Trying to save money to go on one of my trips? Here are a few suggestions:
Collect Box Tops and donate them to Carolina Homeschooler. Box Tops are coupons found on many grocery and household products. They're worth .10 each, and can add up quickly when many people contribute (many homeschooling families participate just to help other families). Remember to ask your church, scout group, family, neighbors, and friends to save their Box Tops for you, too. I use all proceeds (minus taxes) for our trips and events. For more information about Box Tops for Education and a list of participating products, visit their website. Mail your Box Tops to Carolina Homeschooler, PO Box 1421, Lancaster SC 29721.
Use my Amazon link when you buy something from Amazon (look for the brown box on any page of my website). It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but we get a small percentage of the sale. When you click on the box, it will take you to Amazon's website (you'll see our code "carolinhomesc" in the URL). For us to get credit, you must access our link to get to the Amazon site. Products that are already in your shopping cart before you access our link won't count. (You have to delete them and add them back again after using our link.) If you leave Amazon in the middle of a shopping session and then come back, your purchase may not count, either. All proceeds (minus taxes) go toward our trips and events.
Even if you're not interested in any of my current trips, please consider contributing to our fund-raising projects anyway. When you're ready to join us, other families will be contributing to help reduce the cost for your family. I can't tell you how many Box Tops I've gotten from families who continue to give even though they've never been on a trip with me.
More tips from my traveling families:
“If your budget can stand it, change your filing status to single, no dependents. Your employer will keep more money from your check each week, but you’ll get a bigger refund each year. Use your refund for trips. (This is like a forced savings account - if you don’t see the money, you won’t miss it. And since the interest rate at most banks is so low, you’ll lose very little in interest.)”
“I think increasing income is better than cutting expenses, unless you have fluff in your budget, such as cell phones, cable TV, or other money hogs. When I think about the riches of our trip to Italy, the pallid entertainment that many people pay a hundred dollars a month for seem extraneous. Getting a part-time job for even ten hours a week produces travel income, as long as you don't let it stress you out so that you then order take-out because you're too tired to cook. Also, I always put ‘found money’ (inheritance, etc.) into a reserve, no matter what budget strains I am living with. Irregular money is for extras, not emergencies.”
“Use credit cards that have rewards points for airfare and other travel expenses. Charge everything (household bills, groceries, gas, medical expenses, etc.). But make sure you pay off the balance each month or you’ll lose in interest what you gain in rewards. Also, don’t use a card that charges a yearly fee - that waters down the value, too.”
“In Michigan, we have returnable soda pop bottles for 10 cents each. Bottle drives, where you pass out some flyers in your neighborhood and then go collect bottles, can raise a few hundred dollars in a weekend.”
“We had more than a year to save for Italy, so in addition to spreading out the cost of the trip and participating in your fund-raising efforts (Amazon, Box Tops), we told all our family that we'd appreciate all cash/donation-to-Italy-trip as gifts for birthdays and Christmas. We put that money into our "Italy savings jar" in addition to any unanticipated funds like insurance refunds, Amex/Costco annual refund, etc., and that was our spending money. Our tax refund paid for the plane tickets. We got the best deal of $700 per person round trip by signing up for daily alerts on Kayak.com from our home airport and other airports within driving distance (Atlanta), then purchased the day the prices dropped significantly.”
“I would recommend families start saving as soon as they begin planning for a trip. We took about $300 per paycheck and put it in a special savings account. I also sold things at a yard sale and on Craig’s List, too. We used the Capital One Visa for all our expenses, like groceries and any other household expense. You can now redeem points for money for travel even if you don’t have enough points to get a whole ticket. We also used a Kayak alert to tell us when the fares to Rome were the cheapest.”
“We did Carolina Homeschooler’s fundraising (Box Tops and the Amazon link) to help reduce our cost. We bought our airline tickets in advance and were able to get decent prices on them. Also, set aside some money every month straight out of a paycheck before you have a chance to spend it. Cut out cable and other entertainment money and spend the time researching wherever you’re going. Spread out your purchases of new shoes and clothes to get them on sale.”
Have tips to share? Post them in this thread so others can benefit!