Step by Step Guide To Shopkick

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I was researching for a project when I stumbled upon someone talking about the shopkick app. The writer mentioned that to earn points you didn’t need to buy anything, you simply had to check in at the store and scan products as you shopped.

step by step guide to shopkick the app that pays you to browse

As a person who loves point earning programs that actually pay, I immediately knew I wanted to check shopkick out  and then report my findings to my readers so that you too could start earning gift cards through shopkick.

Step by Step Guide To Shopkick

Although I now own a smartphone (Tracfone started offering them at a rate that was just slightly higher than what we were paying pre-smartphone) I wanted to try shopkick out using my 4th generation iPod so that those of you who don’t yet own a smartphone could see that the shopkick app still works even when you don’t have a data plan smartphone.

I found out that as long as the store you wanting to use for shopkick has free wi-fi, you can indeed sign in and collect kicks. I used my iPod at my local Meijer that offers free wi-fi and was able to claim clicks with no issues, proving that as long as you have a device with a rear facing camera for scanning you can use the shopkick app in free wi fi hot spots.

1. Sign up for shopkick

Follow this link and enter you cell number to receive a link to download the shopkick app.

Yes you could download app directly through your app store but if you use the link   you will be supporting me and my family through a small referral bonus at no cost to you. My family and I want to thank you in advance for using the referral link as it helps me be able to add to our families income, through providing you with ideas of how to add to your own families income here on the blog.

shopkick choose the area

2. Pick Your Area

After you have signed up and downloaded the App you want to pick the area in which you are planning to shop. It is very easy to change the area at any given time should you be shopping in a different town from time to time.

shopkick pick your store3. Pick the store

I was going shopping at Meijer so I picked Meijer for this tutorial. I first signed in to Meijers free wi fi through my iPod settings and made sure my location services for the shopkick app was on (also found in iPod settings). Then I went into the shopkick app and picked Meijer in my hometown.

shopkick scan area4. Click on scans to view what is available to scan

I clicked on the “Scans” area. In some stores there will be another box above the “Scans” area that will say ……kicks when you walk into….. Which means you earn points just for walking in the door and having that store picked and your locator on.

In the “Scans” area you will find a visual list of all the products that you can get kicks for scanning. For maximum rewards you could scan everything available but what I did was make a mental list of what was available to scan for kicks and then as I saw them while shopping for items on my list I took the time to scan them. I saw several items available to scan as I shopped, so this plan gave me rewards for very little extra time spent shopping.

shopkick pick the item you want to scan

5. Click on the item you want to scan

I saw the Similac formula across  the aisle from the cottage cheese I was buying so I decided it make it my first scan. Simply click on the picture of the item in the list of items to scan that you are ready to scan.

shopkick scan the barcode6. Click the scan icon and scan item

Once you have the item in your hand go ahead and click the scan icon found on the lower corner of the picture of the item you are scanning (it will show the amount of kicks you earn and have a barcode symbol on it). This will load up your camera and enable you to use the scan function of the app to scan the items barcode. To scan simply  line up the items barcode inside the square space of the scanner and hold still. In a few short seconds it should say “verifying scan” on the screen and a second or two later it will flash with a picture of your kicks earned inside a blue circle.

shopkick view balance choose reward

7. To view balance and choose a reward click on the person symbol

Your profile area will help you find out what your current balance is as well as all the current rewards there are available and how many kicks each one is. It is also the area where you will find your own referral link for sharing the app with your friends so that you can earn your own referral kicks (under invite & get kicks).

shopkick picking out a reward8. Choose the  reward you want

To view the rewards and figure out which one you want to aim for click on the  browse rewards tab found in your profile section. Scroll down and look at all the different options.

The apps has three reward options, electronic gift cards, physical items, and donations.

If you pick out a gift card, you may have several options for rewards. For instance the Target Gift card at the time I write this is available in the sums of $2 for 500 kicks, $5 for 1250 kicks, $10 for 2500 kicks, and $25 for 6250 kicks.

Shopkick is forever offering special deals for certain stores like the one that showed up on the app as I was writing this article where you got 200 kicks for walking in the doors of Macy’s or American Eagle.  Those type of deals would make it fairly simple to get to the 500 kick minimum Target gift card cash quickly.

