Yup. These donuts were absolutely delicious...as big as our heads... completely worth every delicious calorie... AND were completely FREE!!! So was the coffee. Add in a rocking chair on a porch on a rainy day in Ohio with her family and you have yourself one VERY happy girl!
Each Tuesday at the farmstand about 10 minutes down the road from my parents' house in Ohio locals enjoy an early morning catch up over free cups of coffee and massive, delicious donuts. I love free donuts almost as much as I love the THRILL I get from saving money; so today I want to share with you other ways I/we saved money while on vacation in Ohio to give you ideas on how to save whether your having a stay-cation, a holiday abroad or something in between.
Consider alternatives: Before we even reached Ohio, we saved ourselves around £400 over last summer's airfare by traveling through Reykjavik airport on Icelandair rather than via the usual east coast airports. We always use price comparison websites to find our flights such as Momondo and Skyscanner as well as the Hopper app. Considering alternative routes and departure and arrival airports could save you quite a bit on your next holiday. This can go for locations, dates and accommodation types, too!
Understand what's included in your airline ticket: With airlines cutting costs all the time, make sure to read what is actually included in the price of your ticket. Is a piece of luggage per passenger included? And if so, up to what weight? Are you permitted a carry-on item and a personal item, or just one carry-on item? Is food and beverages included? Food was not included on our Icelandair flights; for the 6-hour flight from Reykjavik to Cleveland, Jeff and I pre-purchased sandwiches online and saved 10%. One drink plus water was included. What we really appreciated, though, was that on each flight the girls received a cold snack or small meal.
Visit the local library: this may seem like an old-fashioned entertainment option, but so what?! The library in my parents' town is wonderful. Not only can you borrow books (obviously), you can borrow magazines - they had my favourites! - toys and DVDs! We likely saved ourselves $10 by not renting or buying DVDs and, gosh, probably $20 (at least!) by borrowing magazines over buying them from the store. The toy library was mainly for babies and toddlers, but what a great service! There were also a few table toys for the girls to play with and colouring sheets; other children were playing games on computers for free. The next chance I get I want to take a closer look at what the libraries here in the UK offer for free as well.
Check Groupon for discounted local activities: Check Groupon for discounts on activities and restaurants in your area... then check for a discount code to use on top of that! My lovely Grandma wanted to take us to a local amusement park. Had we just walked in and paid the advertised price, it would have cost about $70 for the couple of hours we were planning to spend there. However, I insisted I take a quick look on Groupon before we left her house; lo and behold there was an offer for the activities we wanted to do - mini golf and a few rides. I also entered a discount code for an additional 20% off. In the end, by spending a few minutes on Groupon, I saved my Grandma almost 50% of the original cost. Cha-ching! If you have the Groupon app, you can simply present the voucher on your smart phone at the venue when you arrive. Otherwise you can print it out prior to leaving the house.
Voucher Codes: I love voucher codes and they're so easy to find. Numerous times voucher codes came to the rescue while we were on holiday. I got $10 off a $30 online order of my favourite hand soaps from Bath and Body Works and saved 20% off an online order from Kohls when I bought a new swim costume (due to having forgotten to pack mine...oops!). A handful of times we were in the checkout line, I whipped out my phone and Googled a discount for the shop or restaurant we were at. We got a BOGO burger saving $7 and 15% off shoes for Jeff saving us around $18. I'm sure there were other instances I'm not remembering. Before making any purchase online or in a brick and mortar store or restaurant, just put your mobile phone to the test to find a voucher code. Such fun!
Keep your eyes peeled: Look around for brochures at your hotel or rest stop that may include money saving offers or coupons. You never know where you may find a freebie either. My best friend and I went to supper in my parents' town; I was disappointed that I couldn't find a coupon or discount for that restaurant (there was a reason we went there as opposed to another place where we could have used a coupon); when we walked into the restaurant, there was a simple sign that said, "Scan this QR code for a free treat." So I did and it was for a bowl of meatballs! We shared them and they were so good. Food just tastes better when it's free... like those donuts!
"Need or Want?": as always, the best way to save money is not to spend it in the first place, so ask yourself whether what you're about to buy is "a need" or "a want". Of course, I made many exceptions to this rule since we were on holiday and in Ohio, but they were for things that I really will appreciate, like an expensive shirt to wear to work (which my boss has already complimented!), gel pens for the new Living Well Spending Less planner I've bought myself to help me SMASH my goals (I always think SMASH is such a dramatic word) and two Yankee candles for Autumn. See... I do spend money on treats for myself.
Holidays can be very expensive, but by spending a few extra minutes looking for ways to save money and free local activities, you can uphold your money-saving mindset and keep within your budget.
To close this blog post, I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to my family and friends for their generosity during our stay in Ohio. You all mean the world to us.