After 18 months at home, who else is ready to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!?!?!
Travel is so incredibly important to me, and it has been extremely difficult on my mental health to stay home during the pandemic. In fact, I’ve been so tired of staring at my apartment that I literally started taking items down off the walls and selling them at my local consignment shop, ha!
But I’m vaccinated and ready to hit the road, the rails, and the friendly skies—anywhere that’ll have me!
However, as a someone who is self-employed, I also need to be mindful of my spending and make every dollar count. So, I’m always on the lookout for a deal, especially when it comes to travel.
If you know what it’s like to yearn for the open road but have all the feelings about your finances, I’ve got you covered.
Here are a few of my favorite budget-friendly travel resources:
Chase Sapphire: This is BY FAR the best travel card out there, and that’s not just my opinion but the opinion of many travel pros. The awesome thing about Chase Ultimate Reward points is they can be used for all kinds of travel and entertainment deals, not just flights or hotels. Additionally, when you redeem through their site, your points have up to 25% greater value. And the offer right now is fantastic, so don’t miss it!
TrustedHousesitters: Like pets? If so, you can stay in someone’s home for free and watch their pets while they’re away. I’ve done this a few times for both staycations and cross-country adventures, and I look forward to a global sit at some point.
TravelZoo: They have an awesome newsletter each Wednesday that will send you the top 20 travel deals from your destination. There are some incredible deals, and this is where I found the travel company I used to go to England, Ireland, and Scotland.
Travel Pirates: Another great weekly newsletter with a sense of humor to consider, and they also have trip flight and destination giveaways a couple of times each year.
Secret Flying:There are some unbelievable flight deals on this website, and they also post “error fares” which are mistakes the airlines make. If you’re interested in error fares, I suggest getting Twitter notifications so that you can find out about them immediately and take advantage of them quickly before the airline corrects them. This is how I got my $250 airfare to Barcelona—that I bought it in just 10 minutes!
There are, of course, many other wonderful travel tools out there, but if I could only share a few with you, these are at the top of my list.
By the way, if you have multiple travel reward programs to track, I recommend using AwardWallet to keep all the details and points handy and be able to update them at once. I have 19 different accounts including airlines, hotels, rental cars, and Amtrak and this makes it easy to see everything at once.
I hope I’ve inspired you to get out there as soon as you feel safe. There are certainly deals to be had!
I don’t know how I stumbled on to Trim, but it’s a real gem. My two favorite services include negotiating lower rates on bills and finding credits for cable bills.
For rate negotiation, Trim recently saved me and my friends $320 on our AT&T family plan for the next year. And for Comcast, they saved me over $50 last year in refunds from when there were power outages nearby (some of which I wasn’t even aware of!). They take 25% off of their savings to you, but it’s such a passive way to save money, it’s totally worth it.
By the way, you can also use Gabi, a partner of Trim’s, to compare your auto insurance with others in about two minutes. My rates were already the lowest, but I was impressed with this service regardless.
Hotel bills can easily run up your vacation budget. Enter: Trusted Housesitters. With this service, you can stay in people’s homes around the world for free in exchange for watching their pets. I’ve done this a few times, and definitely plan to do it again this year.
And for those of you with pets yourselves, it’s worth signing up so that you don’t have to board your furbabies, which can also be quite expensive. I’ve even seen housesitting jobs with no pets, but where people didn’t want to leave their houses unattended while away.
FYI, these gigs can range from overnight to many months!
As you likely already know, buying “private label” brands at the grocery store is cheaper. Think Kroger brand, Trader Joe’s brand, Publix brand, IKEA, or even Amazon’s own brands.
Brandless only sells their stuff, and they keep it pretty cheap. There are definitely some great deals to be had, but pay close attention to the size of the product, which is where the deal is really found. I’ve purchased peanut butter, flax and chia seeds, salad dressing, cleaning products, and more.
Plus, for every order, they donate a free meal! And on the third of the month, they triple that! So, save a little, give a little. I can definitely get behind that.
You may have seen their commercials recently where they try and get people to correctly pronounce their new name. Man, I wish I lived near one of those machines that was giving out cash!
Regardless, I’ve been with Ebates since 2011, and have saved over $500 in that time. Yep, I shop mostly online. And they make it so easy with a simple browser extension. Simply click the extension when you land on a site (or shop directly from their URL), and they’ll find eligible savings for you to apply, plus give you cash back.
(Spend $25 with my link, and you’ll get $10 back.)
Honey is a great alternative to Rakuten. You can’t use both of them at the same time, but between the two, you can find some terrific deals. And having both of them means you’re more likely to find savings since they sometimes work on different websites.
Each time you use their deals, you also earn Honey points which can be redeemed for gifts cards.
If you take supplements, I suggest checking out Fullscript. I take quite a few every day for my chronic health issues.
Many of them I get from my naturopath, and sometimes on Amazon, but Fullscript has some quality brands and offers as well. Yes, you have to spend $50 to get free shipping, but in my case, that’s not hard to do. There are a handful of my regular supplements that I’ve found much cheaper on here than I can get from my naturopath or on Amazon.
Live entertainment is another cost that can add up quickly, which is why I like Goldstar. You can often find cheaper tickets here than directly on the event website. Plus, if you’re attending an event with a friend, you can pay separately or add tickets later and still get seats together, which is a terrific benefit.
Oh, and for smaller, community events, they sometimes also give away freebies! So, a fun night out? Covered.
Ok, so it’s technically it’s a little past the halfway point of 2013, but I should get credit for the update anyway.
For those of you following along at home, you’ll remember that my word for the year was SIMPLIFY. Just in case you’ve recently started reading, you can read all about it right here. The gist of having a word for the year is that you use a theme to look forward at the year, thinking about what you want it to be. This is the reverse of looking back at the year to see what happened. It’s a more proactive approach. My decision to use the word SIMPLIFY was to have a cleansing effect on me in several different ways. I want to live more simply. I have more than I need. I have more things and thoughts to occupy my time than I feel like I should, from items in my home to emails in my inbox to preoccupations and more.
A few of the items I originally listed include getting rid of things in my home, removing myself from email lists, working on my budget and paying down debt.
Some of the things I’ve done so far this year are:
Reinforcing the concepts through books, articles and conversations.
Donating and selling things in my house.
Getting off some email lists.
Paying down some debt.
Taking a look or two or three at my budget.
Not committing to events or people I didn’t feel would be best for me at this time.
Using eMeals.com to prepare meals.
Following a chronological Bible reading list.
Focusing on only a couple of volunteer activities.
Honestly, these are still all ongoing. I can still make improvements during 2013, and intend to. It may seem like a pretty good list, but some items are further along than others. None are probably as far along as I’d like them to be, but they are in a much better place than they were seven months ago and that’s important to remember.
I definitely need to listen to my theme song and read by theme verse more throughout the year. They’ll help keep me motivated. But I am proud to say I have done a little hell-gate prevailing, though again, there’s still much more to be done. And that’s the really fun stuff. 😉
So, there you go. I’m checking in, and keeping accountable right here. And I’ll definitely let you know how this year shaped up in a few more months. Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to report more progress. Scratch that: I WILL be able to report more progress!
If you’re doing something similar, please let me know how your 2013 is going. I’d love to hear!