So I just found out my insurance is going up $200 a month! How can you save for a trip? I know health care is important but so is travel!! I don't have too many more things to cut out to make up the $200. No, I don't qualify for credits. I am a retired teacher who is now understanding what those who went before me worried about,being on a fixed income! Any kindred spirits out there? I do realize there are more important things than being able to travel but, darn it, when you make it to a certain age, you should be able to have a little fun!!
Hi, Chriss, it's a tough problem when income doesn't keep pace with escalating expenses. I am not retired yet (can't afford to retire and travel).
I try to get credit card balances to $0 as soon as possible after a trip (saves on interest), and I save a chunk of money from each paycheck to pay for travel expenses. I have a very simple lifestyle in the US. I also have a very simple vacation lifestyle.
Not in terms of saving for a trip, but bargain-hunting for the trip itself: I plan an itinerary as far ahead as is feasible and book super-economy rail tickets as soon as they go on sale. I also book hotel rooms early (I use the free cancellation rate, which is higher than non-refundable, but things happen when you plan several months in advance and I really can't afford to forfeit a nonrefundable hotel room). I avoid using credit cards that have foreign transaction fees while I am traveling.
Budget for it then stick to your budget. Pick what you are willing to sacrifice (people can usually find something) and give that up for travel. We haven't had a land line phone, cable TV, new house, new car, new "stuff" due to our budget (we had a hand me down TV from the 1970s that worked fine up until a few years ago). When you write out all your expenses most are surprised how much is going to things they don't really care about or want.
Thanks Zoe, I think I missed the memo that said you shouldn't retire,ever!!!!! Good ideas.
My social security checks goes into the credit union and that is the travel fund. We are both retired educators (public school and university) and live off our retirement programs. My wife's ss check is less than $200 so it doesn't count for much - primarily used to cover medicare insurance payment, $135/month.
I guess I would look at my discretionary spending first i.e. anything that is not essential such as heating, eating and the roof over my head. Cable tv, cell phone bill, eating out, movies? What are you willing to cut?
One way we have been able to travel for long periods of time and see different areas of Europe up close throughout the last 20 years has been to house exchange. Now that we are retired (both educators) we still prefer this way to travel that lets us meet "neighbors" and live inexpensively while we are in Europe. The main things we budget for are our flights, always purchased and paid for months in advance, extra local transportation, admissions, entertainment and a few hotels for overnight trips from our exchange house.
I don't know if this is an idea you'd feel comfortable with but with a house within 2-3 hours of East Coast mega tourist destinations and a bucket load of charm in eastern Pennsylvania you probably wouldn't have too much trouble arranging an exchange in an area of Europe you'd like to explore. Eliminating most hotel costs from the budget has made it possible for us to enjoy Europe for weeks at a time over the years. Imagine removing most lodging costs from your budget...
One way I save a little money is to not order a beverage when eating out. Between my wife and I, that saves us at least $5.00 a meal. Granted, sometimes a drink is appropriate depending on the situation, but you would be surprised how much money you can save on your dinner bill. Before I get a bunch of angry responses, I am saying this works for me and I recognize it is not everyone's cup of tea.
In our area, not ordering a drink saves a lot more than $5. Maybe a coke would hit the $5 mark for anything else would be closer to $20. And is a good point. Water is cheap and beneficial. We are big coupon users. And today, I will get a free meal somewhere - probably both lunch and dinner.
We are not retired but our health insurance through our work has just gone up $150.00 a month (and I am sure will continue to go up annually), plus we are juggling savings for retirement though our 401K's, and we both have aging parents (I can see moving my folks in with us within the next few years). We also have family out of State (children and grandchildren) that we need to budget in to see, plus limited time off work to do it all. So different issues, but still trying to save for travel. We use credit cards that offer travel points and try to charge most living expenses paying them off each month to attempt to get free airfare (our goal is to do Europe once every 3 years), rent apartments rather than stay in hotels (about 1/2 the cost of a hotel). We are a one car family which we just paid off so now that money will be split between travel and retirement savings. But in between that all we still love to go camping, entertain and attend events with friends and family.
