40 Ways I Saved Enough Money to Quit My Job and Travel

When I tell people I quit my job to travel the world full-time, the first question I get asked is “how is that even possible?”. I never know how to respond because I never considered what I’m doing to be impossible. This sounds cliché, but I believe if you want something bad enough and you set your mind to it, anything can be achieved. 


If gallivanting around the globe still doesn’t sound feasible, don’t worry, I’m here to help you out. I sat down and brainstormed everything I did that added dollars to my bank account. Some of these tips may not work for you, but I’m hoping you at least get some ideas you can start acting on today. Whether you’re dreaming about a luxury vacation or an around-the-world trip, just know that all it takes is a little determination and hard work to make it a reality. 

1) I use Honey when I shop online 


Anyone who shops online needs to download the Honey Chrome extension. Honey scours the globe for coupon codes and automatically applies it at checkout. This extension works with almost every online retailer. It usually saves me between 10% to 20% of my order.

2) I discovered travel hacking 

There's no better feeling than flying for free

In a nutshell, travel hacking is the art of accumulating points and miles to get free flights, hotels, and more. It has saved me SO MUCH MONEY. I just booked an $1100 flight to Brazil for $75 plus Aeroplan points (which I got for free). 

There are a few travel hacking methods out there but the easiest one is signing up for credit cards to get welcome points. Getting a credit card costs you nothing and the welcome points are usually enough for a free flight. 

Here’s a list of Canadian credit cards that offer sign-up bonuses. Try to get one that waives the annual fee for the first year and cancel it before the year is up. 


3) I never carry cash and pay my credit card bill in full every month 


This goes hand-in-hand with travel hacking. I never carry cash because I charge everything to my travel credit card to get as many points as possible. If you’re going to do this, make sure you pay your bill in full every month to avoid paying interest. 

4) I got free cash from the bank for opening new accounts 

Most banks offer a cash incentive if you open a chequing or savings account with them. Take advantage of these offers. In less than two years, I made almost $1000 doing this. Open the account, get the free money, close the account. Rinse and repeat.  

5) I do affiliate marketing 

Affiliate marketing is when you earn a commission by promoting a company’s product. I’m an affiliate for Booking.com (that’s my affiliate link). Whenever someone books a hotel through my link, Booking.com gives me a small cut. Right now, it’s mostly friends, family, and myself using my link. I usually get about $100 per month from being an affiliate. It’s easy to get into affiliate marketing if you have a blog or website. Check out CJ Affiliate if you want to get started or find out if the companies you love offer an affiliate marketing program. 


6) I have a side hustle 

As a digital nomad, this is how my offices look now

Having a side hustle is key if you want to make money faster. On top of my 9-5 job, I worked as a freelance writer during the early mornings, evenings, and weekends. I’m still freelancing on the road right now to help offset my travel costs. My side hustle brings in a few thousand dollars per month.

Your part time gig doesn’t have to be writing – it can be anything. From tutoring and bartending to pet sitting and renting out your spare bedroom on Airbnb, the possibilities are endless when it comes to side hustling. Here are 99 side hustle business ideas you can start today


7) I moved closer to work

It used to take me an hour to drive to work every day. After three months, I couldn’t take it anymore and moved five minutes away from the office. This not only saved me thousands of dollars in gas and car maintenance expenses, it saved me time as well. And you know what they say: time is money. 

8) I packed my lunches 

Photo Credit: Rubbermaid Products 

Let’s say buying lunch costs an average of $10 a day. That comes to over $2000 a year. This stat right here is why I almost always brought my lunch to work.  

9) I sold everything I no longer use or need 

Clothing, electronics, furniture, household goods – whatever is lying around my apartment gathering dust gets sold on Craigslist or Kijiji. I make a few thousand dollars from selling my old things every year.

