Frugal Travel Tips

2
Jul
2019

frugal travel tips

Planning a vacation can be exhausting and frustrating, especially when you are trying to stay within a budget.

I’ve learned some amazing secrets over the years and I want to share them so your family can benefit.  Wouldn’t it be great to take more vacations and spend less money?  I am frugal to the bone.

I am currently away on a solo retreat, AKA, Soulcation….just me….alone…. with no one to care for.

I know, mom to mom, this is what we dream of!  Do not get me wrong, I love my family for sure, but there are seasons where some alone time can really be beneficial for our soul.  This post is not about that topic, however it is about how I managed to get away for FOUR nights at a FIVE star resort with airfare for about $150, including meals.

If you prefer to check out the Facebook Live I did, you can watch here, otherwise I will give you the written tips here!

Credit Card Perks

Okay, if you are a Dave Ramsey fan, you will likely not agree with this section, but just hear me out.  I will say this, if you can not pay off your credit card each and every month, please skip this section.  Now, if you can use a credit card to your advantage, by collecting it’s perks while purchasing your normal, everyday purchases, then pick one or two that will benefit you.

For our family we have two different airline credit cards which are used in order to accrue mileage to locations we desire to go, like Hawaii. In February 2018 our family of three went to Hawaii for literally free.  We paid taxes on our airline ticket and we had a hotel room for six nights for free.  More on that in the next section.

A few tips with credit cards.

Pick an airline that has routes you desire to travel to and from.  This can take a bit of research, but well worth your time.  For our family, we like Hawaii and the Pacific Coast, so one of the cards we chose was Alaska Airlines.  It works well for our needs.

Look at the yearly fee.  I know we will pay a yearly fee on a credit card that gives us great rewards, we consider it a cost of doing business and getting “free” stuff.  You can be smart to find a card with the lowest fee and the perks you desire.

Pay the card off each month. This is non-negotiable.  If you are carrying a balance on your credit card, you’ve lost any ‘reward’ perk you could have earned.  Paying interest is just not smart.

Hotel Loyalty

My husband travels for a living and we do a lot of side travel as well.  For us, having one hotel company we try to stay at consistently has proven to have huge benefits.  With frequent stays at the same hotel (Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott) you will accrue points when you sign up with their free loyalty programs.  The hotel we chose had us moving up that program fairly quickly and we soon had free nights to redeem.

We redeemed six nights in Hawaii last February and it was amazing.  An ocean front room with a club lounge for breakfast and evening appetizers, which also ends up saving you a bit of money with food expenses.

You can also get free room upgrades, special gifts from the hotel and more.  We’ve also decided to snag this hotel chains credit card as well, because we can earn that much quicker.  It’s been a huge benefit and has additional rewards.

I just returned from four nights in Huntington Beach where I had an ocean view deluxe room for free.  I also redeem airline miles for a ticket and paid $11.

When you pick a hotel chain to stay with consistently it does end up paying off with rewards and perks.

Uber for the Win

When you are traveling by air, truly look at your options for getting around.  Sometimes, the parking fees at resorts is expenseive.  The hassle of driving around, finding locations and driving in new areas can be stressful.  If you are going to a resort and pretty much staying put, consider not renting a car and using Uber to get around.

Lately when I’ve been traveling, I have ditched the rental car and used Uber to get form the airport to the hotel as well as traveling a few places during my stay.  It has saved me money since I was not paying for a car and paying for parking.

Uber Eats, Grub Hub, Door Dash

Traveling with a family is expensive, but there are always new ways to save.  Consider doing Uber Eats, Grub Hub or Door Dash for a few meals while on the road.  I recently used Uber Eats for several meals and saved a lot over dining on the resort property or ordering poolside.  I actually purchased for two meals, lunch and dinner.  I ate the hot entree and usually put a salad in the hotel refrigerator so I could enjoy that later.

Room service is nice for sure, but it is costly.  Those fees add up.  You can still enjoy dining from your balcony but just a bit differently when you order in using one of these services.

Amazon Prime Now and Instacart

Another great tip for food and supplies while at a hotel with out a rental car is using a delivery service like Amazon Prime Now or Instacart.  I mean, you’re on vacation, who needs the hassle of grocery shopping?

Amazon Prime Now is a Free APP – and I have used it to get bottled water delivered, wine, kombucha, fresh fruit, personal care products we’ve forgotten and more.  If you order a certain amount, usually $40 delivery is free, you just pay a tip.

