Category Archives: Travel

Weekend Survival Guide for the Girl on a Budget

Issue 55

Every Monday we provide you with our past weekend’s agenda to show you how you can continue to do what you love on the weekend while using your common cents.

Bachelorette Edition

FRIDAY

Weekend Friday 11.10.14Friday night included traveling to Myrtle Beach for one of my best friend’s bachelorette party. I was prepared nutritionally and financially by packing my own dinner and eating it during my layover…and it was delicious! A night at the house was a fun way to kick off the weekend!

Friday Spending Stats:

  • Dinner (inspired by the 21 day fix)                         $0.00
  • Cab                                                                           $20.00
  • BYOB Drinks                                                            $0.00

Total Spent on Friday: $20.00

Estimated Total Friday Savings: $50.00

SATURDAY

Weekend Saturday 11.20.14Breakfast at Chik-fil-a, shopping at the outlets, and a dueling piano bar kept us busy all day and night. Make subtle choices, like buying drink specials and abiding by the $10 rule while shopping, helped me stick with my budget during my trip. My $10 rule while we were shopping at the outlets was: If it’s $10 or under, I’ll consider buying it. It sound ridiculous, but I got a dress, two long sleeve shirts, and birthday gifts for my niece using that rule!

Saturday Spending Stats:

  • Breakfast/Coffee @ Chik-fil-a                         $5.00
  • Shopping at the Outlets                                $30.00
  • Lunch                                                              $25.00 (meal + drinks)
  • Dinner                                                            $0.00 (still full from lunch-skipped dinner)
  • Piano Bar                                                       $40.00
  • Late Night                                                      $1.00(hushpuppies at Cookout + leftover salad)

Total Saturday Spending: $101.00

Estimated Saturday Savings: $20.00

Weekend FreeGreens 11.10.14

SUNDAY

Weekend Sunday 11.10.14

 

More shopping/walking around stores, recovering, and traveling :-) Great sales at the outlets for Veterans day. You are viewing a Banana Republic dress for under $4.00!

Sunday Spending Stats:

  • Coffee/Breakfast @ Bojangles                        $5.00
  • Shopping                                                         $10.00
  • Airport                                                             $0.00 (packed snacks leftover from the house)
  • Airport Parking                                               $33.00

Total Sunday Spending: $48.00

Estimated Total Sunday Savings: $0.00

Total Estimated Weekend SPENDING:             $169.00

Total Estimated Weekend SAVINGS:           $70.00

Subtle changes and sacrifices helped keep a bachelorette weekend under $200! Do you have any strategies for saving money during special events on the weekend?

You can also find Sam’s Bachelorette Weekend Survival Guide and other Financial Posts at the Savvy Saturday Link Up!

 brokeGIRLrich

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Sam

Saving Money on your Road Trip across the USofA

Official Road Trip picLast year I made the oh-so-wise decision to move to the Sonoran Desert over the 4th of July holiday with my adventure loving boyfriend. For the first week or so we basked in the hot summer sun, took pictures of the Saguaro cacti, and laughed about how silly the “exaggerated” horror stories of Phoenician summer heat were. Fast forward five weeks and you could find us in our skivvies laying on the floor directly under the ceiling fan, cursing the hot Phoenician sun and the 115 degree heat it brought down on us day after day after day after day…

Desert Heat PicFast forward 10 months and you would find us excitedly making plans to get the *@!# out of the desert for most of July when both of us would be on summer break for work. Our strong passion to beat the heat coupled with some seriously amazing places to visit close to our now-home drove us (pun intended) to plan and conquer what I consider to be a true American pastime: The Road Trip.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that it is impossible to go on a Road Trip and not spend any money, but there are some areas that we put a new spin on and others that we eliminated completely in order to cut costs. The impact of the decisions we made were thoroughly felt upon our return home in August moreso than when we were actually on the road, but I believe that is a good thing. Our road trip strategies saved us nearly $1,000 in less than one week, so I want to share how we were able to do it!!

