How we save money

People often ask us how we can afford to travel as regularly as we do (at least one overseas trip a year and usually one in the US). The trick, which is pretty obvious, is to live well within your means – or even better, under them. Live on absolutely less than you make. Easier said than done right? It certainly seems that way so much of the time, but it really can be done.

No cable TV!! There is no way our busy family have enough time to make any sort of cable deal worth it. However, even if we did indulge, we still couldn’t justify it. We do indulge in Netflix and Hulu Plus which we find works very well. Yes, sometimes we have to wait longer for shows we like, but adding a Roku box to our downstairs TV and using our “gaming” console upstairs means that we can enjoy a bunch of shows without being limited to the computer screen. Our old TVs are probably circa 2001 but who cares at the end of the day? We can put the extra money towards our trips and days out, which is in our mind so very worth it!

Utilise your public library. Now, this is maybe much easier for our family for several reasons. The first is that I happen to be a librarian at one of the biggest public library systems in the USA so it’s very easy for me to get the latest items on request. Yes, there are often wait lists for the most recent items, but most people don’t realize that libraries usually buy in the most recent DVD and book releases as soon as they hit the market, and order movies as soon as they are in theaters, so the turn around is never that long. If there’s a show that we are interested in seeing, but it’s not available on our subscriptions, then it gets requested at the library. Some library systems are better than others at what they can offer, but there are obviously benefits with all libraries. I love doing what I do, and it benefits my family immensely. We go to the movies maybe 3 times a year, or do a dollar movie every now and again.

Couponing is pretty much an American phenomeon, it just doesn’t exist in the same way back in Scotland (but I find food is cheaper there). That being said, I take advantage of it regularly, or depending on what we need, do our shopping at our local store which has a fantastic loyalty program. I tend not to use coupons too much for food since its not usually the healthiest, but with careful planning you can score some great deals. There are some great farmer’s markets out our way too, and I’m itching to take advantage of those more (I just wish they had hours that worked for us!) And everything is budgeted – we set a price and never go above it. Sunday newspapers (that I am able to get through work), online sites and blogs can really help with the food budget total. It takes work but our family never goes without, and we save money – win win!

Obviously a no brainer, – If you fly overseas regularly, utilize those airmiles! They have been a huge help in our US based travel. We have never earned enough to use them for our oveseas trips, but all three of us will be flying to Ohio this summer for a mere $15 total! This is the second time we have used airmiles, and we’re so glad we could make it happen.

We take advantage of programs like UPromise to top up our own budgeted savings. Now, unless you are actively spending using a credit card, UPromise rewards will not be huge (and I don’t recommend credit cards at all), but will be handy every once in a while. There are similar cashback reward sites that are definitely worth looking into. I wish this would take off more significantly back in Scotland, but it seems to be slowly creeping in.

None of these methods would make a major impact if you don’t sit down and do a monthly household budget. It is such a great feeling going to the store knowing that you will have plenty money for what you buy, or booking a flight knowing that it will not break the bank. It’s never too late to start