20 Ways to Cut Your Expenses, Grow Your Bank Balance, and Have Money for Travel

By Nomadic Matt | Published April 3rd, 2012

money for your rtw tripLet’s start this blog post with a short exercise. I want you to get out a sheet of paper and write down all your set expenses. Write down how much you pay for your rent (mortgage), your car payments, cable bill, cell phone, insurance, and the like. Tally them up.

Then write down all your discretionary spending. This is what you spend on food, movie nights, drinks, shopping, that daily coffee from Starbucks, cigarettes, sports tickets, and other similar things. If you don’t know what you spend money on, go track your expenses for a two-week period and see what you spend.

Add that all up — what did you get? Probably a lot of money. And I bet there will be a lot of stuff in there that you never expected. Financial experts call these “phantom expenses” because we never know they are there. People bleed money without realizing it. A dollar here and a dollar there really adds up.

What does this have to do with travel? Well, what’s one of the main reasons why you think you can’t travel the world? Money. “I can’t afford it,” people say to me. “I have too many expenses.” To be blunt, I think that’s bullshit. My book is called How To Travel The World On 50 USD Per Day. That’s $18,250 USD per year. Do you spend more than that per year? Most people do. I did.

So in this blog post I want to highlight the ways I cut expenses before I left on my trip in order to save money for travel. There are some added ones in here too that didn’t apply to me but might apply to you!

Cut the coffee – Love your Starbucks? Well, Starbucks loves your money. Coffee is the little thing that quietly drains your bank account without you ever noticing. That daily coffee costs you $150 per month ($5 per coffee). At $1,800 USD per year, that’s two months in Southeast Asia. What’s more important – your daily cup of Joe or getting to spend two more months on the beaches of Thailand or exploring the jungles of Borneo in Malaysia? Give up the coffee, switch from the cappuccino to a standard brew, start drinking tea, or brew your own cup.

Learn to cook – We all need to eat but restaurants are getting quite expensive these days. Even with this recession, coming back to the US I’ve noticed that food prices are a lot higher than they used to be. I learned to cook while in college (a skill that has helped me ever since) and before I left, I cut down my eating out to two times per week. Every other meal was cooked. I cooked dinner and then used the leftovers to eat lunch, thus saving more money. You don’t need to be a whiz in the kitchen, either. There are a million and one cooking sites that will teach you how to cook fast and healthy meals – perfect for people without a lot of time.

MORE INFORMATION: HOW TO EAT CHEAP AND SAVE MONEY ON FOOD

Lose the car – Cars cost a lot of money between insurance, repairs, and filling your tank with gas (Current average price: $4 USD per gallon). If you can, get rid of yours. Learn to love the bus, take the subway, or walk. It took me longer to get to work using public transportation but you’ll find that you don’t really need a car as much as you think. I understand that this tip may not be feasible for everyone, especially those in smaller towns that don’t have a good public transportation system, but a good alternative is to sell your car and buy a cheaper used car. You will only need a car to last you until you go away. Buying a “throw away car” will allow you to pocket the money from your more expensive car and put it towards your trip.

Find a roommate - Lowering your housing costs will allow you to see huge gains in your savings. Get rid of that apartment or bring in some roommates. If you can, try to move in with Mom and Dad. Six months before I went abroad, I moved in with my parents. It wasn’t that fun being 25 and living with my parents but I saved over $3,000 USD in rent as a result. If this is not an option for you, bring in a roommate. Turn that living room into a spare room and get a housemate. In NYC, people turn living rooms into bedrooms and studio apartments into two bedrooms by adding a folding screen through the middle of the room. It’s not the most ideal living situation, but it does save money.

Get rid of cable – In the age of Hulu and free (and legal) streaming TV, there’s no reason for you to be spending $50 USD per month on cable television. Get rid of it and just watch everything online for free.

Ditch your landline – Ok, I honestly only know about 10 people these days who have anything other than a mobile phone, but if you do have a mobile phone and a landline, you don’t need both. Ditch your phone line (unless you have cable internet through it) and save money.

Downgrade your phone – Having an iPhone costs about $83 USD per month. I know. That’s what I get charged for the cheapest plan! (Thanks Verizon!) Even when I try to get to the lowest level of service possible, it is still expensive. While smart phones are handy devices, getting a cheap phone without any fancy apps will cost you half that per month. You might get bored on the train not being able to read the news, but saving $500 USD in year will be better put towards a few more weeks in Europe, nicer meals, or a learning to scuba dive in Fiji.

