If you’re like many people, you probably love to travel. And like many people, you’d do more of it if you had more money.
We spoke with Phil Adams of the blog Flying Coach, and asked him to give us some tips on how we can all spend less to save more, in order to travel to our heart’s content.
Phil and his wife Sara started their blog to help people, who like themselves, are avid voyagers, but not millionaires. They’ve created dozens of unique and not so unique ways to save money, and make travel affordable, fun, and maybe even a little more adventurous. Flying Coach shares advice on how to cross countries off your bucket list without breaking the bank. Below, Phil discusses the concept of “decluttering your life” to make more room for travel.
Decluttering your life can seem, well, impossible at times. Or, more likely, it is a project you will start on this weekend, or next month, or when you get back from your vacation this summer. There is always that elusive start date that seems to eternally slip away like a mirage in the desert.
The key to decluttering is to start small. Here I present five things in order of difficulty (simplest to most difficult) that you can do this week to start you on your path to a clutter-free life and more money for traveling.
1. Make Your Bed
As you read that headline, you’re saying to yourself, “Seriously? That is stupid. I’m not reading any further.” Well, ok, but just give me a few more minutes. Studies have shown that the very simple act of making your bed every day makes you happier and feel more organized. It is a simple act. Just do it right when you get out of bed in the morning for a week and see what I mean. Come on, it only takes 30 seconds. I am slightly OCD, so I can’t walk by an unmade bed without making it, but even normal people will find significant benefits from making their bed everyday.
2. Clean Your Car
I am a neat freak, but not a clean freak. There is a difference. I like to have everything in its place and as few things as possible, but I don’t need my world to be super clean, free of dirt and germs. Consequently, my car is usually free of all the crap that most people drive around with everyday, but it is typically dirty. I go by the motto that “I wash it once a year whether it needs it or not”. However, I have found that when I do go all out and make my car spotless, both clean and free of junk, I feel like it’s a new car.
It does worlds of good for both my mood and my battle against always wanting to buy a new car. If you suffer from constantly wanting to drive something different, try giving your car a nice detail. You can do it yourself so it doesn’t cost much and you’ll get a little exercise to boot.
3. Clean Your Refrigerator
This is the last cleaning item, I promise. The goal of cleaning out your refrigerator is to get rid of all of the expired food and make room for fresh and healthy choices. It will also help you identify what you have that is still edible and needs to be eaten.
One of the biggest things we do in our household that wastes money is waste food. We have been consciously trying to get better at it, but it seems like every week we are throwing things out. What we found that helps is to regularly inventory what we have so we will actually eat it.
Think about what an average meal costs. Let’s say it’s $7 per person. If you have a family of 4, every meal that you can pull out of your fridge and eat instead of throwing it away saves you $28. If you do that just once per week, that will save you almost $1500 over the course of a year.
Once I was staying at a friend’s house, for this story let’s call him Bubba, and was looking for something to eat in the refrigerator.
I pulled something out to try and Bubba walked by and casually commented, “Don’t eat that.”
“That was from before the hurricane.”
“The hurricane that knocked out the power for four days?”
“That was two years ago.”
4. Sell One Item
This week, identify one item around your house that you would like to get rid of, but that you can sell, not just give away. Only one thing. Don’t worry about having a big yard sale, or cleaning out the attic or the basement. Just find one item that is worth something, but you no longer want.
Now take a few pictures of the item. Make sure they are good pictures and show the item well, good lighting, etc. Then either post the item on Craigslist or eBay. The money that you receive for this item goes into your travel fund.
That piano that is taking up space in the corner and no one ever plays could pay for a week of hotels and meals in Thailand. Really. Don’t make the mistake of spending the money when you get it. Just put it in an envelope in a drawer and don’t touch it until you are leaving for the airport.
Now, next week, repeat.
5. Cancel Cable
Now here is the humdinger. There is so much to dislike about cable I could write a book. Well, maybe an essay. So, if you want to make a huge difference in your life and the lives of your family, cancel cable. We did this a few years ago and have not missed it. We still watch TV through Netflix or DVDs, but not nearly as much as we used to. Also, any TV time is what I would consider “quality” TV time. We are actually watching a show that we want to watch, rather than just sitting down and flipping channels to find something.
I noticed another benefit when we went on a road trip for Christmas two years ago. We were at my Dad’s house and were watching morning cartoons with our then four-year old daughter. Suddenly, out of the blue, a commercial came on. Our daughter nearly lost it, pointing, “What’s that?! I want that!” She had never seen a commercial before. It’s nice that we don’t have to constantly fight that battle every day at home.
If you kill cable at your house, you can save at least $60 per month, not to mention all of the toys you won’t have to buy. That’s $720 per year that can go to travel, Plus, you might actually do something productive during that otherwise wasted time you spend with the Real Housewives of Jersey Shore.
5. Let’s Get This Done, Yo.
I’m going to wrap this up now, because I am really trying to get through the last season of Breaking Bad on Netflix.
So that’s it, five relatively simple things you can do this week that can help you start to declutter your life and save a bit of money so you can travel more. I would love it if you know any more easy tips that can be done in a short amount of time that can help me declutter. Please let me know in the comments below.
Phil Adams loves to travel with his family and with as few things as possible. He blogs about it at flyingcoach.org.
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