So far I am very impressed with the selection of things available to scan as well as stores in which you can scan.  I will definitely be using the shopkick app in stores with free wi fi and I will be doing it in the same way I did the other day, I plan on taking just a few seconds to look up what is available to scan and then as I spot them shopping for items on my grocery list scan them, making shopkick a simple way to add a bit of earning to my weekly grocery shopping trip.

Sign up for your own Shopkick App. today.

Looking for more ways to earn money? Follow my Selling & Earning Tips board on Pinterest.

A list of 17+ point progmas that will help your increase your income.

Make sure to visit my Point Programs page for a list of sites and apps that can help add a bit of wiggle room to your families budget.

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Picture From Our Week: 6 Ways We Saved Money On Our Teenage Bedroom Makeover

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Last week I gave you a bit of a peek at the room we finished for our 18 year old son. As I was sharing a few of the details I thought it might be fun to do a run down of all the ways we saved money in the room.

6 ways we saved money on our teenage bedroom makeover

First lets start with a room tour.

Loft bed room from enteranceThis is what the room looks like when you view it from the door way. It is a small room so we wanted to really maximize the space. Thankfully the room had a vaulted ceiling so we used this to our advantage and created a loft bed for our son 8 feet up in the air so that his over 6 foot high self can walk under it without any problems.

couch and tv areaUnder the loft sits the yard sale couch and dresser that I found at a community rummage a few weeks back. 

tv areaMy husband and I decided against making this corner into a closet area as our son doesn’t hang a single item of clothes anyways,  and although it seemed like the most logical area in the room for a closet it was needed for his TV and gaming console more. If we should put our house up for sale, we already have plans to create a closet so that this room can be considered a 4th bedroom and add value to our home.

loft areaAbove his media area is his bed. My husband cut the top off an old ladder of his and added a wooden railing to it to make the ladder for the loft bed.

loft bedOur son picked out the duvet cover a few months back when he and I went to Ikea together to get inspiration for how to make the best use of the space in the room. I had a clearance found down comforter to place inside. We reused his mattress and pillows from the room he shared with his brother.

study area of teen roomWe reused his desk that was a yard sale found sofa table my husband altered and a yard sale found book case from another room. His alarm clock was originally in this room and was also yard sale found. The chair was in this room originally and was target clearance.

 6 Ways We Saved  Money On Our Teenage Bedroom Makeover

1. Yard sales

All pieces of furniture in the room with the exception of the mattress and the desk chair were found at yard sales. The curtains were also from a yard sale. All together we spend less than $200 on all the pieces.

Here are my best tips for successfully shopping yard sales.

2. We used odds and ends leftover from other projects

We painted all the furniture the same shade of black using floor paint that we had leftover from a previous project.

3. We used clearance priced items

The down comforter I got at Aldi’s for $15 on clearance.

Here are my best tips for shopping the clearance racks.

4. We used discounted gift cards

My husband used discounted gift cards from Cardpool to pay for all the supplies he needed saving us 7% on  the cost of supplies.

Here is how our family has saved up to $50 a month by using discounted gift cards.

5. We used free labor

My husband did 100% of the work for this room saving us the cost of labor.

6. We repurposed items from around the house

The chair, desk and alarm clock were in this room when it was a school room. The book case was in another room where it wasn’t really fitting, so we swapped it out for this room.

Our biggest savings were found in the couch we got for $100 and the dresser for $35. We had budgeted significantly more for these two items thinking that we might not find items small enough to fit in the space in the second hand market and would therefore have to buy them new. When I found both a couch and dresser for significantly less than what we budgeted my husband and I decided to use the money saved to update our other 2 children’s rooms.

How do you save money renovating?

Looking for money saving tips? Follow my Saving Money Tips board on Pinterest.

Linked to One Project At A Time,

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Another way to bring down the cost of renovating that we didn’t use for this project is to cash in Swagbucks points for gift cards for stores that sell renovation and interior decorating supplies. Here is how you can earn $30 a month in Swagbucks with no need to fill out time consuming surveys.


