How long has it been since you’ve taken a well deserved vacation? Or maybe I should ask, how long has it been since you’ve taken a well deserved vacation and paid cash for it?
Too many of us finance vacation with credit cards, and we end up paying premium for the rest of the year. If you are ready to stop “financing” your vacation, here are four easy ways you can start saving money for those few days or weeks of rest each year.
Determine how much you’ll need
In order to budget and save for vacation you first need to know HOW MUCH you plan to spend. Setting a specific amount will help you break your goal down to smaller, manageable chunks. It will also help you set boundaries to prevent overspending. On average, American families will spend anywhere from $1500 – $3000 on a vacation.
Once you determine your amount, divide that amount by the amount of months you still have left to save for your vacation. Once you do that, we can now look at creative ways to help you save.
Discretionary spending 90-day “fast”
Discretionary spending simply means any non-essential expenditures that you make on regular basis. What can you “give up” for a season in order to do your vacation debt-free? If you have 3 months before your vacation, do a 90-day “fast” from discretionary spending (clothing, meals outside of the home, entertainment, etc.) Whatever amount you’d usually spend on those categories set aside for your vacation. By doing this you could easily save $100/month towards vacation.
Direct Deposit – Out of sight out of mind
If you are a spender, you’ll have to do something a bit more drastic in order to set funds aside. Otherwise, if you have it it’ll be gone in no time – and you won’t even know where it went! Ask your employer to direct deposit a specific amount ($50 or $100 a paycheck) into a separate account, which may even be in a different bank than your general checking account. This will give you greater chance to actually have those funds available by the time vacation rolls around.
Generate extra income
If your budget is stretched to the max and you’d still like to save for vacation, then generating extra income could be your best option.
Here are some ideas:
– Find one home per week to clean. This will usually generate anywhere between $50 – 85 per cleaning session.
– Afterschool care. Find out if someone in your neighborhood needs afterschool care for their child. This could save them money and give you extra income. Afterschool programs usually cost 50-75/week.
– Yard work – $35-$45/cut
– Tutoring – $25-$35/hour
– Grocery shopping for elderly in your area
As you go through these tips, some may feel more achievable than others. The key is to make a plan that works for you, and one that you can stick to between now and when the vacation begins. Remember, despite some of the sacrifices that may be made, there is great relief in coming home from vacation and not having the fear of walking to the mailbox and finding vacation bills that can’t be paid off in full.