Fall is here, which means that vacation season is over for most people. But, now is the best time to plan for next year's vacation. Wouldn't it be nice to pay cash for your vacation rather than worrying about having to pay for it after the fact?
Figure out what you want to do on Vacation
First, you need a goal. What do you want to do on your next vacation? Do you want to take a trip to Disney World? visit the Grand Canyon? or simply spend some time together in a campground as a family? If you know what you want to do, you can start planning how much money you'll need for your next vacation.
Set a Realistic Budget
Do some research to find out how much it will really cost to take your next vacation and determine how much money you'll need for your trip. Be sure to factor in all expenses like airfare or gas an hotels if you're driving. Plus, you'll need to add money for the cost of staying in a hotel at your final destination, event tickets, food, souvenirs, etc.
Plan How to Save the Money
Now that you know how much you'll need for next vacation, figure out how you will save enough money, including these tips
- Open a Vacation Savings Account – keep your savings account money separate from your regular savings by putting it in it's own account. If you have to pay fees on a separate savings account, then keep a spreadsheet with separate line items for the dedicated “funds” in your savings account (like vacation, insurance, gifts, etc) and keep careful track of how much money you have saved for your vacation.
- Split the Budget Into Monthly Chunks – if you have a full year to save up for your next vacation, take your budgeted amount and divide it by 12. For example, if you need $1,000 for your next vacation, then save $83 each month for a year.
- Automatic Savings – set up your account so that the money is automatically transferred into savings each month so that you don't even have to think about it. You'll be much more successful in your goal if you don't have to make a decision whether to save or not.
- Set Up a Vacation Savings Jar – you can boost your vacation savings by adding all your extra change to a change jar and saving it. You'll not likely be able to fund your entire vacation with a change jar, but it can help with the extras.
- Save any “Found” Money – if you get any bonuses or gifts throughout the year, add them to your vacation savings fund to help fund your trip. You could even earn extra money through a garage sale, selling items around the house on Craiglist or Ebay, or even taking on a side job.
- Reduce Expenses – While you're in vacation savings mode, it might be worthwhile cutting your variable expenses like cable/satellite TV, cell phones, eating out, etc.
- Be Realistic – if you can't fit a large vacation into your budget for next year, then plan longer term and plan on the more expensive vacation in 2 years (giving you longer to save) and take a smaller camping trip or staycation in the year in between. You don't want to get in debt in other areas so that you can save for your vacation.
- Stay on Track – Remind yourself throughout the year about your vacation that you'll be taking to make it easier to stay on track with your savings. You could print a picture of your final destination to remind yourself why you're savings.
How do you save money for vacation?