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Vera Bradley Backpack Giveaway

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Giveaway Details

:Monday, July 7th at 9:00 AM ET to Wednesday, July 9th at 9:00 PM ET.
Ninety-Five (95) winners will receive Vera Bradley Campus Backpacks.
Winners can pick from the following colors: Pink Swirls, Ziggy Zinnia, or African Violet.
Each backpack is valued at $109.
Users can enter the giveaway by heading to the Vera Bradley page on and submitting their email address on the form at the top of the page.

The winners will be chosen via a lottery drawing on Thursday (7/10) and notified via the email address they used to enter.

Click Here To Enter

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One Summer Fun Goal For The Week: July 7 to 13

(post contains affiliate links see disclosure)one summer fun goal for the week

Last Week’s Goal

We had an amazing 4th of July Celebration with some of our closest friends.

My husband spent Tuesday with the children cleaning up the backyard while I worked on the blog then on Wednesday I got all the groceries in the morning with my daughter and then spent the afternoon cleaning up the house with all three of my children. Friday morning my husband prepared the backyard for the party with my daughter while I blogged, and then he left with all three kids for the parade while I did some last minute preparations and blogged a bit more. At 3 pm all our friends started arriving and we spent the afternoon and evening watching the kids play, eating, and finally watching our town’s fireworks from our backyard. We are blessed to live just up the hill from where our town holds its fireworks.

This Week’s Goal

Prepare for and then go camping

What I Finished Reading

I did not finish a single book this week.

What I Am Reading

In Paperback Form

Kisses from Katie: I just bought Kisses from Katie, through one of my favorite sources for inexpensive summer time reading,  a yard sale. I have heard great things about this book and am looking forward to digging into it. Still haven’t started this yet, since I have been reading off my kindle paperwhite lately.

On My Kindle Paperwhite

Don’t laugh…I am currently reading Life With Lily, yes I know it is a book for 8 to 12 year old girls, but I love stories of the carefree lives of Amish children so much that I couldn’t resit it when I saw it for free on Kindle a while back. I am really enjoying this book, it is a carefree summer time read.

On My Kindle App

The Choice Is Yours: Life Happens: Walking With God Is A Decision.  I didn’t read a single bit of this title this week, I am however still pondering on what I have read so far.

A find I want to share

Paid Viewpoint The survey site where you are paid for every surveyI was researching point programs that are simple and effective when I found Unlike most survey companies pays you cash for every survey you complete. Sure it isn’t much per survey, in the last few days I have been a member I have been offered one survey a day and each survey was worth .10 cents so far( the rest of the earnings seen in the picture above were for filling out my profile page).

However the surveys are short, most under 2 minutes, and you get paid something for each and every survey you take the time to complete (a lot of companies screen you out within the first few minutes of your time and you get paid nothing). I also like that they pay in Paypal payments once your account reaches $15.  You can use that cash for whatever you want, where ever you want.

Combine the tiny drip of income from with other point  programs and you could find yourself creating a small steady stream of money to help your families finances or to help pursue your passions, which in turn could help your families income.

Not a member of Paid Viewpoint? Sign Up Today! 



Happy 4th Of July

independence dayNo money saving tips for you today, instead I just want to wish you a happy 4th of July.

How Swagbucks Can Help You With Your Back To School Shopping

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Back to school shopping time will be here in a blink of an eye. I might homeschool my children but I attended public school as a child and so I can remember all the purchases that went along with going back to school.

How Swagbucks can help pay for your back to school purchases

It seems like most back to school purchases fit into one of two categories, school supplies or clothes, and Swagbucks can help you earn money to pay for purchases in both these categories.

A Swagbucks $5 gift card is 500 points and they have a great selection of different retailers that offer either school supplies or back to school clothing or both.

Gift cards available for stores offering school supplies

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • CVS
  • Kmart

Gift cards available for stores offering back to school clothes

  • JC Penny
  • Areopostle
  • Old Navy
  • Gap
  • Children’s Place

Now is a great time to start racking up the Swag Bucks so that you can cash them in for gift cards that will help reduce your cost of sending the kids back to school, and here is a plan of how you can earn $50 in one month with Swagbucks without having to fill out a single survey if you don’t want to.