When traveling we do not skimp on walking tours while in Europe, some of them can be spendy, but we learn so much and get so much more information about the site, we eat what we want which averages out to about $125.00 USD daily for 2.
My wife and I try not to eat out more than 1x per week, and it's at a very inexpensive places--Krystal or Captain D's. Eating out is not important to us as my wife thinks of herself as an artist in the kitchen. We have friends that spend enough eating out in a year to fund an around the world trip.
We also try to stay home 2-3 days per week--not driving anywhere. At the grocery store, we often spend too much on incidentals we can do without. And staying close saves on gasoline.
I am a student of travel bargains and inexpensive flights on the internet. We usually take one cruise per year when they're especially good values. And we drive to the port.
We've also discovered how to fly to Europe for half the price of legacy air carriers as we're willing to drive another city to save big $.
We feel very fortunate to have Medicare and our Supplement has remained the same this year. Health insurance is one of those "must haves" in life. I'm sorry your insurance has gone up. For us, savings is all living below our means.
I work 2 full-time jobs. The first job pays for the mortgage and house bills, the second job pays for travel, dog food, dog toys, clothing and other "non-necessity" items.
We recently stopped our cable TV service and now use Amazon Fire TV which is saving us quite a bit each month since I already have an Amazon Prime account for my business. I'm also considering dropping my smartphone for a plain old flip phone to save on that expense.
Retired or not, we are all on fixed incomes. After all, it's not like I can tell my boss that I want to spend a month in Europe this spring and he is going to give me a raise to pay for it. We are actually seeing a net decrease in our pay where I work for the next year.
Balancing travel expense against other expenses is always difficult. But I always manage to find the money somewhere and not run up my credit cards where I end up paying interest for years. Maybe I eat at home one or two nights per week more than I like to and that can save a large amount from my weekly expenses. I looked at my cable TV bill and decided it was not worth it for the little I watch. There was a $150 monthly payment I no longer make. I looked at my cell phone plan and worked with my provider and am now paying half what I was for nearly the same service. I drive a 10 year old car that is still in very good shape with low miles even though my friends and coworkers seem to buy new ones every other year. And so on. While not all of these savings will go directly toward travel, other necessities continue to go up in price and the money to pay for them also has to come from somewhere, every dollar helps.
Here's a thread on this exact subject from a couple of years ago, still relevant:
The thread kind of reminded of what we do but may not think it is important. For example - we have never had cable TV. With a librarian wife print media took priority. Of course, never smoked so those two items probably saved a bundle. We had never had car payments. Either cash or no car. That helps to explain having vehicles of 16 and 14 years old with over 100,000 each. The other big issue is to min the amount of mortgage. The last house we were in for 32 years and only had a mortgage the first ten. None of this is helpful to the original question since it is all very long term but for younger readers it is important to understand the value of a setting spending priorities and long term decisions.
I'm retired on what a lot of financial "experts" would say is not an adequate income. My life is simple; I've eliminated most of the things I don't really care about. I unloaded an RV that I had stopped using. I eat out very seldom, maybe twice a month. I pay off credit cards monthly, thus no interest payments. I drive a small, cheap, reliable car. My home could use some improvements, but I would rather travel than spend money on drapes and new furniture! I charge everything on a credit card that is linked to a frequent flyer account. Most Sundays I do without the $3 newspaper. My cell phone is a Tracfone and costs $100 a year for minutes. I go to,a gym but pay per visit rather than keeping an expensive membership. I buy some food items in bulk (Costco) or on sale. I spend what I want but am always aware of my expenses.
