £50, £100, or more on a single night out, the potential saving could be substantial. If you feel you can’t possibly live without the company of people for a month or two, invite them round for drinks and snacks – it’s still a huge saving on going out.
What do you do to save money for your travels?