How to Save Money: Buying Airline Tickets

How to Save Money is a think fruitful series with helpful hints and tips for taking control of your finances, including budgeting, grocery shopping, traveling and eating out

I know it’s been a few months without a How to Save Money post, but I’m super happy to be back today with a few more money-saving tips for y’all.

Take it from someone who has booked more than 5 pairs of flights in the past 6 months, buying airline tickets is no easy feat. But, there are a few tips and tricks that I can give you to make booking easier and cheaper…which means money back in your bank account. Can I get an alright?!

1. Get on Google Flights

Google Flights has saved me hundreds this year figuring out when is the best day and cheapest airline to fly with. Whenever I’m even just starting to plan a trip, I will hop on this site to see the simple calendar of prices for various days. How it works is that it aggregates all of the airline routes and prices so you can make the best decision about when to fly.

2. Be flexible on airlines

Although I wish I could direct you to one great airline that always has the cheapest rates, that just isn’t the case in this marketplace. I always end up using Google Flights to find the cheapest flights, no matter the airline. I know that there are some serious airline loyalties out there, but if you want to keep the price as low as possible, you’ve got to be flexible about who you’re flying with.

3. Buy early and on Sunday

So, when should you buy your airline tickets to get the best price? A good thing to do is to track flights on Google Flights so it lets you know when they go up or down and you can move on them quickly. I usually book flights 3 or 4 months before a trip if I can, and they say that Sunday is now the best day to buy!

4. Keep up with frequent flyer miles

If you are a “frequent flyer” as they say, then you’ll want to register for the loyalty program of whatever airline you’re using so you can rack up those points. I don’t travel quite enough to buy trips with my miles, but I know people who do and it can equate to free trips (and who doesn’t love that).

So, where are you going next?!

How to Save Money: Traveling

how to save money traveling

How to Save Money is a  monthly think fruitful series with helpful hints and tips for taking control of your finances. Get your free monthly budget template and 4 tips for traveling on a budget!

If you know me well, then you know that I love to travel. Especially if you know my family, then you’ll know that it practically runs in my blood.

My parents have traveled everywhere from Myanmar to Cuba, and my mom is the best travel planner I know.

I’ve been to about 10 countries myself and spent 4 months studying abroad in England during college (saving my pennies to travel to France and Germany during my stay). This year, we’ve already got 3 trips in the works (Asheville, Charleston and Maine if you want to know).

Like I’ve said before, budgeting influences every part of your life, and it can take a lot stress out of traveling.

Here are my 4 quick tips for saving money when you travel:

1. Start planning and saving early

Make sure to include your trip expenses in your monthly budget. In fact, you can even start to save a few months before the trip to spread out the costs. To do this, you’ll need to calculate what your travel expenses, food and transport will cost.

I enjoy starting to plan my trips months ahead of time, so I can make sure I have the time to do ample research. Start with your transport (plane tickets, trane tickets, gas budget), then where you will stay, then restaurant reservations.

Pro Tip: For plane tickets, I like to buy them about 2-3 months ahead of time. Although they used to say Tuesday was the best day to buy, now they say it’s Sunday. Also, check out Google Flights to see when it’s cheaper to fly if your dates are flexible.

2. Consider hotel alternatives

While hotels can be a great option for a relaxing and luxurious stay, I would suggest you compare prices with alternatives like Homeaway and Airbnb. I’ve found that I usually prefer to go through a home rental service because it’s often cheaper (especially with a bigger group), it’s roomier and you can have a kitchen, patio, etc.

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How to Save Money: Eating Out

How to Save Money is a  monthly think fruitful series with helpful hints and tips for taking control of your finances. Get your free monthly budget template and 4 tips for eating out on a budget!

I’m glad to be back with this month’s How to Save Money post, and it’s going to be a really relevant one, I think.

Eating out!

I remember as a kid, we did not eat out much. My parents were good budgeters, and they were smart not to try to entertain us three girls in a public restaurant. We stuck with the occasional, local Mexican joint after church on Sunday, or Taco Bell or Burger King when my mom was traveling and Dad was in charge. Man, I loved those treats.

1. It should be a treat

These memories bring me to my first tip for saving money while eating out: make it an occasional treat. If you want to save money, then eating out can’t be the norm. Although you can find some good deals eating out (I’ll show you in a minute), eating in is always cheaper. But, it’s also not always as fun.

That’s why you should include eating out expenses in your monthly budget and stick to them.

Budget per week, so you can make sure you have a meal or two out each week. If your budget is tighter, then go out to eat once or twice a month.

2. Dine local

When you choose local restaurants that utilize locally-sourced ingredients, you can save yourself money (fewer ingredients have to be shipped in). And everything will likely taste better that way, too! Instead of getting a so-so salad at Chili’s for $15, you can have a tasty soup and salad for $12.

We’ve been enjoying eating out at a local dive near us, Simple Twist in Garner, where the prices are affordable since they have a farm-to-fork mentality.