How To Earn $50 A Month With Swagbucks

To earn $50  in Swagbucks gift cards a month you need 5000 points per month, (less if you are getting Amazon cards but for easier math we are sticking to 5000 for this plan), that works out to 1250 points a week. Here is how to achieve it.

1. Do the daily NOSO for 2 points a day = 60 Swag Bucks

2. Use the daily toolbar at least once a day for one point = 30 Swag Bucks

3. Complete the daily survey each day for one point = 30 Swag Bucks

4. Complete the daily tasks over at Bing Rewards each day = 500 Swag Bucks (bought for 475 Bing Rewards)

5. Run the Swagbucks TV App daily for 40 points = 1200 Swag Bucks

6. Click the Discover Tab and complete the Read tasks = 30 Swag Bucks ( this varies depending on what is available but just this week I was able to earn 30+ Swag Bucks in a matter of minutes so I know it is a safe estimate)

7. Download the EntertaiNow App and run the videos each day for 30 points a day = 900 Swag Bucks

8. Perform all you web searches through the Swagbucks toolbar or home page =400 Swag Bucks (I went through my Swagbucks earning history and found that I earned between 100 to 200 Swag Bucks a week through searches so this should be a realistic  number to aim at earning)

9. Do the Daily Crave each day for 1 point = 30 Swag Bucks

10. Run Swagbucks TV on you laptop while you are working in another window. Okay so this going to sound like a crazy amount of videos to shoot for and it is ,but please read #11 for ways to reduce the number of videos you need to watch. Also the animal channel has very short videos making the process go faster. Now for the math

numbers 1 through 8 give you 3180 points in one month leaving you 1820 points short of the 5000 Swag Bucks per month goal. To get those last remaining Swag Bucks using videos you need to watch 203 video shorts a day (202.66 actually but you don’t earn points for a partial video so I rounded up :) )

11. There are other things you can do to make the 5000 Swag Bucks a month total we are aiming for with this plan, but the Swag Buck earnings for them vary so much per person that I suggest you keep track of what you earn with them so you know how many videos to cross off your need to watch to make 5000 Swag Bucks a month list.

  • Shop through Swagbucks shop and earn feature: Points per store vary and it does take a while for your Swag Bucks to be added to your account but they do really add up.
  • Print and use coupons for the Swagbucks coupon area. Every coupon you print and use is worth 10 Swag Bucks
  • Buy your daily deals through Swagbucks. Instead of shopping through emails from you favorite daily deal sites or their Apps when you see a deal you want enter the site of your choice like Groupon in the Swagbucks search area and then click on the shop and earn logo and earn Swag Bucks on your daily deal purchase.
  • Share Swagbucks with friends. Swagbucks is too good of a program to keep to yourself and when you share it and your friends sign up you get 10% of their earnings for life right now.
  • Do a special offers. Each day take just a minute or two to scroll down the Swagbucks home page and see if their is a special offer you might be able to take advantage of for points. Often all you have to do is answer a few questions.
  • Watch Encrave videos yes more videos but I have heard from my readers that you can earn Swag Bucks faster through the Encrave tab than you can through the Swagbucks TV tab.
  • Complete Surveys and Tasks. Warning these two point earning options can be time consuming and mind numbingly boring, I suggest if you are going to try them you do them in down time when you can multitask a bit like when you are watching TV for instance.

Using this plan for an entire year would give you $600 for Back To School Shopping. True there isn’t that long until back to school shopping time as I write this but even $50 towards  back to school purchases would help the budget.If this plan seems too time consuming for you, perhaps my $30 a month in under 5 minutes a day plan would suit you better and it would net you $360 in one year for Back To School Shopping.

Wanting to earn money at home? Follow my Selling & Earning Tips board on Pinterest

swagbucks image (200wide)Not a member of Swagbucks yet? Click through and sign up today and start earning gift cards to help out your budget.


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How Are Your Goals For 2014?

(post contains affiliate links see disclosure)snail-pacing through 2014 (snail pace transformations)


Back in the beginning of the year I used the graphic above as an out line to write my goals out for 2014, with the year half over I thought it was time to check in with you so as to help me be more accountable.