If you’re not sure if something is going to sell, post it anyways and see what happens. One person’s junk is someone else’s treasure. I’ve been able to get rid of the most unusual things – from old Halloween costumes to used hair straighteners to out of style purses. As long as items are in excellent condition, there is a good chance someone will want it. 


10) I buy second hand 

I don’t just sell on Craigslist, I buy on it too. Why purchase something brand new when you can get it in near perfect condition for a fraction of the cost? Buying second hand keeps money in your pocket and is great for the environment. Try it today and see for yourself. 

11) I asked for a raise at work 

If you’ve been killing it at work and shown how valuable you are to your company, why not ask for a well-deserved pay raise? That’s what I did and I got it. I know asking for a higher salary can be daunting if you’ve never done it before, but it has to be done if you feel you deserve it. My advice is to do your research and prepare a solid pitch before talking to your manager.

12) I started brewing coffee at home 


I tried justifying my Starbucks habit for the longest time but when I crunched the numbers (I was spending almost $20 on coffee every week), I knew it was time to say goodbye to my caramel macchiatos. I bought a reusable filter for my Keurig and began brewing coffee at home. A bag of coffee lasts me almost two months and costs less than $10. This brought my coffee spending from $1000 down to just $60 a year.

13) I use Groupon way too much


From haircuts and manicures to restaurants and fun things to do in town, Groupon has helped me save hundreds of dollars on things I do every week. It’s also great to use while travelling as many popular tourist attractions are listed on the site. 


14) I refer friends to services and products I love 

You know that personalized link you get when you sign up for AirBnB, Uber, and other services? Send it to your friends and family. If they join using your link, they get a credit and so do you. It’s basically free money for both parties.

AirBnB: Get $50 off your first trip when you sign up with this link 
Booking.com: Get $25 off your first booking when you sign up with this link 
Uber: Get a FREE ride worth up to $15US when you sign up with this link 
Groupon: Sign up for Groupon and get $10 off your first Groupon of $25+ with promo code “WELCOME”
Credit Unions of BC: Get up to $200 when you open an account at a BC credit union with this link. I’m currently with Vancity and they’ve been great.

15) I ate out less and started cooking at home more 


This right here is one of the most important money saving tips ever. Marc and I began eating out just once or twice a week and started cooking all our meals at home. This saved us a fortune and we got to improve our cooking skills at the same time. 

Don’t know how to cook? Why not:
• Join a discounted cooking class via Groupon 
• Ask your parents for a few pointers 
• Get a part time job in a restaurant
• Watch cooking tutorials on YouTube 
• Take some time to experiment in your kitchen

16) I kept my rent low by living in the suburbs 

Our first apartment in Burnaby, just 30 minutes away from downtown Vancouver 

The key to saving is living below your means. One of the easiest ways to do this is to scale back on big ticket items like houses, cars, appliances, and furniture. 

When I moved back to Vancouver, Marc and I chose to live in an older apartment building in Burnaby. Rent cost us $625 each per month, whereas many of my friends were paying $1000+ a month. 

17) I only travel if I find a cheap flight deal 

My flight to Hawaii was just $400 roundtrip 

It’s no secret that plane tickets are expensive. But over the years, I’ve learned how to score some crazy flight deals. Just last year, I took five separate vacations from Vancouver to New Orleans, Palm Springs, Toronto, Las Vegas, and Hawaii. The total cost of those flights came to under $2000. 

One of easiest ways to get a cheap flight is to be flexible when it comes to your travel destination and dates. If you’re able to travel during low season, you’ll find flights will cost a whole lot less than travelling during Christmas or spring break. If you absolutely must travel during high season, use the points you’ve accumulated from travel hacking to cover your airfare. 

Buying tickets at least three months in advance and knowing what days of the week to book will help too. Find out the best times to book your flights here. You’ll find budget airlines offer incredible prices as well. If you’re unfamiliar with budget airlines, I wrote an in-depth blog post covering everything you need to know.

