How to Save $10,000 in 6 Months for Your Dream Vacation.



Saving $10,000 in 6 months could fund your next dream vacation sooner than you think.     Saving money for vacation isn’t impossible.

When we went from a family of 4 on two incomes to a family of 5 on one income, we slashed our expenses by $2500 per month.   How did we do it?

Priorities.  With three kids, we spent our week racing from work, to school and daycare and activities.  The weekends were spent wrangling the mountain of laundry on the couch and whatever else was behind.  

We couldn’t travel as a family because we were to busy keeping up with work and life.  

So we focused in on our priorities and found the motivation to make changes.  Now we are a family of 6 on one income and we have time and money to travel together.    

We did it, so there is no reason you can’t too.  I’ll show you all that we cut back on over the years.  My list below will get you started on some ideas. Follow this Money Saving board  on Pinterest for more ideas. 

How to use this as a guide to start saving money for travel. 

This week, pick one or two things from the list.  Go for the easiest win.  Something simple that you might not miss.  Cable TV I never missed.  Specialty chocolate – thats a little harder to give up.  

Then, the second week pick another change to make.  You can even decide to cut back more on the same thing.

Go from premium cable to basic cable rather than cutting the cord altogether.  Little things will add up in your savings travel funds.

A three dollar latte or sweet snack per day is $90 per month or $1095 year towards your vacation.

Subscriptions and memberships: 

Seems like you can subscribe to anything these days.   The biggest three expenses in this area are phone, internet, and cable TV.  

We canceled our cable TV 

For a long time, we watched DVDs and streamed movies on the laptop.  Now we have a Roku and have Amazon prime.  I am happy to have a bigger variety than Tangled and Strawberry Shortcake. 

SAVINGS:  $105 per month  OR  $630 in 6 months

Slow the internet.     

Actually, we first canceled internet and used the hot spot off the phone until we moved to a location with spotty cell service. 

Now, we have slower internet and my phone runs on the wifi. I go to the library or coffee shop to upload or download large files.  Also, Charles calls to negotiate the cost down every 6 months or so. 

SAVINGS $36 per month OR $216 in 6 months


I changed cell phone service. 

We had a great deal with Sprint on an employee plan.  But once I was home and on wifi,  I changed to Republic Wireless. They use smart handover technology so that the phone runs most the time on the wifi. 

Republic Wireless is great for travel too because you can call from anywhere on a wifi connection without international charges.  My bill is regularly $13! I could just kiss them. 

SAVINGS $58 per month OR $348 in 6 months


Of course, those are the biggest savings but here are some more ideas of subscriptions to cancel or negotiate down:

    • Newspaper and magazine subscriptions 
    • Cancel premium media – pandora, amazon, itunes
    • Call the phone and cable to reduce the cost – we do this every couple of months
    • Use a wifi phone, Skype or Facebook Messenger

Eating Out:

The next big line item on our budget is food.  Unlike subscriptions, this we have to be constantly diligent to stay within the budget.

When our family we smaller and we lived in the city, we ate out all. the. time.  That was a big category to change.  It’s simple – cook at home, take picnics and snacks with when your out and about.

We would eat out more than once per week and buy lunches too.  Ouch.

That’s $260 a month at restaurants and $212 a month on lunches.  I can’t even tell you when that would be now with 6 of us.  We do still budget to go out once a month and go by McDonald’s in a pinch. Even when we share meals and don’t order for the little ones.  

SAVINGS $195 per month OR $1170 in 6 months


I constantly battle the grocery monster.  I know some people thrive on couponing and following the best deals.  I used to.  

Now I’m just trying to get in and out of the store with the most nutrition per calorie per dollar.  

I meal plan and go in with a list.  Also, I shop once a week and when the fruit and snacks are out – thats it till next week.  Out of milk – its water till shopping day.  Out of bananas – wait till Wednesday.

I use various strategies and try to eat whole organic foods.  Meal planning, going to Costco, checking the discount racks and shopping once a week has made the biggest difference for me.  I pay off the Costco membership in butter. 

We have a chest freezer and buy a half cow a year.  We not only save money but get to eat much better meat and cuts than we could afford individually.  We are eat grass-fed roasts and steaks for the cost of grocery store hamburger.  Yum! 

