Right before I got pregnant with my son, my husband and I took our last kid-free vacation together. We tossed up a few ideas of where to go (included in the mix were Paris, the Bahamas, Mexico and Canada) but eventually we settled on Disneyworld in Orlando.
I’m a closet Disney fan and I’ve always wanted to visit, but my husband took a bit more convincing. He thought it might be too “kiddish” for a childless couple. Turns out, he was wrong. We had the absolute best time and left feeling exhausted, but understanding exactly why people say that Disneyworld is the happiest place on earth!
Since that time, we always said we can’t wait to take our son back to experience the magic of Disneyworld. But let’s be real here, it isn’t exactly a cheap family vacation.
Although it’s not cheap, I absolutely think it’s worth the money, so as soon as my son was born, I started a separate savings account for our Disneyworld vacation. We’re planning to take the little guy when he’s about 3, so we’ve got a couple more years to save.
If you’re looking for ways to save money for a vacation, here are the 10 ways I’m saving to take our little fambam to Disneyworld!
How to Save Money For a Vacation
1) Make Your Own Meals at Home
This is a HUGE one, and this step alone has the potential to save you thousands of dollars every year. Did you know that American now spend more money at restaurants than they do on groceries?
The average restaurant meal costs around $13, plus a tip. Let’s say you tip $3 and eat out 3 times a week.
That’s $45/week or $2340/year on restaurant food, just for one person.
One of the biggest issues I used to have with making our own food was that I was often running out of ideas on what to actually make. My husband loved the sweet potato chili I make until he had it for probably the third time in a week (sorry hubs :D)
Enter $5 Meal Plan!
$5 Meal Plan is a meal planning service (hence the name 😉 Every week you’ll get a full meal plan delivered straight to your inbox for just $5 a month (yep, you get the meal plan delivered weekly, but you only pay $5 monthly.)
All of the meals are simple, inexpensive and healthy, with most of them costing around $2 per person to make.
$5 Meal Plan also offers a free 14-day trial so you can check it out and see if you love it.
Utilizing $5 Meal Plan and eating out less has the potential to save you thousands of dollars alone.
2) Use Online Rebates, Discount Codes, and Cash Back Rewards Sites
You can save a ton of money by utilizing online rebates, discount codes, and cash back rewards sites.
Ibotta is a free app (you can download here) that gives you cash back on a huge variety of groceries. It’s super easy to use (just scan the product barcode & snap a picture of your receipt – that’s it!)
One of my favorite features of Ibotta is that they’re not always brand-specific.
What I mean by that is, a lot of the time you don’t always have to buy a certain brand to get a cash rebate. For example, I recently received cash back for buying a box of cereal – it didn’t matter what kind. I also love the fact that Ibotta almost always has rebates for healthy food, like fruit and vegetables!
Here’s the link to join Ibotta (you’ll get a $10 bonus after you redeem your first rebate, and we’ll be teammates which means we can help each other get more bonuses, which = more cash!)
For online shopping, one of my favorite sites is Ebates.
Ebates has partnered with thousands of online retailers to give you cash back on your purchases, and they also have a ton of exclusive discount codes. Ebates is really easy to use – before you surf to an online store, go to Ebates, then click on the link to the store you want to shop at. Ebates will track your purchases, and give you a percentage of cash back – too easy!
Sign up here and you’ll get a bonus $10 gift card after your first qualifying purchase.
3) Drink Water at Restaurants
Even though we’re trying to avoid eating out too often, I still do enjoy going out to a restaurant every now and then.
I’ve always been a huge water drinker, and it’s all I ever order when I’m out at a restaurant. My husband, being a Kentucky boy, has always been a fan of drinking sweet tea (I can’t stand the taste, tbh!)
But instead of ordering expensive, unhealthy soft drinks or sweet tea, we’ve both started ordering water instead.
This one may be difficult to swallow (pardon the pun) for some people, but ordering water when you eat out can save you quite a bit of money, plus it’s a lot healthier!
4) Buy Clothes Secondhand
I love TJ Maxx just as much as the next person, but over the past few years I’ve really started to enjoy buying a lot of my clothes secondhand.
There are a number of benefits to buying clothes secondhand. Obviously, you’ll save a ton of money. But it’s also environmentally friendly (reuse, recycle, etc.) and I love finding unique, different pieces that aren’t currently sold in stores.
I used to like shopping on eBay but it’s been forever since I’ve bought anything from there. My two favorite places to shop online for secondhand clothes are currently ThredUp and Mercari.
5) Become an At-Home Beautician
No, I haven’t gone and got my beautician’s license and started my own home-business. My days as a beautician were over before they started, after I accidentally shaved off half of my friends eyebrow with one of these. Sorry Brandi, please still love me 😀
(For the record, I love these eyebrow shapers. I use them on my own eyebrows, but I’m obviously not so good at shaping anyone elses >.<)
But instead of spending a ton of money on getting my eyebrows waxed, hair dyed and buying expensive beauty products, I’ve started doing a lot more at-home, myself.
In addition to saving money, using natural beauty products is healthier in general.
The only product I use to moisturize my face is this Radha rosehip oil, which I swear by and recommend to everyone I know.
And I love making my own DIY face masks using multani mitti (you can find my favorite recipes here.)
Combined, all of these can really add up, especially if you put the savings into a separate bank account for a couple years.
Do you have any other creative ways to save money for a vacation? Let me know in the comments.