Get a new credit card – A travel credit card can give you free money, free rooms, or free flights. By accruing miles and rewards points with your card, you can redeem them for free travel on your trip. After all, the best way to save money is to not have to spend it. And that trip doesn’t need to be long – you can use those points on a trip that is two weeks or two months. A free flight is a free flight. You’ll see the most benefit from this by starting early — as soon as you decide to travel the world, get a travel-related credit card and begin earning free points on your daily purchases.

READ MORE: HOW TO PICK A GOOD CREDIT CARD AND TRAVEL FOR FREE

money for your rtw tripOpen an online savings account – While you are saving money, you can have it grow a little bit more by putting it in a high yield online savings account. This is what I did while I was preparing to go away and I netted a few hundred USD extra. Interest rates are pretty low these days but you can still get 1-2%. Good online US banks include:

If you are in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, this is even better because you have interest rates starting at 4%, which is financially amazing when you go overseas too, because you can still earn a lot of extra money.

Get Charles SchwabCharles Schwab bank refunds all your ATM fees and has no account fees. This works out great when you are traveling overseas but can also be valuable if you are ever someplace where your local bank doesn’t have an ATM. No matter where you are, you never pay another fee again with Charles Schwab.

Sign up for travel newsletters – No one likes to clutter up their inbox, but by signing up for mailing lists from airlines and travel companies, you’ll be able to get updates about all the last-minute or special deals that are happening. I would have missed out on a round trip ticket to Japan for $700 USD (normally $1,500) if it wasn’t for the American Airlines mailing list.

Besides signing up from airlines and travel sites (check out the resource page for my favorite), I have a weekly mailing list where I find the best deals of the week and send them to you. Instead of trying to find deals, I do the work for you. You can sign up right here.

Build a network on Couchsurfing – Building a network on Couchsurfing can help you make friends with locals and get free accommodation when you do travel. But if you have never used it before, you might not get a lot of responses. After all, someone with no reviews or who isn’t vouched for isn’t an appealing candidate. Before you go away, sign up for CS, find the local meet ups (there is always one), and go visit. You’ll make friends, get added to people’s profiles, get vouched for, and have a network you can utilize when you go away.

Read More: FIND OUT MORE WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON ACCOMMODATION

Replace your light bulbs – Seriously! Electricity costs money and since every penny counts, use energy efficient light bulbs which cut down on your utility bills. Florescent light bulbs now cost as little as $2.50 USD for a pack of two and save $6 USD per year off your electric bill. Plus, due to energy efficiency initiatives in certain states, many utilities will give you a rebate if you buy them! (I believe this also happens in Europe too.)

Buy second-hand – Why pay full price when you can pay half? Use websites like Amazon (discounted books and electronics), wholesale websites, and clearance sales (REI, my favorite gear company, has a clearance section) to buy at discount.

Cut couponsThe Entertainment Book, grocery coupons, Groupon, and loyalty cards all reduce the price you pay at the register. Clipping coupons might make you feel like an 80-year-old grandmother, but the goal here is to be frugal and save money and coupons definitely help with that.

Sell your stuff – When I went overseas, I looked around my apartment and saw a lot of stuff I had no need for anymore. TVs, couches, tables, stereo equipment. Instead of keeping it in storage (which costs money), I decided to just get rid of everything. I sold it all and used the money to travel with. After all, while eating pasta in Rome, I’m not really going to need my couch am I! Sites like Craigslist and Gumtree are excellent places to go.

Skip the movies – I don’t know about you, but I find movies to be ridiculously expensive. It can cost up to $15 for a ticket, and an equal amount for the popcorn and soda. Cut out the movies, rent them online via Netflix ($7.99 per month) or iTunes ($1.99) or find other means. Whatever you do, cutting out trips to the movies will save you a bundle, especially if you are like me and love the movies.

Stop drinking – Alcohol costs a lot of money. Cutting down the amount you drink is going to have a big impact on your budget. While this might not apply to a lot of people, if you are young and carefree, you might go out with your friends a lot on the weekend. Don’t. It may not be as fun staying home but cutting down the amount of alcohol you consume is considered “low-hanging fruit” – an easy way to save money.

Quit smoking – Smoking not only kills you but it kills your wallet too. At $10 USD per pack per day that is $3,650 USD per year. That’s a lot of money. Even if you smoke half that, that’s still enough money for months in Central America. If you don’t want to stop smoking for your health, do it for your trip.

Cutting your daily expenses, being frugal, as well as downgrading to a simpler way of living will allow you to save a lot of money for your trip around the world without having to find extra sources of income. I know because it’s exactly what I did. These tips alone will help save you thousands of dollars and that type money that suddenly makes your dream trip seem less like a dream and more like a reality.

