How We Saved $625 for Our Family Vacation

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

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I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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Hi, guys!

Our little family planned a getaway for next week during Mal’s school break, so when You Need A Budget (YNAB) reach out about partnering on a blog post, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to set some goals and create a vacation savings account for our trip. I actually saw it as a challenge: Let’s see how much we can save in 6 weeks! Yayyy!

How We Saved $625 for Our Family Vacation

Never heard of YNAB? Well, it’s a personal budgeting web app (with companion apps for Android and iOS). Their software is the best out there, but perhaps even more valuable is their philosophy. They teach “Four Rules” (as well as offer FREE online classes) that absolutely change the way you think about money to help you stop living paycheck to paycheck, get out of debt, and save more money faster:

With YNAB, budgeting isn’t about restricting. It’s about how to do more of the things that matter to you most, but, at the same time, giving you total control of your money. Budgeting with YNAB is FLEXIBLE! Your plans change and you change your mind, so your budget should change too. No big deal, just adjust and move on. It’s like YNAB teaches you how to live differently because you’re much more aware of where each of your dollars is spent.

YNAB sounds amazing, right? Well, you can get three FREE months to try it yourself just by clicking HERE! No credit card is required to sign up.

Ok, so now that you know what YNAB is all about, here’s how we saved $625.15 for our family vacation next week!

We set up a weekly transfer from our checking to our savings account – $300

We saved the biggest chunk of change by scheduling a weekly $50 transfer from our checking account to our savings account. It happened automatically each week, so we didn’t even notice the money missing from our checking account and, before we knew it, those transfers really added up!

We used reusable bags and mugs – $1.95

Just in case you didn’t know already, you can save $0.05 per reusable bag you use at Whole Foods, Target, and other retailers. It’s such an easy thing to do and those nickles sure do add up!

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You can also save $0.10 every time you bring a reusable mug to Starbucks.

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In 6 weeks, we used 31 reusable bags (yep, I kept track) and 4 reusable mugs for a grand savings of $1.95! Hey, every little bit counts!

I made iced coffee at home – $96

I love iced coffee and drink one every morning with coffee that I brew at home. In 6 weeks, I went through about 2 pounds of coffee from Marylou’s, which means I made about 32 iced coffees at home. I wasn’t purchasing iced coffee every morning (at about $3 a pop), so I saved approximately $96. As you can see, those babies really add up!

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We shopped our pantry and freezer – $40

Instead of getting take-out (i.e. burritos, pizza) or hitting up the hot bar at Whole Foods, we “shopped” for dinner in our cabinets and freezer and made due with what we had on hand. It’s tough to come up with an exact amount of savings for this one, but there were two specific times that we considered ordering take-out, but then we decided to throw together dinner at home. We estimated that we saved about $20 each time.

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I gave myself manicures and pedicures at home – $85

My favorite nail place charges $30 for a gel manicure and $25 for a pedicure. I gave myself two gel manicures and one pedicure at home over the course of 6 weeks (dang, mani/pedis are an expensive treat), so I saved about $85. FYI: I’ve had the Red Carpet Manicure Kit for years now and use it ALL the time! It’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

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We used Ebates to shop online – $2.20

Hey, every dollar counts, right? And Ebates is so simple to use. I mean, it’s money in your pocket for shopping online, which you probably already planned to do. In 6 weeks, I made an easy $2 bucks.

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We enjoyed happy hour at home – $100

Oh, how we love happy hour. But, it’s definitely an expensive outing when a couple of drinks leads to appetizers and sometimes dinner for the whole family. We enjoyed a couple of happy hours at home instead of going out, so we estimate that we saved about $50 each time. And, truthfully, happy hour at home was a lot more fun!

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Total saved for our vacation: $625

***Get three months free of YNAB by clicking here! No credit card is required to sign up***

Question of the Day

What money saving tip do you regularly rely on?

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37 Comments

  1. I have a friend who is a beautician and kindly gets me OPI nail polish for $4 a bottle, so I definitely save money by doing my own manicures at home while studying. I save money and time and don’t feel guilty about having pretty nails when a test is coming up! 🙂
    Another really fun idea is a clothing swap amongst girlfriends! One friend’s old sweater is new to you and you don’t end up spending a dime 🙂 Win win! Especially when the evening is paired with wine and apps 😉

  2. I should really bring a cup to starbucks!! I do the bank transfer too which is great but I really need to do the reusable bags. they do add up over time. I like to get my nails done but stretch my manicure to every two weeks – it’s cheap enough here (like $7-9) so I just can’t give it up lol

  3. Automatic transfers are a game changer when it comes to saving. That’s one I love along with ebates and shopping our kitchen. Doing so saves a lot of money and calories!

  4. Cool idea! I never thought of tracking the little things I do to save money, but I definitely should. I try not to buy food out or coffee unless it’s a social thing, which happens very infrequently. We spend a lot on groceries, but cook at home every meal. I think a lot of people underestimate their grocery budgets because they don’t consider the 2-3 nights a week they are eating take-out, it really adds up!

