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How We Saved $8,000 in 6 Months On One Income


How We Saved $8,000 in 6 Months On One Income

Do you find yourself struggling to save money throughout the year? It can be overwhelming, especially with bills, student loans, credit cards, etc. I’ve found one of the main ways to stay motivated to save is to have two end goals, one short term and one long term.

In the summer of 2016, I was on the verge of committing suicide. After being hospitalized, Trent and I were on a walk and talking about what we could do to help me keep my mind busy. I remember telling Trent, “it would just be so nice if we could run away together and forget about everything.”

Trent said, “well, we can’t do that, but what if we were to take a big long trip overseas?” That’s when the idea was born! We scurried on home from our walk and immediately started looking up travel plans and ways to save extra money. Life kept getting in the way, but if anyone knows why traveling is so important to us, you’ll understand why we worked so hard to make our trip to Europe happen!

We wanted to make sure that this trip was taken with nothing charged on the credit card, and we did just that! We saved over $8,000 in six months for this trip, on one income. It was amazing to take a trip across Europe and Africa and be able to spend and splurge on whatever we wanted. Here are some ways we were able to save for this trip to be able to do everything we wanted and more!

This post does contain affiliate links. If you sign up with any of these links, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support and good luck on your financial journey!


1. Budget like crazy

We got home from Colorado in the middle of May and started planning this Europe trip as soon as we got home. What was supposed to be a year-long savings goal, ended up being six months.

We looked at where we could save and were able to save roughly another $100/month by lowering our phone bill, internet, and utilities. It gets pretty hot in Georgia and it’s oh so tempting to lower the AC, but we made it a priority to keep it a little warmer in the house.

I looked at every penny and gave it a home. Allowing a fun money budget each month really helped escalate our savings.

Total savings: $600

2. Use only cash for spending

Remember the fun money budget I mentioned above? It was controlled by using only cash. We went a little hard with saving money and allowed ourselves $200 each per month to spend on whatever we wanted, guilt-free. Whatever was leftover at the end of the month, we put in our piggy bank.

If you don’t like the all-cash system, try looking into prepaid Visa cards. This is smart if you like to spend a lot of your money online shopping. For us, if we purchased something online, we just put the physical money back into our bank account to supplement for what we charged.

Total savings: $800

3. Utilize multiple savings apps

There were three main apps I used to save money. Digit, Acorns, and Stash. It was nice because Acorns and Stash pulled out a minimum set amount each week. Digit uses an algorithm to see how much we are able to save each day.

Acorns and Digit are apps I’ve been using since 2015 and Stash since the beginning of 2018. I love all three and have been thrilled with how much they have saved me over the years!


Digit watches your finances on a daily basis and sees what you can afford to save. The advanced algorithm does not allow the app to overdraft your account, and on the off chance it does, they will refund you! They recommend that you set up a limit. If your bank account hits that limit, it will not withdraw anymore until you have more money.

You can set up different goals to save for and it’ll save for all goals and focus more on the goals with the higher priorities! You can also set it up to receive texts every morning of how much is in your bank account. It is an extremely trustworthy app that I have been using for years and have had no problems with them! It’s free for the first 30 days and after that, it is $2.99/mo that they will withdraw from your Digit account. Totally worth it though! I’d pay $33 to save over $4,000!

Be aware that it might take a week or so before they start withdrawing. Sometimes they like to track your spending habits for a few days at first.

In the past two weeks though, Digit has saved us over $200! If interested in saving with Digit, you can sign up with this link and get your first $5 on them! This is definitely my favorite of the three.


Acorns is a free investing app. It rounds up all of your purchases (IE: you spend $9.41, it’ll round it up to $10 and save the $.59) and when all the roundups have totaled to $5, it’ll pull the $5 from your account and put it into your investments. It is also recommended that you pull out a certain amount each week for an automatic withdrawal which can be as little as $5! This one can add up pretty quick. It is just as trustworthy as Digit and I have been using it for years as well! There have been no problems with Acorns either. I’ve saved roughly $2,750 with Acorns so far!

In the past two weeks, Acorns has saved us an extra $85! If you’re interested in an easy way to save that spare change, sign up with my affiliate link to receive your first $5 on them!


Stash is an investment app that is free to download and very credible! It is kind of like Acorns but without the roundups. I have only been using it since June 2018, but I have been impressed thus far! You set up an amount to be withdrawn from your account every week (as little as $5) and you can choose which companies you want to invest in! Stash has saved us roughly $750 so far.

In the past two weeks, Stash has saved us an extra $40! If you’re interested in adding a little investment to your savings, I’d recommend signing up for an account through my affiliate link! As a thank you, they will give your account with an extra $5 to start out with!

Total savings: $1,200

4. Bumped up our automatic savings

Trent’s job allows him to put aside a certain amount of money every month before we can even touch it. We did the math, saw what we could afford to save. We stuck to our cash only spending and saw that we would be able to put aside an extra $400 each month. If this is something your job allows you to do, I suggest setting up automatic savings! You don’t have to save $400 each month, but start with maybe $50?

