Brett and I are going to be mostly homebodies for the next couple of years with only local travel and trips planned. There’s one exception coming up though: a big family travel event is in the works for December 2023. We’ve already began to save for that.
While Brett and I have always maintained a separate travel account that we feed each month, we’re more inclined to save more when we have a specific goal and know how much we need to save to achieve that goal. We have a general idea right now of what next year’s Big Event will cost, and we have 15 months to pull together the funds to cover our expenses.
This time around we won’t have the option of selling any of our things to help plump up our savings. Instead, we will need to be steadfast in adding as much as possible, whenever possible, to our account each month in order to reach our goal, as well as look for new and different ways to save, even if they’re tiny. Just like small expenses here and there can quickly deplete the cash in your wallet, or the funds in your checkbook, small amounts of savings continually added to a balance can increase it rather quickly.
None of the little things we already do may seem like much, but they add up surprisingly quickly and have always helped us reach our travel goals:
- We create a budget each month and stick to it! Many of our monthly spending amounts are set but with others we try whenever we can to spend less than what we budget, and put what’s left over into our travel savings. If we find a sustainable extra amount of leftover income in our budget over a few months we use it to increase the travel savings allotment. Brett and I practice zero balance budgeting; that is, every penny of our monthly income is “spent” each month which includes paying our savings. If we notice there’s money “left over” for a few months, we increase the regular allotment. Because the cost of living in Tennessee has been so much lower than it was in Hawaii, we’ve been able to increase our travel savings allotment by $100/month.
- It’s almost like a game to us to find ways to spend less on groceries and less on our utilities. We food shop with a list and pay cash when we shop because the cash left over is always more than a credit card reward. We are near fanatical about saving energy and water. We do laundry only once a week (three loads), in cold water and using the precise fill level in the washer. We take five-minute showers. We cook with the air fryer or slow cooker whenever possible versus using the full oven or stovetop. We only use our A/C when absolutely necessary, and this winter our thermostat will be set at 60 degrees, like we did back in Portland, and we’ll bundle up.
- We never spend any $1 bills or change we receive. Readers are probably sick of hearing about this by now, but we’ve been doing this for years and it really does add up. We’ve saved $53.67 in change and $1 bills just since we left Massachusetts on August 6, and hope to reach at least $100 by the end of the year. Next year we plan to start saving $5 bills as well to kick things up a bit. Any windfalls we receive, such as refunds or gifts, also go into our travel account. Annual cost-of-living increases, or at least most of them, go toward bumping up our travel savings allotment as well. The tiny income I receive from the blog goes directly to savings.
- We aim for at least one no-drive day per week. This small effort provides at least 52 days in a year, more than seven weeks, that we’re not burning gasoline or putting wear and tear on our car. If regular gasoline expenses fall under what we budget each month, the difference goes into our travel savings.
- We find ways not to spend. While we have budgeted a weekly treat for our granddaughter, Brett and I don’t stop for coffee; we make it at home. We eat out infrequently, and only if planned in advance. We buy clothing or shoes when necessary, the same for household goods. We don’t pay for streaming services – we share accounts with members of our family. We don’t buy books; we use the library. None of these things put money directly into our savings, but they do make a difference in our bottom line every month and what does go into our account. The items we do spend on are always included in our monthly budget.
Since we left Hawaii in early May, these little savings we’ve made have added and additional $890 to our travel account on top of the regular allotment (we were actually able to save while we were in Mexico, a change from our usual travel destinations). We’re ready to kick things up next year though, and know we can do better and save more. We’re already very motivated, especially whenever we think of the fabulous family travel event we’ll get to experience, financed in part by all these little ways we save.