Everything we did or didn’t do on our Road Trip fell into one of three categories

3RT categories

We-Lodging

Lodging Pic

We are not experienced campers (in fact the first night of our road trip was our second night in our tent!), but camping was a great way to save a MINIMUM of 80 bucks a night. There were other benefits too—like no electronic distractions, easy access to nature, meeting new people, and an excuse for snuggling once it became chilly.  Because camping isn’t always just Kumbia and smores, there were also downfalls. Like the first night when our front row seat to a big bad thunderstorm had me convinced that our Road Trip was going to end right there in that dark, wet tent because of death by lightning strike. During the first half of our trip, we camped out at designated campsites until the final night before arriving at our family’s home—your welcome family, for splurging on that pre-arrival shower :) To find our hotel we used booking.com and picked one of the least expensive options which saved us about $30 extra we would have paid had we called the hotel directly.

add-lodgePeople often default to booking a hotel when they know they will be on the road, but it is probably the most expensive option out there.  Keep an open mind to explore sleeping options that are outside of your current comfort zone.

we-food

When portions are big, cutting down on the number of meals you eat is easy and cost effective

My fiancé gets a high five for putting up with me and my extremely “mindful” tendencies when it comes to food purchasing and consumption (okay, maybe I should be referring to them as “slightly obsessive” tendencies but it’s my blog, so I’m not). The thought of wasting food makes my skin crawl, so luckily—and quite differently from the whole “tent” thing—my personality naturally lends itself to saving money on grub while Road Tripping. Because we didn’t have a refrigerator running in our car, we had to be smarter about when and how much food we purchased. Leftovers (my personal favorite) were not an option.

A typical day in the Brit+Joe Road Trip diet looked like this: Breakfast – Munch on the fruit and/or non-perishable snacks (protein-packed) that we loaded up before leaving home. Snack–Find something for less than five bucks at a gas station or café that can comfortably hold us over until we eat our Lunch/Dinner Combined – one “big” (American) meal was all we really needed each day, and sometimes we would even go to a brewery or restaurant and order just one meal and one appetizer to share.

In addition to mindful snacking (eating snacks—many of which we packed prior to leaving our house—that would keep us full) and combining lunch and dinner to eat just one “big” meal per day, we also threw stereotypical “mealtimes” out the window. Instead of eating within designated time slots, we just grabbed a bite when we were hungry, and it actually helped us save a fair amount of money AND kept our bodies feeling pretty great despite being on the road and out of our normal routine.

we-supplies

Supplies Pic

There were several strategies we used to make sure we didn’t end up spending an embarrassing amount of scrilla on supplies as we trekked across the country. First, I researched destinations I thought we would enjoy and determined what we would need to have with us once we were there in order to have the best time possible. Spending a day at the Grand Canyon, including hiking trails –better pack those camelbacks (or should I say off-brand Costco water backpacks). Taking a tour of some canyons in the middle of the desert—plenty of sunscreen, a hat, and a couple pairs of sunnies will be necessary for an optimal time. Sleeping in a tent—extra blankets, sleeping bags, an air mattress (most clutch item packed), bug spray, and a cooler full of choice beverages were all loaded up before heading out. Planning ahead allowed us to get items in bulk at stores like Costco so that we weren’t wasting money on big time mark-ups in middle-of-nowhere places.

In addition to researching our destinations ahead of time so that we could cut the cost of supplies down by purchasing and packing before we began our venture, we also withdrew cash from our checking accounts to use as spending money instead of just running our debit or credit cards. Using cash made it much easier to gauge how much we were spending, what we were spending on, and prioritize what activities/items were most valuable to us. Having a limited amount of spending money also served as a great reminder to take advantage of the low cost (and sometimes free) activities and landscapes that can be found all across our country. Appreciate.

add supplies

And here is the photographic proof that monitoring your spending does not equal BORING

Destination-Arches

Just $10 got Joe and I into Arches National Park for the day. I could have posted 20 pictures of this place alone. It was amazing.

Destination-Lowell

The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ only charges $12 to get in, and you are able to see the telescopes that were used to discover Pluto and the rings around Saturn and I touched a chunk of a meteor that hit Earth a loooooong time ago.

Destination-Antelope Canyon

At $75 the tour of Antelope Canyon was our “splurge”. Well worth it, and still cost less than a day at an amusement park.

Destination-Durango

Walking the streets of downtown Durango was free, which made it possible for us to enjoy a local brewery with plenty of freedom for spending.

Destination-Grand Canyon

I was really excited to learn that it only cost $25 for Joe and I both to get into Grand Canyon National Park.

What are some strategies you’ve used or discovered that help you save money when you embark on a classic American Road Trip?

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 Brittany

6 Tips When House Hunting

I will be writing a series of posts about the process of moving over the next couple months. Whether you’re moving across the country or across the street, this guide should help decrease your stress level and increase your bank account!

