After years without a vacation, I decided enough was enough – if I didn’t start taking steps to make a trip happen, it wasn’t going to.
But of course, that meant focusing on building up my finances first.
I spent hours researching locations, accommodations, and transportation, only to find out that I had quite a ways to go before getting on that flight. It took two years of active saving and a number of failed money-making endeavors before I had enough of a budget to decide where to go. But with some smart planning – and smart spending – I actually came home with more money than I thought I would, which went right back into savings for the next trip.
That’s how it so often works when you’re trying to make your dream a reality, whether yours is a vacation, a wedding, a new house, a new car, or something else. You can’t sit around hoping for a knock on the door from a benefactor or an unexpected windfall, but you also should never give up on your dreams. Instead, start taking steps to save, and find new ways to make more money to put towards your goal.
How To Save Money Starting Right Now
One of the problems I ran into while saving money for my vacation was not focusing early enough on the simple everyday changes I could make to my lifestyle that would put more funds in my account. I fell into a trap where I was looking for substantial amounts to save at a time – which, as I found, can be few and far between.
Instead, try implementing these money-saving strategies into your day-to-day-life to move closer to your goal. Give yourself an estimated deadline – I knew I wanted to travel in 2016 – which will help you keep your eye on why you are saving.
1. Cut Your Subscriptions
Can you name everything you subscribe to with monthly or annual fees off the top of your head? It’s easy to forget what you are paying for – which I found out when I started scouring through my account statements. Make life easier on yourself by signing up for Trim, an app that helps you find all of your subscriptions, and quickly enables you to cancel any unwanted ones.
2. Make A Budget
One of the best ways to save money is to make sure you never spend more than you make. A budget can lay out how much you bring in, and how much you spend on categories from food to entertainment to utilities. Looking at your budget is a reminder of all the places you can save money when you have a big goal in mind.
3. Clip Coupons
I long avoided coupons, but of course, I was the one losing in that scenario. Finding coupons for your purchases, particularly regular ones like at the grocery store, will save you some money every time you spend.
Ways To Save Money By Making Your Funds Work For You
When I started saving, I mostly left my funds in the savings account linked to my checking account, which has a decidedly unimpressive interest rate of .01%. My money was doing nothing but sitting there, so I needed to figure out how to save money and make it grow, without years or decades to wait. That’s when I found some banking tricks that kept my money safe and increased my account balance.
4. Open A Certificate of Deposit (CD)
CDs serve several purposes when it comes to saving money; they typically have higher interest rates than regular savings accounts, and you can’t withdraw your funds before a set period which keeps them safe. You’ll usually find CDs with terms between three months and five years, and interest rates will depend on term length and the amount you deposit. Marcus by Goldman Sachs currently offers a 12-month CD with a rate of 2.05%, a 2-year CD at 2.15%, and a 5-year CD at 2.6% (rates as of March 15, 2018) – far more than what would be earned in my regular savings account.
One of the best ways to save money is to “ladder” shorter-term CDs to take advantage of rising rates. If you opened a 3-month, a 6-month, and a 12-month CD at the same time, as soon as your 3-month CD matures, roll it into a new 6-month term with the accumulated interest, and so on.
5. Use A Savings App
I did not take advantage of automated savings when I was preparing for my trip, but it is currently one of the primary ways I’m saving for my next vacation. I like savings apps because even when I forget to save towards my goal, it remembers. An app like Digit, which is what I use, allows you to set up a goal, whether it’s $10,000 for a wedding or $50,000 for a down payment on a home. Link it to your checking account, and it will transfer small amounts to your Digit account based on your income and spending patterns. Withdraw money whenever you’d like, and you’ll also get a quarterly “bonus” of 1% of your average balance.
How To Earn Money While You Save
By implementing the above money-saving strategies, not only did I save for my trip, but I also maintained these activities as part of my current money management. However, if you find you are still falling short of your goals, there are other ways to make some extra cash on the side.
6. Rent Out A Spare Room
With sites like Airbnb, you can reach people all around the world who are looking for somewhere to stay in your hometown. If you have an extra bedroom, consider renting it out short- or long-term to earn some extra money. Look at what’s going on in your community to figure out when your room will be most in-demand, and treat guests like they are staying at a hotel – not as though they’re just some random person in your home.
7. Get Rid Of Unused Items
If you’re like me, cleaning out closets and storage spaces is the meaning of stress. But once I got through a single clean out, I was able to list my old clothing for sale on Poshmark quickly, and even made a few hundred extra dollars! From there, it became easier to see everything that I don’t use – and the potential money that it could bring in. You can accomplish the same with a yard sale if you live in a place that will get traffic.
8. Take Online Surveys
While online surveys only pay a few dollars here and there, if you’re like me, swapping out the iPad games for survey sites just a few nights a week can get you a step closer to your goal. Be sure that you research sites to avoid scams, and only stick with those that will actually pay you.
How To Make Your Dream A Reality
Once you’ve started saving and making extra money, you have to avoid the temptation to spend it. Any time you find yourself with an extra dollar, earmark it for your dream fund and consider setting up a separate account for this money to make sure you don’t slip up. With some diligence, you’ll find that saving is easier when you start making an effort – I know I did.