I have a very exciting trip to Italy with my mom scheduled for September of this year! I figured if I started early enough, I wouldn’t need to tap from my regular income to save money. My goal is to have $3,000 saved up for the trip by August 15th. Below are the 8 ways I’m making that happen.

Exactly How I’m Saving Up $3k for a Euro-Trip (Outside Of My Regular Income)

1. Cash back rewards on my credit card

I recently opened a credit card for the first time and I made sure to find one with no annual fee that gives me 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There was a special happening at the time, so when I opened the card, I received a cash bonus of $150.

Now I earn cash back on stuff I buy regularly like gas, bills and groceries. (To avoid unnecessary interest payments, I make sure to only buy things I would have purchased anyway and to never carry over a balance.)

Additionally, I’ll use this card for most expenses on the trip as well – not only to get the cash back as I spend, but this card offers no currency conversion fees.

Total saved so far: $257.00
Expected Amount by August 15th: ~$300.00

2. Side Job: Helping a family friend organize for his taxes

Every year I help a family friend organize his receipts and put all of his expenses into a spreadsheet for his small business. In return he gives me $200 for my time.

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Amount Saved: $200.00

3. Ad revenue

The majority of the money I save will be from my side hustle, a small YouTube channel about cruelty-free makeup. On average, I make a couple hundred every month, but I’ve been trying to pump out extra videos when I can to make more.

Expected Amount by August 15th (hopefully): ~$1650.00

4. Birthday Money and Tax Return

I asked everyone in my family to give me Italy money instead of a present for my birthday in March. I’m lucky to have such a wonderful support system, and it really added up. I also decided to allocate a portion of my tax return to the trip and the rest to a student loan with a high interest rate.

Total Amount Received for Italy Fund: $450.00

5. Cash back via Ebates*

I use Ebates anytime I purchase something online. With hundreds of stores to choose from, you simply order stuff through the Ebates portal and receive a certain percentage back in the form of a quarterly check. You can choose to get the money back in either a direct deposit, check or gift card to a store of your choice.

Because you typically get 10-15% more if you get it in a gift card, I’m going to do that and then just take that amount from my checking and move it into my Euro-Fund, keeping the gift card for a future occasion.

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My next payment is scheduled to arrive on 5/15/19. While I can’t know for sure the exact amount I’ll receive (it depends on how much I buy and if I get any good cash back deals), I’ve been using Ebates for years so I can estimate based on past payments received.

Get $10 back on your first Ebates purchase here.*

Approximate amount expected: ~$65.00

*This is an affiliate link.

6. Freelance Writing

Last autumn, I started writing a couple articles a month for an online publication (can you guess which one it is?) I’m putting all money earned so far towards my trip.

Approximate amount expected by August 15th: ~$240.00

7. Hidden discount through my auto insurance

I pay my car insurance every 6 months instead of month to month in order to get the best price. I typically call and pay over the phone and the last time I called, the customer service person asked me if I had a Costco Membership. I do have one, so when I replied, she said I was eligible for a discount of $120. That’s double my annual Costco membership fee! So I let the discount cover my annual fee and I put the rest of the savings toward my travel fund.

Amount saved: $60.00

8. Freelance Makeup

I’m doing the makeup for two of my best friends this year for their respective weddings. I’m doing it for free as a wedding gift, but when they asked if I was willing to do some of their bridesmaids as well, I told them I wouldn’t do it for free, but I would charge them a discounted fee. I have at least one person interested, so if I do their makeup, I will charge $50. Depending on how many people’s makeup I do, I could make more than I expect.

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Minimum amount expected: $50.00


Credit Card Cash Back – $300.00
Helping with Taxes – $200.00
YouTube Ad Revenue – $1,650.00
Birthday Money and Tax Return – $450.00
Ebates Cash Back – $65.00
Freelance Writing – $240.00
Insurance Discount – $60.00
Freelance Makeup – $50.00
Total Saved – $3,015.00

What are some creative ways you save up for big purchases?