When I travel I stay at 1 or 2 star hotels, eat lightly and inexpensively (Chinese food in Paris). I shop very little, but enjoying walking around a lot. If I take a train or fly within Europe I look for cheap fares a few months before my trip. In Europe I spend $ on what is important to me. As at home, I usually avoid spending frivolously. I've taken a number of tours which I fit somehow into my budget.
Life is good. I have managed to design an affordable, enjoyable lifestyle for myself. And I get to go to Europe once or twice a year!
Chriss, you may be part of a huge insurance group, but, depending on your personal circumstances health-wise, you might look into increasing your deductible and lessening the monthly premium.
If you have a cell phone, you can ask if they have a cheaper plan. My carrier, Verizon, now has a plan for $50 a month, and I was paying $65+ previously for fewer data and minutes. It's a little, but it all adds up.
I won't repeat everyone else's suggestions, but they are all good ones.
Sharyn I had to do something like this during my last 7 years of employment (California public schools) where we didn't get a single raise in 7 years and our insurance rates went up every single year. The first year we had to pay something in addition to what our employer paid it was about $150. By the seventh year I was paying about $700 per month in addition to what my employer paid with no raise over the course of these increases. Over those 7 years I kept analyzing the levels of coverage being offered and started ratcheting down the type of coverage I could get. At the end, just a year ago, I was choosing/gambling on insurance that is typically taken out by the youngest, healthiest, employees "catastrophic insurance".
So I think I understand what you are saying by telling Chriss to take a hard look to see if there are any insurance options in her group.
Thank you all for your great ideas. Some we do already(12 old car, few dinners out, etc) I love the idea about house exchange. We are in a great area for that. Hubby ,not so much!
What I am hearing is that,bottom line, you have to sacrifice for travel. This makes me want to look for more ways to save knowing others are in the same boat!! A lot of my family doesn't understand the passion I have for traveling. Glad to know I'm not alone!
p.s. Now I'll share some advice. I was reading these posts and stopped for a second to reheat some salmon for my husband for lunch. NEVER do this without using a covering!!! =O and i was a FCS ( Home Economics teacher!) Did I mention I was retired?! Happy Trails!!
Consider travel to countries where you can really stretch your dollar instead of going to Europe (Western Europe in particular) and plan your own trip to those places (off season, if possible), as opposed to a tour. There are countless interesting places in the world that can work for even a somewhat tight budget. Maybe the flight will be expensive, but the lodging and food and attractions will more than make up for it, so your daily average costs can still be low. If you want to stick to Europe, then consider Central and Eastern European (or Balkan) countries that are not using the Euro where the exchange rate is good (Poland, Romania, Bosnia, etc).
Alternatively, consider a part-time job where you can squirrel away some money just for travel.
Chriss, welcome to retirement. Overall it is great, but then things happen like the insurance that sort of hits below the belt. A $200 increase for insurance really rough. You must not be medi care yet as I only have to pay $55 a month now. I was retired but went back to work full time. Also have a side business that I used for travel money. Maybe a 20hr a wk part time job could help with travel funds. Lots of us have had to do that.
Now that I have the money to travel, a health issue raised it's ugly head, and so I can't travel until I get it all resolved. Probably 2017 before I go again.
There are lots of good ideas on your question and I suggest that you do all you can to travel now.
I retired in 2004 and have been traveling for 2-3 international trips every year.
I have probably only bought 4 or so airplane tickets in all those trips for all those years.
I basically work the credit card offers.
Got a big break when US Air merged with American Airlines, since I had a large number of miles on each airline, I now enough for 2 BUSINESS class round trips to Europe, a one way business class to Europe on British Airlines, and an economy round trip to Europe on Delta.
This does not include an already ticketed AA business class from Charlotte to Lisbon in March and an already booked trip to Portugal in June--one way business class on Luftansa and a return business class on United Airlines.
I really do not spend much time on this project. I do read the blogs like Frequent Flyer but I am in way as extreme like most of the folks on that site.