If you want to save even more money so you can travel more often and longer, here are other articles to read:

comments 96 Comments

Thanks for the great tips. I too moved home before I went overseas and while it’s not fun, I saved sooo much more money. Starbucks gets me everytime but thinking about two months in SE asia will definitely help me think twice!

Starbucks could already cover your meals in Asia for a day! Agree with most of this post. If you’re gonna do a Pareto on this, I think the top saving tips are cook on your own and couchsurfing!

Tim

Wow, those interest rates are low. I’m getting around 5-6% with my online savings account here in Australia.

NomadicMatt

Interest rates are so much better down under. I wish I could open a bank account there for that reason alone.

Wow! Wish we could get 5-6%! Its almost pointless trying to save in the US.

I guess with low interest rates, the best thing to get into is real estate, so my wife and I have been cutting expenses to save more, just so we can invest into a house. 4% 30yr mortgage is pretty sweet!

Great list of ways to cut expenses! We are selling our second car and down sizing our life just so we can invest more for our future!

Tim

Great post BTW Matt! Some solid tips and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Julia

About 8 months ago I decided to change the way I was with my money. I am a college student who has a scholarship, but I still spent aprox 800 a month, and most was unnecessary. I was able to cut down my expenses to 1/4 of that per month. Now I nearly have 4k saved, and what has kept me going in spending so little money is because when I graduate I want to go live in Thailand for a few years. Any time I am tempted to spend money I just think, “what can you do with that in Thailand?”I am so glad I got this figured out now!
Thanks for sharing, I love the advice and your blog!

NomadicMatt

After awhile, every time you go to the store, you automatically think “With that amount of money, I can spend X days in X country!”

Glad to see I practise most of those! For me the biggest headache was my car. I was in a minor accident 1 year ago but it was a blessing because I realized I didn’t need it. I don’t plan on getting another car, I’m saving so much money especially by not paying for gas, but MOST of all I feel so much more free! Less is more, and without the materialism or excess “stuff” you “think ” in our lives you realize you’re much more happier/fullfilled/peaceful. I walk more, bike more, and living a life of minimalism now.

NomadicMatt

The more stuff you own, the more it owns you.

Susie

So simple, yet so true. Thanks!

Fantastic! Some of these methods I’ve already utilized but there are still a handful that you have listed on here that I need to start putting into practice. As far as getting from place to place I also do a lot of hitchhiking…I know it’s a little sketchy at times in our society but usually a hippy will pick up another hippy… ;-)

Well said Matt! Couldn’t agree more. That’s exactly how I saved, plus I picked up odd jobs during the holidays, like dealing Black Jack at private parties.

Living the dream now! In Amsterdam, on my way to Germany next week!

Thanks so much for all your incredible advice, it is really paying off.

Amber

NomadicMatt

Glad I could help get you on the road! Have fun in Germany.

Fabulous list!

Another thing to add: if you live in a big city and only need a car occasionally, there is the option of joining a carshare program, which allows you to rent cars for a few hours, pick them up in strategic locations around your city, etc.

Another option, if you do have a nice car that you love and want to come home to it, is to get a friend (or stranger if you dare) to lease it from you. You can have them cover insurance and probably your car payment and still come in lower than most lease prices (plus, they get the bonus of not having to sign a multi-year contract!).

And, finally, Skype now offers online numbers for something super low like $5 a month. You can have a real local phone number that your friends and family can reach you on even while you are traveling. And incoming calls only cost you your subscription fee and only cost your callers the same as a local call in the states. Most cell companies will let you put your cell service on hold (no reason to pay for the cell while you’re gone) and then you’re only paying for your skype number!

I’ve implemented a lot of these already, but there is one I disagree with. I had my Blackberry stolen a few months back, and downgraded my phone plan whilst using an old cellphone because I can’t afford a new Blackberry. However, I’m now paying MORE than with the Blackberry plan because I’ve lost those handy free messages with Blackberry Messenger and WhatsApp! I also tried out a mobile internet connection (a USB connection) so I could lose the landline, and that proved too unreliable, although it was great to have connections in different places I went during a normal day! I guess these things vary in different countries, but this is true for Spain, and, I believe, UK.

Lots of good tips here. I moved back in with my parents before buying my condo and never would have been able to save up a down payment without doing so, or save up money for traveling.

I think what’s even better than just tracking all your set and discretionary spending is comparing it to how much you make per month. Look at that as a positive number, then subtract all your expenses. Everyone I know who’s done this ends up amazed at how much money they “should” have left over, but don’t. “Phantom money” indeed – it just disappears into the ether!

