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The Clumsy Traveler Saves for a Trip [Video]


If you’re wondering where I’m going for my birthday trip the answer is: No, I still haven’t chosen my location.

This is mostly because the cost of my flight is a major factor when I decide where to travel. Something we’ll discuss later is the optimal time to buy a flight for your trip. Since this time has not come yet (generally 2-3 months before take off), I have not been able to see the most competitive price for flights.

Since the flight is such a big part of the budget, I need some money fast. I’ll need money before my trip when purchasing flights, booking accommodation, tours and travel insurance. I’ll also need money on the road for transportation, food and gratuity. That’s why these tips are essential! I need spending money both before and during my travels and these steps help me get there.


Getting Back to the Basics


Before any big trip, I make a spreadsheet of my monthly bills. This is where my Mint App comes in handy. Since it’s connected to my bank accounts, I can see an exact number of what I spend on budgets that are ever-changing like food and gas. (When making your spreadsheet, be sure you separate groceries from restaurants. It makes a big difference and shows you a lot about your dining habits!)

Once I make this list, I highlight the things I need in red. This includes rent, loans and bills that generally don’t budge. Then, I highlight all the things I want in green. This includes trips to the salon, coffee budget, nights out with friends, etc.

At this point, I try to figure out how to cut the items in green. There are some things that are easy to cut back on and things that take some serious creativity and willpower. For example, I can definitely cut out shopping and trips to my local cafe. I can’t, however skip dying my hair. It’s true, I ain’t a natural blonde. However, I can space out my visits to my hairdresser (meaning less money spent throughout the year).


Picking Up Extra Jobs


Saving for travel isn’t just about saving the money you already earn, but making extra money as well! That’s why it’s incredibly important to pick up flexible, part-time jobs where you can.
One of the great things about being a blogger/freelance writer is that it is an incredibly flexible job. This makes it easy to do two things:

1. Pick up more writing jobs
2. Find jobs outside of the writing field

Not many people know this but when I am back home, I am a brand ambassador for certain food/beverage companies. This means I’m the girl who gives out food samples at major grocery stores and events. It’s a bit humbling and it’s a lot of driving around but it’s incredibly flexible, is part-time and makes a lot of extra side money!

You may not be a writer, but you can pick up all sorts of odd jobs on the side! This can include being a rideshare driver, tutor, cashier at a local shop, dog walker, virtual assistant, model or ambassador for companies, bartender/server, babysitter, and of course, freelancer.


Earning Travel Points


My last post mentioned getting credit cards with great travel rewards to help save for travel. And while I only recommend this tip if you’re sure to pay off those bills monthly, it’s one of the best ways to earn “money” towards your travel budget. There are many great travel cards, but the ones that I personally use the most are the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Earning travel points, also known as “travel hacking,” is the new travel currency. I once read a story where a savvy saver went to 9 continents in 9 months for only $418. How? With travel points. While there are too many tricks, loopholes and secrets for me to explain in one single post, I don’t want to leave you high and dry. Here are the best travel hacking resources that will teach you everything you need to know:

1. The Travel Hacking Cartel
2. Million Mile Secrets
3. The Points Guy
4. Extra Pack of Peanuts
5. The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking by Matt Kepnes
6. Frugal Travel Guy

Make sure to check back as my next post of the series will provide you with insider tips for saving money on flights. Hopefully, I’ll have booked my birthday trip by then!

Sebrin Elms is a twenty-something newlywed with two kitties and a serious obsession with travel. She started her blog, The Clumsy Traveler, in anticipation of a 3-month long honeymoon around the world. When she came back, she wasn’t ready to stop writing and traveling! You can learn more about her story on her blog or follow her on Instagram @theclumsytraveler.

How to Create a Budget for a Trip Abroad

Budgeting for a trip seems easy, right? You just need to save a bunch of money and divide it into 3: food, flights and hotels. But what about those cool activities you want to try or figuring out how to get from A to B? There are a lot of little incidentals that go into budgeting for your vacation and it can be incredibly overwhelming. With this guide, you won’t miss a single detail!


Figure Out What You Need


When creating your budget abroad, you need to know where your money is going. Sure flights, accommodation and food will be expensive, but where is the rest of your money going? When creating your budget, you’re going to need to include the following items:

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Using Your 401k to Reduce Taxable Income

As you file your taxes, you’re probably thinking about ways to reduce your taxable income. Did you know that there are a lot of strategies you can use with your retirement funds, like your IRA and 401(k), to reduce your taxable income? Save for the future and save in taxes today – that’s a win-win situation.

We’re early in 2017, and there’s still time to make some retirement maneuvers to lower your 2016 tax liability (as well as steps you can take to reduce your tax liability next year):

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6 Wise Strategies to Manage Extra Money From a Pay Raise

Congratulations on your pay raise or bonus. Now it’s time to get serious about how to use that extra money to improve your finances.

Before you’re tempted to spend a windfall on something frivolous, consider how it could be used to create more financial security instead. In this post, I’ll cover 6 strategies to wisely manage extra money so you don’t fritter away an exceptional opportunity to improve your finances and build wealth.