Honestly the results so far are not good but  I am hoping to gain more speed the second half of the year.

3 Goals For My Mind

  1. Read 52 books this year : On task for this one I have read over 30 books so far
  2.  Memorize a bible verse a month: I thought I came up with a great way to memorize verses but it soon got lost in the house somewhere and the goal got pushed aside.
  3.  Watch the Children’s grammar series all the way through : Not a single episode watched.

3 Goals For My Health

  1.  Lose 10 pounds : I got as far as 5 pounds down and then the winter just got 10 times worse and I started hibernating. Now that it is warmer I am doing a bit better with this goal though. Charting calories more regularly, getting out for 10.000 steps at least 6 days a week and trying to make wiser choices in both eating and activity levels.
  2. Do a 1/2 marathon in the spring and a full in the fall :  I did not do a spring  half marathon since the cold icy winter made it hard to get out and run and I can’t seem to get my head past running 3 on the tread mill. Right now I am focusing on increasing my long runs by 5 minutes a week in hopes of doing  1/2 in the fall but I am giving up on the hopes of doing a full marathon this year.
  3.  Enter a bike race: Instead of a bike race I have been training with my middle child to do a 70 mile one way 140 mile round trip biking adventure. I think that is just as good as a bike race.

3 Spiritual Goals

  1. Memorize a scripture a month:  I memorized just one verse so far.
  2.  Read Jesus is Calling Devotional at night:  My husband bought me Jesus Calling for Christmas and I enjoy ending my day by reading it, so I am spot on for this goal.
  3. Continue reading through The Message:  I have been doing my word  study in the bible on fear , once it is done I will get back to this goal.

3 Goals For My Marriage

  1.  One “real” date with my hubby each month : Glad to say that I have upheld this goal.
  2.  One overnight each season: We got away in the spring and hope to get away soon for summer
  3. One 3+ night getaway just the 2 of us: Our plans for this fell through but we hope to try again later this year.

3 Business Goals

  1. Improve my grammar : As I stated above I have not watched  grammar DVD series yet.
  2.  Attend one blogging conference: I had planned on attending a Blogging Concentrated one day conference in January but the winter had other plans.  :(
  3. Write, have edited, and publish an ebook: Right now I am working on a “free when you subscribe to the blog” project as well as doing everything that was suggested to me in my blogging review by the Blogging Concentrated team, so an ebook idea is shelved for now.

set a wow goal (small)I also set one WOW goal this year after being inspired and convicted by Crystal Paine’s new book“Say Goodbye To Survival Mode”.

My wow goal is going pretty well, it is taking a lot of my time and energy which is probably why I have not made as much head way with all my goals listed above.

How about you? Did you set goals for 2014? How are you doing in reaching those goals?

Looking for help in setting and reaching your goals? Follow the Goal Setting And Time Management Tips Board on Pinterest

 If you want to set and achieve your goals but can’t quite seem to figure out how to break them down into manageable pieces that fit into your daily life 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life can help. This ebook takes just an afternoon to read and is full of ways to help you set realistic goals and reach them. 

A Picture From Our Week: Board Games That Teach

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4 family board games that sneak in spelling and math workLast week both my boys were at church camp and my husband and I only had our daughter at home. One night she was looking very bored  so I suggested we play the board game Boggle that I had gotten at a yard sale for $2 a few weeks ago. She immediately ran for the game, which made me smile, you see my daughter struggles with spelling and she hasn’t seemed to realize yet that some of her favorite board games require her to use and polish her spelling skills.

Her second least favorite subject is math yet she would play Monopoly 24/7 if you let her and it uses math skills.

As I was giggling to myself about this I started a mental list in my head of other board games I play with her that use and improve her spelling and math skills, I came up with 4

4 Board Games That That Teach


1. Boggle

I found a barely used Boggle board game at a yard sale for $2 just a few short weeks ago and it is now the go to game for the whole family. I even caught my middle son playing it one afternoon with my daughter and that child hates spelling more than his sister yet he played for a solid hour with her.