NomadicMatt

A dollar here and there adds up before you know it.

Liz

Great post and great tips. Specifically about attending CS meetups prior to looking for a host…

Thanks!

Love the Charles Schwab Online Checking. It’s saved me a ton of money during my travels

Great article Matt. Another way is to help the bottom line is to start an online travel blog.

All good tips. I would be careful with the daily deal coupons though. Those things can be addicting and you may not end up using all the special offers you buy that were supposed to ‘save’ you money.

For all those who love REI (Matt included), you can attend their monthly used gear sale. You need to be a member (pay a $20 one time fee) to attend these sales. Don’t let the “used” part discourage you from going. They sell stuff that people return because it doesn’t fit, don’t want anymore or have never used. What I am trying to say is that most of the stuff is in pretty good condition or like new. This can save you tons of money if you are buying gear for an upcoming trip. I bought a pair of Tevas for $20 and a carry on suitcase/backpack for $25.

NomadicMatt

Great! Thanks for the tip.

Nashir

I read this full article. I seems all is good. Thanks for informative sharing.

Great tips! I need to start doing a lot of these.

NomadicMatt

Yes you do! Get out there and have a more luxurious and longer trip!

Youri

Currently living in Mexico for under 1400 dollars per month including a private apartment in an upscale neighbourhood. The only thing I can’t get rid of are ATM fees, there’s no Schwab here or back home.

NomadicMatt

Where is your home? Netherlands? Try HSBC as it will at least LOWER your fees.

I can happily say that you just described my lifestyle. As for the selling old stuff. I love getting rid of unwanted stuff in my house. This year alone I have made about 5,000 on items stored in my basement. This weekend I went to work and painted an old dollhouse I have, I will be putting it up on ebay for 1,000. To me its just stuff, it takes up space when I am traveling, and memories are priceless. You did a great job covering every way to save money, take it from a penny pincher!

NomadicMatt

This year, I finally sold all my comic books.

Hugues

A great way to lower your interests: Transfer your credit card balance to a lower credit card. Sometimes you receive offers like 0% interest for X months (rare) or 1.9% for X months for a transfer balance, think about it, they just want to make money if you miss a payment there, read on…

I did it last year I was getting a 0% interest for almost a year, transfer my 3000$ balance there, at the end of the year, my balance was 0$.

The transfer cost me 30$, I paid only 30$ over a 3000$ dept for a year :-)

Again, Be WISE:

1) NEVER USE this credit card, it’s kind of a loan at low %, if you buy stuff with it, you will pay a hefty 19.9% interest rate on you purchace, not 0% or 1.9% :-(

2) The three never, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, be late in your payments, one miss and your back a 19,9% for your loan :-(

3) Forget this credit card, never use it, put it in a drawer and pay online with a number you saved on your bank account.

4) Try not to load your other credit card again, that’s not a wise thing to do, phone them and ask for a better interest rate, from an 18.9% I got a 9.9% interest, you can do it now since it’s empty, if they refuse, tell them you will stop using it, they will think about it. Phone then again the next week… another credit card operator could be be more friendly ;-)

NomadicMatt

Another way to do is is to not spend more than you earn and be debt free.

Claire

Very helpful and motivating! 6 months to Thailand and Oz

I’m already doing most of these tips which is definately working.

The starbucks one is definately true!! :D

Jenn

Enjoyed your article. However i do want to say that my household bought into the Fluorescent bulb trend. But with a little bit of research you will find out just how “Dirty” these bulbs are. The overall energy cost is not worth the savings. So many people are unaware of the dangerous mercury in these bulbs and have no idea that they should be properly disposed of.

For UK readers, the Halifax clarity credit card is the best option for free withdrawals abroad.

also another cost cutting method is to avoid buying news papers and read online or pick up free ones instead. just like the coffee it adds up over time.

great read, i never though about using craiglist for furnature, was going to use ebay but the items are too big for postage, cheers mate!

Steve I.

If you don’t mind reading the news a few hours, or at worst 1/2 day late, they can be had for free on bus, train & subway seats in most major cities. I used to commute by LIRR & subway, but a little later than the hordes. There were always papers lying around…

All solid tips. It’s just amazing how many Americans tend to squander money, figuring that it’ll be constantly coming in. So true about giving up the car, huge money is saved there.
On top of Charles Schwab there’s also TD Bank which has branches from Maine to Florida along the entire east coast. As long as you maintain a balance of $2,500, they reimburse any ATM fees. Avoiding these painful fees can save ridiculous amounts of dollars over time.

