Wish you were like the others and thinking about a summer vacation? Or were you unable to go on spring break this year, but wish you could have? Wish you had more money for vacation? Even if you don’t have the money this year, by next year at this time you could find that you have a lot more put away for vacation than you thought was possible. The key is saving up all year-long.
I used to be teased that I go to work to afford vacation. It is the motivation needed to get me through long work weeks, long workouts, tiring obligations, etc. I LOVE VACATION! It’s possible for me to go each year, and now even multiple times a year, because I save, and do with less during the rest of year, and it’s so worth it for me.
Below are some money-saving tips that you can use to enable you to have a vacation fund.
Save money going out to dinner – sign up for “deal of the day emails.” Groupons, or group coupons, are great. They even have same day groupons that you can purchase the day you want to use them. Save half off dinner out and put the other half in your vacation fund.
Another tip, if you are planning a getaway where you will have access to a car, sign up to receive groupons in that city as well. You and your family can get deals on bowling, dinners out, other activities, etc., at a great price. Restaurant.com is another great place to look for dining out deals. You can even get Character dining at Disney on occasion for as little as $2.00. (This would be for dining at off-property resorts.)
Get cash back for your shopping by using Ebates to do your online shopping. I recently earned around $23 just for doing my regular online shopping. To date I’ve earned nearly $415 from online purchases I was making anyway. It is FREE to sign up. You shop at your normal stores (Macy’s, Target, etc.) – they have pretty much every store (sometimes even Amazon offers you cash back.) Ebates pays you cash back each quarter via a check. There’s no catch, you just start your shopping from their site. You can use that check as a supplement to your vacation fund.
Sign up for a dining frequent flier club program. Delta has SkyMiles Dining. Likewise with online shopping, you can earn frequent flier miles for items you would purchase online anyway by signing up for Sky Mall, or a similar program with your preferred airline. There is no charge for either of these programs, and it does not cost any money if you were planning to go there already to eat/shop.
But to save money – eat out less. It is at least $35 for 2 people to go out for dinner, and that’s with coupons. Do this 3-4 times a week and that really adds up in a year. But if you have children and are going out to eat, dine where the kids can eat for free with a paying adult. Check out http://mykidseatfree.com/welcome.asp for places with free dining for kids. Bring a lunch to work most days of the week. Saving you $5-$15 a day for 3-4 days a week.
Limit the purchase of beverages as restaurants- pop/soda, liquor and wine add up over time. If you go out twice a week for dinner and each have a pop or an adult beverage with your meal you are spending an additional $15 with tax and tip each week for something you can wait and have when you get home. Only purchase extra drinks on special occasions. Same goes for coffee, unless it is a special circumstance – make your coffee before you go to work and save on the $4-$6 a day coffee habit. Even if you drink cheap coffee and spend $2 a day for each work day, you are spending approximately $520 a year on coffee.
Actually look at the sale ads that come with your paper or in your mailbox each week. Buy the things on sale that you use regularly. You do not have to do the extreme couponing, although you could, but just buying on sale saves you money. Similarly – observe the prices per items at the stores that you shop. If you find an item is cheaper at the grocery store, or big box store, go there are opposed to the drug store. Save money where you can.
A ‘goes without saying’ tip: pay off your credit cards at the end of each month! It will save you unnecessary interest payments. If you cannot afford it, do not buy it.
Use your local library. In addition to books, you can borrow (typically for free) movies, cd’s and video games. This could really cut down what you spend on rentals, iTunes music and trips to Game Stop. Check to see if your library has the item first before shelling out the money. Even a couple dollars adds up over time. Most libraries offer online search and request systems which saves time. Before my trips I download ebooks that go right to my kindle app. If you have a serious gamer in your family, they can eventually be converted to enjoy games from the library. Check out this blog by a gamer that did just that.
Buy a reusable water bottle. Yes, I am telling you to buy something. Take the bottle with you everywhere – car rides to visit grandma, the grocery store, the gym. Just fill it up with a drinking fountain, or before you leave for the day, and save the numerous $1 fees per day for water. Don’t forget to take it with you on vacation too. You can fill it up after airport security to save you the $3 for a bottle of water. And the best part – it is good for the environment.
The final tip, obvious but important, add a “Vacation” line to your existing budget. Even a small line item to start will add up. Then if you have a surplus at the end of the month/pay period, assuming that you do not have credit card debt that you should pay into, transfer any extra unspent money into your vacation fund. If you do have credit card debt, and still want a vacation fund, then divide it up – a portion of the surplus into the credit card payment, and a portion into the vacation fund.
For those of you who do not think you can squeeze any money into a vacation fund on your budget, then keep track of your spending and expenses for a month/2 weeks, and see where you are spending your money. You might have more than you think after you cut some coffees, pops, lunches out, etc.
Do you have a money saving tip to share? Post your tips in the comments below.
Now that you have learned to save money for your next trip, contact your Travel Agent to get some ideas on where to go. If you do not have one, contact, Christy.
Happy Saving and Happy Travels!