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7 Hacks for How to Save for Honeymoon (When You Can’t Afford One)

Short on money to go on your honeymoon? 7 hacks for how to save for honeymoons when you don’t have much money.

You could say I know a thing or two about how to pay for honeymoons. Specifically, when you don’t have a lot of extra money to do it with.

couple smiling and flirting in pool in tropical location, text overlay "7 hacks to save up for your honeymoon"

When my husband and I got engaged, we knew two things:

  • we'd have to pay for our wedding ourselves (around $10,000)
  • we wanted an amazing honeymoon (as close to two weeks as we could get, in a location like Europe or Asia)

The thought was so dreamy to us soon-to-be newlyweds. But it was also a bit daunting.

Just how were we supposed to pay for our honeymoon in cash, when our paychecks and savings were being eaten alive by all the other big, expensive, transitions in our life?

That’s when I came up with a way for us to afford a honeymoon: The Honeymoon Money Challenge.

The Honeymoon Money Challenge: How to Pay for a Honeymoon with No Extra Disposable Income to Spend

Almost everyone (if not everyone) wants to go on a lavish honeymoon. It’s a dream – after all of the wedding and honeymoon planning that you go through, you just want to kick back and have a wonderful time globetrotting with your new spouse.

But the dark side to this wedding world, that has us brides-to-be thinking we need to spend a year’s salary or we’ll regret it when we’re on kid #3?

Is that most of us just can’t afford it all.

You might have even googled “who should pay for honeymoon” out of desperation, trying to figure out how on earth you can both pay for part of your wedding AND get the honeymoon of your dreams.

Don’t throw in the towel, yet.

Instead, do what we did – give yourself a Honeymoon Money Challenge.

Our own honeymoon money challenge was:

To save up $2,500 of money towards our honeymoon WITHOUT using our money from our paychecks. The rest of our honeymoon funds would come from our paychecks (and our Uncle and Aunt generously gifted the airfare).

And you know what? In just 8 months, we came in at $2,334.78 – none of which was saved from either of our paychecks. This money, combined with money from our paychecks and the gifted airfare afforded us an 11-day honeymoon to Austria (without going into any debt).

author and husband newlyweds in front of snow-covered alps
author and husband on honeymoon in pub with wooden background, arms wrapped around each other

Before I give you all the juicy hacks you need to save for your honeymoon, I want you to come up with a savings goal. For example, we set our honeymoon savings goal to be $2,500. We ended up being $165.22 shy of that, but if we hadn’t set a goal to save for, then who knows, we might have only gotten to $1,200.

What’s your savings goal number?

After you do that, go through the 7 honeymoon savings hacks below and see if you're a believer in your ability to DO this, and plan the honeymoon of your dreams.

Hack #1: Cut Out a Wedding Spending Category – Entirely

My husband and I paid for the majority of our wedding. And you know what? We prioritized certain things over others – one of them being our honeymoon.

We wanted our guests to have a good time. Especially since many of them were traveling from out of state (my husband is from Texas, and I’m from Pennsylvania – where we held the wedding).

So, while we had music and created a guide to the area they would be staying in for a few days, we decided to cut out the DJ and the dance floor expenses.

You might gasp at that. But to be honest, we knew that a) many members of our family didn’t dance, and b) we could use that $1,000 to go towards our 11-day honeymoon in Austria.

Are you wondering “Where can I cut wedding costs”? Start with your gut. What is something that you’re doing because you’re “supposed to”, or because everyone else does it…but you’re not really feeling it?

Also, we used this amazing book that guarantees you will save at least $500 on your wedding from the tips it gives, OR, you get your money back. Literally, there’s no downside to that (and a potentially huge upside!). In fact – from just ONE tip in this book, I saved $700 on photography!

Psst: you'll DEFINITELY want to check out my article on how to cut costs on a wedding for details on that, and more!

Hack #2: Crowdsource Your Honeymoon Savings

Have you ever heard of honeymoon registries? It’s a way to register for a location you want to go to, even excursions and activities you want to do, and have your guests help pay your way as their wedding gift.

