Recently I had an interesting conversation with my friend and it put many things in perspective for me. I make an effort to give my readers advice on saving money to use towards travel; bring your own lunch to work, don’t buy expensive coffee, don’t do your nails every week … the exhaustive list goes on and here are 40 ways you can save money to travel the world. While these tips may be useful for someone who already has an income stream, it actually does not help those that are making no money at all, and have no random expenses to curb and save on. I put together a short list of ideas that can help you create a new income stream from which you can save towards travel or other expenses. I am not a financial advisor so nothing in this post is guaranteed; these are things I’ve done on my own or intimately worked with and seen their success.
Before you continue reading there is an important caveat to understand: if you really want something and you don’t have the money for it, you have to prioritize, work or do extra work and earn it. Some of these ideas may seem too obvious or impractical but don’t knock it until you try it. There are people that became so successful with these tasks that they made tens of thousands of dollars. If you put your mind to it, and if you really want to attain that end goal, give it a try – the worst that can happen is that it won’t work: lesson learned and move on to the next. I also suggest that you establish what it is you want to achieve. Is it a $400 flight to Europe? A $200 pair of sneakers? Whatever it may be, put a number on it and work towards that number.
Ways to Make Money
When a large company is about to release a product (or already released a product), it wants to know what people think of it’s products. These companies hire market research organizations to conduct interviews, polls, and discussions with people like you to get opinions on the product. In my opinion, focus groups are the best way to make extra money extra quickly. The task is simple: you fill out a questionnaire and if you fit the demographic of research that the organization is doing, you get a phone call and come into their office to participate in an interview, discussion, or sometimes a tasting. For 1-3 hours of your time you can get paid up to $300+. In perspective, I made $400 last month for 3 hours of my time of answering questions, giving my opinion, and tasting a new pasta that is coming out on the market. Here is a link to the paid focus groups in NYC – they exist everywhere and the more you sign up for the more chances you have to get chosen to participate.
Dropshipping is a simple and exciting way to potentially make a lot of extra cash. No, seriously – A LOT. A drop shipping program works something like this: let’s say you go on a website of a warehouse in China that produces different types of pretty scarves. You think that those scarves would really sell amongst your friends and family but you don’t have enough money to buy out inventory and risk not making a sale at all. Drop shipping programs allow you to sell products that you don’t have. Yes, you read that correctly. Here’s how it works. You create a simple website (this is likely the only investment you have to makes which is reasonably cheap, $10 for a domain name and ~$100 for hosting for the year if not less) and on the website you list all those pretty scarves at any price you want. So let’s say that the warehouse in China wants $5 for each scarf … you list each scarf for $25, leaving you with a $20 profit. As soon as someone places the order on your website, you place that same order with the warehouse in China and that warehouse in China ships the order to your customer. Makes sense? Here is a great example of the warehouse and the drop ship program they offer. These programs get really creative, so if the scenario above sounds good to you, do more research – you can drop ship items that you brand on your own. Imagine that? Not only do you never have any inventory … but you can also put your own logo on products!
Surveys are another great way to make some extra bucks on the side but it is definitely more time consuming. I personally fill out surveys during my free time on my way to and from work. I recommend Swagbucks; it is free to sign up and free to use. You get paid to answer surveys and to test products. It is best to sign up for as many as possible to reap the most benefits. Other great survey sites are Survey Club, & Product Report Card.
Affiliate Links & Referral Programs
The idea behind affiliate links is simple: if you recommend or service a product to a friend or family member, the owner of that product or service will give you a small cut of the sale. Referral Programs are similar: If you recommend a particular app or service, whenever anyone signs up using your link you will get money or perks towards that service. Affiliate programs will likely pay you out in cash while referrals will give you future benefits towards the same service that you are recommending. If you sign up for this really awesome service called ebates using my link, you will get money and I will get money. I just recommended a great service to you, and you just helped me earn an extra buck towards my next trip. If you click on this link you will be re-directed to a great book that I think you should buy. This link is my affiliate link, so if you buy the book I will get a small percentage of the sale. Virtually all companies likely have some sort of affiliate program with different payout levels, so if you find yourself recommending a particular brand very often – find out if they have an affiliate or referral program and use it! This is an extremely important way to make money especially if you are in the blogging world or have a website with lots of traffic. The only caveat is that most affiliate programs take a while to pay out, therefore always read the terms and conditions (referral programs are typically quicker).
This might seem very obvious but in reality I highly recommend taking a step back and looking around at everything you have. I mean EVERYTHING. Clothing, old CD’s, Movies, games, electronics – you might think that they have no value but I challenge that. There are so many places where you can sell items that make it easy and effortless. I made over $2000 selling my unwanted clothing on Tradesy. Ebay, Craigslist, Decluttr, thrift stores are all places to sell unwanted or unused goods. You can even sell your unused gift cards. Seriously. Take advantage of it.
Credit card cash back and points are by far my absolute favorite way to make and save money. If you already have an income stream and spend money throughout the year, do you make purchases on your debit card or your credit card? I don’t remember the last time I used my debit card besides paying bills. The idea behind this is to get money back from the purchases I make on credit cards. For example, there are credit cards that are 1.5% cash back on ALL purchases. So if you spend $500 a month on purchases with your debit card, why not just make those purchases on a 1.5% cash back credit card and get extra money in return? It’s almost a no brainer. I have a credit card that I use for dining and travel to get 3X points on every dollar (check it out here), and I have another credit card that gives me 1.5% points for “all other purchases”. I make money back on literally every purchase I make – last year I got a few thousand dollars back from these programs.
If you shop online then you absolutely MUST sign up for Ebates. Ebates is a service that gives you cash-back on all purchases that you make at thousands of retailers online. It is by far my favorite way to make money because it’s so easy. Ebates also pays you $25 for every person you refer so if you click my link, you will get money and I will get money! Make sure to share your link going forward 🙂
Ways to Save Money
Now that you know some new ways to make money, let’s talk about saving money. It seems very straight forward but are you doing it enough? I am a big believer in saving money not just towards a purchase but towards the future. I have a 401K plan, a money market investment account, and a two dimensional savings account: one for the future (emergency fund, large purchases) and one for travel. The money leaves my account every paycheck and I have virtually NO access to it therefore it is almost like it doesn’t exist. Acorns is one of my favorite apps for seamlessly saving money. For every purchase you make, Acorns rounds up the total and reinvests the difference on your behalf. For example if you make a $35.50 purchase, Acorns rounds it up to $36 and the $.5 difference goes into your savings account AND it gets invested. No work to be done on your behalf.
A step further from Acorns is Digit a really cool app that analyzes your income and spending, and finds money to set aside for you. Digit is a particularly great service if you’re saving up for a large purchase because it potentially deducts a lot more money into your savings than Acorns. They also have an no overdraft guarantee so they’ll never take more money from you than you can afford. Once you need access to the funds, you just send them a text and you’ll get them the next day!
Goldman Sachs Savings Bank
If your savings and checking accounts are with the same bank and you have the ability to transfer money instantly at any time – you may want to reconsider where you keep your savings. GS Bank is a phenomenal savings portal that pays 1.05% APY on your savings. Meaning your savings will collect 1.05% in interest. This is the highest rate in the industry. The GS savings account is also an online only portal therefore you won’t have a debit card and transfers can take between 1-3 business days … making your savings a little more difficult to access and therefore decreasing your chances of making spur of the moment purchases.
Now that you know how to make and save money, start becoming a smarter traveler!