Closing the Books on This Year’s Travel Savings

It’s the end of the year, and we’re getting ready to close out the books in preparation for the new year. This includes totaling up our travel savings for the year.

It turns out we had a very good year! May I have a drumroll please? While our original goal for 2017 was $7000, our total travel savings for the year was . . . $9, 295!

Here’s how that big number breaks down:

  • Regular savings yielded $8913.91, which was made up of a regular monthly allotment to our savings account, all refunds and rebates received throughout the year, my jury duty pay, and the change/$1 savings. The change/$1 bill savings for the year totaled $890.50.
  • The end-of-year cash back reward total from our charge card is $181.09.
  • I earned $500 in Southwest Airlines gift cards from Swagbucks.

We’re splurging on a stay at the Waipouli Beach Resort before we take off on the Big Adventure

We will continue to aggressively save in 2018, following the same path as this year, but will also be selling various household items throughout the year, as well as holding a moving sale before we leave and selling our car. I will also be adding to our savings from my inheritance. Even though we should end up with a nice cushion we have no plans to go more “upscale” as we make reservations and travel. Our only planned splurge is the condo where we will stay for our last few weeks on Kaua’i. We will have enough extra though to consider adding in one or two side trips to Germany and Switzerland that were unaffordable before.

So . . . here’s to saving, and travel in 2018!

14 thoughts on “Closing the Books on This Year’s Travel Savings

  1. Shannon says:

    Congrats on surpassing the savings goal! That’s an incredible achievement!

    Do you have any tips on Swagbucks? I do the daily poll and watch the videos while I exercise but it seems like they’re worth less points than they used to be?

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    • Laura says:

      We were quite surprised by (and pleased with) the total for the year – I keep reminding myself that just like nickel and dime stuff can drain your pockets in a hurry, the small stuff can also add up in a hurry too!

      Do you do nCrave? That’s where I pick up the most Swagbucks, and Sponsored Videos (under the Watch section) can also add up quickly. I run the nCrave videos on Brett’s old computer, and then click through the Sponsored Videos while I watch TV – some of them will allow you to do them over and over, and the points can add up quickly. I do four searches a day, almost never do surveys unless they’re less than 10 minutes, and rarely do the videos anymore since they reduced the points. The biggest thing I have going for me is that a new Swagbucks day starts at 10:00 p.m. here in Hawai’i, so I am able to earn a lot before I go to bed every day.

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      • Shannon says:

        Thanks for the tip! I’ll give ncrave another try, the last time I hit that button, it said there were no videos for me so maybe I just hit the wrong routine. 😀

        You’re totally right about it adding up! Better half is off this week so I’m dragging him around doing things I need him present for – carrying the other end of the new storm door, making a transfer to his IRA for the year (seriously, bank, I don’t want any money back, I want to take money from an account we’re both on and put it into an account we’re both on but you need his permission, grrr!, sorry, tangent there) and between the two parking lots alone, I found 22 cents. Only two dimes and two nickles but that was four coins we didn’t have before we left the house! Ironically, I found the two dimes in different places in the bank parking lot so I don’t know what that says. LOL!
        Of course, the storm door total came out to a lot more than 22 cents but hopefully will save us some money in electricity in the long run, even in SC!

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    • Laura says:

      We were surprised by the total! Our change/$1 bill savings isn’t the best we’ve ever done (we earned over $1000 one year), but it’s up there.

      We’re thinking about whether to start putting more on the charge card this year, but if we use cash the change we get back is often more than the rewards we’d earn so we need to weigh the two and see where using the card would do the most good.

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  2. Tamara / My Retirement Project says:

    Congratulations on your travel savings, but even more impressive to me, congratulations on grabbing life by the horns and planning this amazing adventure! I do think you two are a testament to literally anything in life being achievable if one is willing to make sacrifices elsewhere to make it happen.

    I laugh because we just added a trip to Japan into our 2018 travel plans, and I’m feeling quite adventurous as a result. But even with adding this trip to what has already been planned out for next year, we are still in slow motion compared to you two!

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    • Laura says:

      Thanks, Tamara! Part of our plan is to live off of our regular income while we travel, with all of our lodging and transportation costs paid for upfront out of savings, so that’s the main reason we’re so aggressive about saving now. It’s kind of amazing how much you can put away, even on a fixed income, if you set your mind to it.

      I read your itinerary for Japan – you are seeing everything!! So exciting! Fall is the loveliest time to visit Japan, IMO (even better than seeing the cherry blossoms), but there will be crowds everywhere you go, so be prepared. Fall is a favorite time for the Japanese to travel as well.

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  3. Natalie says:

    Congrats on your travel savings which will enable you to add more wonderful destinations and experiences to your travel repertoire! Here’s to saving and travel in 2018!

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    • Laura says:

      We’ll be staying in Strasbourg, France, for four weeks, and it’s only a three hour train ride to Switzerland, and less time into Western Germany (Baden-Baden, for example), so we’re going to fit in a couple of side trips while we’re in Strasbourg – probably a day trip or two to Germany, and maybe two nights in Switzerland.

      I’ll be looking forward to hearing about where you’re heading to next year!

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    • Laura says:

      Brett is especially excited about visiting both countries – he visited many countries when he was in the navy, but never got to Germany or Switzerland. I want to see the Alps!

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  4. Libby says:

    Awesome job on the savings front! I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to travel along vicariously!

    Thanks for the swagbucks tips also.

    Happy New Year 🙂

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    • Laura says:

      Happy New Year, Libby! This is going to be a BIG year for us, but we’re hoping it’s a good one for all. We’re doubling down on the savings this year – fingers are crossed!

      Swagbucks has been very, very good to me but I’m cutting back this month. Can’t say I’m burned out with it, but I feel like I need to step back for a while. I don’t think I can ever give it up though – I love those gift cards too much!

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