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September 17, 2014

How to Save $150,000 (My 6 First Steps)

This is a travel blog, right? Then why a blog post on how to save an exorbitant amount of money? I’ll tell you. I was at a family travel blogging conference the weekend and listened to Rainer Jenss talk about the 13-month round-the-world trip he took with his family when his boys were 8 and 11. It sounded incredible and I thought, this is what I want to do.

So I came home and told my husband, Dirk. He says he’s on board, but is he really? I mean, that’s a lot of money, my interests tend to come and go, and the trip wouldn’t be for five years, so more than likely I’m not going to follow through on saving the money or taking this family trip of a lifetime.

And really, $150,000 is such a daunting figure. I feel like I don’t even know where to start. My friend Cherie (aka Queen of Free) and her husband just paid off $127,000 in student load debt last month and it took them only four years to do. Clearly it can be done.

So now I’m at the point where I’m starting to think about ways to save this huge amount of money. Honestly, my head is still spinning, but how amazing would it be to go to Rome and Cape Town and Sydney and Beijing? Seriously amazing.

As a start, here are the six first steps I’m going to take before taking the bigger steps toward slapping together this sum of money.

Make it a Priority. I think anything is possible if you make it a priority. If we want to take a round-the-world trip in five years and know it will cost around $150,000 for a family of six, that means we need to be saving $2,500 a month. We need to prioritize this trip and in the process cut out other expenses that aren’t as much of a priority, like twice-weekly Skinny Mocha Frappuccinos.

Figure Out How We Spend Our Money. I’ll be honest, I have no idea how much we pay toward the mortgage, insurance, educational savings plans, electricity, etc. We’re fortunate that our only debt is our mortgage and anywhere I go I just whip out the debit card. The only way to figure out how much monthly savings is possible is by understanding how much is actually spent (and on what).

Clip Coupons. I used to own a grocery savings blog called Coupon Cravings. My tips and advice had been featured in All You, USA Today, WashingtonPost.com and NPR. Well, I sold the blog in October and since then I’ve completely fallen off the coupon-clipping bandwagon. I need to get back on. It’s super-easy to trim grocery expenses when you take the time to match sales with coupons.

Stay Out of Restaurants. I’ll be honest, by the time I get to Friday I do not want to look at a pot or a spatula. I hate everything about cooking, but I know I need to weigh my dislike for cooking against my desire to travel the world. Well, obviously my interest in travel will outweigh my feelings about homemade casseroles, so at-home eating it is. I must get my husband to cook more often.

Sleep on It. Okay, first, stay out of the shopping mall, but if you find yourself there and you see something you absolutely need to buy, put it back on the shelf and get a good night’s sleep. More often than not if I leave an item at the mall saying I’ll come back to buy it the next day, I never do.

Make More Money. Well, this is kind of a duh. If I made more money, I’d certainly be closer to the savings goal of $150,000. So now I’m busy thinking about how I can make more money. I already work four days a week, so I could go back to five days. I could put more into this blog to make money from my efforts. I could get back into freelance writing. Many options to consider.

What are some of your best money-saving tips? Clearly I’m going to need to do a lot more than clip coupons and stay out of restaurants in order to save this much money.

Photo Credit: Damien Benoit


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Comments

  1. Traci says:

    Cutting down on restaurant meals has been a goal for us, but it’s hard to do, especially on the weekends, when it’s almost a form of entertainment for our family. If we do go out to eat now, I try to make it breakfast or lunch, when the prices for entrees are generally lower. And my 12-year old is still sometimes forced to order the Kid’s Meal, against his will!

    1. Erin Gifford says:

      Hi Traci!

      I hear you about restaurant meals. We get take-out every Friday night. If I’m going to be serious about this — and hopefully I will be — those take-out meals have got to go. Oh man…

      Erin :)

  2. Jen says:

    I dream about a RTW trip, too, though my husband is not as on board as I wish he was. Once we saved the money, we would then have the difficult decision of figuring out how he can take extended time off of his job. Our number one savings tip is to have a separate account. We have a travel account that we drop extra money into at the end of the month (even if it is only 10 dollars that month!). It keeps that money separate from the funds we use to live and we don’t touch it unless it is to travel.

    1. Erin Gifford says:

      Hi Jen,

      My husband says he’s on board, but who knows. It *is* a goal that’s still five years out. I agree it will be tough to get extended leave for he and I both but I guess we’ll cross that bridge as we get farther down the road toward saving quite a chunk of change. Good tip about separate savings accounts. We’ll definitely do that.

      Erin :)

  3. This is so inspiring! I really thought this would be an out-of-reach experience until I started reading your post. I think getting a good handle on your finances is important (I’m like you). One of my friends is a huge believer in coupons – she said “My husbands job is to make the money and mine is to save it. It’s a lot of work, but I really do make us money in the process too!”

    Keep us posted!

    1. Erin Gifford says:

      Thanks. See now you’re forcing me to really pursue this dream! It does seem like such a big goal though, huh? $150,000. Wow. I’ve couponed before and I can coupon again, though clearly I need to do more than cut coupons to save this much money. I’ll keep you posted as I save money for this trip!

      Erin :)

  4. Rachel says:

    What an amazing idea. I LOVE traveling so this sounds wonderful. I was wondering what the $150,000 includes? Does it include doing fun stuff once you’ve arrived at your destination? Or is that just airfare/lodging for 6 people for a year? I would love to see a break down of the cost. I’m seriously thinking about doing this with my family.