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some text Ellen Phillips

Want more money in your wallet or billfold for that special trip or occasion? If readers haven't yet taken advantage of one or more recent suggestions, try those and then, also, select methods from today's column. (Please let me know which ones work for you.)

1. Buy an insulated coffee container, a durable, sealable, thermos-like container for less than $15-$20 online. Lots of people buy Yeti coffee "mugs," but for a good bit less money, my RTIC 30-ounce tankard keeps beverages very hot and cold ones very cold (even with ice not melting) for 24 hours. Secondly, along with coffee-savings plans, stop visiting Starbucks (or your local equivalent) on your way to work, shop, or travel. Renouncing your latte-a-day habit is worth a $20-to-$25 bottom-line bump each week! Set that extra hundred bucks aside for vacationing.

2. Trim your grocery budget with some of the following tips and see how many more you can figure out. For instance, cheaper produce is just as tasty, such as substituting Gala apples over Honeycrisp or shitake mushrooms over buttons. When you are grocery shopping also:

A) Never shop when hungry. Following a full meal is the best time so as to avoid the candy aisle and the New York strip steaks.

B) Use coupons. If you like to clip, go for it; otherwise, visit coupon clipping apps, including RedPlum or Ibotta. If you'll use what you purchase and not allow items to go to waste, shop in bulk. Costco or Sam's Club, along with other super-saver chains, can conserve bunches of cash, especially with bulk items like toilet tissue or soft drinks.

3. Find a part-time job. Choose one that pays decently, offers reliable hours with the option to pick up more, and certainly one you'll enjoy. While you won't earn enough to pay for your total vacation, the paycheck will go a long way to disburse for incidentals, like car rentals or quite a number of meals.

4. Clean out the household and conduct a yard sale. Decide what's worth selling and what needs trashing or donating. A great opportunity to "gain joy" via clearing out guru Marie Kondo, bank the proceeds into your special fund. More, if you're one of the lucky who can still deduct charitable tax donations, what you give to charity this year, deduct on next year's taxes.

5. Make your skills money-worthy to others. For example, I tutor; not only do I love helping students of all ages perform their best, but their payments go into my own vacation piggy bank. I also edit research papers and teach public speaking skills to adults; thus, I'm utilizing my talents and enjoyment and my special plans reap the benefits. Any gourmet cooks out there? Advertise your skills to prepare for a dinner or buffet party. In fact, check out sites such as Freelancer.com where many "bosses" want to pay for your skills in various mediums.

6. If you have a spare bedroom, consider renting it out. While I wouldn't want a transient stranger staying in my home, many folks do it for the lucrative pot travelers spend. Whether on Airbnb, Homeaway, or any other travel/lodging site – and particularly if your city is a tourist mecca - a small bedroom with, hopefully, a private bathroom or, perhaps, a suite where privacy rules, your short or long-term renters can spend lots of money to avail themselves of your hospitality. Depending on the market where you live, earnings could climb to anywhere from a couple hundred extra bucks to many hundreds each month in rental income. What a gratifying deposit into your vacation fund that might just push you over the necessary fare for that airline ticket!

Contact Ellen Phillips at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com.

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