Moving Part 1: House Hunting

Moving is expensive and can be very stressful without a plan. There’s the house, packing, how to get your stuff from point A to point B, and paying for it all. Since I am in the process of moving halfway across the country (for the second time), I learned from my previous mistakes and have been able to experience a stress-free move (so far)! One of the most important and possibly the most expensive part of your move is finding a new place to live. Below I outline some steps to take to make finding a home stress-free and actually fun!

1. Budget. Think about how much you can/are willing to spend on housing. The recommended amount to spend on a mortgage or rental is NO MORE than 25% (or a week’s worth) of your annual salary AFTER TAXES. The “after taxes” part is really important because it makes a HUGE difference in your ACTUAL income. See “Your Salary”.

2. Prioritize. Make a written list of what you’re looking for in a home, starting with your #1. If you’re a pros/cons person, write it down and take it with you when you go and look.

3. Research. Start looking 5-6 months ahead on websites like Zillow, Trulia, and various real estate websites to get an idea of what types of houses or rentals are in the area and their prices. Getting an idea of what you can afford in the area you’re looking will help cross things off your “wish list” or re-arrange your priority list.

4. Help. Get a Real Estate Agent! This really did make the entire house hunting experience so much easier. We are renting, so it’s a little harder to find an agent that is willing to work with someone for a rental, but when you find the perfect person, your life will start getting so much easier. I worked with THE BEST realtor possible!

5. Take A Tour. Plan a trip to view a variety of places, even if you think some may not be what you’re looking for. The townhome we ended up renting was one that I was about to cross of my list and then thought, “Why not? We’ll be there anyways”. It ended up being perfect in every way!

6. Narrow it down. Now that you’ve set your budget, make your priority list, know the neighborhoods, and see your prospective future homes you can start narrowing down your options. I would recommend crossing off overpriced options (rent/mortgage costs more than 25% of your take home income) from your list, but if you end up looking at them and choose one, make sure than you not only can AFFORD it, but happily live there without breaking your budget and feeling stressed all the time.

FLHouseFor me, the most important part of finding a home was price. I’ve made the mistake of living in an apartment that was WAY over what I could “afford” (I had money to pay my bills every month, but it was stressful and hard to get ahead). Make sure that the home you end up choosing allows you to have the life you want to live. Don’t try to Keep Up With The Jones’ and become “house poor” (aka broke).

Good Luck on your move!

For more information on starting a personal budget, check out our Getting Started tab at the top of the page.

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Sam

Weekend Survival Guide for the Girl on a Budget

Issue 34

Every Monday we provide you with our past weekend’s agenda to show you how you can continue to do what you love on the weekend while using your common cents.

Total Estimated Savings: $97.00

Total Amount Spent: $127.00

A weekend spent in San Francisco fit into my budget!! See how I did it in the tables below:

FridaySaturdaySunday

A long weekend in san fran on a budget!

A long weekend in san fran on a budget!

A long weekend in san fran on a budget!

A long weekend in san fran on a budget!

A long weekend in San Fran on a budget!

A long weekend in San Fran on a budget!

A long weekend in San Fran on a budget!

A long weekend in San Fran on a budget!

A long weekend in San Fran on a budget!

A long weekend in San Fran on a budget!

Ways i lower expenses

  • Chose your airline wisely: Joe and I fly allegiant air even though the airport is almost 30 minutes further from our house than the international airport in our city. It’s worth it because we save at least $100 per ticket!
  • Pack light: Airlines will make as much money off of your trip as they can. We were able to squeeze our weekend supplies into one carry-on bag, and that saved at least 50 bucks!
  • Savor your food but don’t stuff just because you are on vacation. We ate at new restaurants when we were hungry, but we didn’t force it just because it was a novelty.
  • I took out my allotted spending money as I normally do every pay period; however for the two weeks leading up to my trip, I made conscious attempts to save as much as I could—that meant less eating out and shopping in my everyday environment. The trade off was that the only “extra” expense required by my trip was the flight. Once again, patience pays off :)

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Brittany

 

The Travel Debate: Which is better?

1. Flight vs. Drive:

  • Winner: It depends

Flight: Flying always seems more expensive. Sometimes you HAVE to fly due to length of stay and distance of destination, but sometimes, it may end up being less than the price of gas for your car for the same distance. For example, short flights (8 hours or less) tend to be less expensive than driving your car and buying gas along the way.

Drive: If you’re piling a group of friends or a family into a vehicle to drive to a vacation for a week, driving is typically cheaper. Plus, a road trip with fam or friends is a great way to make memories and catch up!

Road Trippin' with Kate!

Road Trippin’ with Kate!

