Many of us look forward to any chance we can to get away and do something for ourselves or with family and friends! We may not always have the money for it, but if you follow some of these tips, you will find that a little bit of research and planning goes a long way! Below are some great money saving strategies that will help make that possible for each and every one of you- no matter your budget! We all deserve a chance to enjoy things in life and you don’t have to go broke doing it!
- Plan-If you’re on a road trip, purchase drinks & snacks ahead of time and bring a cooler. This saves a lot of time having to make frequent stops for drinks and eliminates the impulse buys each place you stop. Ideas for drinks- purchase the 24/36 packs of water bottles. Another idea is to purchase the flavored water packets such as Crystal light or Country time to add flavoring if you get tired of just plain water. It saves a lot of time and cash!
- Budget- Save a little each month towards your vacation. When planning your monthly budget put a little away each month. I personally have a sub account labeled vacation where each paycheck, I transfer money into it and love watching it grow! Even if you can put away $50 per month (bi-weekly that’s only $25 per paycheck) that’s an extra $600 per year towards vacation. Of course, the more you can afford to stash away, the better. Any extra will help and won’t seem to hurt your pocket as much because you’ve planned and budgeted for this.
- Spending money- It also helps to save change in a jar and cash it in before the trip for extra spending money-it adds up! Instead of always trying to pay with the exact amount when using cash, just round up and save your change. Besides saving change, I withdraw an extra $10-$20 per pay period and stash away in an envelope each pay check, or whenever I have extra cash that isn’t accounted for. It quickly adds up. Each year I usually have an extra $400-$500 spending money saving me from using credit cards or taking out a loan for vacation expenses. If I do need extra cash, it’s not near as much as it would be if I hadn’t done this. Every little bit helps.
- Hotels- Hotels.com and Priceline.com are very good sites for locating special discounted rates on hotel rooms. com does offer the option to pay directly on the site or pay at the hotel if you don’t have the money at the time of booking, but would like to reserve your room ahead of time. They also offer a free room after booking the 10th hotel room using their site. Priceline.com offers secret pricing options which allows you to choose the star rating and general location. The only catch is that you do not know the exact hotel until after your purchase. Many times those prices are 75% off the normal rate. Numerous times I have received great deals on rooms and suites last minute in Mackinaw City that generally book for $350 a night and I paid only $75! I was very surprised when I found this and have used it over and over since then! You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg if you know where to look for great deals!
- Credit Card/Debit Rewards- Another great way to save is by letting your credit card and debit card rewards work for you! Luckily, Catholic Federal offers both! If you have the Rewards Visa you also get double points for gas & groceries!! As your points accrue, you can view them on CURewards.com. I generally pay for my gas and groceries with my Rewards Visa and transfer the funds from my checking to pay it off whenever possible so that I’m not having a lot of debt add up for normal expenses that I budget for. Use it to your benefit! On CURewards.com there is the option to use your points towards items like gift cards, vacations, vacation activities, hotels, car rentals, and booking plane tickets. I save my points and use them when planning my vacation so it’s less money out of my pocket. You can use your existing points towards hotels and if you don’t have enough points, you can always pay the difference! I have also used my points for car rentals while traveling. My last trip to Las Vegas, I was able to rent a Mustang Convertible absolutely free by using my rewards points. The rental agent was amazed at how I didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket, yet got to ride around in style!
- Gas Station Rewards- Take advantage of gas station rewards. I usually try to get gas at Speedway where they have Speedy Rewards. At Speedway, you usually get 1,000 points by purchasing a $50 gas/gift card. Since I budget for gas anyways, I will use my Catholic Federal Rewards Visa to get double Visa points and purchase two $50 gas cards each pay period. This way I’m taking advantage of both my Visa Rewards and Speedy Rewards maximizing the benefit! Many gas stations offer rewards programs, take advantage by getting gas there instead of somewhere that doesn’t offer rewards. You can redeem points for gas cards that you can use while vacationing.
- Groupon- Check out the deals on Groupon before traveling to your destination. Many times you can find activities and restaurant deals for up to 75% off. Saving you even more!
- Flying- If you’re planning on booking a flight for your vacation it’s best to check out the airlines low fare calendar to see when then least expensive days are to travel. Certain months and days are way less than others. Flying out on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday could save you lots of cash because those days are the least expensive to travel on. Try to book ahead as early as possible because the closer the date approaches, the cost tends to rise. Shop around on different sites and compare prices on flights before making your final purchase. Some sites such as Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia also offer discounts by booking hotels at the time as your flight. Explore your options to see whether booking separately or together would more cost effective.
- Timing- Avoid traveling during peak times unless you’re going for a certain event or must be there during that specific date. I prefer to travel during off peak times because you’re saving a lot by doing so and can enjoy everything more because it’s less crowded. Booking a trip to stay on Saturday or Sunday vs Friday and Saturday can save so much! If at all possible, try to avoid booking two weekend nights because those are the most expensive nights (usually double the cost) at hotels and restaurants tend to charge more during the weekends.
Last but not least, make sure to notify Catholic Federal when traveling out of state or the country, so your account can be coded to allow transactions to go through on your debit/credit cards and not cause any “red flags” because of spending outside of your normal area. I hope you’ll find these money saving tips just as useful as I have. Have fun planning and safe travels!