It was a dreadfully hot day in Texas. Temperatures reaching up to almost 100 degrees. Michael and I were meeting friends out at Gloria's, one of our local Tex-Mex hangs in Dallas that serves decent food but better margaritas. We decided to eat at home that night and then go out to socialize. But that night it was just so hot, and despite the fact we ate at home to save money I desperately wanted a frozen margarita. It was happy hour anyway. I eyed Michael coyly, “Hey, I think I MUST have a marg.” He smiled back, “But how will we ever move abroad?”
I didn't get a margarita that night. But we did in fact move abroad. Now before you worry that Michael tells me what to do, let me assure you he does not AT ALL. He is a bit more budget conscious than I am, and helps me remember that I don't need 24 nude lipsticks. Because I might have 23 very similar colors at home. We are a team and that's how we've been able to save up and travel.
I get questions about how Michael and I live on only ONE salary, travel all the time, and still have any money left over. So I wanted to break down what I do spend money on (that actually helps me save money in the long run) and what I save on.
Image is from Venice, see my Italy Itinerary here.
What I Spend Money On:
I love to online shop. Especially before a lengthy trip or vacation. But if you're short on time, or you're like me and the thought of leaving your house and getting out of PJs makes you depressed, then you go online. I use Ebates because I get cash back from places I normally buy from. Here's how it works, Ebates makes a small commission for referring you to the store, and they give you some of that money back as a thank you. If you online shop, you should try it out. When you sign up using my link, you get $10. It's a win-win.
We all love a good deal on flights. I have written a whole post on how to find super cheap flights. My number one go-to is Skyscanner. If you're flexible with time and place you can get deals that are insane. Like I did, when I found a 9 EUR flight to London from Germany!
I am really cheap when it comes to where I sleep while traveling. Like, really cheap. In fact, we pay more for the dogs than we normally do for ourselves. But I understand everyone is different. I think AirBnb is one of the best ways to find lodging anywhere in the world, no matter your budget. I am also a big hostel fan and I love Hostelz website. They have 45,000 listings so you're sure to find one that you like.
If you're more of a hotel person, and sometimes I am too, or there is just a super sweet deal, I use Booking.com. Okay, so Michael uses this site almost every day to find cheap hotels. If we find a cheap flight + hotel, we book it, because life is about adventure, right? And cheap stuff.
Cooking at home saves not only money but calories. I am about 85% healthier if I eat at home. I have raved about eMeals before, but really I can't believe people don't use this service. $7 A MONTH for meal plans based on your diet and grocery store sales. It's just plain genius.
A very good pair of headphones can make your route blissful. This might sound odd, but some things in life are just worth it. I spend a lot of time on planes, trains, and at my desk (with Michael in the same room. Well, actually it's a two story loft so I can hear him). So I need a good pair of headphones. My favorites by far are from Sudio Sweden. I had their original ear buds and wouldn't leave home without them. Now I have their noise canceling headphones that I pack regularly.
I do splurge on one thing, but I think it makes me smarter. That is reading. Well, it's listening. I do a lot of planes and trains so being able to listen to a book is essential. Also, I can't read on planes because I get terrible motion sickness. Audible is my life. I listen to anywhere from 2-4 books a month and I love that I can go back to see what I've listened to. You can get a free trial with my link.
I am a big believer in credit card points. I try to use my credit card for everything, then pay it off in full every months. Which is paramount to make sure you don't get stuck in debt. I love the Capital One Venture card because I get to erase travel related expenses. Basically, I like it because it helps me save money on what I spend money on: travel.
You might also like: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Like a Travel Blogger
I think there are quite a few tools that you can use on your blog that will save time, money, and ultimately make you a better blogger. You can see my whole list here. But I thought I'd go over a few that I love.
I think my Pinterest game has been completely changed, in a good way, and that's all thanks to Tailwind. I have written a whole post on exactly how I use Tailwind for my Pinterest strategy. But the tools they are coming out with for Pinterest and Instagram make it totally worth it. I spent a few hours this past weekend scheduling literally 1,000s of pins. My queue is full for the next solid 3 months. And let me tell you, my pageviews increased dramatically because of it.
Look, you need to have an email list for your blog. If you need convincing, read this post. But there are a lot of options and it can seem overwhelming. That's why I recommend Convertkit no matter what stage you're in. It's straightforward, cheapest (for what it does), and has exactly what you need as a blogger.
If you want to create a blog, the best platform is WordPress (here's a look at how WordPress, Squarespace, and Blogger compare) and you'll also need hosting. To see how to set everything up, read how to start a profitable blog from scratch. I believe that Siteground is the best option. The reason being is because it grows with you. If you need a small package as you're just starting out, they have it. You can get a larger one as you grow which is truly remarkable, many companies do not offer that!
Blog design is so tough. I think it really can take so much time to think about what looks good. You have endless options. But I think Creative Market gives you the option to either start from scratch and pick your own fonts, graphics, and more, to finding a ready to go log design. I check them weekly for graphics, tools, fonts, and just great stuff for my blog.
Community and continuing education are key when it comes to a building a blog. If you want to grow, monetize, and create a group of people that care, you need a little help. I created Blog Boss Babe as a way to help bloggers thrive online. I love online courses but there's not enough interaction with the teacher or the community. I want to personally help you succeed and this community will do it!
Things I do not spend money on:
Getting my nails done (I do get at home with this kit. Love it, and it looks professional)
Cable/HBO TV in general
I think the main idea here is that I believe in investing in things that will help you succeed. Spending money on things that will help you save money, make money, and create the life you want to live are worth it. I try to not spend money on frivolous things, but things that will actually make life easier. I think that we have a hard time seeing the benefit initially, at least I do. Little changes really do make a huge difference. And that's what I've learned over the years and years I spent saving up to make this move abroad. Sure, there were times it was incredibly hard. But the end result was so worth it.
Download a free budget planner! To help you save money where it counts!
This is the exact planner I used to save over $45,000 in less than a year!