Trading in your way to a pocket full of savings

Trade in for cash

As someone who is constantly trying to reduce expenses (in order to save more), I hate it when I have to part with a huge chunk of change to buy something, even when it’s something I need.

I also have a rule on the boat that says, if I buy something new, I have to get rid of something old. Sometimes this is a matter of just throwing said old thing away (like in the instance of a pair of shoes I recently threw out after getting a new pair), but sometimes, what you already have may still have some life in it. In that case, it’s always a good idea to see if you can trade it in or sell it to help offset your costs on buying the new item.

One great example of a way you can do this is with your cell phone or ipad. Depending on the model and condition of your phone, some carriers will buy your old phone back from you at a pretty decent price. They do this because they can turn around and refurbish them, then resell them at a profit.

I know people who just get new phones when they’re eligible, but still keep their old phones in a drawer, collecting dust until said phone becomes an antique (my husband still actually has his old Verizon flip phone from 2006 sitting in a box…). Why do that when you can get money for it?

I once got $100 back when I traded in my old phone from Best Buy, simply because I kept it in good condition (I always keep it in a case, and have a protective cover over the screen).

Even if your phone is old, or not in perfect shape, you can use a site like Gazelle, Glyde, or The iPhone Antidote to sell your old phone or even buy a refurbished phone. If you have an old iPhone 5 laying around, you could get $50 for a 16GB in good condition, and even $5 or $10 for a broken iPhone (cracked screen, won’t power on, etc.). I just got $25 for an old iPhone 4 that was pretty antiquated by selling it on Glyde (no one else was accepting iPhone 4 phones).

And you’re not limited to phones. You can get rebates or refunds when you sell or trade in all kinds of other things, like computers, tablets, video games, guns, car batteries, and even boat parts, like this program which offers a $200 refund for return of a good core when you buy a new Evinrude lower unit.

One of my favorite things to trade in is books. While it’s not very lucrative, if you’re a voracious reader like I am, then it can pay off in simply getting more books. When we lived in Nashville, I used to take regular trips to McKay bookstore, armed with a handful of books. The staff would assess their needs and the condition of the books, then make me 2 offers. One cash offer (which was usually minimal), and one store-credit offer, which was usually 3X or more the cash offer. Because it was a used bookstore, the store credit allowed me to get at least as many new (to me) books, and not pay a dime. After I read them, I’d repeat the process.

If you’re on a boat, and you’re not at a marina that has a good lending library (best thing ever!), you can also sell your books online, although you’re not likely to get much cash for them. My favorite place to sell off some of my old books online is Bookscouter. Just enter the ISBN of the books you want to sell, and they’ll return a list of offers from various bookstores, and you can just take the best one. They even cover the shipping costs!


Finding deals like this can help offset the cost of a new item, while also minimizing what goes into the landfills, or just sits there taking up space in your home or boat.

So before you buy something new, see if there’s a trade-in program available, and if not, check to see if there’s a way you can sell your old items back and put a little bit of that money back in your pocket.

Do you have any other examples of  ways you can trade in, trade up, or sell that some of us may not know about? Have you used any of the examples in this post? Every comment will automatically be entered in a drawing for a $100 REI Gift Card! The drawing will be on December 2nd, just in time for the holidays!  (Update: A winner has been selected.)

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I Dig It, Digit! A Super Cool Money Saving App

Digit Money Saving App - the easiest way to save moneyRemember back in the day when most of us actually carried cash? When you got home at the end of the day, you’d empty the change from your pockets or your wallet and throw it in a jar, and after some time, you’d roll the coins and stop by the bank and cash them in?

Alternatively, if you paid for something with a check or debit card (and actually wrote it in your checkbook register), you could “round up” to the next dollar, making the math easier, so the balance in your register showed a lesser balance  than actual balance in your account (due to the roundup), and voila! Another easy way to “save” money… although I equate this to setting your clock ahead by 20 minutes to “trick” yourself into thinking it’s later than it is, so that when your alarm goes off and you get up, you have 20 extra minutes to get ready. That doesn’t work for me… all it does is make me better at doing the math to figure out the actual time while half asleep.

Well, I’m gonna tell you about today’s version of the same concept… Digit, an awesome money saving app. Thanks to my buddy J-Money at Budgets Are Sexy for the tip on the service!

I could go into a lot of detail about Digit, but the gist of it is, when you sign up for the service, it simply connects to your checking account, where it monitors your average spending habits – then it uses a fancy algorithm to calculate small amounts you won’t really miss, and transfers small amounts of money automatically into your own FDIC insured Digit account, where it’s saved until you choose to withdraw it. Bing bang boom!

If it sees that a particular time of the month is a time when you normally have several bills due, or don’t have as much money coming in, it will adjust the amount it transfers accordingly. Sometimes it may save a few bucks, others, it might be twenty bucks. Long story short is, they take only what they think you can afford and won’t miss too much. In fact, they’re so confident about the technology, they’ll reimburse you for any overdraft charges incurred by their service.

And the best thing? If you choose to withdraw some or even all of your savings from Digit, there are no penalties or fees, or limits to the number of transactions you can make. There are also no minimums or monthly fees to maintain the service. It’s totally free!

The drawback is that you do not earn interest on the saved amounts – any interest earned goes to Digit to help maintain this service, but they are working on a way to incorporate some sort of interest-based plan sometime in the future.

Just think about it this way… if you weren’t using Digit, would you really put these small amounts each day into your own savings account? Probably not. You’d spend that extra $15 on a chicken burrito and a beer.

Digit is simply an easy way to save money, and I’m really curious to see how much I can save using the service.