How cool is that?

This is especially a great idea nowadays because many couples have moved in together or had their own apartments, and you can only own so many toasters.

HoneyFund is the leading honeymoon registry site and doesn’t cost you anything to use. I love how you can put specific items on your honeymoon wish list for guests to purchase for you, such as “snorkeling lessons”, and “beach horseback riding”.


Check out this video for a bit more info:

Hack #3: Lunch Hour Turns into Your Earning-Hour

What if you spent several lunch hours per week between now and your wedding day earning extra income on the internet?

That’s basically what I did when I set up our Honeymoon Money Challenge.

Here’s the breakdown of how I got the money I did:

Here's the breakdown of how I did it: 

  • Freelance Writing Income: $760
  • Bank Account Opening Bonuses: $421
  • Wedding Shower Cash Gifts: $325
  • Rebates: $222.49
  • Sold Stuff on Craigslist: $341.29
  • Carpooling (gas savings): $104
  • Research Study: $75
  • eHow Income: $54
  • Online Surveys: $27
  • Miscellaneous: $5

Notice all the ways I found to earn a little extra cash, outside of our paychecks?

Here are my top 5 ways to earn income during your lunch hours or while watching Netflix at night:

  1. Earn by Searching the Internet: I’ve been using Swagbucks instead of Google to search the Internet for years. And since March 14, 2009, I’ve earned a total of 372,296 Swag Bucks! What I love about this company is that they pay CASH to my PayPal account. All those reward points have equaled $3,700 in cash.
  2. Shop Wedding Supplies through Rakuten: Download the free Rakuten Chrome extension (get $30 FREE in cash back after spending $30, just for signing up through that link!), and every time you shop for your wedding (or anything else), earn cash back that you can put into your honeymoon savings fund. You get a free $30 rebate after spending $30, just for signing up!
  3. Complete Online Surveys: I personally earned $27 towards our honeymoon through SurveyJunkie. Not a ton, but every bit helps!
  4. Take Part in Focus Groups: I’ve earned hundreds of dollars by taking part in either online focus research groups, or in-person ones. In fact, the last one I did, I earned $175 to pretend like I was shopping for a car seat (which I was, anyway, so I just used the money to pick out the one I wanted!). Respondent Market Research is an excellent company to use for this.
  5. Check out my complete list of ways to earn extra cash from home

Hack #4: Use Bank Account Bonuses to Fund Your Honeymoon Savings Account

We didn’t actually put our honeymoon money in a savings account. I know, I know – that sounds sacrilegious on a money blog.

But here’s the strategy behind it: instead of putting that money into a savings account that would have earned us just a few percentages of interest, we put it into checking accounts that offered opening bonuses. One bank offered us $150 per account, and Paul and I opened up two separate accounts (how to figure out if a bank account bonus is worth it).

In fact, this strategy led to $421 in honeymoon money, which accounted for 18% of our honeymoon savings goal! This strategy also yielded us an 8.5% return on our money (we needed to keep the money in the checking account for six months, then after that, we could spend it, or move it to another account).

Hint: since you don’t have a lot of money saved yet for your honeymoon (or none at all), use the money you’ve earmarked for your wedding, or money from another savings account to actually open the account. Going to put a down payment on a home after your wedding? Use that money to open a new checking account that will give you a bonus for doing so. Then use that bonus towards your Honeymoon Money Challenge.

The other plus to putting your Honeymoon Savings into a checking account with an opening bonus? Well, it’s money you’ll be spending in the next year or two, so once you get to your honeymoon date, you’ll already have a debit card tied to it for easy use.

Here’s a place that keeps an up-to-date listing of bank opening bonuses.

Hack #5: Separate Your Honeymoon from Your Wedding

We all have this ideal in my mind (mostly from Hollywood) that people magically burst forth from their luxurious wedding receptions in new outfits, and head off to their honeymoons in limos.

