When my husband and I got married in 2008, we talked about our future: careers, kids — you know, the usual. Like many young couples, we were beyond excited to start our new life together. As we were going over our goals for the next few years, the word “TRAVEL” made it to the top of the list.

One of the reasons I adore my hubby is that he loves to learn about history. He is a huge history nerd, and I’m not too far behind. I love to visit new places, learn about history, and take in the cultures.

The only problem: we did not have the finances to pay for any vacations any time soon. Minor detail, right? And when I say we did not have the finances, I mean we did not have the finances. Not even close.That’s when I turned to couponing.

We looked at how much money we were spending on food, dining out, toiletries, entertainment, credit cards, etc., and the truth was hard to swallow. We were spending thousands of dollars on that stuff every year! It really was startling to see the numbers add up every week on stuff that, honestly, should not be that expensive. So, I started clipping coupons, cutting back on the dining out and only going out on a “date night” once per week instead of the usual weekend spending sprees. I also stopped shopping so much for clothes and started really taking advantage of what I already had in my closet. We both started packing lunches every single day. I sold a few needless items we had lying around the house. I called our billers and asked for lower payments, cut down services like cable channels and cell phone plans, and even got our insurance bills lowered.

It took several months to really revamp our whole household budget. But once we got the hang of it, I started getting addicted to saving. And all that saving paid off! In 2009 we made a list of places that we were absolutely dying to visit before starting a family. The list looked something like this: “Egypt, Greece, Italy, Baby.” I called my Mom, who happens to be an awesome travel agent. She told me it would cost about $6,000 to go to Egypt for 16 days.

After reworking our budget and implementing the changes, we started putting away $150 per week. It was an automatic transfer from one bank account to another. Each week we were forced to live without that $150. Let me tell you, it was definitely NOT easy. I fell off the wagon a few times, and there were days when I just didn’t think it would happen. But we found ways to stay motivated by sticking a bunch of pictures of our dream destinations on the fridge. (Yes, that actually worked.) And we occasionally had to kindly remind each other to remember the big picture and not lose sight of what we really wanted.

When we were standing in front of the pyramids in Giza, all I could think about was how it was all worth the work! In just one year, we saved the $6,000 we needed for the trip and about $1,500 in spending cash. We paid for the whole trip in cash. Yes, cash!

About six months later, we saved a few more thousand dollars and went to Paris for the holidays. And just this summer, we spent 17 days in Greece (with a few stops in places like Spain and Turkey).

Believe it or not, it was all thanks to coupons and frugal living. If you had told me back in 2008 that we would have been to all those places in such a short period of time, I probably would have laughed in disbelief. But all it took was a little bit of determination, a lot of discipline, and a dream to make it happen.

Now we’re saving to go to Italy next summer, and I cannot wait — because that means the next thing on the list is a BABY! (Give or take maybe another trip or two!)

 

This has been a guest post by Erica from Ocala, FL
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