It’s time again to share how I’ve saved money this month to afford my travel obsession! You can see last month’s ideas here.
By now, you probably know that we love to gamble. I make it a habit to sign up for the reward program at every casino we visit because they will almost always send you incentives in the mail: food, hotel stays, concert tickets, gambling vouchers, you name it! We are members of Total Rewards, and they are our favorite because they have casinos in several locations, including the casino closest to us located in Cherokee, North Carolina. We decided to go to Gatlinburg last month, and the prices for lodging were pretty pricy. To save money, we stayed in Cherokee one night for free with our rewards then drove to Gatlinburg the next day; we stayed in Gatlinburg 2 nights instead of 3 this way but were still able to spend about the same amount of time exploring as if we’d stayed actually stayed there 3 nights! The free hotel night saved us around $160. I feel like I need to mention that even though we love to gamble, we do so responsibly. So we weren’t spending thousands of dollars in order to get this free offer; in fact, we get free offers every month in the mail even though we visit the casino in Cherokee maybe once every 2-3 months.
I am a member of hotels.com Welcome Rewards; with this program, you get a free night after staying in a hotel for 10 nights. I had one free night remaining (I always hoard the free nights for the more expensive trips) so I cashed that out for our cabin, saving us $161.26.
This next one isn’t a tip that I actually used this month, but one I’m planning in the not-so-far-away future, so I’m going to include it this month. I plan to start weaning myself off of hotels.com and instead begin booking with the same hotel consistently in order to rack up more points and ultimately get better deals and upgrades. By staying with the same chain, you can gain status. Technically, hotels.com does have different tiers/status but specific hotels don’t necessarily care about that since hotels.com is a third party. By booking directly with a hotel chain, you’re more likely to get bumped up to a nicer room because they can tell if you’re a regular or repeat customer. We just haven’t made that switch because hotels.com has been so easy to use and convenient.
Apparently this month is all about hotels; I use ebates (sign up here and we will both get a reward!) which is a program that gives you cash back for shopping at certain online stores. They pay you quarterly, and February was my month to get paid! They threw in extra money (I can’t remember how much, exactly) to take it in the form of a gift card instead of via paypal! So I “cashed out” with a hotels.com giftcard. By using ebates this month, I saved $122.37.
Last, we have been diligent in turning down our heat. It has been very cold, and almost everyone’s electric bill has doubled. I can’t honestly tell you how much this has saved us, because it certainly doesn’t feel that way given that our bill was $100 more than usual (OUCH); but if we’d kept our heat at the normal temperature, I’m sure that number would have been much higher! Here’s to a warmer month, and so far we’re off to a good start!
This month, I was able to save $443.63. I did not include the electric in this total, but I estimate that saved us an extra $50, based on what my co-workers experienced in their bill increase. $443.63 is so much money to me! I was really excited with my outcome this month.