Initially it can take a few days before you see a transfer because the program is designed to calculate what you won’t need, so it will need time at first to get a bead on your spending habits, but after that, it’s a “set it and forget it” type of service, although all you have to do it text “Savings” to find out your balance at any given time. I just love that I don’t have to think about it, and any amount it saves is an amount I wouldn’t have otherwise.

You're Invited to Digit - a money saving app(don’t worry, it’s free!)*

Are any of you already using Digit to save money? If so, comment and let us what you think and how much you’ve saved so far! I’ll be reporting in as my savings grows – maybe we can have a contest to see who saves the most with the service. Dig it!

*Digit currently pays $5 for each person I refer, so if you sign up, thank you! And don’t forget to share your own referral code with friends and family after signing up so you can help fund your savings, too!

Feeding the Cruising Kitty

colorful dinghy boats

One of the most common questions we are asked is “how do you afford to travel like this?”  Most people mean well, and they aren’t asking to be rude (although they may as well just ask how much money you have in your bank), BUT this is why I started this blog – to satisfy the curiosity of others as well as talk about ways to increase income while traveling. Though I can’t speak for everyone, I think that a lot of cruisers, especially those in the younger age bracket, are not independently wealthy and need to work from time to time to replenish the Cruising Kitty.

While you’re unlikely to get rich, it still helps to have a variety of potential ways for fattening the wallet at your disposal. I’ve met people who travel from place to place and look for part time work in whatever town they are in, but this can be difficult because most businesses don’t want to invest the time and effort to train someone who isn’t going to be there for long and many places are hesitant to give work to outsiders when the locals need jobs so bad. Because of this, you may need to put on your thinking cap and get a little creative, not to mention be willing to work hard. I’ve compiled a list of some ideas that I’ve either heard other people do or that I’ve tried myself – I call them “side-hustles”, a term I adopted after reading Making Sense of Cents, a great blog about budgeting and making money.

  • Boat Delivery – If you’re a licensed captain, you can sometimes get paid to either captain someone’s boat or deliver boats from point A to point B. This can be lucrative but it’s not without it’s drawbacks. Sometimes the pay is good, sometimes only your expenses are covered. Do your homework on the boat as well – you don’t want to be out in the middle of the ocean only to find out that there’s a leaking thru-hull.
  • Graphic Design / Web Design – This is a tough business but it could be perfect for someone who lives and travels on a boat.  One of the advantages is that you have the potential to meet so many people and business owners in your travels – you never know when someone might need a website updated, a new logo for their business, or even their boat!
  • Boat Work – What’s the definition of cruising? Fixing your boat in exotic places! Every sailor has heard this joke and everyone laughs because it’s true. Pull into any port and you’ll find someone who is fixing something on their boat. If you have a special skill, or if you’re just good with boats, there are opportunities for turning that into a way to make money. I’ve known people to buy dinner for someone in exchange for going up the mast or helping to run wires or install a solar panel. Talk to people in your port and see if anyone needs anything – you might be surprised!
  • Canvas Work – Sail repairs, sail covers, biminis, dodgers, bug screens, lee cloths, bumper sleeves… the possibilities are endless. Get yourself a Sail-Rite or other heavy duty sewing machine, channel your inner Martha Stewart and get sewing!
  • Haircuts – Are you skilled with scissors? I’ve heard of many people paying for haircuts from fellow cruisers. Just be careful with sharp objects while the wind and waves are up!
  • Virtual Assistant – If you have internet access, you can sometimes find virtual assistant jobs that allow you to do a range of things from data entry to social media management to online research. The internet now makes it super easy for companies to reduce their bottom line by hiring virtual assistants to do some of the work that doesn’t require an office. More on this in future posts, but this can be a nice and easy way to make a little extra cash from time to time.
  • Blogging – Yes, I know – everyone seems to be blogging now, but don’t let that discourage you from going the blog route.  No two bloggers are alike,  and every audience is different. Write your own way, take your own photos, and build an audience. Once you do this, you have potential to make money from ad revenue, affiliate programs and sometimes by partnering with businesses who will offer their goods at no cost or a deeply discounted cost if you post a review. I will soon be posting some blogging tips that will help you spread the word and build your audience as well as write a quality blog. The great thing about blogging is that it allows for some creative freedom and it encourages you to get out there and experience exciting things so you’ll have all kinds of cool stuff to write about!
  • Photography – Are you good with a camera? Why not try selling prints of your work? One of the great things about cruising is that there is never a lack of beautiful things to photograph… sunsets, trees, water, wildlife, sea creatures… You can create a simple website for very little money and effort, or you could try selling strictly through your social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Writing – There are many avenues for sharing your writing outside of the blog-world. Do you have a story that would be suited for a magazine? Take the time to make it perfect (spell-check!) and write a kick-ass cover letter to accommodate your work. If you’re a new, unpublished writer, start by pitching some of the smaller publications that might be more inclined to print your work. You can also contact magazines and request their editorial calendar, which is a calendar of the types of stories they will be covering in each issue. Find an upcoming issue that one of your stories may be a good fit for and pitch directly for that issue. Be sure to do this well in advance because magazines have strict deadlines for material submissions. Don’t be discouraged if you get a rejection letter and just keep writing and submitting!  I will be delving into this a lot more in future posts, with more detailed information on various publications, guidelines and more.

These are just a few ways to replenish or top off the Cruising Kitty while traveling. I will be touching on some specifics on several of the above in future blog posts so be sure to subscribe to get posts to your email so you don’t miss anything!

What other ways to make money on the go have you tried or heard of? Comment and share below!