I don’t include the full cost of eating steak because we would never, ever, eat T-bones at $15 to $20 a pound.  We just enjoy a little more luxury on the money we do have. 

I take free meat and veggies from our hunting and farming friends when they offer.  I have a friend who culls her roosters.  Sure I’ll take it and make soup!

SAVINGS $499 per month OR $2,994 in 6 months


Here are some ideas to save money on food:

Go on picnics – seriously who wants to get kids to sit still in a restaurant

  • Double and triple recipes and freeze
  • Freeze leftovers
  • Pack a lunch 
  • Cut coupons
  • Make cheap recipes
  • Buy stables at a discount warehouse – I love Costco and I have a list of the best deals 
  • Did I mention Costco? I save my membership fee in just in butter for the family  
  • Buy generic 
  • Check unit prices – I’ve caught the store tricking me to buying bigger boxes
  • Buy groceries once a week or every other week
  • Watch the sales and buy in season produce
  • Garden- grow your own fruits and veggies
  • Freeze fruit from bumper crops or store sales – we love frozen grapes 
  • Create a weekly meal plan and stick to it
  • Shop by yourself with a full belly – don’t shop hungry
  • Drink water – wine and beer are expensive but so a is fancy rootbeer
  • Special and discontinued items – I buy fruits and veggies and many snacks this way


The list of costly fun things to do is endless – going to the movies, swimming at the pool, video arcade, shopping, the amusement park, the water park, the zoo.  The list of free things to do is long too.  

We had to start to choose the free things to do.  Hiking, sledding, playing a the park, going to the library, kicking the soccer ball, swimming at the lake.  Our town has activities and events about every month as well.  

We went from about $240 a month to $50 on entertainment.

SAVINGS $190 per month OR $1,140 in 6 months

    • Community Events
    • Swimming at the lake or beach
    • Library
    • Picnic at the park
    • Splash pad
    • Local festivals
    • Movie in the park
    • Outdoor adventures – camping, hiking, sledding, biking


Shopping for new clothes and other items was something we had to reduce and replace with used items.  Mostly we shop the local thrift stores for clothes, garage sales and gratefully accept hand me downs. 

For large items, we use Craigslist and the local Facebook swap group. It took me a while to figure out where to buy used items in the rural area we live in.  I have had the most success with the local Facebook swap.

Shopping for new clothes and gear alone went from $180 per month to about $20 for all 6 of us. This is similar to what the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports. 

SAVINGS $162 per month OR $972 in 6 months

Save money on shopping and gifts:

    • Buy used furniture and appliances
    • Contact the manufacturer for replacement parts instead of buying new 
    • Give homemade gifts
    • Opt out of gift exchanges
    • Keep a detailed list and stick to the budget
    • Watch for price drops on Camel Camel Camel
    • Request money for your travel fund
    • Spend time together in lieu of gifts
    • Re-gift

Car and home:

Cars and homes cost a lot.  If you have a family there is no getting around the fact you need a place to live and transportation. 

When we decided to scale back to one income, we worked to pay one car off and sold the other. The car we sold had no equity but we did get out from under the payment.  Yes, we broke all the rules of frugal living when we scaled up to two incomes, including buying a new car. 

In the past, we had received hand-me-down cars when a family member would not get much value from the trade-in or they didn’t need their car.  When this happened it was our opportunity to get out of a car payment.  

My grandparents gave us their small 20 year old Toyota as a commuter car.  Of course it was in immaculate condition.  This saved a car payment of $230 a month.  Older cars generally need more maintenance so I budgeted $50 a month for that.

SAVINGS $180 per month Or $1080 in 6 months

We drive more efficiently, carpool, combine errands and walk around town for outings with the kids.  

Charles does all the oil changes and basic maintenance on the cars.  He has been learning more and more about cars and fixing them.  He has completed several roadside fixes saving us hundreds of dollars in towing and mechanics.

SAVINGS $100 per Month Or $600 per Year

Of course, getting rid of an expensive car is a fast way to reduce the cost of transportation.  If you are looking for a less permanent option to start with here are some ideas:

    • Walk or bike to kids activities or library
    • Save on fuel by driving slower and combining errands
    • DIY car maintenance and repairs – youtube is a great resource for this.
    • Sell a recreational vehicle
    • Carpool
    • Telecommute – and save time too!

