If you’re like most people who enjoy traveling, your love of getting away far outpaces your ability to do so, and how could it not? Travel is expensive, and paid vacation — if you have it at all — has far-too-real limits in terms of time. Many people, because of these realities, save up for an entire year or more just to afford a two-week vacation, which, if you’ve got any kind of wanderlust, is not nearly enough time to explore the wider world.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were ways to save money that sat outside the normal practice of just setting aside part of your paycheck every month? What if you could figure out how to save a larger sum of money in less time? If you love to travel, but need some realistic ways to get to do so more often, try these six unexpected ways to save money.
1. Get a Bigger Tax Refund
Unless you work for yourself, you probably get more taxes taken out of your paycheck than is necessary, which results in a tax return each April. Putting a tax refund toward travel is common practice, but if you plan ahead, you can increase the amount you get back. Donate a boat, car, or jet ski that you no longer use to charity. Work from home part-time and write off a home office. When you donate goods to thrift stores, always get a receipt. In every way you can, increase the amount of deductions you can take on your tax return, and you’ll increase the amount of money you get back from the government come April.
2. Pick Up Side Work
Some industries and trades are ready-made for freelancing or side work, and if you currently have a job that offers you a steady salary doing one of them, consider picking up extra work on the side to fill your travel coffers faster. Whether you’re an electrician, graphic designer, Web developer, writer, photographer, nanny, or chef, by picking up side work, you can make more money at a faster rate, and, because you’ll be so busy working, it’ll be easier to save since you won’t have much time to deviate from your budget.
3. Stop Splurging
As nice as it is to go out to brunch once a week with friends, take in the opera once a month, or buy another pair of unnecessary — but beautiful — shoes, until you stop all extraneous spending, you’re going to be hard-pressed to save money quickly. Go through a month’s purchases and honestly assess what can go and what has to stay. In every category you can, trim the fat, and you’ll be amazed at the savings you’re able to amass.
4. Sell Your Belongings
Do you still have a couple of amps from when you used to be in a band? What about that car you only use on the weekends, because it’s so hard to find parking and public transportation is great? Do you really need all those records? Are you ever going to use that massage table you bought when you were planning on going to massage school? Get rid of everything of value that you no longer need. Even if all you do is hold a garage sale that nets you $200, by selling your unneeded material possessions, you’ll make fast money you can save for travel, and getting to unclutter and thin out your space is a nice bonus, too.
5. Run Your Heat/AC Less
Whatever your current habit of heating and cooling is, consider altering it. Many people keep their homes as warm as 72 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, but 66 degrees feels just fine when you’re wearing a sweater, and it can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a winter. Likewise, beating the heat in the summer doesn’t mean your A/C needs to be set on 65; 75 degrees Fahrenheit is still a great temperature when it’s 90 outside, and the money you’ll save will add up quickly.
6. Cook More
Americans eat out at an astonishing rate, and if you’re one of them, you’re ensuring that your travel goals remain farther away than necessary. As much as you’re able, eat out no more than once a week. Always pack your lunch for work, and invest some time and effort in cooking for yourself. Not only will you save a lot of money by staying home and cooking, but you’ll also develop a skill that everyone values.
If you want to get serious about traveling, it’s more than possible. Just try out these six unexpected ways to save and you’ll be hitting the skies, the beach, or the mountain in no time.