Finally, you need to know where to look for flight deals. It’s important to note that not all flight search engines are created the same. There are a lot of crappy ones out there that will not show you the lowest prices. My favourite sites to use are Google Flights, Skyscanner, and Momondo. There are also a handful of independent websites and blogs devoted to helping people find incredible deals. Subscribe to their email newsletters to be notified immediately when they post something new. 

These are my go-to sites: 

Don’t live in Vancouver? The guy behind this site also runs YYC Deals, YEG Deals, YHZ Deals, YLW Deals, YUL Deals, YOW Deals, YQR Deals, YXE Deals, YYT Deals, YQT Deals, YYZ Deals, and YWG Deals


18) I put 40% of every pay cheque into my travel fund 


Every pay day, I transferred 40% of my income to my travel fund. The leftover was used for paying bills and contributing to my RRSPs. If you can’t do 40%, that’s okay. Find a percentage you’re comfortable with and commit to it. I recommend creating an automatic transfer so you don’t even notice your travel fund money leaving your account.


19) I ate less meat 


Meat was always the most expensive item on our grocery bill. We decided to cut back on our meat consumption. When we did buy meat, we opted for cheaper cuts like chicken thighs, pork shoulders, and ground beef.  

20) I maxed out my RRSP contribution limit 

The more you contribute to your retirement plan, the bigger your tax return will be. I maxed out my RRSP contribution limit last year and got almost $4000 back from the government. I know this may seem counterintuitive because the money I put in my RRSP can’t be spent anytime soon, but hear me out. Travelling is important but so is investing for the future. It’s reassuring to know I have money put aside for my retirement or first house (if I ever choose to buy one). The way I see it, contributing to an RRSP is a win-win situation. You get a few thousand for your travel fund AND you get to save for your future. Just think of all the vacations you can take when you retire if you start investing now.  

21) I said no to a home phone and cable TV  

This should be a no-brainer. In this day and age of smartphones and Netflix, there is no need for cable TV or a home phone. 


22) I used everything in my kitchen instead of shopping for new groceries

Just a photo of my cat chilling in the kitchen :)

Every few months, Marc and I tried to use up everything in our fridge, freezer, and cupboards. The only groceries we could buy was fresh produce from local grocers (cheaper to shop at local grocers than big box stores FYI). This forced us to eat that old tub of freezer burnt ice cream and all the cans that had been sitting in our pantry for ages. We also had to get creative with our recipes. SuperCook came in handy as it finds recipes based on the ingredients you have.  

23) I negotiated new deals for my internet and cell phone plan 

When my internet promos ended, I called my provider and threatened to leave if they couldn’t offer me a good deal. Most of the time they gave me what I wanted. If they didn’t, I would go to their competitor. The competitor always gave me a discounted price for signing up with them. I did the exact same thing when my smartphone contract ended.

24) I moved bank accounts to earn more interest or for better perks

Shop around at your local banks and see which ones offer the best interest rates and account perks. I recently opened up an awesome chequing account that gives me free e-transfers, waived ATM fees, and unlimited transactions. 


25) I sign up for every customer rewards program

If there are stores you constantly shop at, sign up for their rewards program. You’ll get exclusive offers, birthday freebies, and points which can be put towards future purchases. 


26) I repair clothes instead of buy new ones 


Knowing how to sew has sure come in handy. If there’s a repair I can’t do, I take it to my local alteration shop. 

27) I take advantage of free trials and money back guarantees 

Free trials are awesome because I get to test out a service risk-free before I commit to buying. It’s also nice getting my money back for a product that did nothing for me.  


28) I found an honest mechanic 

I used to take my car to Canadian Tire. Every time I brought it in, the mechanic always had a massive list of things to fix or replace. I don’t know a thing about cars so I took his word for it and did everything he recommended. 

A while later, the topic of car maintenance came up with my parents. I told them what I was paying at Canadian Tire and they couldn’t believe how much I was getting ripped off. They told me about Bob, their trustworthy mechanic who they had been going to for years. 

