Reaching my RTW savings goal

Yesterday, I discussed my RTW budget and how I had tracked my savings over the course of the past 8 months. Whenever I tell people about my trip, they always ask how much money I am budgeting and then respond with something along the lines of:

“Wow, did your parents give you money?”

“You must have been saving forever!”

“Are you a drug dealer?”

Well, no. My parents didn’t foot my RTW bill, I’m not a drug dealer and I haven’t been saving for this trip forever.

However,  I have been working hard to save every possible penny since I planned this trip back in November. Here’s how I’m doing:

As of July 1, I am on track to reach my goal of $20,000. I’ll check in again on Aug 1 and then I’ll have just under a month to save up the remaining funds.

So, what did I do to squirrel away my trip cash?

Saving isn’t just about reducing spending. Obviously, that’s important. But, all the saving in the world wasn’t going to get me to $20,000. I also had to increase my income flow. So using this two-pronged approach: reducing spending and increasing income, I began a serious of various endeavours…some more effective than others.

Reducing Spending

Least effective:

  • Bringing my lunch – This was actually the tactic I used to save up for my Israel/ Jordan trip in 2010. But, for some reason I just coudln’t commit as much this time. I ended up cheating most days and buying lunch so this was kind of a total bust.


  • Repairing Items - An obvious way to save money is to stop  buying things.  So I made an effort not to go clothes shopping or buy anything else new. However, eventually things started to wear out. My coat lost buttons and ripped, I wore my boots through the soles, and my iPhone’s camera broke. It was really tempting go out and buy new things with the justification that I needed them – after all you need a coat in winter in DC. But, the other option is to repair what you already have. So I resoled my boots, I got my coat mended and I took my iPhone to the genius bar. For a relatively small amount of money everything was usable again and I put the savings towards my trip.


  • Giving Away My Car - This was another challenging one, but when I looked at the price of parking, insurance and gas to keep car in a city where you don’t really need one the decision was easy. So I gave away my snazzy 2000 Dodge Caravan. It sucked not having wheels and I probably mooched rides more often then my friends would have liked, but it put a few more bucks in the bank.
  • Moving-For a while I lived in a one bedroom apartment by myself. To save money I move in with two friends into a two bedroom apartment. If you are a math genius you might have done some quick math and thought 3 girls, 2 bedrooms = -1 one bedroom. That’s right, I lived in the dining room for two years and knocked $400 a month off my rent.

Increasing Income

Least effective:

  • Amazon Trade-ins ($29.05) - Amazon lets you trade in used DVDs, CDs, books, etc for Amazon Credit. I traded in my entire (admittedly not huge) DVD collection for a grand total of about 30 bucks. Eh. At least it was enough to buy a few e-books for my kindle.
  • Selling Books ($31.81) - I was also able to sell books to other users through Amazon. Again, not spectacular earnings and its a huge pain to pack up and ship books every day for only a few dollars each. After about 10 sales and paltry rates of return I decided to donate the rest.


  • Pet Sitting ($250) - When my building started allowing pets I realized I had hit upon a potential jack pot of easy money. I put up flyers in each floors laundry room offering my services as a cat sitter or dog walker. People who hired me didn’t have to worry about be getting building access and I didn’t have to commute far to get to their apartments. I charged about $15 a day per pet for about 20 minutes of extra work each morning and each night. If someone hires you for a week to watch their pets, that’s an easy extra $100. Sadly, my apartment building took down my flyers after one week and I never got around to making new ones.
  • Coin Trade Ins ($110.51) - Now if you get picky this isn’t really extra income since its all money I already had, but I scrounged up a surprising amount of money trading in leftover foreign coins as well as cashing in change to coinstar.


  • Second Job  - This is probably the hardest and most painful one on here. Its no big secret – if you want more money, you are going to have to do more work. So more work I did. I got a second job at a nearby Cat Clinic. Every Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:30am and worked seven hours scrubbing cages, emptying litter boxes, grooming cats and generally chanting “trip, trip, trip” over and over again as I fended off yet another customer hissy fit (they can be a little catty). Without a car, this was even more difficult because on mornings when my extremely generous father wasn’t able to drop me off I had to take two different buses to get to work.

    This cat looks so afraid -it looks like a POW photo

  • Blogging  - The other big source of extra income was this blog, and that was a complete happy accident. I didn’t start this blog to make money and for the most part its been really fun to keep it up. You can refer to my blog stats and monthly updates for more information about how I’m generating money from blogging.

As I mentioned, I still have a few more weeks before I head out and I hope to use this time to scrape together the rest of my funds. For the most part this involves cutting back on spending but I will also be working to sell of some of my things to hopefully add a little to the bottom line.


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4 Responses to Reaching my RTW savings goal

  1. Memographer says:

    Thanks for sharing the tips!
    Love “POW photo” :) I guess that’s what animals think of themselves while in a clinic :)

    • ElizabethJ_Bird says:

      It looks like he is trying to communicate his distress thruogh the photo. “Don’t believe the smiles, they are hurting me horribly. They even clipped my nails! Rescue me please!”

  2. Not shopping is one of the main ways I’ve saved money for my trips. I’ve simply refused to buy a new winter jacket, or a new pair of boots, and if I absolutely needed something it was always from the sale rack.

    That and no more hot chocolates and pastries from the local coffee shop. ;)

    • ElizabethJ_Bird says:

      Haha yeah, I’ve had to cut down on my daily snack runs which I think has helped a little bit. I agree, not shopping is key.

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