When looking at homeownership expenses you have to include not only mortgage and taxes but also maintenance and repairs.  

We did move from a rental house and bought a larger home in a cheaper community but I did not include that in my calculations.  We had already set the budget for a mortgage and couldn’t go above that. 

So it was more like avoiding lifestyle inflation which is a savings strategy in itself.  

We do save money on doing the maintenance ourselves.  

Two years ago, Charles and my Dad installed an evaporative cooler instead of central air.  The electric company was giving an incentive bonus for installing high-efficiency coolers.  

The entire high-efficiency system, ducted to my 6 rooms, with auto controls, was completely FREE.  Yes, you read correctly.  

We bought the cooling unit from the supplier rather than Lowes and had a ductwork fabricated by a local shop.  I carefully kept all the receipts and communicated with the electric utility to ensure we would receive the rebate.  

They sent a check for $1200 in the mail.

In addition, we save money all summer long from not running a central AC system.  We just pay a slight increase in water use and electricity to run the fan and motor.  

The evaporative cooler costs about $200 dollars to run all summer as compared to $600 for central AC. We had been running small window units in the rooms and probably cost more than $600 a summer. 

SAVINGS $200 in 6 months 

Maybe your not up for a major home project but small steps add up too. We do other maintenance like lawn care, irrigation, plumbing and handyman work.  A lawn service could be $25 a week through the summer.  A plumber can cost $200 to $400 a visit to just to unclog a drain or snake a line.  Seriously, buy some gloves and a drain snake. 

SAVINGS $150 month OR $900 in 6 months

Although I love a house cleaner and enjoy the help sometimes, I did not have a cleaner for a long time.  I tried to keep up myself and hired mother’s helpers sometimes.  A house cleaner is $60 to $100 a visit and most come either weekly or biweekly. 

SAVINGS $150 month OR  $900 a Year

More efficiency and home maintenance tips to save money:

    • Reduce utility costs being more efficient with water, gas and electricity.
    • Take shorter showers buy setting a timer 
    • Check the electric usage by using a Kill-a-watt (our library had one!)
    • Lower the temperature during the winter and increase during the summer
    • Use the fan or evaporative cooler instead of AC
    • Use energy efficient light bulbs
    • Hang your clothes out to dry instead of suing the dryer
    • Weatherproof your home
    • Turn down the temperature on your water heater

Other Ideas:

Of course, I just shared the largest reductions in our budget.  We have done may other smaller things too.  

We cut our own hair, paint our own nails and stay away from the beauty salons.  We have six heads – that would really adds up around here!

We fix almost everything ourselves.  Charles called the manufacturer for the vacuum and some broken parts were covered under warranty.  Even if you do’t have the receipt – look u the number for the manufacturer of appliances or durable goods and call.  

    • Negotiate down your bills 
    • Take a no spending day or week challenge
    • Stop shopping
    • Library
    • Pay off credit cards each month
    • Reduce insurance premiums be reviewing health, car, home and life insurance
    • Hold on to your cell phone and computer longer – upgrading every 2 years is expensive
    • Hand – me down electronics – we have hand me down iPads
    • Make your own laundry soap
    • Make your own cleaning supplies
    • Preventative health care
    • Generic prescriptions 
    • Coach young kids sports teams so they play for free
    • Keep chickens for eggs
    • Hire mommy’s helper instead of nanny 
    • Don’t own dry clean only clothes
    • Don’t dry clean

TOTAL SAVINGS: $2,117 per Month OR $13,182 in 6 months

So, I just showed you how we drastically cut our expense by more than $2,000 per month.  We continue to reduce our spending even more to save money for vacation. 

The key here priorities and motivation.  Studies show that having a goal to work towards  – your vacation fund – and a team – your family- make you more likely to reach your goals.  

Start with dreaming of your vacation and create a savings plan.  Write down your goal to work toward together.  Use this savings guide to help you. 

Then choose just one thing on the list and implement that for a week.  Once you got that down choose something else.  Celebrate small wins and savings milestones as you reach them. 

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