2. Events/Activities vs. Window Shopping

  • Winner: Events/Activities – In my opinion, spending a little extra on events/activities while on a trip is well worth it. You’ll end up seeing and experiencing your travel destination. Plan ahead and decide how much you want to budget (aka “save up for”) toward activities/events. Events don’t always have to cost money! Go on a hike or walk through nature or a fancy part of town!
IMG_0736

I was able to experience Phoenix while visiting Brittany without spending any money on our incredible hikes!

3. Nice hotel vs. crappy hotel

  • Winner: Nice Hotel – If you spend a little bit extra on your hotel:
  1. You may be closer to city attractions (less taxi/transportation fees)
  2. Your hotel may offer breakfast (save $5.00-$15.00/day)
IMG_0776.JPG (2)

A combination of LOTS of people and it’s prime location made this the perfect place to sleep while in Vegas.

4. Small Group vs. Big Group:

Winner: Lots – One would typically think that a trip would be cheapest when fewer people are traveling. In reality, the more people you have going on your trip, the less expensive it will be. The more people you can get to split hotel rooms, meals, and car gas the better.

IMG_0114

Splitting a hotel with several people makes it affordable and hilarious!

5. Don’t spend vs. spend!

  • Winner: Spend! – Wait, what?! I thought this was a budget blog? Like Brittany and I have said so many times, a budget doesn’t mean you NEVER SPEND MONEY. It means you save up (aka budget) the amount of money you want to spend while you’re ON your trip…not just travel expenses. Wherever you’re going,  make sure you bring some extra cash to fully experience and enjoy your trip!
Travel Skiing

Dishing out some cash to experience the breath-taking mountains in Alberta, Canada was well worth it!

I hope this helps you plan a trip this spring or summer without breaking your budget!

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5 tips for Spring Break on a Budget

If you’re lucky enough to be an adult and still have a spring break, chances are you want to spend it doing something fun. Spending money on trips can be harder when you’re throwing all of your extra money toward decreasing your debt. The good news is, it can be done with a little bit of planning, spending smart, and switching up your short term plan.

1. Use public/mass transportation, if possible. Kate and I took advantage of Chicago’s “L” train to get to and from the airport and to get between sight-seeing activities throughout the city. Also, train or bus tickets between cities can save you hundreds! An Amtrak ticket from Chicago to KC was $56.00!

Kate and I on the train in Chicago!

Kate and I on the train in Chicago!

2. Lunch (or Brunch) instead of dinner. Lunch is not only better for your wallet, but your health. Portions are a little smaller and the price can be half as much as dinner at the same restaurant. This will make a HUGE difference in the amount of money you’ll be able to spend throughout your entire trip.

Delicious deep dish Chicago pizza...for lunch!

Delicious deep dish Chicago pizza…for lunch!

3. Prioritize your sight-seeing events. If there are several activities that cost money that you’re interested in participating in during your visit, prioritize them from most important to least important. Decide on an amount to spend on sight-seeing activities and start crossing some off the bottom of your list.

Sears (Willis) Tower

Sears (Willis) Tower

4. Split costs. If you’re going with one or more people, talk about splitting costs for food, hotel, and activities. For example, if you all decide to spend $300.00 each: one person can pay for food, one for events, and one for the hotel or transportation.

IMG_1017.JPG (2)

5. Plan ahead. Financially planning for a trip ahead of time relieves some stress while you’re on your trip knowing that you actually have the money that you’re spending while continuing to meet your long term financial goals. Planning ahead GIVES you the money as well as LIMITS the amount you spend so you don’t go overboard. It allows you to enjoy while stopping you from splurging on unnecessary meals, events, and taxis.

 Happy Spring Break!

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Sam

Weekend Survival Guide for the Girl on a Budget

Issue 28

Every Monday we provide you with our past weekend’s agenda to show you how to continue to do what you love on the weekend while using common cents.

Total Amount Spent: $365.81

Total Amount Saved: $25.00

The breakdown of how I did it can be found below:

This weekend was a special weekend because it marked the end of my spring break week and a visit from my cousin.

Weekend Chicago Friday Weekend Chicago Saturday Weekend Chicago Sunday

Two out of the three pictures are from Chicago...we slacked on the selfies in KC.

Two out of the three pictures are from Chicago…we slacked on the selfies in KC.

This was obviously not a typical weekend, but luckily I planned ahead for it and had the money saved up so I could enjoy an adventure with my awesome cousin and show her KC!

Plan ahead, save up, and enjoy an adventurous weekend with a friend or family member!

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Sam