I monitor offers form the credit card companies that offer miles on airlines, apply for the card (obviously one has to have good credit for this to work), spend the amount that is required to get the bonus miles. After the miles appear in my account, I cancel the card before the annual fee comes up. The only cards I keep are the Venture Capital card which gives double points for every purchase and gives a credit reimbursement for the cost of the travel.
Cards vary, but typically after a cancel of the card, most allow a new application with bonus every 18 months. I apply again and collect another 30,000 to 50,00 miles.
If a card has a big spend requirement, I time my application for the card when the property taxes, flood insurance, homeowners insurance comes due. If I still need more to meet the spend, I pay my cable bill in advance.
I never spend on anything that is not necessary or above what I would spend anyway.
I would never have been able to do the traveling I have been fortunate enough to do without this strategy.
I'll add to what Ann has said. Sometimes I monitor a forum called flyertalk.com milesbuzz. These people are fanatics but they sometimes have tidbits of information normal people can use who aren't focused on getting to the next FF level and a better lounge. They do elaborate mileage runs just to collect miles to keep their status or get to the next level.
For instance they've posted things about very low airline rates between certain cities that have been useful to me--a sudden drop in a fare, a new route or a mistake in pricing for example. They post information on the best FF programs, mileage awards, etc. It was through them that I found out about a 75,000 mile AA card that you could get and then apply for another 75,000 business card giving me miles for 2+ economy trips to Europe.
I too am very careful like Ann to pay off my credit cards in full each month, cancel cards that are no longer of value and have enough expenses that I already need to charge if I'm signing up for another card. I don't play the churning credit card game lightly but when a really good deal comes up I'll consider it.
I'm 51 and have a ways to go til retirement--I'm frugal where I can be, stick to a budget and supplement here and there by selling on eBay. I have also borrowed against my 401K, interest is 3% and I pay it back within a year. I seem to prefer countries where our dollar goes a bit further, like Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic. Even if I could only go for a week I consider my annual trip to Europe very important to my well-being.
Thanks all. Good ideas to think about.
Mona, I saw that 75,000 mile card also, but the spend is too high, do not have expense (lucky) that I can meet that.
I am waiting until Feb. 28 when I can apply for my next AA credit card. Offers vary between 30,00 and 50,000 miles, some offers may be only be at certain times.
I also looked at the AA citi card that is 50,000 miles but with a 450 annual fee, which I believe is billed up front, but not sure about that. The benefits offered are not worth 450 to me.
As others have this is not a deal unless you use the spend requirement for things you buy anyway, and obviously pay the balance in full every month. Paying interest negates all the benefits you get from the miles bonus.
If I am in doubt about when I can apply/reapply for a card, I will call up the company and make my dates are correct to get the bonus.
The 75000 mile AA cards only had a $95 annual fee. I've since cancelled one of the cards before I had to pay the annual fee.
I am confused. I thought I read somewhere that cancelling CC's results in a hit on your credit score. Am I imagining this?
As for trips, I work part time so I can pay property taxes but live frugally like many others. Essentially live off my pension and it is not a huge one. I don't have cable and have a pay as you go phone. I brown bag my lunch and don't buy coffee or water. I use the health care credits I can get (I get my health care from my part time job) so my weekly cost is about $20. I am not a big user of healthcare-just 2 maintenance meds. I do not buy life insurance (I have no dependents). I do tap into my 401/403 for trips - again no dependents - and my siblings/nieces and nephews understand how much I love my travel.
As for your insurance, since you are retired-check out your states health exchanges. I cancelled my retiree health insurance early in my retirement after the price climbed to over $700/m. You are not required to get your health insurance through your retirement plan. Talk to a counselor to see if you can get an equivalent policy for less money.
