Following My Own Advice

Looks like someone else has a change/$1 bill jar to help save for travel!

Although both domestic and international travel is currently out of picture, this down time is the perfect time to save for future travel. Although we have come up with a travel plan for 2022, we have no way of knowing how much the total cost for that might be, with air fares the wild card. So, we are on a mission to save as much as we can between now and then, and have set some annual goals for saving.

Back in 2017 I posted this list of ways to save for travel. They’re all still good advice, and a reminder that if you want to travel, make saving for travel a priority. Here’s how we’re doing now (in blue):

  1. Set up a dedicated travel savings account, and start a monthly allotment to that account. How much you can deposit into your travel account each month will depend on your regular operating budget, but even a small monthly amount can add up quickly. Currently the amount we add to the account every month is very small, but we still automatically put away a set amount every month for future travel. The amount we can add to the account will be adjusted as income that is currently going for other things (for example, YaYu’s tuition) is freed up.
  2. See if you can save on regular budget categories, and then put the difference into your travel savings. For example, if your monthly food budget is $700, see if you can find ways to save and get it down to $650, or $600. At the end of the month, put the difference into  your savings. This has been difficult to do so far because of YaYu being with us, and because of increases in the cost of food. Our food budget should drop off though at the end of this month, and although we’re keeping the amount the same, we should have some extra every month to go into savings.
  3. Do a “no-spend” week, or month, and deposit all usual discretionary spending amounts into your savings. If you stop and pick up a coffee every morning, don’t for one week. Same for going out for lunch while you’re at work, or eating out or picking up dinner. Plan ahead, keep track of what you would have spent on those things, and then at the end of the week, or month, deposit that amount into your savings. This isn’t to make yourself miserable while you save, but rather to see how much you can add to your savings. Good advice, but we have next to no discretionary spending right now.
  4. Save your change and $1 bills. Brett and I put away around $700 – $800 per year doing this, although one year we saved over $1000. We try to use cash as much as possible, and when we get coins back we immediately put them aside. Same for $1 bills. When we use our debit card, we always round up to the nearest $5 if possible (i.e. if the amount owed is $11.17, we round up to $15, and $3.83 goes into savings). This might require some effort at first to remember to do it, but after a while it becomes a habit. Once we have $25 in $1 bills, or are able to roll our change, off it goes to the travel savings account. We also used to occasionally set aside $5 bills – it’s not as easy to do as with $1 bills, but once in a while we feel we can. Twenty of those though and we’ve got another $100 saved. We are currently only saving $1 bills and change right now, but we are not shopping much these days so are putting away less than we used to. We have been using our debit card when we food shop versus cash, but starting this month we’ll go back to cash as that is where the dollar bills and change come from. We take it for deposit when we have at least $50 saved. I also just read an idea of once a month or so, tuck away $10 or $20 right when you get your cash, and pretend as if you never had it. We might give that try.
  5. Recognize needs versus wants. This also takes some training and effort, but start asking yourself if you really need that new t-shirt, or burrito from Chipotle, or whatever from IKEA, or whether you’d rather enjoy coffee and a croissant in Paris or a week on the beach in Hawai’i. Same for your food shopping – go with a list and stick to it. There’s nothing wrong with looking, but visualizing your saving goals while you look can help keep you more focused on what you need versus what you merely want. This practice might not immediately put money into your savings account, except that you’ll probably have more money left at the end of the month that can be saved for travel. We’ve got this down.
  6. Dedicate all refunds, rebates and gifts to your travel savings. We get a nice rebate every year from Costco and from our insurance company – both of those go right into our travel savings. Same for our annual tax refund. Unfortunately, no one sends us money for our birthdays any more :-(. We don’t get many of these rebates now, but they still all go into the travel savings account. We had reverted to regular membership at Costco before we started traveling in 2018, but went back to the Executive level a couple of months ago for the rebate as we buy all our gas at Costco and shop there at least three times a month.
  7. Get a travel rewards credit card. If you’re good about paying off your credit card every month, this is a great way to earn either miles that will help reduce the cost of air travel, or cash back that can go into your travel account. Brett and I use our credit card to pay recurring monthly expenses like our cable bill and phone bill, and then pay it off every month. Our card rewards can be used to either book travel or receive a check – we always take the check. We don’t use the card to pay for groceries because we’ve found that using cash and setting aside the change and $1 bills we get back is more than would be generated in rewards from the card. Warning: use reward cards carefully. Be sure pay off your credit card balance every month. You don’t want to end up with a huge credit card bill that you have to pay versus putting away money for your travel dreams. No changes here. 
  8. Sell things you don’t need or use any more. Take an inventory of your stuff every once in and while, and use Craigslist, eBay, Facebook or other sites to sell unused and unneeded items around your home, with the money you earn going straight to your travel savings. You can also become a savvy shopper at thrift stores or yard sales and find items that can be refurbished and resold online. Someone I know carefully bought high-end clothing brands at thrift and consignment stores and resold them for a profit on eBay, earning enough in a year to finance a trip to Europe. Someone else I know resold books that she picked up for a song at yard sales. Katy over at The Non-Consumer Advocate is in a master class when it comes to the resale game. We have nothing left to sell right now except for a rug that was in our shipment that doesn’t really fit anywhere in the apartment.
  9. Get a part-time job. I’m retired now, and have absolutely no interest in doing any part-time work, nor does Brett, but we’ve done this in the past. For example, the extra I made working as a substitute went into our savings that got us here to Hawai’i. Depending on how much time you have, or how motivated you are, a second gig can be anything from a couple of hours a week to a regular part-time position. Dedicate those earnings to your travel savings. There are no jobs on Kauai right now even if we did want to work.
  10. Be creative. Pick up change off the ground. Return bottles and cans for the deposit, if you can in your state. Clip coupons and put the money saved into your travel account. Use Swagbucks and earn $$ through PayPal. There are all sorts of small ways out there to add to your travel savings. It might not seem like a lot, but it all adds up. I am earning Swagbucks again to earn airlines gift cards for future travel, although I’m no where near as fanatic about it now as I was in the past. Otherwise, we still pick up change, and recycle bottles and cans (no more Diet Coke cans to go back though; these days it’s sparkling water cans).

