I’m not wealthy. Not even a little bit. The main reason our family of seven survives on a modest single income and some babysitting or freelance writing income here and there is a combination of careful budgeting, simple living (cooking from scratch, thrift store shopping, self-sufficiency practices, etc.), and a bit of good luck.
I’m a firm believer that if you want something bad enough, you can and will make it happen. I really really REALLY REEEEEALLY want to go to Japan. Really bad. And I know that my family is not in the position to afford it without some serious planning and dedicated saving.
I understand that my savings ideas and plan may not be the right fight for you, but I thought I’d share my strategy to inspire other average-lower income folks to seek out creative and clever ways to save up for a big trip, vacation, or special thing you want to do this year. Life is short. Start living it!
INCOME TAX RETURN MONEY
There are two income tax returns before my Japan trip, and I’m hoping to be able to put aside a nice chunk of change from each one toward my trip. However, self-employment and income taxes can be a tricky thing. So *fingers crossed* for nice returns!
MEAL PLAN LIKE A BOSS
Solid meal planning not only saves money on groceries, it prevents the expense of unnecessary take-out or dining out trips. I’m guessing I can save around $100 each month with tighter meal planning. That’s approximately $1,000 in savings for the year I can put toward my trip.
Normally, I’m a pretty decent meal planner and smart grocery shopper, but I definitely slacked a bit over the last six months or so after losing my father to cancer this summer and losing our beloved family bulldog in the Fall after she got hit by a car. I truly hope this new year is much kinder to our family.
Pinterest is my favorite meal planning tool. I also keep a notebook with 30 tried and true meals (along with a side-dish list) where I pick about a couple weeks worth of meals at a time and shop accordingly.
WALMART SAVINGS CATCHER PROGRAM
I hate price matching in the busy check-out lane, so I use the Wal-Mart Savings Catcher app (free). All I do is scan my receipt after every shopping trip, and I’m sent the difference in cost on any items offered for less by competitors in the area.
The image above is a screenshot of my account. I would have more total rewrads had I been more diligent about scanning my receipts last year. The $12.28 now available is my savings as of January 1st, though, so yay!!!
You can use coupons along with Savings Catcher program, too. In fact, Wal-Mart will price match coupon items based on their price before the coupons, saving you even more money.
Through random Internet searching for homeschool and personal writing projects, I earn free Amazon gift cards every month from Swagbucks. When I keep up with the daily earning tasks and bonus tasks, I can usually earn around $12 to $20 in Amazing gift cards each month, which doesn’t sound like much, but adds up to nearly $200 a year in free easy money.
Swagbucks also has gift cards for Ebay, Walmart, and other places. I personally choose Amazon because I save them up to pay for vitamins, homeschool supplies, birthday gifts for the kids, etc.
Want to earn Swagbucks, too? Join for free and get 150 Swagbucks if you use my referral link:
If I bribe my kids with a cut of the money, I think I can get them to help me set up a yard sale this summer and earn a few hundred bucks. Everybody has stuff laying around they don’t want or need, and a yard sale is a great way to earn extra cash.
SAYONARA SATELLITE SERVICE
A few years ago we signed up for satellite after taking a nearly 3 year hiatus. The contract is up in a couple months, so we’ll be canceling it once again, saving us about $75 a month. I figure I can put aside at least $500 of the saved money toward my Japan trip. What “luxuries” could you cut out (even for just a short period of time) to get what you want?
Any other ideas you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments below. 🙂
If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and considering donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal. ありがとう, Arigato, Thank you!