I do market research stuff to really amp up my travel budget. It's mostly just a few dollars or points/airline miles a night from messing around on my computer while spousal unit watches something on tv that bores me. But if you're willing to take a slow and steady approach instead of expecting to Make! Money! Fast! it can add up over the course of a year. I've pretty much given a try to any program that comes up. Here's my current roster-
Swagbucks- redeem for American Airlines gift cards or PayPal cash
Prize Rebel- Redeem for PayPal
MyPoints- redeem for United miles (to be used only on partner airlines since spousal unit understandably refuses to ever fly another United flight again)
Perk- American Airlines and Starbucks GCs
e-Rewards- IHG/Holiday Inn or Le Club Accor points (IMO, the current stars of redemption options since you can redeem an unlimited number of times during a year for each program and at least as of 2015, those points post as elite-qualifying so I'm an IHG platinum this year without needing any spend or branded credit card) You get the most surveys with them from their mobile phone/tablet app.
eMiles- a small number of IHG miles every year
Checkpoints- American or Southwest miles
Points for Surveys- since Jet Blue doesn't fly anywhere near me, I go to points.com and turn them into IHG points as an admittedly not great exchange rate.
Sadly the mileage run for redeemable miles instead of status is effectively dead within the USA since American just announced it was moving to a spending-based rather than distance-based model for 2016 and it's hard to get a decent number of miles when crediting to an overseas partner.
I have cut my cognac consumption in half and traded in the old Range Rover for the new model that gets much better gas mileage. But the most important thing I did was to make those sacrifices necessary to work my way into the upper brackets of wage earners and having started saving for retirement when I was very, very young.
Try a citibank cc for purchases groceries, gas etc. and which ever premiums iyou can charge but of course pay in full every month. These are for points to get cash back or purchase.option cardsGet a card were at least first yr is free to test if it is worth it for u. An airline cc such as united air. Stop all eating/ drinking /coffee out. A picnic is much healthier and u will be amazed at dollars saved in 6 mo.
And lastly have a friend to travel with that has sim goal or is will to stay in cheaper lodging.
2 sharing saves alot or opt for hostels that have single rooms. Which are becoming more common?
Pick a country that u can easily find gd budget lodging like france and def go shoulder season.
It all takes alot of careful planning and discipline. Only u know if it is worth it.
Mbest of luck
Again, thanks for all the great ideas! Selkie, I must keep the Make Money Fast! thought under control! I thought, by this time of my life(63) my travel bug would settle down. I know, slow and steady but the clock is ticking!!!! We just got back from a great trip 6 weeks ago and I want more!!
Regarding credit rating taking a hit from a card cancel. I have seen no evidence of this in my 10 years of apply,approval,cancel.
My credit rating has actually gone up slightly . Best evidence of this is I have always gotten approval for the cards I apply for.
Just one time late payment does more damage to a credit rating than you might imagine.
Paying off the balance every month without exception is the best way to maintain or improve a credit rating.
Some misleadiing information on credit scores -
I thought I read somewhere that cancelling CC's results in a hit on
your credit score. Am I imagining this?
No, In someways, cancelling a credit card is about the same as having charged that card to the max. Part of your credit score (I think - about 30%) is based on the amount of available credit being used. For example if you have available credit on all of your cards of $100,000 but only average about $5000 monthly charged against your cards. You are only using about 5% of available credit and that will give a high score for that component. Cancel your cards down to $50,000 or less and now your consumed credit is 10%. Still a decent score but less than when it was 5%. The age of the account is significant also. A ten year old credit card with a $40,000 limits looks a bit better to two brand new cards with $20,000 limits.
Just one time late payment does more damage to a credit rating than
you might imagine
That is not accurate. It is a problem only if the late payment is reported to the credit agencies. Most companies are not going to report a single late payment unless it becomes a repeated pattern or proceeds to collection. Most are just happy to collect their penalty and move on.
You only need to be concerned about your credit score if you are going to apply for credit and especially for something big like a mortgage. If you are pass the mortgage age, then play all the games you like with credit cards because the impact on score is not that important. Get a Discover card - they track you credit score monthly - kind of interesting to it go up and down and you wonder why. What did I do last month that caused that change?