We bend the rules and count 2 letter words. We also keep the iPad with its dictionary App handy to look up words one player is stubbornly insisting is really a word. So not only are we working on spelling skills but also dictionary skills and corrections.

2. Scrabble Slam Card Game

Our Scrabble Slam deck was a free with coupon find a few years back and it is looking very well used. It has helped the children increase their vocabulary and spelling skills and again the iPad is always near by with  its dictionary App open so it works on dictionary skills as well. What I really love about Slam though is  it is like a rapid spelling drill. You have to think on your feet if you want to win which means you are working on your children’s recall skills as well.


1. Monopoly

Our family has both a yard sale found Junior Monopoly board and a clearance found Monopoly game. We tend to play the junior version when we are pressed for time and the full Monopoly version when the evening is wide open. Monopoly works on money skills such as making change and adding and subtracting.

2. Yahtzee

Purchased on sale for a Christmas gift Yahtzee is a classic game that uses adding skills as well as number pattern recognition skills.

I know these are only 4 of many games out there that help squeeze a bit of hidden learning into your child’s day, and I would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below of games that are fun and teach or work on important skills below.

how to purchase board games for less (smallerl)You might have noticed I didn’t pay full price for any of our games, here are my tips for buying board games for less.


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One Summer Fun Goal For The Week: June 30 to July 6

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one summer fun goal for the weekLast Weeks Goal

Okay so saying I spent an extended time one on one with my hubby would be lying although we did go kayaking and then out for a late dinner one night.

As I said last week the boys were away for camp for the week and we just had our daughter. She did go to a friends house over night later in the week but my husband and I so badly wanted to get our eldest son’s room done that we sacrificed most of that potential date time for renovating.

thomas room (blog)This is part of the room that sits under his 8 foot high in the air loft bed. You will notice the couch and the dresser are the ones I found at the yard sales I hit last week.

thomas study (blog)The other side of his room is his study area. The table was a yard sale found sofa table that my husband altered a bit to make it into a simple desk. The bookshelf and even the alarm clock/ CD player  and curtains were also yard sale finds. We painted all the yard sale found furniture to match. The chair was a Target clearance sale find.

I love how the room turned out and so does my son which makes it worth giving up some of our date time.

One fun goal for this week

Plan,prepare and then enjoy company for the 4th of July

What I Am Reading

I finished 1 book this week

It Had To Be You: Hockey players, romance and mystery all rolled into one really good book.

In Paperback Form

Kisses from Katie: I just bought Kisses from Katie, through one of my favorite sources for inexpensive summer time reading,  a yard sale. I have heard great things about this book and am looking forward to digging into it. (haven’t started this yet)

On My Kindle Paperwhite

Don’t laugh…I am currently reading Life With Lily, yes I know it is a book for 8 to 12 year old girls, but I love stories of the carefree lives of Amish children so much that I couldn’t resit it when I saw it for free on Kindle a while back.

On My Kindle App

The Choice Is Yours: Life Happens: Walking With God Is A Decision.  I read one more chapter of this book this week.  WOW! If you want a book that will challenge you to live a life that truly represents Christ this book is for you.

A find I want to share

shopkick an app that pays you to check in and scan productsI was researching for an upcoming project I hope to release soon when I found the shopkick App. I have not used it yet (didn’t do much shopping this week what with all the renovating) but from watching the introductory video it looks like a pretty simple way to earn gift cards , to stores such as Target, Starbucks, Macy’s, JCPenny, Itunes, Old Navy and more.

It looks like you need to check in when you get to the store and then scan certain products as you shop. Now I wouldn’t want to use data for this, but I am thinking the free wi fi offered in stores like Target should let the  shopkick App do what it needs to without any cost to you.  I can’t wait to try it out and share with you what I thing. Click thru to shopkick to sign up and try it out yourself and make sure to watch the video explaining how it works.

If you use the shopkick App I would love to hear what you think in the comments below?


10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Vacations

My family doesn’t take very many vacations but when we do you can be sure we pull every thrifty trick in the book to make sure we get the most bang for our vacation buck.

10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Vacations

10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Vacations

1. Go Off Season

Going on vacation during the off season works for our family because we homeschool. I realize not all families can do this, but the 9 steps below will help those of you that can’t go off season.

