‘I love to travel, but I also like to save money while I’m doing it. When I book a trip, I try to cut back and these are the things I cut back on…’
I am a coffee fiend. Seriously, there are few days when I drink less than 10 cups. Although it’s an expensive habit in itself, I’m not entirely sure my mental health could cope without it. Therefore, I’m not even going to pretend I’ll be giving it up. What I *am* doing is cutting out the cups of coffee I buy. I work as a freelancer on Fridays and this involves a lot of travelling. It’s not uncommon for me to grab a coffee at Costa or Starbucks.
Instead of spending £3.25 on a small skinny vanilla latte, I now fill up my cute little Thermos (purchased for £1.99 in Home Bargains, no less) and buy flavoured instant coffee and take it with me. The coffee isn’t cheap (around £2.59 for a 50g jar), but it smells amazing and it’s still cheaper than a single serving from Starbucks. Instead of spending £5-6 each Friday on take out, I now shell out £2.59 for a 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 made my hair rather greasy. 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 body wash.
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 have. I reckon I’ll be saving money until around 2057.
I’ve recently gone through my regular subscriptions to see where I can make save money. I have a monthly subscription to Audible (£7.99), I never find anything to watch Amazon Prime (£7.99), and very rarely watch NOW TV (also £7.99). I have a pile of books on Audible that I’ve never listened to, so I’ve just cancelled my monthly payment until I’ve finished them all. I’ve now cancelled Amazon and Now TV as I scroll through them constantly and never seem to find something I want to watch.
I now have one subscription (to Netlfix) as I do actually watch that. To be honest, a lot of the time I end up watching videos of Doug the Pug on Facebook, which are free anyway (I love you, Doug). I’m not suggesting that you give up your all your TV packages and go watch dog videos*, but do you have a cheaper alternative? Why not watch that box set you got for Christmas in 2012? 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. YouTube is also full of full length movies and TV shows, which I cast from my iPad to the bedroom TV free of charge.
*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 I’ve purchased in my local stores 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. I’ve finally moved away buying one item in every different colour from Dorothy Perkins. And that can’t possibly be a bad thing.
Some people are slaves to specific brands. I even 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 branded items, which are less expensive. Don’t automatically pick up a big brand item thinking it’s better quality. 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 quickly mount up.
I have a Nespresso machine at home and it costs me a fortune to keep fed with the capsules it likes munching, but recently found a website which offers compatible pods for 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 money 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. It should also be the place you keep that block of ginger that would have gone off if you’d left it in the fridge. The freezer is your friend. Use it wisely, people.
Made a little too much dinner? 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 I don’t need from the checkout at every supermarket I’ve ever visited. There’s not a new chocolate bar or snack product I haven’t bought and, ironically, I don’t even eat them myself. I take 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. 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 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 upcoming trip to Madrid (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 cottage is a strictly no alcohol area. 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… 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 money saving would be substantial. If you feel you can’t possibly live without the company of people for a month or two, invite them round – it’s still a huge way to save money on going out.
What do you do to save money for your travels?