6 Strategies to Manage Extra Money Wisely

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5 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

No matter how much you trim the extras out of your budget, there’s one category you can never cut out altogether:food. We all need to eat, but it is possible to stretch your grocery budget and do more with less when it comes to shopping for food. Of course, we all know not to go shopping when hungry and to make a shopping list and stick to it. But there’s so much more you can do to cut your grocery bill. See how many of these ideas you’ll want to try:

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5 Ways to Save on Kids' Summer Camp

For many families, sending children to summer camp is an exciting rite of passage. But it can also be an expensive addition to the family budget, especially if there’s more than one child to pay for. Fortunately, there are several ways to save on sending kids to summer camp, as well as lower cost alternatives that can be just as much fun.

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The Pros and Cons of Meal Kit Delivery

It seems impossible to watch TV or go through the mail these days without seeing an ad for an all-inclusive meal kit delivery service. You know the ones with names like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron and Plated (with new ones being added all the time). You’ve probably wondered if these services are a good deal or just a wasteful extravagance. The truth is, whether a meal delivery service is a smart way to spend your food budget really depends on your own lifestyle, eating habits and savings goals. Here are some pros and cons of meal delivery services to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you:


You’ll Eat at Home More- One of the biggest selling points of meal delivery services is that they allow you to prepare restaurant-level meals in your own kitchen. If you routinely dine out (or get take-out) several times a week, using a meal delivery service will probably save your money in the long run.

You’ll Learn New Recipes and Techniques- If you’re new to cooking or tend to make the same meals again and again, a meal delivery service will expand your horizons and help you learn new skills. All meal planning kits contain detailed recipe cards. Once you discover some new favorites, you’ll be able to recreate them on your own by simply purchasing the ingredients.

You’ll Minimize Food Waste- If you routinely buy more groceries than you need and find yourself throwing away food because it’s gone bad before you can use it, a meal kit delivery service will help with that. Everything is perfectly portion controlled and if you prepare the meals as directed, you should end up with zero food waste - and zero wasted dollars, too.


The Expense- While the cost of meal delivery service varies, they average out to around $10 a meal, per person. And while that’s more than what you’d pay buying groceries on your own, it’s much less that you’d pay for dining out. Also, many of these services offer significant discounts on your first delivery. Provided you remember to cancel after your first box, you could try out several boxes at a discount before deciding whether to continue with a service long- term.

Excess Packaging- In addition to the box everything comes in, every ingredient inside is packaged individually, and there are chilled packs, too. To avoid a sky-rocketing carbon footprint from disposing all of the packaging, you must be committed to recycling everything.

You Might Not Like Every Meal- Although most services allow you to specify certain ingredients or flavors you’d rather not receive, there’s still a chance you’ll run into a meal that doesn’t match your personal tastes. You’ll get the most value - and enjoyment - from a meal kit delivery service if you have an adventurous palate and few dietary restrictions.

5 Ways to Take Your Social Life Outside

We all need to take time to relax and enjoy life with family and friends. But maintaining an active social life can be expensive. And when you’re doing your best to live on a budget and save money, spending money on leisure activities often takes a back seat to covering basic living expenses and paying down debt. Fortunately, the beautiful weather is a great reason to take your social life outside. Here are several ideas for low-cost, outdoor alternatives to expensive social activities:

Dining Al Fresco- When you’re on a budget, dining out at restaurants quickly becomes a want, rather than a need. But you can still enjoy great food and good times with friends by choosing to have a picnic or outdoor potluck. Whether your host it at your home or get together at a local park, you’ll enjoy a wonderful meal, fresh air and the chance to reconnect with your friends, all for a fraction of the cost of one meal at a restaurant.

Outdoor Movie Night- Skip the long lines, sticky floors and overpriced concessions at the local multiplex and have your own outdoor movie night under the stars. Pinterest is filled with easy ideas for putting together your own outdoor movie screen and turning your phone or other device into a simple movie projector. Pop your own popcorn, fill a cooler with drinks, line the lawn with blankets and pillows for a comfy viewing experience. Once you try it, you won’t want to watch movies any other way.

Coffee Walk- Meeting for coffee to catch up with a friend seems like a reasonably budget-friendly option, until you factor in the pricey specialty coffee drinks and tempting desserts. Instead of meeting at the coffee house, brew a pot of coffee (or tea), pour it in a few travel mugs and meet your friend for a nice long chat and a walk. Not only will you save money, you’ll get a little exercise, too.

Concert Under the Stars- When it comes to concert tickets, there’s no such thing as a ‘cheap seats’ anymore. When you factor in service fees, most concerts will set you back at least $200 for two people. And that’s just the tickets, never mind concessions and souvenirs. So, what’s a budget-conscious music lover to do? Find free, live music outdoors. Communities of all sizes host free outdoor concert series featuring great local arts - and sometimes even big-name talent. You might not see the biggest tour of the summer, but you can enjoy great live music with your friends and neighbors without spending a dime.

Yoga in the Park- If you typically meet friends for class at the local yoga studio, move your yoga practice outside instead. use your smart phone or tablet to find plenty of free yoga videos online. Taking your practice to the park or beach isn’t just a money-saving move- being outdoors in the fresh air will enhance the stress-relieving benefits of your yoga session.