These are great tips! Awesome article!

Great post Matt! We already do a lot of these things but you mentioned a lot of new ones we hadn’t thought of yet!

Totally agree about the cinema tickets and alcohol! That alone could save most people hundreds!

Irvin Middleton

Very useful tips. I substantially cut my spending in a very surprising way earlier this year when I left my corporate job to work at home. The job came with a company car and I didn’t want to spend the money to buy a car until my earnings stabilized. I still can’t believe how much less I spend a month on groceries because I plan my meals and actually “cook” (as opposed to rush, rush/fast food/toss a lot of leftovers) and as a bonus I feel better!

Objection, my good sir!

“Sign up for travel newsletters” – no, this is the last thing you should do. You will only get tempted to spend the money you just saved on things you didnt know they’d exists before you signed up for the newsletter. Newsletters are just another advertising channel, and the last thing you need to save money.

Fear not, because there will always be another “AMAZING DEAL!!!” with “60% off!!” when you are ready to start your trip. Plus, with all the different sites comparing prices from different airlines and hotels will always find a better offer somewhere else.

Thank you for these tips. People don’t realize just how much they hide behind their money excuse! It’s only a valid excuse for a handful of people – most of them are just afraid to take the plunge.

Lyndyloo

I did most of these things before I left on my world trip in 2010. I sold hand made things that i’d made on Etsy.com too. I sold my books at second hand book stores and only had a few bits left by the last yard sale. I saved enough to take off, and I’ve been working my way around our beautiful planet for 500 days now. The only thing I would add is about is the smart phone. It may save you money while preparing for your trip, but get one to take with you. I have a second-hand “unlocked” iPhone 3G and it has been priceless in my travels. I am currently in Fiji and it costs only $11 fijian a month Fiji Vodaphone ($5 US) for me to have Internet whenever I need it (even on a yacht at sea). It was only $30 a month for 450mb and free text in Australia (vodafone $30cap) I use it to stay in touch with family and friends at home and people I meet along the way, I can Skype whenever I want to see someone. I use the maps and Trip Advisor all the time for address, phone numbers, reviews, etc. I had set up all my online banking before I left as well as PayPal online. While I’ve been away there’s been many times I’ve had to send money to friends (without huge wire fees) and all my bank transfers can be done without worry of using shared computers in cafe’s. It’s also been great to have a couple hundred key photos of me and my life to show new people in other countries, it’s like having a huge photo album to share. The music on the iPod has come in handy, especially in noisy hostels at night, or on long train/bus trips. The currency converter “Oanda” is kept very busy along with the world clock, I don’t call people in UK at 3am by mistake anymore. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not online all the time or being distracted by the technology, but rather it is helping me a great deal. I am single female traveller on a quest to travel and see as much as possible.
Thanks for all your great posts.

NomadicMatt

It’s ok with the wine. What’s life without a few splurges anyways?

Cal

Excellent post Matt. Cheers.

Having a landline phone can and does save lives and property. Pick up your phone, dial 911, and without saying a word help will be sent. Is it worth it to save a few bucks?

One more suggestion – an excellent book called Your Money or Your Life outlines steps for reaching financial independence. It really helped me make decisions that allow me to live life of overseas travel.
Jenny

Wow, awesome tips/info. So glad I found your blog. I’ll be looking into higher interest savings accounts before leaving for Australia. Thank you!

Caroline

For Australians, check out the 28 Degrees Mastercard by GE. I just got one for my upcoming travels.

You get free cash withdrawals at overseas ATMs (the ATM itself can charge you but that would happen with any card), and there are no currency conversion fees for purchases or cash.

The interest rate is high (around 20%) but if you load up the card with some cash, you can avoid fees. Even if you don’t, paying a couple of days after the transaction is still far cheaper than a normal bank’s credit cards – CBA for example charges me $5 plus 3% of the transaction for overseas withdrawals.

Surminga

Whilst learning to cook saves you money, I think you also need to learn how to shop – no point buying branded label foods as well as buying multi buys

Steve I.

While growing one’s own food is not time/cost-effective for most people, growing your favorite seasonings is cheap an easy. Have you priced basil or other herbs & spices lately? We’re not talking 1$/lb potato prices. All it takes is a window, a few pots and good (but inexpensive) soil like Pro Mix, fertilized with Fish Emulsion and a couple minutes a day. (avoid Hyponex ‘potting soil’ and Miracle-Gro like the plague)
Garlic needs almost no maintenance in most backyard soil, and if you cook with it a lot, can save quite a bit over a year.
If you eat meat, hunting can be cheaper, and is much healthier than the factory-farmed processed meat-food-product in the supermarket. No steroids or antibiotics in it either.

i think these travel money cards are a nice way to stay within your budget and great way to avoid all the branded label stuff.