Just as small amounts here and there can quickly drain your checking account, small amounts can also beef up your savings in a hurry. Our goal is to reach at least $13,000 in travel savings by September 2022, but as always, we aim to do better than that if we can. We have mapped out where the savings will be be coming from and when, but hopefully this will be enough, along with the airline gift cards I’m earning, to get us to and from YaYu’s graduation in the spring, and to Japan and on to England and back in the fall. Game on!


16 thoughts on “Following My Own Advice

    1. We’re going to give it our best shot. The wild card is going to be YaYu’s tuition next year – we’re putting away as much as possible now, but have no way of knowing now whether it will be enough. We’re very motivated though to accomplish this goal!


  1. Game on!
    Like you, we have been cashless since early March. We go back to cash next month. Our travel saving account will be used up in the trips for moving, but it is a habit, right? I still have my “other” fund going for all overflows and refunds.
    I’d love a lesson in eBay. The plan is only the most cherished moves with us. I forget the collections. Nothing very expensive, but needs an audience.
    Hard to believe my husband is 70. Get the house built, move and start traveling again is the plan from here for us. Maybe we will meet on the road.


    1. We were doing cash for a while, but were finding what we withdrew was never enough. Food shopping has been more expensive than we realized, especially with YaYu here – she likes to eat, and she likes meat! I think we will probably be able to knock off $100 or so per month while she’s back at school.

      I only used eBay back when we were getting ready to move over here, to sell a few unique and more valuable items. The art we didn’t bring along (some Japanese woodblock prints) we put up for auction, and did very well from that). Both eBay and the auction house took a cut, but we still did well.

      2022 will be the Return to Travel year for us. Nothing as major as we did before, but we’re still itching to go somewhere, mostly to Japan to see the grands.


  2. There’s nothing like a travel goal for motivation LOL!

    Would love to have a post on tips for earning Swagbucks.

    I’ve been selling casually on Ebay for years but have found recently that Poshmark is much better for selling name brand clothing.


    1. We are really motivated for this walking tour, and have already been talking about doing more if we accomplish it. There are so many areas of England and Ireland we would love to see.

      I do Swagbucks twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. I try and complete one survey and one search reward each time. I also do the daily poll (for one SB per day). My rule for surveys is none longer than 20 minutes although I usually shoot for 10-15 minutes, nothing lower than 50 SB unless there is nothing else available. I previously goaled myself with 50 SB or more per day but now that I’m doing it twice I’ve made that 100 per day. I have been having a VERY good week – I think I’m over 1000 SB! I’ve gotten lots of “big” surveys this week, which really helps. There are other ways to earn points, but these ones are easy. I usually work on SB in the evening while I’m watching TV, and in the morning while I have my coffee.


  3. You guys crack me up! My big goal for the future is to be able to go out for dinner again! LOL


  4. I hate to say this, but the way things are going 2022 may be too optimistic. But I understand why you are planning. I’m doing the same thing because It helps to think about where I’ll visit when this whole mess is over!


    1. We know that things may just not get better, but for now we are trying to be optimistic. The planning does help, and I’ve been having fun looking at walking tours all over the place.


    1. That was a interesting, but L-O-N-G article. I have mixed feelings about the situation with the Obamas. On one hand, I don’t begrudge them wanting to own a home in Hawaii, especially since it’s where President Obama was born and raised. Also, as a former President of the U.S. I don’t expect him to live in any sort of standard house, but in one big enough and somewhere safe. However, the seawall issues at the location do pose a problem, and for now think the council made a wise decision – let the current seawall exist until the original date, and then make a decision about whether to extend an allowance for a seawall or let it expire so the beach can be restored.

      By the way, even if there was a beach instead of a seawall, it would most likely be heavily policed. We had a beach house in San Clemente when Richard Nixon had his “Western White House” there – there was a long stretch of beach we were not allowed to walk on (there were guards on the beach and a boat patrolling off shore 24/7/365 – this was even after he resigned!


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