Instacart is a service which is paid  service, so you will be paying a  fee for delivery.  Depending on your area, this may be the only option.  I recently visited Salt Lake City and instacart was the only option for grocery delivery.  It was much easier to just pay the delivery fee than venture out and carry my items myself.  So much easier.

Zeel

This is a special one for all the busy mamas!!! I have used Zeel for massages while traveling and it’s been one of my best discoveries!!  You can even grab a membership and use it in your own home town, unfortunately it’s not available where I live, so I can only benefit when I travel.

You simply type in your zip code and if they service your area, you can book a massage.   The provider comes to your location, no going anywhere and you can choose from a variety a massages and durations.  The prices are so reasonable and I simply have loved not having to leave our rental home or hotel room.

Be sure to check it out the next time you travel, or if you are wanting a little self-care for you, make an appointment for when your little ones are napping!!  WIN, WIN!

What tip did you find the most helpful?

 

My Top 12 Favorite FREE Printables

20
Mar
2017

My Top 12 Favorite FREE Printables

I have rounded up some of the cutest and most practical free printables for you to use in your home and to make life a bit easier. We all need a bit of “easier”, don’t you think?

I didn’t include my FREE Weekly Household Planner here in this list (because you likely already know about it), but it is my top favorite for sure. Here are some great printables that include many areas of home management. I hope you find a few new ones to brighten your day! Which will you print out first?

#1: 31 FREE Printables for Pretend Play

31 FREE Printables for Pretend Play

#2: Six Beautiful Scripture Printables

Six Beautiful Scripture Printables

#3: Fitness Planning Printables

Fitness Planning Printables

#4: FREE Financial Printables

FREE Financial Printables

#5: FREE Printable Recipe Binder

FREE Printable Recipe Binder

#6: FREE Vision Board Printables

FREE Vision Board Printables

#7: FREE Printable Weekly Planners

FREE Printable Weekly Planners

#8: FREE Journaling Printables

FREE Journaling Printables

#9: 4 FREE Seasonal Cleaning Checklists

4 FREE Seasonal Cleaning Checklists

#10: Prayer Journal FREE Printables

Prayer Journal FREE Printables

#11: FREE Printable Chore Chart

FREE Printable Chore Chart

#12: FREE Printable Menu Planner & Shopping List

FREE Printable Menu Planner & Shopping List

Tried and True Tips for Spending Less

31
May
2016

Tried and True Tips for Spending Less

Last week I shared how you can begin to tackle debt with some simple steps. This week I want to share with you more of the “how to” – what it actually looks like.  

Now, remember that each and every family situation is different, but if you are all in and truly want to experience the freedom that comes when you aren’t carrying debt, it takes precise strategies and intentional decisions – which are not easy.

Over the past month we have hammered our budget down – cutting the fat out (fat being anything that truly is not necessary). You may think of our steps as pretty drastic, but honestly, we’ve lived with many of these strategies for years and I think they have served us well.

Reducing Family Entertainment Expenses 

This is one where we have been incredibly intentional with our spending. To be honest, many of these philosophies really came out of true necessity when I was a single mom. There were no funds for movies with snacks and adventures to theme parks and such.

As a family of six, it is a big treat and something we budget for in order to enjoy a large entertainment expense. We do love baseball, so we may attend one major league baseball game during the summer. That is all. It is a considerable expense and we have chosen to make it a very special occasion rather than a normal activity that tends to not have as much impact for the money spent. We do not attend movies at the theater either. The last one was four years ago.

Taking that “fat” and placing it in other areas of our budget (paying off a car payment or putting toward our mortgage) has a much better return. If we owe money, we really have no business sowing into more waste. On the other hand, you can be creative and find very low cost family entertainment or even FREE activities! We love hiking, day trips, and small group activities with friends.

Dining Out

Here is another area we intentionally restrict. We may eat out once a month as a family – period. It is planned and not done in haste or last minute. I am sure you can relate. We often spend way more on these items when we fail to plan for dinner and then end up over spending and sowing into more waste. Rather than do that, why not truly take the time needed to plan meals so that you can efficiently spend your money and sow into being frugal and wise rather then wasteful?

Dining out is a very special occasion for us, and even when we do, we typically always have a coupon! And it has been budgeted for.

Owing for Vehicles

If you are paying a car payment – stop! This one is a hard one for many because we live in such a “want it now” society, but this is the biggest waste of money ever. For us, we were so close in paying off the second car we had owed on that it was better for us to keep it and attack that debt rather then sell it and buy a car we had the money to afford. However, if you have months and months of payments, I highly suggest you determine if paying out that money is the best thing for you. 

