It’s All Fun and Games Until You Have to Save Some Money

Dreaming about travel, thinking of places you want to travel, making plans, and making the actual trip are fun. But, actually getting someplace takes money, often lots of money. And, because we are not independently wealthy, making our travel dreams come true requires saving. And saving is work. It can fun work for some, but it’s still work, and takes determination and persistence.

We live on an adequate but not-very-big fixed income in one of the most expensive places in the country. We still have one child that we are helping with college expenses. However, we’ve always been able to find (sometimes creative) ways to save for travel without compromising other areas of our lives.

The big secret to our success? We make saving for travel a priority.

Last time we set off on a big adventure we needed to save a lot. Like over $30,000 a lot in order to upfront fund what we hoped would be at least three years of travel. We did it, but had the luxury of a little over two years to put that amount away. It wasn’t easy but we were persistent.

This time around we want to save at least $20,000 to get started on our next Big Adventure. We’ve put ourselves back in persistent mode again. We’re using the same playbook we used before and so far it’s going well. Here’s our game plan for reaching our our goal:

  • Not buying stuff. I can’t began to say how much we save by not spending. We used to be able to talk ourselves into buying just about anything, but these days we’ve become even more skilled at talking ourselves out of buying just about anything. It’s actually fairly easy because we don’t seem to need much these days.
  • Saving our change and $1 bills. We had been saving change and $1 bills for as long as I can remember and it does add up.
  • Saving credit card rewards. We don’t use our credit cards very much, and rewards we earn could be used toward plane ticket purchases, but for now we’re prefer to have what we do earn deposited into our savings account.
  • Earning Swagbucks. Earnings from Swagbucks this year and next will fund at least half of our airfare to Pennsylvania for YaYu’s graduation, and hopefully half of the cost of flying to Japan. That means more money will be staying in our travel account.
  • Gradually increasing our savings. We have a set amount automatically transferred from our income into a special travel account each month, and that amount will increase next year when we no longer have set aside anything to assist YaYu. Any cost of living increases in our social security and military retirement income next year and 2023 will also go into our travel savings as do any and all rebates, rewards, etc.
  • Selling all our stuff again. Before we depart in 2023 we will be doing some extreme downsizing – everything must go this time! While we put around 1,500 pounds into storage last time, this next time we plan to keep very, very little, just what can be mailed in flat-rate boxes to our daughters.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – William Hutchinson Murray

We have committed ourselves to reaching our goal, and the work has begun. We know we can do this! With dedication and a lot of hard work in the past we’ve paid off our debt, made our dream of retiring and moving to Hawai’i a reality, and saved enough to travel the world full time. We are facing this next saving challenge with the same commitment and determination – we can do this!


6 thoughts on “It’s All Fun and Games Until You Have to Save Some Money

    1. We get into a whole different mindset when it comes to saving for travel, but we are very committed. It will get easier next year when we’re not covering YaYu’s college expenses. I feel though that I’ve read absolutely every tip out there for saving, but I know there’s always one more.

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    1. Swagbucks is a loyalty and rewards program where you earn points (Swagbucks) that can be exchanged for gift cards and other prizes. It’s been around for a while and is totally legitimate. There are a zillion ways to earn, and some involve spending money, but I only do surveys, search, and play a card game to earn points. The $500 Delta cards cost 50,000 points which takes me around six months to earn because I earn slowly (250 points/day average).


  1. That quote near the bottom is wonderful and has surely been true in my life! I’ll learn a little bit more about him and then use this for a presentation next week, so really appreciate it!


    1. A professor sent me that quote back in 1996, when we thought the adoption of our oldest daughter was going to fall apart, and it has had a profound influence on my life and thinking ever since. It has helped me countless times to reflect on whether I am truly committed or not to a plan or idea, or if I am willing to commit.


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