When I decided to pursue long-term travel, I made a lot of very common expense cuts. I got rid of a couple budget black holes like my rapidly aging car and cable TV, and reduced unnecessary spending like going out for coffee or dinner on a frequent basis.
It still feels like I could be doing more, though. So in 2016, I’ll be getting creative to boost my savings accounts further.
As we entered the fall months, my roommate and I decided to give our AC a break and rely only on fans and open windows in the hopes of saving a few dollars on electricity. We didn’t just save a few dollars. By only using AC when absolutely necessary, we cut our bill in half. Our energy costs will go up some as we march steadily into winter and have to turn the heat on, but Virginia weather can fluctuate a lot from day to day. Next year I’ll be keeping a closer eye on my energy usage to save at least $10-20 extra dollars a month, and more if possible.
Even though I’ve long since gotten rid of cable, Comcast continues to sneak in rate increases every few months, so I’m now paying an astronomical amount for significantly less. First thing after the chaos of the holidays is past, I’m calling in to cancel my service. Comcast may be pure evil, but they can bend over backwards to keep a customer from leaving. They’re also notoriously kinder to new customers than to existing ones, so if I’m not able to negotiate a lower internet bill, I’ll cancel my service and have my roommate open a new account for us in her name. Getting our hands on that new customer rate will save us each $20 a month.
I’ve been involved in the swing dance community for about eight years, but the cover charges for regular social dances, lesson fees, and costs of traveling to other cities for special events seriously add up. One of the ways I chose to save money in 2015 was to go dancing a couple times a month instead of every week, and to stop traveling for special events. Next year, however, I’m going to take a different tactic. I’ve been considering volunteering or teaching with my local club for a while – they could certainly use the help. And as an added bonus, frequent volunteers get cover charges waived, so I can go back to attending weekly without spending $40-50 a month.
I’ve shopped and sold clothing at consignment stores for ages. Even before becoming interested in long-term travel, buying things at full retail price was a rarity for me. But since getting rid of my car, it takes me a lot longer to get from cleaning out my closet to collecting my share of the profits. I have piles of clothes waiting to be taken in, so in 2016 I’m going to be a lot more diligent about borrowing a vehicle to take clothes in and calling to check my account status.
For a long time now, I’ve been resistant to changing my grocery provider even though I know it would save me more money. I’m still really committed to buying local – it supports my hometown economy, it’s better for the environment, the benefits are manifold. But push is coming to shove, so I’m going to split the difference next year and alternate orders from my preferred grocery delivery service with coupon-fueled trips to a larger chain supermarket, with the goal of saving an extra $50 a month.
Another $100-150 in savings each month may not make a big enough difference to move my departure date up, but it could extend my time on the road or give me a bigger cushion for splurging once in a while during the trip.