You can go for local things and save $$ and be on your target and also enjoy all lots of new food, drink, item which is a main point in travelling also :)

travelforever

All really useful tips, many thanks for posting Matt.

I’m glad to realise I do almost all of these already (or have done in the case of selling my car and moving closer to work so I can walk and don’t pay from transport).
I just need to get stricter about making instead of buying lunches and going to the cinema less. I love seeing movies but at 10GBP a go they add up quickly, especially in Jan/Feb Oscar season and the Summer. That said I have an Odeon (UK Cinema chain) loyalty card which means that for every 8 films I see I get a free ticket. Not amazing but it does make a difference if you’re a film addict like me :)

I can’t wait to get going next year, hurry up Sept 2013!!

Skip the movies, alcohol, and smoking. This is so true. Some people don’t realize it, but those little spendings accumulated in, say, 6 months could already buy you a plane ticket.

The first 5 stick out for me. Especially get a roommate one, Once you make these sacrifices and realise how much extra money you have you wonder why you spent it for so long in the first place!

Hey Matt,

I think these are great ideas! Another way you can save up money is by deciding to save all your $5 bills. Everytime you get change back from the store, restaurant, etc..save all your $5 bills and you will be very surprised how quickly they can add up. I saved up $65 in one week without knowing it!

Sally

Andrew

Hey Matt,

Thanks for that, and really cool insights. I have always wanted to travel but was not able to save a penny till for that. Now I guess I have the right guide and the right motivation to do it. I have a small doubt though, for a first time traveler where do you suggest first overseas trips should be? and what would be the budget like? (sorry I’m new to the blog so excuse me if this question has been answered and also published before)

Steve I.

If you buy by the bottle rather than at the bar it saves a lot. Also, if you get friendly with your local liquor store manager or owner, they can often hook you up with similar wines that cost a little less. I’ve gotten great deals on amazing wines (well, better than my staples at least) that I never would have thought of, just because the store owner needed the shelf space more than he needed his standard margin. Inventory turnover is what keeps retail businesses profitable, not stuff that sits on a shelf for years.
Ask the proprietor about that dusty old chardonnay on the back shelf. You never know….

Steve I.

Also consider bicycle touring. Besides saving on local transport expense, you will find that people are very open to those traveling under their own power. It’s very common to barter some morning chores in exchange for being permitted to sleep on someone’s land and a good hearty breakfast…

I like a commenter’s suggestion of bicycle touring. That cuts down on a traveler’s carbon footprint a little, and I have another idea, too that is related to reducing a carbon footprint: stop eating meat. Meat is expensive and giving it up not only cuts down on your spending significantly, it also gets you in better health – so you’ll feel like a million bucks yourself when you finally get out and hit the traveling road.

I agree that cutting a car will save a lot of costs.

Here are a few other things that will save you BIG MONEY that you didnt mention.

1. Dump your girlfriend.

2. Forget dating altogether (or just be very selective) . The negative: your right fist might soon have the strength to crash walnuts.

3. Cancel ALL insurance plans. I mean everything, why not? I live without insurance and look at me, Im in a shack down by the river!

saludos, Dom in Ecuador

Valerie

Great article Matt! I already do the majority of these things, since I am trying to get out there on my own again. Thanks for the tips about sites to sell items (other than e-bay and I’ve never been a fan of Craigslit, but I see it there) since I’ve been thinking of selling a bunch of things I don’t need (I actually just donated books and albums to the library instead of selling them). Are there any credit/travel cards you would recommend for traveling, etc for people with low income/little credit. My Credit Score is good but a lot of places won’t allow me to get a card because of my lack of open accounts (what can I say, I like using cash). Thanks! I’ve bookmarked the article itself and you site.

A few things I’ve learned…. While I travel, I hang on to a pay as you go T-mobile plan for my iPhone, which costs nothing when I’m not using it, and very little when I’m in the US. I mean comparatively. And the cell phone plan I have in France for my iPhone (where I am long-term right now) is less than 40€ a month. With an iPhone, you can swap out your SIM card wherever you go, if you can find a pay as you go service. It’s good. :-)

If you still want to go to movies, see if there’s a monthly movie pass you can sign up for. I do that in France, and although there are some months I don’t make it worth the 20€, other months I do, and it’s good to know I can watch as many movies as I want, in the theatre with my friends (or without them). Soon I’m going to try going to the French ones and see if I can follow along…. I mean, it’s practically free. :-)

Nice list Matt!