I'm not retired, but I don't make a lot of money and have to watch my budget. That said, I manage to go to Europe every 2 years or so if I'm lucky because I'm very careful what I spend money on. I go out to eat once a week; don't have cable or Netflix or anything like that; drive a 20-year-old car which still runs great; don't drink coffee or alcohol; buy clothes on sale once a year; don't see movies in the theater (most of them are crap anyway); I use an 8-year-old laptop and have no "fancy" electronics besides my 3-year-old smartphone; etc. I don't feel that I'm depriving myself of these things because I have no desire to do/buy them. Travel is my passion and yes, it's an expensive habit, but I feel that everything that I DON'T buy offsets the cost of trips.
I work an extra job and take the money from it and put it in a "Travel Savings account", If I never use this money except to travel I can make enough for two trips to Europe a year. Sometimes I am lucky because I can go on business trips to Europe and my employer covers the plane ticket and the hotel room and meals, I usually take my wife and we just have to buy her plane ticket, works out very well, I usually go a few days early and sight see till the meeting starts.
Why don't you plan to substitute teach 5 days a month and put that money aside for travel? You still get to keep your schedule flexible and you can be a little picky about what jobs you take.
I know most school districts are short of good quality substitutes and this is quick and easy way to raise funds for travel.
A note on e-Rewards- they're kind of squirrelly about which awards you can redeem for depending on who you sign up underneath. If you're talking strictly European travel, Le Club Accor is the best option because it's not that hard to earn 40 euro vouchers and then spend them on their properties in Germany and Eastern Europe that don't cost that much more than that for a budget hotel that still has CH&A, wifi, and en suite bathroom. IHG is better if you also travel a fair amount in the USA (though the e-Rewards invite option from IHG come and go)
For European travel and if you know how to maximize using Avios for travel without hitting heavy fuel surcharges, you can redeem for a lot more Iberia Avios in a year under program rules than you can BA Avios.
Enjoyed my first latte in a long time this past weekend. Seemingly insignificant purchases can add up to big amounts. Avoiding an otherwise normal latte/mocha a day for a year at say $4.00 per, can be the better part of your airfare to/from Europe.
Not sure your home situation (number of empty rooms) and your husband doesn't seem overly comfortable with home exchange, but if you have a spare room not being used, perhaps you could look into airbnb'ing and save that money for travel. (Or for anyone else looking for a way to make a little extra money.) You of course would have to look into insurance issues and whether your area allows it.
We are lucky in that my husband has a good job and our mortgage is paid (thanks to a generous gift from his parents when they sold their home), so that makes a huge difference - our payment was about $1300/month. We have been couchsurfing hosts since 2008 as we have a spare room that isn't used, and I have been contemplating trying out airbnb since we are comfortable with hosting 'strangers' (we use it all the time when we travel and have stayed in some great places and met some fantastic people).
I think I will give it a go next year and any money earned will go towards travelling. I don't work (thanks to not needing to pay a mortgage - I make spending money selling Avon and selling my photographs and crafts), so I have no issues being here when someone else is and don't have a schedule to adhere to. If I don't like it or it's too much bother, then I'll just stop doing it. Even if we only rented the room 4-5 nights a month at $40-50 a night, there's $200 right there...I know it's not for everyone, but it could earn some travel money...
