Monday, October 4, 2010

Saving tips for a big trip

Saving for a trip can be tough, especially in this economy and with all the other expenses we have in our day to day lives. Since I have a big trip coming up, I thought I'd share three of my savings tips for travel.

A while back, I saw a commercial about that debit card that rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and sticks the extra change into a savings account. I thought it was a pretty neat idea, so when I was trying to find a way to save some extra cash for Italy next year, I came up with my own version of it. My "ESA," or "envelope savings account."

I have an envelope at work, and it's basically a piggy bank. When I go to lunch, or spend cash on something, or have a few extra dollars, I put it in the envelope. Payday? I get cash from the ATM and drop $20 into the envelope. When my uncle gave me some cash for my birthday? It went into the envelope. When I got a bonus at work? Check cashed, cash into envelope. And, seemingly like magic, I'm three months in and have $526 in the envelope! I'm going to see how long I can keep it going, just by sticking my "extra" cash into the envelope. Hopefully, it will translate to a big chunk of spending money for our trip.

In addition to my "ESA," I have a credit union account through work that I consider my "travel fund." I set it up to automatically take $75/paycheck and dump it into the account. With any luck, I'll have a portion of the trip paid for with this account. What works about this for me is that I never "see" the money. Sure, I see the line for it on my paycheck stubs, but since it's a direct deposit, I never handle that money. So, it's a bit of the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality - I almost forget that I have that account, so I'm less likely to transfer money out of it.

And last but not least, I have a rewards credit card. I get 2-3 rewards points per dollar (depending on what I'm purchasing), and can use the rewards points for all kinds of things! The nicest thing about my card (the Capital One Rewards Card for those interested) is that you can apply miles to travel you've already booked, and you're not restricted to certain companies or airlines. I've been stockpiling points for 5+ years, and finally started to redeem them last year with our trip to Ireland. I was able to buy one of our plane tickets and two nights in a hotel completely with points, and still had a bunch left over. I'm going to try to work it so that some of our hotels will be covered, or possibly even the rental car in Ireland!

I'm all about the creative ways to save money or get deals - does anyone have any additional tips to add to this list?


John Starr said...

I love that you save for trips in clever ways. I usually just charge it and pay it off.
Good advice! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Jersey Kelly used to use the ESA and ALWAYS made her goals. : )

I am a big fan of the ESA b/c you actually see that you are saving your money and understanding HOW you are doing it! More motivation to keep it going!

Good luck woman!

Demonic Blonde said...

I have an ING account that just debits money on the 1st, and the 15th. It adds up fairly well. I also have set accounts within the checking for specific things. I name them in categories that make me feel guilty if I touch them - i.e. "Josh's tuition fund" - can't really take from that, now can I? :) And the other "Insurance" - can't really do that, either!! I do give myself a savings "kelly savings", but then again, with the guilt from the other two, I rarely dip into that unless my visa beggs to be paid off. :)