The next time my car needed maintenance, I took it to Bob. Sure enough, my bill was significantly lower. Bob was very honest. He told me the status of all the parts in my car and when they would need to be replaced. 


29) I buy generic brands when grocery shopping 


This is 99% true. My only exceptions are Heinz ketchup, Kraft Dinner, and Miss Vickie’s chips. Everything else, I go with the generic brand. This has helped trim down our grocery bills even further. 


30) I bought a used, fuel efficient car 

The day I got my Violet! 

My first car was Violet, a purple 2008 Honda Fit. She was great on gas. I also shared her with my boyfriend which helped cut down on car ownership costs. 


31) I buy in bulk 

You’re always going to need toilet paper. So why not get the 30 pack instead of the eight and save a few bucks? I do this for every essential in my apartment – bacon, soap, pasta, you name it. 


32) I maximized all the benefits my company offered 

From a great staff discount and company pension plan to an in-house gym and subsidized cafeteria, I was lucky my job came with some pretty sweet perks. I encourage you to find out what types of benefits your company offers because each workplace is different. Some companies offer student loan debt reimbursement, on-site health services, and even travel stipends. 

33) I use the Carrot Rewards app to get free Aeroplan points 


If you live in Canada, download the Carrot Rewards app. This free app lets you collect Aeroplan, SCENE, Petro-Points, or More Rewards points by completing short quizzes on a variety of health topics. You can also connect Google Fit to the app and get points for achieving your daily steps goal. 

34) I enter contests (and surprisingly win sometimes!)

You don’t have to buy things if you win them. ;) That’s why when I see a contest, I take 30 seconds to enter them. Most people think “what’s the point, I’m never going to win”. But you never know if you don’t try. In the past, I’ve won a laptop, cell phone, smartwatch, tickets to concerts and sporting events, and even a cruise to the Caribbean (which I couldn’t claim because I wasn’t 21 at the time boooo). 


35) I ask for cash gifts for my birthday and Christmas


All the money I receive goes straight to my travel fund.

36) I still use my student card for discounts 


I graduated four years ago, but that doesn’t stop me from using my student card. My old card has gotten me discounted train tickets, museum entrance fees, movie tickets, and more around the world. I find most places rarely check my card for an expiry date. 

37) I shop on Ebay and AliExpress 

You can buy almost everything imaginable at a fraction of the cost on Ebay and AliExpress. I buy almost all my jewelry, festival gear, tech accessories, and Halloween costumes on these sites. The only downside is that shipping can take a month or two if the item is being shipped internationally.

38) I stopped keeping up with the Joneses 

Burning Man was one of the most incredible things I've ever experienced 

I used to care about having expensive clothes, designer handbags, and the latest gadgets. However, the more I travelled, the more I realized how little material goods matter. I stopped caring about keeping up with what everyone else had and chose to spend my money on meaningful experiences instead. This has made me into a much happier and fulfilled person.   

39) I wait 24 hours before making a big purchase

If there’s something I really want (usually a cute dress), I make sure to not buy it right away. I sleep on it and decide the next day if I still want it or not. Most of the time, my urge to buy is gone after 24 hours. 


40) I find cash in unlikely places 

The next time you’re at a club, music festival, or crowded bar, look on the floor. You may be surprised by what you find. Just don’t get too drunk like me and end up losing your own money.



Well there you have it, 40 ways I saved enough money to make my travel dreams a reality. I’m curious, do you have any interesting ways to save money? If so, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear all about it!

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

3 comments:

  1. Love love the article Melissa! So inspiring and I'm happy you're getting to live your dream (we still miss you though).

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    Replies
    1. Haha thanks! Miss you all so much as well! Keep me updated about your Mexico adventures :)

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  2. Awesome article Melissa! Super informative! So glad you're doing what you love instead of just wishing like most people do.

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