The beginning of December means that it is now only 4 months to our planned departure date and new lives as nomadic travelers! It also means that it’s time to seriously buckle down and save as much money as possible. We’ve fallen off the wagon recently, starting with our Hawaii trip. While the trip itself wasn’t too bad thanks to a good deal from Expedia, it seems like that we’ve been spending more than usual ever since coming home. Sure, we’d made excuses like feeling sick or being too tired from the trip to cook (read: lazy). But after a few weeks of racking up the restaurant bills (and getting increasingly unhealthy in the process), we decided no more.
Aside from a recent splurge on Osprey backpacks (it’s an investment piece!), we are now putting ourselves on a strict money saving discipline. Here are the steps we are taking:
– Cook more often. There’s no way around this – just don’t be lazy. Eating out is perhaps the number one culprit of a growing credit card balance. Compare about $120 a week for groceries for 2 people, with on average of $30 for a restaurant bill for 2 people. If we are going to eat a meal out on weekends, we will keep the bill under $25. This shouldn’t be too hard if we stick with $10/plate-range restaurants and happy hours.
[This doesn’t apply to us, but on the same vein – cut out alcohol. Alcohol is incredibly expensive. Having a drink or two with dinner can easily double the price of the bill. A night out at the bar can cost as much as groceries for an entire week.]
– Get rid of cable. I’ve never been much of a TV watcher, and Netflix these days have such a good streaming selection that I don’t see the need to watch anything else ($7.99/mo).
– Cut out the frozen yogurt runs. Some people like their daily Starbucks, we like our froyo and ice cream and will make a run at least a few times a week. I decided no more after spending $10 recently at a super fancy made-to-order with liquid nitrogen ice cream parlor. D also likes his tea, which runs $4 a cup; but why buy when he has everything to brew the tea himself at home?
– Stop overpaying for movies. When catching the latest flick means spending up to $14 for a single ticket these days, it quickly doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. Luckily, there is a dollar theater just a couple of miles away in town, which shows movies that has just stepped down from main theaters. A ticket there costs a mere $2 and we still get to go out for an evening and see a movie on the big screen.
[If this is not an option in your town, new releases can be rented on ITunes, amazon, or Redbox for just a couple of bucks.]
– Cancel the gym membership. Of all the money-saving “sacrifices”, this is the one that makes me the most sad (but also saves the most money). Over the past couple of years, D and I both maintained memberships at independent studios. I absolutely love my all-women specialty studio and the girls there feel more like family than just workout partners. D loves his personal training gym that helped him achieve a healthier lifestyle. But sadly, they just cost too much. We can still be healthy as long as we can be motivated to exercise on our own.
[Also, coupon sites like Groupon and LivingSocial always offer great deals at many local studios. These are a good way to try out new exercises without breaking the bank. And many channels on Youtube offer free follow-along classes from kettlebells to yoga.]
– Buying on sale. Yes, we both bought our Ospreys on sale on Amazon! By shopping around or simply waiting a few weeks, it’s always possible to buy on sale and never pay retail price. From groceries to travel gear, we are always scouting out the sale items.
– And lastly, the obvious one: cut out material spending. I’ll be the first to admit that I like shopping and new things (hey, I’m a girl!), but am I going to carry that sparkly little black dress or the strappy wedges around the world with me? If no, then don’t buy it.
Of course, this isn’t to say that we are sacrificing comforts and living a miserly life for the next four months. We are still planning on skiing at Mammoth in late December as well as randomly adventuring around SoCal (after all, we are leaving soon and I’m feeling an eagerness to explore everything here that I never took the time to see). But it’s all about prioritizing the spending. For me, money spent on experiences will never be regretted and will create memories to last years. So even though we have our great adventure coming up in a few months, we will still be creating little ones along the way.
After all, in the words of Roy M. Goodman – “happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.” But we can all certainly save some money in the process. :)
And of course, we moved in together, which saves the most money, to the tune of about $1000/mo.
Also, disclaimer: Photo is not mine. I found it online but couldn’t find who to give credit to.