  5. Lately I stopped buying alcohol. With dinner, I would usually have a glass of wine or a beer, and it was really adding up! I realized that I was just doing it out of habit and it didn’t even feel special anymore, so I replaced that with water and now I save a ton of money PLUS I feel a lot more hydrated and sleep better 🙂

  6. I think the biggest key to saving money is having a written budget. I’ve been a huge Dave Ramsey fan for years and thanks to his teachings have been debt free because of doing a written budget and managing my money better.

    Glad you shared this post! I think its always great to provide motivation and tips to help others save money!

  7. I never think about taking a cup with me to starbucks! Great tip! Our grocery store used to give you $0.05 per bag, but stopped it a few years ago! I wish they still did it – more incentive for me to not forget my own bags!

  8. Like you, my husband and I love our ice coffees all year long (even during those cold New Hampshire winters) so brewing big batches to keep in the refrigerator is such a money saver! It’s crazy how much it adds up when you put it in a monthly budget perspective.

  9. I know about the discount but always forget to bring my reusable bags to Target, doh! The Starbucks thing is new to me though.
    Right now I’m saving money on a gym membership. We just moved to a new city so I’m taking advantage of the free week (or month at some chains!) trial at all the big chains. I’ll pick my favorite at the end so I don’t feel like I’m taking advantage.

  10. I’m really good about packing lunches during the week for myself and my kids. But Recently I just started making my own Lara bars instead of buying them and easily save 10.00 a week.

  11. So just out of curiosity, say you “saved” $20 by not going out to dinner, did you transfer $20 to your savings account? I feel like in order to actually save the money for a vacay, I’d have to actually pay myself for each savings. So every morning that I made my coffee, I’d make sure to transfer $3 into my savings account. Is that how the app works? It helps you track, or does it transfer the money for you? Just wondering 🙂

    1. Yep, I transferred the money saved into our savings account (I’d do it every few days) and then the app would keep track of that activity! It’s really cool! 🙂

  12. Ebates is such a great program! I use it all the time now and have made at least $15 in cash back (plus it’s a bonus that you get an actual check vs a gift card to a store). I also like that they offer promo codes that you might not have known about otherwise.

  13. Love this!! My husband and I are huge savers. I think the biggest way I save money is to make coffee at home… like you showed, having coffee out can really add up.

  14. I loved this post! I have so much trouble budgeting. One thing that does seem to work for me is having a set amount of money for the week. I have to make everything from groceries to gas to dog food fit into my week total. When you only have $50 left for 4 days, take out or the whole food salad bar loses it’s appeal.

  15. Each pay day my husband and I automatically transfer $200 to our savings account. We’ve been doing it for years and don’t even miss the money. It really does add up! We mostly use it for vacations (love having it paid for before we even take off!) or for Christmas, birthday, weddings presents for family & friends.

    Right now we’re saving for a new front porch. We didn’t want to use all of our savings so we decided to save this money separately. For the step, we’ve been limiting how much we eat out and we’ve been creating our weekly menu against items we already have at home. We withdraw money from the bank each week and set it aside and we almost have it all saved up in just a few short weeks.

  16. One of my best friends was talking about YNAB! She raves about it and says it really helped her save up enough money to put a good down payment on a house. I really like that you don’t need to link your bank accounts to it- I heard all you have to do is enter in your statements and categorize from there. I definitely will give it a try!

  17. My fiancé and I try to carpool whenever possible, even when we run errands. It is nice that Target and Home Depot are right next to each other 🙂

  18. I just started looking through flyers. I used to throw them out ALWAYS but our income has changed so I’m trying to be more cautious on every dollar spent.

    We also cut out excessively eating out (Boston Pizza, The Keg etc ADDS UP) and I started making deserts/treats/protein bars from home instead of shopping at Supplement stores. Of course we love Quest Bars and Combat protein bars but homemade protein squares and banana loaf is equally delicious and quite inexpensive!

  19. Have you ever done a post on how you do your nails? I got a gel manicure lamp but I’m not having as much luck as you are

  20. we transfer money biweekly for vacations- we always have. We also don’t do gifts. Instead, we had a gift budget and when a holiday comes we transfer the money (for each other’s gift) into our vacation account. If we are planning a big trip (example Europe) we get even more creative. It has worked for us.

  21. Love these tips! Years ago, I went to Dunkin’ Donuts every single day for an iced coffee, and sometimes even a bagel. I figured out at the end of the year that I spent over $700 on that alone!! It was definitely an eye-opening experience, haha.

  22. awesome job! We have been using YNAB for the past 4 years and love it. I do have to say I prefer their older version that isn’t available anymore, but this one is better than nothing. 🙂

  23. I’ve been using YNAB for a few weeks too, it’s brilliant 🙂 Still not great at budgeting absolutely every penny, but getting there.

    My bank has a setting so that for any amount you pay from your account, it rounds up and moves the change in my savings account. So for 1.45 it would also move 0.55 in the savings account. It’s great, not noticeable in regular account just because of the little sums, but they do add up!

  24. I do the bi-weekly transfer to my savings account. $100 & it comes out the same days I get paid, so it’s like I never had it. I always, every single day, bring my lunch, snacks, etc. to work & I only drink water at work (which is free) so I don’t have to worry about buying other drinks. Every time I have 3 – $1 bills, I put them all into our piggy bank. I don’t know why I chose 3, but it felt right. Saving is difficult, but it’s so worth it!

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