With the recession still in session, that means money is still kind of tight. Summer is right around the corner and pretty sure a much need vacation is due. If you’re not the person that puts money away in a vacation savings account then here are 8 steps that can help you stash away some cash for a small summer get-a-way.
1. Start with a spending plan
Decide upfront how much you’ll spend on your vacation. Get specific.
Along with plane tickets (or gas, if you’re driving) and hotel prices, guesstimate costs for meals, souvenirs, and park or museum admissions. Total it all up. If the number sends you into shock, cut back on costs. If money is really tight, consider a couple of long weekend trips instead of one “dream” vacation this summer.
2. Sacrifice now for fun later
Do you belong to a health club or subscribe to a service (such as cable or satellite TV, a cell phone plan, etc.) that you no longer use, or could easily downgrade?
Drop the service now and stash the money away. Consider cutting back for a few months on non-essentials.
Remember: You’re just trading today’s fun for the fun you’ll have during your vacation. Move what you normally would have spent on these items into your vacation fund or some type of savings account.
3. Build cash with a ‘Pantry Week’
For one week each month, from now until your trip, stay out of the grocery store and eat only what you have in your house. If you have kids, make it fun by pretending you’re on a deserted island and can only eat what you have in the pantry. What unusual meals can the kids suggest?
4. Eat out less, save big
A typical family with kids younger than age 6 spends an average of $239 each month on restaurant meals, according to the National Restaurant Association. If your single with no kids and only have to take care of yourself, there is a possibility you may spend more or about the same. That’s money that could easily be diverted to your vacation fund.
Some ways to cut back without going cold turkey: Check local restaurants for “kids eat free” nights (often Monday or Tuesday nights), watch newspaper coupon inserts for buy one entree, get one free dining deals or buy discounted coupons (usually $25 certificates for $10) at Restaurant.com. Check out Happy Hour when restaurants tend to give specials on food and drinks.
5. Make a savings wall chart
Come up with some kind of visual reminder of why your cutting coast, whether it be a picture of the place you printed off the internet or make a chart that shows your goal and keep marking it every time you put money away so you can visually see what you are working towards. If you have a family, get the kids involved by adding stickers and different colors.
6. Sell your stuff
A garage sale is a great way to earn vacation cash from your castoffs. To attract a crowd, run an ad in your local newspaper and post easy-to-read signs around your neighborhood or sell your old clothes to a consignment shop.
7. Use your tax refund
Instead splurging to go buy that new flat screen, hold on to your refund to check and put it in your vacation saving account.
8. Let credit cards pay you back
In the months prior to your vacation, use a credit card that accumulates “rewards”(points or cash rebates) for everything you can: gas, groceries — even day-care tuition.
Let rewards pile up, then use them toward plane tickets (if you’ve been banking points/dollars for a while), hotel or rental car discount, or gift cards for chain restaurants you’ll visit on your trip. You can locate and compare rewards cards at Bankrate.com. The key, of course, is to pay off your balance in full every month. Vacation debt is not the kind of souvenir you want to collect.
All work and no play leaves people pretty stressed out but if you could have just a little time to get away to free yourself from all the madness then sacrificing a little extra every month will be worth it.