And this COULD be your reality…but it doesn’t have to be.

In fact, my husband and I went on our honeymoon a full 7 months after we got married (not for this reason, but just putting that in there to show you that people do this sort of thing).

There are two main reasons you might want to schedule your honeymoon for a later date than the day after your wedding:

  • You can schedule your honeymoon for out-of-season, which might be a different time than when you’re getting married, to save money.
  • You can use your wedding reception money to PAY for part or all of your honeymoon.

One way my own family takes advantage of this is by booking a huge beach house in Galveston during hurricane season, or the time we booked the huge beach home in Outer Banks during hurricane season. You take a risk…but you could also risk getting to have the time of your lives for half of the price it would normally cost.

Hack #6: Have a Two-Fer Destination Wedding

If you have a destination wedding…then you’re already there for the honeymoon. It’s like a built-in trip together!

Of course, this can get expensive as well – for both you and the guests.

BUT, it’s something to consider, because if you can find an in-inclusive wedding package, then you might actually spend less on a destination wedding + honeymoon than you would if you paid for both separately.

Hack #7: Use a New Credit Card with Travel Bonuses to Pay for the Wedding

Do you have decent-to-good credit?

You can open up a new credit card with some sweet travel perks (say, 50,000 frequent flyer miles) after you spend a certain amount of money. Some of these credit cards only give you the points or rewards when you spend like $3,000 in the first three months…you can probably see where I’m going with this.

You’re going to be shelling out thousands to pay for your wedding anyway – why not funnel those payments through a new credit card to meet the spending threshold, then use those reward points to pay for your flight to your honeymoon destination?

My husband and I have done this for travel up to Michigan, saving us $1100 in airfare, and travel up to PA, saving us $900 in airfare. It’s called travel hacking, and it’s an awesome tool to use when figuring out how to plan a honeymoon on a budget.

So, how much should you save up for your honeymoon? Let's take a quick look at how much the average honeymoon costs so that you can get some ballpark figures (working with a travel agent, or doing your own research will help you come up with your target savings goal).

How Much is the Average Honeymoon?

Before you set your target savings goal for your honeymoon, let me give you a few guidelines to help.

First of all, you should know that the average couple spends between $4,000 and $5,000 on their honeymoon.

Remember: this is AVERAGE. It doesn’t have to be YOU guys. But it is good to know what others do.

And that $4,000-$5,000? It typically covers an 8-day honeymoon.

Luxury honeymooners are those that typically honeymoon for 11 days, at an average cost of $9,954.

Hint: we honeymooned for 11 days…but did not spend NEARLY $9,954 on it – don’t let that number scare you.

Honestly, things change financially after marriage. Working on a money project together like paying cash for your honeymoon can really give you a head start on a smooth financial transition from singleton to couplehood.

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.


Friday 18th of September 2009

Hi Rosa!

I have not thought about that, though I remember reading an article about it vaguely a year or so ago. I will definitely check it out and see if it's something we want to do. Thanks for the info. and the comment! Keep Reading!


Friday 18th of September 2009

Have you thought about housesitting abroad as part of your vaca? you save on hotels and has so much more privacy. there are agencies that set this up for you that pre-screen, verify, etc.


Friday 18th of September 2009

Nadine: Hello! Thanks--I will look for it. Have a great weekend!


Friday 18th of September 2009

Greatings, Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later. Thanks Nadine


Thursday 17th of September 2009

BluSky: Sounds like a great program...and an eventual free $250!! Can't beat that. The only problem with me is that I keep track of the change portion of my budget as well, so it might crimp my style if that gets automatically withdrawn into a savings account. But I still think it's a great program:).

Crystal: I would still LOVE to hear your frugal ideas! I hope that all of us share our own experiences in the comments (and on Frugal Confessions Fridays ofcourse:)). That sounds like a great idea to have a vacation account--for us frugal people, an account with spillover money or designated money means that we can spend something without guilt. Enjoy those vacations this year!