Like anything else, having a plan and the discipline to save (and not spend what you don't have) gets you halfway there. In our instance, we set up a separate bank account which we designate for annual travel. We opened this account outside of the bank where we have our household accounts, just to reaffirm (mindset) that it's a dedicated account with a specific purpose. Kind of like the old 'envelope' method for budgeting. We allocate $125 per paycheck (a '401k for travel', if you like) via auto-transfer between the banks/accounts and that $250/mo quickly adds up to $3,000 per year. The account we selected for travel purposes is a checking account with Schwab (not our primary bank), as they issue ATM/Debit cards connected to that account that work at most any foreign bank without incurring currency/exchange fees, plus they credit back any incurred non-network ATM fees. So the money we put into this account is withdrawn as a 'local', wherever we happen to be. Not sure what we did with the 'extra' $125 every couple of weeks before, but it likely went towards non-essentials. : )
Carol, thanks for the subbing idea. I did think about it ... for 20 seconds. I'd rather pull my nails out and sell them!!! =O I am going to open a separate account that is ONLY FOR TRAVEL. Not a new roof or paving our driveway! Thanks for all the great ideas. Where there's a will..............!
For my wife and I, the biggest money saver is not eating out. In terms of cost per serving, cooking your own food is so much cheaper than eating out (of course, depending on what type of ingredients you buy), not to mention, healthier. There is a joy and gratification in knowing what went into your food and that you're not being ripped off because the plates are square rather than the traditional round, that you won't complain about the poor service or the obnoxious people at the next table. We no longer see cooking at home as "work" but rather, a fun activity and an exercise in avoiding commercially produced food. We both really enjoy drinking coffee and instead of the $1.50-$2.50 coffee at the big chains (Starbucks, etc.), I buy much better beans from local roasters and grind/brew my own coffee. Sure, that bag of beans is probably twice the cost of Starbucks beans, but per cup it's far less than the per cup cost at an actual Starbucks store. I think this is one place I prefer to splurge. Same goes for having a drink with your meal...what restaurants charge for alcoholic beverages compared to the retail price in any store...whew!
Someone also mentioned not buying clothes. I've tried to cut back on clothing purchases too. I'd rather save the money for good quality ingredients to cook our own food and my gym membership, and stay in shape so I look good in the clothes I already have. After all, what's the point of spending lots of money on new clothes if you're out of shape and look like crap in them?
My car is also quite old with no less than ~230,000 miles. I've spent thousands of dollars over the past couple of years maintaining it, but I reason that it's still cheaper than buying a new car, and having car payments (and the interest that comes with that loan).
During our travels we also avoid the fancy restaurants. Picnics, cafeterias, counter service, that's our order of the day. It's amazing how good of a meal you can have without the added cost of table service.
So yeah, there's many ways to save once you start taking something (whether it's a new pair of shoes, a restaurant meal, a home remodeling project, etc.) and really asking yourself if it's a true need and/or if there's an alternative way to fulfill the same goal.
Great ideas!!! You just need to know what your priorities are!! Thanks!
Chriss - I can empathize as we are newly retired educators living on a smaller budget than before. Before retirement we always paid ourselves first through investments and a small savings account. Since retirement I am still paying myself first and transfer funds into a money market acct as soon as our checks are deposited. Once the money is out of checking I am unlikely to transfer any back so that works like a charm for me. I keep just enough in our checking account for a couple of automatic bills plus another hundred dollars or so. I charge everything that I can to use the points toward travel or personal needs. Like others, our vehicles are older but well cared for and we intend to drive them until they die. I'd rather travel than buy the latest car. Actually, I'd rather live in Europe where I don't even need a car - ha! Health insurance is a must. We've always had crappy cheap policies as two singles because it is cheaper than a family plan. We don't usually meet the deductible but did in 2014 as hubby was hospitalized. Our share of that stint was almost 30K so even a substandard policy is essential. Glad for the insurance so we didn't have to move into a cardboard box behind the Walmart. As for going back to work teaching or subbing? I'd rather eat hot dogs and sell my belongings one by one. You might consider working for a tutoring service. I did that years ago and enjoyed it very much. Pay was decent too. Pet sitting is an option if you like animals, although you do need to do some training for that. Have you thought about developing some educational materials to publish and sell?
I think best way to save on a trip is flights, book in advance its crucial and depending on the day and the general season. Try this website, works for me http://cheapfirstclass.com