And @Gigi has a phenomenal suggestion as well.

USE skype to get a local number if you’re going to stay in any one place for an extended period of time. $5 a month is ridiculously cheap for a local number anywhere. Especially if you’re traveling in a country with more expensive cell phone plans. Most prepaid options I’ve tried when abroad have come out to around $50/month when making somewhat regular local calls.

Remember its not just about saving to travel, but saving as you travel as well!

My girlfriend and I just went through two years of brutal saving, but we’re finally on the road now, and we’re loving it!

Some additional things we did:
- We live in the Netherlands, where squatting is still a thing. There are anti-squatting rental businesses that rent out houses just so they won’t be squatted. It’s usually old buildings, but for a third of the price of a normal rental, well worth it!

- Whenever someone wanted to go out to dinner with us, we invited them over out our place instead. I’m a decent cook, so I would just tell them to bring a bottle of wine, and I’d cook a nice meal for them. Way cheaper and cozy too! Also, convenience :)

- Stop shopping for clothes. Rediscover your wardrobe.

- Change your mindset: every time you want to buy something, think ‘what could I buy in Thailand/Brazil/Nigeria for this amount instead’. This really helps stop you spending and work towards your goal.

Great piece!

Regards,
Nick

Katie

Hi Matt! Thanks for the tips. I’m already a frugal spender, and am practicing some of these things already. I have a regular job, but a teacher’s salary isn’t much (as you well know). :-) But I don’t let that deter me from traveling. Having a Filipino passport is a bit of a challenge, as there are visa issues, but there are many SEA countries where I can travel without a visa, and those are in my bucket list. Some of my colleagues are amazed that I can travel almost every break (Christmas break or summer break), and I tell them that traveling is not that expensive, as there are promo flights and cheap hostels. I also tell them that if they want to travel, then they must cut back on their expenses to be able to have a travel fund. But as I see it, some of them aren’t able to cut back on their Starbucks, movies, eating out or bubble milk tea. (Bubble milk tea is the rage here, have you tried it?) Oh well… :-) I’m now reading your blog almost everyday. I chanced by it when I was researching for my trip to Macau & HK last Christmas break. Now I’m planning for a Borneo trip during my summer break. Continue writing, continue inspiring people. Cheers, or as we say here, Mabuhay! ;-)

Being frugal is a fantastic way to save money, and it doesn’t have to come with giving up your social life! Couch surfing is an amazing example of that, as you mentioned :) Lots of good tips and ideas in here – thanks!

kathryn

thanks for THOSE extra tips, I’d never heard of!

Lucy

Thanks for your great tips. I wanna travel right now, but I must graduate from college first. A college kid is bound by a fixed timetable.

Aurora

Useful tips! All your blog posts are really interesting and helping me to plan my 1st trip abroad on my own! Thank you :)

Just found this page – All great money saving tips! I highly recommend ditching the car – Go for a bicycle instead!

Tam

Yes interest rates in Australia is so much better for online savings account but we also pay way more interests on loans. If you compare car, home, personal, credit cards interest, we are paying a lot more. Luckily I have no loans.

NomadicMatt

We pay more on those same loans too.

NomadicMatt

This is a custom theme.

Roxanne

Matt I weigh everything in ‘travel’ dollars. For example it cost $135 a month to park where I work – I always tell people that is a round trip ticket to Europe :~). I leave at the end of May for 14 months of travel and I am budgeting $14,000. I will be at the travel show in Calgary on April 30th – looking forward to hearing you speak.

Matt, thanks for the tip on Charles Schwab! Just opened a checking account. Great advice, all around!

Zalina

Great post Matt! I’ve been practising some of the things you mentioned for years cos I simply love to travel!! Just got back from London and Paris 3 weeks ago and am now planning my next trips in Sept and Nov. :)

Debbie

Thanks Matt. Great reminders for some great points. I have travelled for many, many years (even lived in France for a year on sabattical) and have followed many of your tips for many years and they really do work. It’s all about prioritizing. Now with a new business and 2 teenagers, travelling is only a dream but I need to find a way. It is driving me crazy!

Just wanted to add 2 tips: 1) Sign-up at your local library to minimize entertainment costs. Most libraries have books (duh!), recent magazines and movies to rent for FREE. Has saved my family zillions I tell you. 2) Travel point credit cards are not what they used to be. Between increasing fees and restricted access to flights, my experience in the last 2-3 years was that we could not get the flights we wanted. We moved to a good cash-back card with low fees and saved the cash-back for travel. Then I can use the cash-back for any travel deal, not just flights.