Caring for Yourself

This may be an area you don’t really give much consideration to, however over the past three years I have learned a lot of food choices that can help our bodies stay healthy and choices that will deteriorate our health. We have changed up our food budget in order to accommodate better choices at the grocery store – more fresh vegetables and fruits, locally sourced meat, raw milk, and less and less processed food. Processed food is certainly much cheaper, but it is literally making an investment in poor health.

We’ve also taken greater care with making choices using natural alternatives to support our immune systems as well as our emotions, which results in many great benefits. Less time sitting at a doctor’s office, less money paid to medical facilities, we feel better, miss less school and/or work, and our schedules run smoother. It’s an investment in ourselves which will pay huge dividends in the years to come.

Eating from Your Pantry

This is a huge one. We are a society of choices and excess. I am sure if you looked in your pantry you could find at least a week’s worth of meals to fix without having to go to the grocery store. When I returned from a conference a few months ago, I took the challenge and began using more of the items we had in our pantry instead of just planning all meals with new ingredients. I can tell you we don’t always eat exactly what I might be in the mood for, but it has been a great experience on using what we have and not wasting. I challenge you to do that same. Use that extra money that remains in your food budget at the end of the month to go towards paying off a bill you have!

I share a lot of my saving secrets in my Become a Frugalista eBook too. If you need some steps and some encouragement, go over and grab it now!  

So, what area is your first to attack? I would love to hear your strategies and goals.

Shifting to a Frugal Mindset: Paying Off Debt NOW!

24
May
2016

Shifting to a Frugal Mindset: Paying Off Debt NOW!

Debt robs us of freedom. It robs us of possibilities. It robs us of joy.

I have had many years of my life where I overspent and did not mange money well. In fact, it sadly managed me – my moods, my choices, my future. I had to use a debt consolidation company to help me escape patterns of bad choices and bad habits.

When I re-married I was so blessed to have a husband who was very frugally minded – and we started our marriage off having a budget. This was a FIRST for me, and to be honest, we followed it loosely until we began to wonder, where was our money really going?

We couldn’t really say.

About five years ago we got down to the nitty gritty and set up a budget using Mint.com – which we found to be simple as well as a completely secure way to help us track our spending. We had not done any financial training, but with age and past mistakes, we knew we needed to be focused on knowing exactly where we spent our money.

It was during that transition I wrote down a lot of my frugally minded ideas in my book, Becoming a Frugalista – Money Saving Secrets for the Family Manager. It was fabulous to place them all in one spot to share with my readers, and I still use many of those tips today.

Fast-forward a few years and my husband and I are tackling our debt even further. We are determined to be free from debt that ultimately makes us feel trapped. Our situation is a bit different. We have worked hard to not carry debt, however we have a car payment that will be paid off in just a few months and then our mortgage.  

The thought of our mortgage being our only debt is exhilarating. I am thankful for my work at home businesses, both my blog and my Young Living sharing bringing in additional income, which is a bonus in helping with our family budget and paying down debt – plus blessing many organizations we would not otherwise have had the opportunity to give to.

Do you wonder what it would be like to have no debt? 

Are you finding your debt suffocating and stealing your joy?  

Today, I will share some ways to shift your thinking, which will hopefully begin to change your perspective on how you are spending your money. Next week I will cover exact examples on how you can find FAT in your budget and put that towards your bills. I recently watched, War on Debt by Dani Johnson. It hit me between the eyes. So much of what I do in my home shows a spirit of indulging and excessive behavior. OUCH! There is a better way. Let’s start changing our thinking.

Asking, “Do I Really Need That?”

You’ve heard this one before I am sure. We often get into habits of just buying because we can. Because we have the money (or at least we think we have the money) to buy more of something, when in reality we may not even truly need it. It is a habit. It’s time to ask that before you purchase everything – from the grocery store, to Amazon, to Old Navy. Do I really need that? If you can truly answer YES to that question, then go ahead – as long as you have funds in your budget. Otherwise, don’t do it.

But, We Think Differently

Do you and your husband think about money in the same way? For many in marriage, the answer is no. Is there a way you can meet in the middle and be somewhere near the same page with spending? This can be a common issue, however even if you can’t agree, I don’t think you should use it as an excuse. Be responsible for the choices you are making on spending money. You cannot control anyone else, but you can make better choices yourself. I can tell you what you do matters and it will be seen, even when you don’t think it is.

