Getting some extra money for your travel fund.

1. Apply for refunds.

Before you leave overseas on longer term travel make sure you get any refunds you’re entitled to when you cancel services. This includes:

– from your car insurance if you prepaid in advance,
– deposits you’ve paid when you started your utilities at your house or apartment.
– TV license fee in the UK.
– Car registration fees.

If you’ve got time left to run on any contracts like the your phone or the gym, then do some research about the best ways to disentangle yourself from those situations. Don’t listen to what the sales guy tells you! There are often ways and means! Go through your last few months bank statements and minimize, to the greatest extent possible, any payments that will still be coming out while you’re travelling. Make sure you understand the implications of canceing things e.g., you probably don’t want to cancel your health insurance to save a few hundred dollars, if there is a risk you could develop a long term problem while you’re away and then not be covered for it if you re-apply for health insurance later. An alternative to canceling is sometimes trading down e.g., keeping third party insurance for a vehicle you’re going to be storing.

2. Get the best prices when you sell your stuff.

There are several things you can do to get the best prices for items you’re selling online. Taking good photos and writing good descriptions is important. It’s also important how you price your items – not too high and not too low. You can never really be sure of this, unless you can look up past sales prices of virtually identical items. One option is to ask friends or co-workers who use the sites you’re selling on, what they think the prices should be. Otherwise you’re likely to fall into the trap of overvaluing your own stuff.

3. Do some extra work.

Overtime at your job is one option. Other options include things like babysitting or odd jobs. Be upfront with people that you’re trying to put a few extra dollars in your travel kitty, so if there is anything they want to outsource to you, you’re open to it. There are plenty of jobs e.g., cleaning someone’s pool that don’t take rocket science, and that many homeowners will be happy to take a break from. Doing this type of thing will build your confidence if it’s not something you usually do.

4. Submit a tax return.

If you’re an employee who has taxes deducted from your pay, and you’ve only worked part of the year, chances are you’ll be eligible for a tax refund. This is because the tax calculations generally assume you’ll be working for the full year. Some countries don’t require their citizens to file taxes if tax has been deducted at the correct rate, so you might not usually file a return. If you want to get the refund, you will usually have to file. Check out whether you can do this yourself. It might not be as daunting as you think.

Image by Moyan Brenn under Creative Commons License.

7 Tips for Saving on Your Regular Purchases Without Couponing.

1. Use a cash back credit card.

Many people sign up for credit cards to get frequent flyer points as sign up bonuses. For your regular purchases, you should be using a credit card that gives you cash back. There are some that hover around 2% with no annual fee. If you put $20,000 on the card in a year, you’ll get $400 cash back – a very nice saving!

This tip applies if you travel coach and would rather have flexibility about your airline and hotel choices, rather than be locked into one brand. By all means, still sign up for other cards to get the initial sign up bonuses. For your regular purchases, I favor cold hard cash back (lol).

2. Move your regular purchases to your credit card.

If you have a card that gives cash back, you’re now saving money for every charge you put on your credit card. Go through any bills you have that you pay from your checking account and see if you can move them to your credit card. Take a look at your check book to see any checks you’ve written in the last 6 months that could have been paid on your card.

3. Are there any regular purchases where you can purchase through an “online mall” for additional cashback or points?

For example, whenever I order my phone refill card from Wal-mart, I going through the American Airlines shopping portal. This earns one frequent flyer point per $1 spent.

You can also use sites like where you’ll get at least 1% cash back on virtually any online purchase.

If you shop a lot at Amazon and have an existing card that gives you a high % of rewards for purchases at supermarkets, another trick is to buy Amazon giftcards at your supermarket and then use those cards to shop on Amazon.

These may seem like small savings but if you spend say $30,000 a year on shopping for your family’s expenses, then averaging 3% cashback is a $900 saving. It’s worth putting up to 10 or so hours into developing systems for HOW you make your purchases so that you can save on autopilot.

4. Get smart about extended warranties.

Buying the extended warranty from the store where you buy the item is rarely the best deal. Shop around online for other extended warranty options. And, consider whether you need the extended warranty at all. Amex cards can be used to get extended warranty protection in many cases. Just make sure you use the Amex for the purchase and not a gift card.

5. Check for duplicate benefits.

Check for services you are paying for twice. For example, my car insurance already provides roadside assistance benefits so I don’t need a AAA membership.

My credit card covers collision damage on rental car hires.

I have an audiobook subscription but I’m thinking about giving it up because so many of the audiobooks I want are available from my public library. They also have lots of titles for your kindle too. If you have a library card, you may not need to duplicate with purchases. Whenever I need to place a hold on an item, I typically only need to wait a few days till I get an email saying the item is now ready for download.

7. Limit the time you spend on these strategies.

It would be easy to obsess of getting the absolute top amount of cash back for every purchase. However that is rarely a smart use of time. Basically making sure you are getting something back EVERY time you make an online purchase is the best strategy, EXCEPT where you are making more than several thousand dollars a year of purchases through a channel. When it gets to that level, you want to make sure you’re getting the best % back.

photo credit: Unhindered by Talent via photopin CC