Guest post from Sarah of Mom With A Map
Last year, our family spent roughly 100 nights away from home traveling! I’m often asked how we manage to do it, and my answer is very simple… we SAVE more in our day-to-day lives in order to SPEND more on travel.
Here are a few things that helped US save more so we could spend more on travel.
We Made a Monthly Budget:
This is the key to everything. We not only have a detailed monthly budget, but we stick to it!
I love the expression “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Being Type A, I thrive on a plan. My husband, on the other hand, thrives on spontaneity. Unfortunately, when it comes to a budget, the two personalities don’t mix.
We NEED to sit down each month to decide how we’re going to spend our money that month. I love Dave Ramsey’s philosophy of directing every dollar. Being consistent budgeters allows us to save money each month for travel.
We Plan Our Food:
Similar to our budget meetings, we also spend quite a bit of time planning our meals. This does NOT mean we sacrifice the quality of our meals. But it does allow us to carefully consider the food we bring into our home and eliminates a lot of waste.
I shop at multiple stores in order to get the best food at the best price. I also stock up when our staples are on sale. And (probably most importantly) food planning displaces the need for last minute meals out.
Of course, we still budget to eat out. However, it’s a much more controlled activity than just realizing we have nothing prepared for the next meal.
We Limit Our Children to One Sport Per Season:
For multiple reasons, our family has a strict 1-sport only per season policy.
Besides benefiting from a less congested schedule, we also save a lot of money. Sports and equipment adds up! Not to mention, with our travel schedule we typically end up missing a week or two of every season. It feels much less wasteful if we’re only participating in 1 activity.
We Shop Year-Round:
It might sound counterintuitive, but I shop year round.
Knowing our future needs helps me purchase items on a better deal. Rather than spending extra for items last minute, I plan ahead. For example, I buy a lot of our clothes during end of season sales. By sizing up and anticipating what my children will need the next year, I’m able to give them a new wardrobe at a fraction of the price.
Similarly, I’m always on the lookout for gift items. Whether it’s for my own children or others, I love stocking up when I see awesome prices.
I’ve found that purchasing last minute gifts often requires me to go over budget. By assessing our future needs and shopping year-round, I’m able to save our family quite a bit of money over the course of a year.
We Use Piggy Banks:
Speaking of gifts, my children get them at Christmas and birthdays. Other than that, they’re on their own for “wanted” purchases. Our family rule is that if a child wants something that isn’t on my list — whether it’s a new toy or a pack of gum at the grocery check out — they can purchase it with their own money.
Not only does this save our family considerable amounts of money, it also teaches our children budgeting, wants vs. needs, and to more carefully consider money spent.
We Watch Rates:
This is my least favorite practice to execute, but the one I feel the most satisfaction in when I’ve successfully made the call. I almost always contest rate increases on anything from a cell phone bill to doctor’s bills to insurance.
Often providers will increase rates without any warning. While it might not seem like much for one month, rate increases can really add up over the course of the year.
Most of the time I’ve found that a simple phone call can bring the rate right back down — sometimes even lower than we were paying prior to the increase! While the hassle is annoying, it’s a great way to save money each month.
For the most part, we “do-it-yourself” our home. Although we are not super handy by nature, we’ve found that YouTube can be extremely helpful when dealing with an issue.
Several times, we’ve replaced a small part for a fraction of the cost it would take to call in a professional. Likewise, my husband recently replaced a part on his car. It was a fix that cost $30 and took about 10 minutes. At the auto shop he was quoted $365 for the EXACT same solution.
We Use Loyalty Programs/Apps:
Like most families, even though we budget and work hard to save extra money for travel…we still spend money. And, dare I say, we even splurge from time to time!
For us, though, it’s important that even when splurging we are somehow saving money. By taking advantage of various loyalty programs (ex. punch cards at certain ice cream stores) or apps we put on our phone (Starbucks or Chick-fil-A) we are able to earn free treats every once in a while.
This might sound like a lot of work, but honestly, we didn’t begin implementing ALL of these things in our house at once. Start with one or two, and before you know it, you’ll have saved enough for a small vacation.
And nothing motivates more than success!
Sarah is the author and creator of Mom With A Map, and is dedicated to documenting the tips and adventures of traveling with family. She wants to show her kids the world, and along the way, encourage other families to do the same. She loves giving people insight and ideas for travel, and showcasing her passion for family travel.
We also love to travel. Being empty nesters makes it easier, even though we both do still work full time. We do something that seems to surprise our friends and family. We both agreed years ago, no presents for each other. We have a little extra in our budget and can usually get what we need without it being a gift. So instead of anniversary, birthday, Christmas and Valentine’s Day presents, we save that money to go into our travel fund. I would rather spend time with my husband and family than get a present. Spending time with all of them is worth more to me than any present.
We prioritize travel over things too. We were able to plan and save to take a 10 month, around the world backpacking trip with our children mostly by living below our means, on one income, for years. I sometimes read or hear people ask how families can afford to travel….we are incredibly fortunate to have had the ability to save and travel but it’s also been very much a matter of prioritizing travel experiences over things (like new or multiple cars, buying lots of toys for our kids, etc).
Mary Ensley says
We are also a family that prioritizes travel over monthly expenditures and lifestyles choices. We live in El Paso so many National Parks are within striking distance. We visited friends in Flagstaff twice, tagged along to a conference with the hubby in San Diego, saw the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monument. We did a couple of overnight trips to camp or snow sled in the nearby mountains as well. Then my husband and I went to Italy and Germany in the fall where we were able to stay with friends. We love to travel and are thankful for the many opportunities we have to do so. Also, if you haven’t used Google flights, it has become my favorite air travel website. We were able to snag tickets to Europe thanks to a price watch feature for $400 from Atlanta (we were already in Georgia before heading to Europe).