Total savings: $2,400

5. Took on extra side gigs

There are so many different side gigs to make extra money, it’s just a matter of how hard you want to work! Going to school and practicum full time, I didn’t put in as much effort as I could have, but still enough to save a pretty penny! I’ve compiled two lists of jobs to make extra money from home, which you can read here and here.

The side gigs that worked out best for me were starting my own little photography business and selling used clothes on Poshmark. You can read more here on how I have continuously made steady side money on Poshmark.

Total savings: $1,500

6. Saved all extra money, raises, or bonuses

This year, Trent was promoted to Staff Sergeant. His car was on the outs and it was time he got a new one. We drove that bad boy into the ground! So we dedicated part of his raise to the new car, the other part to savings. He also got a random few hundred dollars here and there for trips, clothing allowances, etc.

Other money that would fall into this category would be birthday money, graduation money, and tax returns.

Total savings: $1,000

7. Utilized credit card bonuses

If you are great at managing money and have excellent credit, this is an option for you! We only had time to do one card in the six months we were saving, but it was well worth it!

We signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. If you spend $4,000 in 90 days, you get 50,000 bonus points! That is equal to $500 cash back or $625 in travel. You get an extra minimum 4,000 points for spending $4,000 (depending on how you spend it). You also get an extra 5,000 points when you add another person and they swipe their card once!

So it totaled to 59,000 points which equaled $590 cash back or $740 for travel for FREE! Pay all the bills you can with this card and set aside extra money for everyday use on this card as well. In return, this becomes free money in your pocket because you were going to spend it anyways!

Better yet, you can each do it! That means you can earn $1,180 in cash back for free or $1,480 towards travel for free!

Total savings: $740

8. Had a savings tracker to color off every week

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I divided our savings goal by 50 and drew out that many squares (in the shape of a suitcase). Every $50 saved was another square we could fill in. I chose $50 because it meant I got to color in squares more quickly…that is a huge motivator for me!


There you have it, that’s how we saved over $8,000 on one income in six months! It was difficult, but the reward was SO worth it!!! What are some ways you save extra money? I’m always looking for new ideas. Let me know below in the comments!

This post does contain affiliate links. If you sign up with any of these links, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support and good luck on your financial journey!

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(17) Comments

  1. So many great ideas in this post! My husband and I are working towards paying off school loans and also saving for a Paris trip for my mom’s 60th birthday. Sometimes I feel discouraged and overwhelmed, so your honesty about your journey was really inspiring. ❤️

    1. sarahbanwart says:

      What an exciting trip!! Have you been before? We were in Paris last month and it was beautiful! It’s extremely overwhelming, but just try to remember how far you’ve come! I understand you being discouraged though!! Sometimes it feels like you’re not even making a dent! It’s so frustrating!!

  2. I am currently trying to save for a trip to Spain and Portugal this year and I am trying to take on a few extra side gigs in order to make some extra money to save. I use Qapital to help me save, but I really do need to employ a budgeting app because that is my downfall.

    Lovely post! x


    1. sarahbanwart says:

      Michelle, I have never heard of Qapital before! I am going to check that out now! What a fun vacation coming up. I am so jealous!! I hope you have a blast!

  3. Alexandra says:

    These are some great tips, and I find your post super inspiring. I’ve never been especially good at managing money, so this gives me hope 🙂

    1. sarahbanwart says:

      Thank you, Alexandra! You can do it! Having a goal in mind really helps put your priorities for your money in place!

  4. Definitely using some of these tips towards my savings for a new car. Thanks so much for your advice and post!

    1. sarahbanwart says:

      Yay! What an exciting purchase! I hope that you’re able to save quickly!!

  5. This is such an awesome list! One of our New Years resolutions is to spend less unnecessary money. This will help I’m sure!

    1. sarahbanwart says:

      Thank you! What an awesome New Years resolution! I’m sure you guys are going to crush it!! The biggest thing that helped us was having a goal in mind!

  6. Wow, nice job! It’s an amazing what you can do when you’re intentional with money.

    1. sarahbanwart says:

      Right?! You can do/get whatever you want if you set your mind to it!

  7. Wow. This is so inspiring I need to save big time. You’ve just reminded me of the £10 in my purse I’m going to put in the savings jar

    1. sarahbanwart says:

      Woohoo! That’s great! We have a fun savings tracker that hangs on our wall…it’s so exciting to watch it fill up!!

  8. OMG this is such a good idea. I really need to start saving every penny, what you did is amazing!!

  9. Honestly thank you so much for sharing all your detailed tips on how to save money. I am on the same boat and I would like to start saving for a possible Europe trip. I am definitely going to check out all the apps you mentioned. Thank you!!

    XO Andie

    1. sarahbanwart says:

      Oh, you’re going to love it so much! Can’t wait to hear about what you have planned! Good luck with your savings goals!

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