I am looking forward to following your blog. Great work!!

Chris

Matt,

Live by most of your tips, but the credit card one is new to me. I’m an Aussie and can’t seem to find a card that gives me air miles. :-( Any tips?

I’m about to travel europe for 4months (14 countries) then Morocco, thailand and back to Oz.

Would appreciate more info on travel credit card / travel card tips if possible.

NomadicMatt

Qantas or AMEX cards have small bonuses that can help a little.

Kaye

Fifty dollars for cable? Mine was ONE-fifty (internet, phone, TV) and then after a year it went up to $185!! And they would not deal down with me on that price.

So I bought an AppleTV and now pay 40 for the hi-speed internet only plus Netflix and Hulu. Not free, but a lot more fun and a lot less painful every month. And I watch lots more movies and other more “quality” stuff than mindless surfing of dumb shows.

NomadicMatt

I do the same thing! Those smart TVs are great!

Danamarie

Thanks for the tips. I am planning a trip to Italy in October. A culinary adventure. I must save now!

Excellent tips! I already do many of these things, but this was a good reminder to finally open a Charles Schwab account. Lately, I’ve been reading your blog and find your writing refreshing and thorough- you may just be giving me the push I need to get out of Alaska and go see some more cool places. :)

Awesome tips….I’ll follow the tips while traveling next. One more tip I would like to share with all from my side. Traveling without roaming charges is a great option isn’t it? last when I traveled to UK, prior to my trip to UK I ordered local sim cards and enjoyed local calls, calls to my home country. My friend suggested me a site PrePayMania who are offering UK SIM Card for Tourists for FREE just they charge 1 pound for delivering it to your home(which could be anywhere in world). Its truly a cheap option for us as a traveler.

Yves

Wow great tip! Thanks very much!!

Yves

Matt has great tips on saving money. I have been without a car for almost a year and I do not miss it at all even though I live in a suburb where bus service is not great on weekends. I just jump on my bike or walk to the grocery store or whatever. Every time I say to myself I just saved $6 in bus fare and I am contributing to a good lifestyle of exercise. I should note that I am 60 and retired with no dependents so it makes things easy. I also gave up cable two years ago. I also have no subscription to a cell phone and instead of Starbucks I splurge with a senior’s coffee at McDonalds. I have always been somewhat frugal but now I actually enjoy it as a challenge that allows me funds to travel several times a year.

Also drinking a lot of water, knowing how to select the food you eat and cook it will save you a lot of money and keep your Health.

Great advice…I need to work on cutting more of my “phantom expenses”. Although, I have cut a huge cost by not having a car , ummm there’s not one place in Orlando that is worth having a car and sacrificing to see the world, not even Disney. But I still tend to spend the five and ten dollars here and there. So this is going to be my focus for this day on curb the miscellaneous purchases, stop impulse shopping, and cook more often at home. Oh yeah I try everyday to curb this Att phone bill and wireless surface, your right it’s a hard one…I find AT&T to be overpriced and having an iphone surely doesn’t help.

Savannah T

Im so glad I found this website!!!!
Firstly traveling RTW has been a growing itch for about a year now.
I currently live in rural Melbourne Vic and have been going throughy expenses to see wwhat I can cut and minamilize everything I do have debt in relation to my car im planning to sell my large car and buy a cheap run around therefore squaring my debt and allowing me to save for my trip!! Woohoo!
Next thing I do have a credit card should I hold onto it and use it for overseas or pay it down and get rid of it???

Im so excited I have never left Australia and will be turning 21 in a few weeks planni Nguyen to be able to go beginning of 2015 :)

Some good pieces of advice, although you can’t become total cheap person. The number one useless cost is cigarettes, ditch it! I would suggest to start saving some money as early as possible (remember time is your worst enemy), and investing it long term in good company stocks, which give out a high dividend % yield.

Great tips buddy,

Charles Schwab has saved me so much money over the last year!

When I was saving for my RTW I cut all the expenses I could. Little thing like movies added up.

Great tips! Also, I think it helps a lot to get some books and become financially literate. I’ve read a lot of Robert Kiyosaki and authors like that, and it made a huge difference in how I handle my finances.

I have already taken many of these steps to get to travelling more, but the ones that I haven’t done yet are ditching the car (which I am considering) and selling more of the stuff I don’t need. I don’t have a ton of stuff, but every penny counts. I could also eat out less.

Thank for gr8 tips. You have given very using and practical way to save money. Small things count. I will follow your tips. do post other tips also.