2. Book Through Point Earning or Rebate Sites

All of the sites above offer either points or cash back when you go through their shop and earn links to the various well known discount travel sites like priceline and . The offers change from time to time and vary from site to site so it pays to join each site and then compare sites  to see who is currently offering the best deal.  I have earned as much as a $50 Amazon gift card code when I have done this for our families one week vacations.

3. Use Daily Deal Sites

Daily deal sites like Groupon and Plum District offer travel packages to various destinations, I myself have not booked a vacation package this way but have had friends that have and they have had good results. I have however bought restaurant vouchers for the city we are visiting off Groupon with success. Simply add your travel destination to your email preferences in Groupon so that you get the daily updates for offers in that area.

4. Look For Coupon Books

Most people know that you can buy coupon books full of entertainment and food coupons for large cities but you can also get a lot of free coupons by stopping at the local tourist information booth as you enter the area you are going to be vacationing in. My family does this all the time and have saved 10 to 20 percent off our meals and local attraction tickets at no cost for the coupons.

5. Book A Place With A Kitchen

If you are going to be staying in one area for 5 to 7 nights or more chances are you can book a place with a full kitchen for the same price as an average hotel room (our family has done this 2 vacations in a row). Having our own kitchen has kept our costs for food low on our last two vacations.

6. Pack A Small Cooler

Our cooler comes in handy for more than just the road trip to our destination, each morning before we head out for the day we pack it with fresh snacks and drinks for the day. In between our days events we have snacks on hand that help tie us over to meal time at the hotel room.

7. Compare Cost Of Transportation

When our family went to Disney World a few years ago one of the first things we did when planning for the trip was to sit down and compare gas cost to flight cost and car rental. For a family our size (5) driving worked out to be much less expensive but this might not be true if you have a smaller family, and also depends on exactly where you are headed and what flight and car rental deals you can find.

8. Consider Camping

State parks are often offer very inexpensive  campsites that come with more comforts of home than you might think like hot showers and flush toilets.  Private campgrounds often have small cabins that can be rented for less per night than a hotel room. Of course if you are dragging a trailer behind your vehicle your gas mileage is going to go up so you need to factor that in.

9. Eat Out For Lunch Stay In For Dinner

In general many restaurants have lunch menus that are several dollars cheaper per person than dinner menus, which can add up when you are feeding a family (especially one of teenagers who eat as much as adults).

Even if you don’t book a hotel room with a full kitchen, most hotel rooms now come with  fridge and microwave. Keep the makings for sandwiches in the fridge, and heat up some soup in the microwave for a simple and quick family meal. (make sure to pack a few simple cooking dishes is you do go this route since the hotel rooms won’t have them)

I once met a woman who brings her crock pot and electric skillet on vacation to use in a regular hotel room to feed her family. With a little bit of brain storming these two kitchen items certainly would increase the different meals you could make in a standard hotel room.

10. Cut Costs On Trinkets And Treats

When we arrived in Orlando as a family the first place we stopped was Walmart to pick up the food we would need for the week. We noticed right away that they had a great selection of Disney t-shirts, mugs and hats for inexpensive prices. When our daughter said she wanted something to remember Disney we brought her there.

As for how to not spend a fortune on treats such as ice cream and cookies and fancy slushy drinks, here is what works for our family, we stock the kitchen in the place where we are staying with treats that we normally  rarely buy such as ice cream bars and bags of candy and chocolate and tell the children when we get back to the hotel room each day they can pick something from the stash.  This plan has worked well for us for years.

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to load up your smart phone, or tablet with helpful travel App. I like gas buddy which helps us find the least expensive place to buy gas along the way. I also like the ibotta App  I can use it to save money eating out, on movies that we might see during vacation,  and groceries that I buy on the trip (checkout my ibotta tutorial). 

Looking for more vacation tips? Follow my Family Vacation Tips board on Pinterest.

Linked to Thrifty Thursday,

10 ways to make cash while tossing clutter (smaller)Looking for ways to earn a bit of money for vacation? Check out my 10 Ways To Make Cash While Tossing Clutter and let those no longer needed items help pay for your next vacation.

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