Monthly Check-Ins

Schedule, on your calendar – yes, just like any other appointment – to have a family business meeting. You can spend time going through your bills, what was spent, areas you maybe overspent, and where you underspent. This gives both people a chance to see exactly where money is being spent. There is no, “Oh, I didn’t know” phrases that can say ignorance. Be smart, empowered, and have no excuses.

Look to Trim Your Fat

I’ll share more on this next week, but finding ways to trim excessive spending is what you can be looking at now. Do you eat out often? Do you go to the coffee drive thru on a regular basis? Do you find yourself charging basic necessities? When you owe money to others, you need to truly be evaluating where you are spending your money and determine if you are sowing into your finances in order to reap benefits or if you are spending carelessly and reaping what you are sowing.

Do not throw your money away, allow it to work for you. You work hard to get it, right?

5 Mistakes That Will Bust Your Budget

2
Nov
2015

5 Mistakes That Will Bust Your Budget

Last week my husband and I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with a group of ladies about our personal experience with family finances. We are by no means financial wizards, however we do have some lessons we have learned over the years which I feel have helped us manage our finances better (I shared some of my savings tips and ways to be financially frugal in this eBook). Financial issues is one of the major issues in a marriage and causes many to divorce, which is extremely disheartening.

We are not financial experts, nor do the things we choose to do necessarily match your desires, but I wanted to share with you our biggest mistakes we have made in the past.

Here are five of the mistakes we shared that will surely bust your budget.

#1: Not Paying God First

As a Christian, this is one of the acts of obedience we are asked to do. In the years when I was a single mom I did not tithe, or I gave very little. Once I remarried, this was an area that both my husband and I agreed on, yet – it is still hard to FIRST give that money away, even before you have paid anything else. I will tell you, through our act of obedience and trusting that God will provide, He has shown himself faithful time and time again. You will bless others and will be blessed when you choose to trust God.

#2: Not Paying Yourself

This is another area where I didn’t practice “saving” until later in my life. When you choose to purposefully put money aside to plan for a “rainy day” or for back up spending that you may need, it will set you up for success. I lived paycheck to paycheck for many years and. honestly, overspent and borrowed to pay bills. Not the way to live. Learning to save was critical to maturing in managing finances.

#3: Secret Spending

Do you ever buy something without letting your spouse know? Do you hide clothes or household purchases so you don’t have to answer questions, and then bring them out later? Perhaps you have a secret bank account or keep cash stashed away. These are all signs that there is not complete financial honesty with your spouse and that is a recipe for trouble.

I did this to a small extent for a few years, but as soon as both my husband and I were set to move forward, it was no more.

#4: No Personal Funny Money

“Married couples should budget for each person to have a little pocket money and the freedom to have fun.” – Dave Ramsey

No matter how you structure your budget, both you and your spouse need to have some discretionary money that you can choose to spend however you like. Both my husband and I have a set amount per month that we get to spend on our own. What is included in this for me? My monthly massage, any music I purchase, lunch with friends, any outside beverage/food purchases that are exclusively mine, books, activities that are on my own, and similar. My husband has the same and we are held accountable for staying within that budget.

#5: Not Planning Meals

This is a BIG budget buster. When you do not have dinner planned and it is 4:00 in the afternoon and have no idea what you’re putting on the table, you have a higher chance of going out to eat or picking up expensive take-out! Planning is key to keep within the budget.

I love this Organic Meal Plan with ingredients purchased from Costco (10 Meals for $100), from $5 Dinners. I will be sharing a blog post on it soon! I am all about slow cooker meals to save time and they’re also friendly on the budget.

Emeals is also a true-tested friend with me, where you can get weekly meal plans delivered right to your inbox with menus, recipes, and a shopping list. You can choose from over 50 meal plan options too – all for pennies a day. You can even try it for FREE for two weeks!

BONUS #6: No Common Goals

No matter what season of life you are in, it is a huge help to have some type of common goal for your financial health for your family. Whether it is striving to get a 6 months back up savings in place, saving for a family vacation, or paying off your mortgage – these type of goals are important to remember when there will be times you choose to not do certain activities or spend in certain areas because you remember your larger plan. I encourage you to sit down with your spouse and set some financial goals and begin working – small baby steps. It starts there!

If you missed this wonderful collection of eBooks, eCourses, and bonuses on Homemaking earlier this year – for TWO days only you can grab it again in this FLASH sale! I have loved my copy and if you are interested in getting your finances in order, there are several great resources, including a copy of my eBook, Becoming a Frugalista.

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