If you’re looking for cheap lunch ideas in Raleigh, check out this post!

3. Pick Your Apps, Zerts & Drinks Wisely

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going out and celebrating a bit, and your budget will let you do that within reason. During the meal, I like to pick and choose whether I’ll get a drink with my meal and an appetizer. Or maybe I’ll sacrifice a drink for dessert. Being flexible when you’re eating out will help you pick what you really want to eat and save money in the long run. You can also just go out for drinks and desserts if you feel like you can afford the whole shebang.

Wait for super special occasions like your birthday or anniversary to go for the app, entree, dessert and drinks.

Keep your eye out for local specials like restaurant week, or embrace the small plates craze to try a lot of things for a lower price. Remember like I’ve said before that vegetables are cheaper than meat, so the more veggies than meat you eat, the cheaper it will be.

4. Consider To-Go

While you might have your certain places to go on your special date night out, you should also have a few budget-friendly meal options for when you don’t want to cook. You’ll save money by not having to pay (with your tip) to sit in the restaurant, and you can have a glass of wine or beer at home for much cheaper. That said, always give at least a 20% tip when dining in!

In Raleigh, we love Mami Nora’s ($16 for a whole chicken with beans and rice), Whole Foods takeout pizzas ($10 for a large one night a week), Cook Out for a tasty burger and fries, Beansprout Chinese for takeout, and Oak City Meatball Shoppe for spaghetti and meatballs.

How do you save money eating out?

Enjoy treating yo’self!

How to Save Money: Grocery Shopping

How to Save Money is a  monthly think fruitful series with helpful hints and tips for taking control of your finances. Get your free monthly budget template and 4 tips for smarter grocery shopping!

Today, I’m really excited to be back with our monthly How to Save Money post.

Your first step to saving money is to read my first post about budgeting. Budgeting is at the basis of tracking and saving money…and it’s important to grocery shopping, too!

To grocery shop well, you’ve got to first just go grocery shopping. Make eating and cooking at home a priority.

The sole act of cooking at home means you’ll be saving money and calories vs. eating out.

I also find that eating in allows me to sharpen my cooking skills and spend more quality time with my husband. That’s a win-win.

So, back to grocery shopping, here are a few tips to make your trip worthwhile to your pantry and bank account:

1. Prep for your trip

Do a few little things before stepping into those food-filled aisles. Make a meal plan for every meal you’ll eat at home. I don’t worry too much about breakfast and lunch (since I just do cereal or yogurt and leftovers), but I just write down 4-5 recipes I plan to make during the week.

Pro tip: If you’ve done your budget, you’ll know what you have budgeted for groceries per week or month. Get that amount out in cash, or keep in mind what you have to spend and stick to it as best as you can.

2. Make a list

Look through your selected recipes and write down the ingredients on a list.

It really is that simple!

I like to use a grocery list app (mine is just called “Grocery List”) to keep track of our food needs throughout the week. Whether it’s paper or digital, going into the grocery store with a list based on your meal plan will keep you on track and on budget. And remember to only buy what is on your list for that week.

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How to Save Money: Budgeting

how to save money

How to Save Money is a  monthly think fruitful series with helpful hints and tips for taking control of your finances. Find a free monthly budget template below!

Today is the start of a new little series on the blog, and I think it’s going to be something you’re interested in.

How to save money.

I feel like saving money is a universal goal. And with Christmas around the corner, now is (believe it or not) a great time to be thinking about your finances.

Here’s why I want you to save money:

  • So you can save more for trips, food and life things
  • So you can give more to people and organizations that you love
  • So you can quit worrying about your finances

Since my husband and I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course when we were newlyweds (thanks, parents),  we have been all about budgeting. Well, I’m the main budgeter in the house, but doing the budget together keeps our relationship, home and finances healthy and fight-free.

Doing a budget is the best way to start saving money.

how to make a monthly budget

After all, you’ve got to know where your money is going before you can figure out where to save.

So, here’s how you start budgeting:

  • Make a budget every month
  • Use a Google sheet, Excel sheet or whatever you like to record what you are budgeting for every part of your life. With my template below, all you have to do is make a copy of the sheet or copy the text yourself to start your own budget.
  • Don’t forget to include the fun stuff like clothing and eating out in your budget – budgeting can be fun!
  • Shoot for a $0 budget where you indicate where every dollar of your income will go out (including what goes into savings)

It may take a few months to figure out just what you need for your budget, but now is a great time to start.

Use my Budget Template below to get started!

Right before that first day of a new month, take 10 minutes to fill out your budget for the next month, adding rows for things you know you’ll need like “Dentist Appointment”, “Oil Change” or “Christmas presents.” And take away or adjust any expenses you know will change.

Get excited: you’re now one big step closer to saving money!

Free Monthly Budget Template (Google Sheet)

Free Monthly Budget Template (Excel Sheet)

See the other posts in this series: