Monday, December 26, 2011

Vacation saving


Maybe it is too early to start thinking about saving for your vacation, but as we leave Xmas behind, many of us start to think about New Years Resolutions, and going on a vacation may be on that list. I know this is on our list, as we are planning to go down to Australia for my grandsons second birthday in Sept, so I am starting to consider how we can save up for the trip.

There are many effective ways to save for your family vacation. When you spend 40 hours a week slaving at your job, you deserve to have some time to get away from the rat race, relax, and enjoy your family.

Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’ll need a plan for saving up the money you need. While this may seem like a simple proposition, some people find it difficult to lay aside some money each pay period. The key here is discipline.

Open up a separate savings account specifically meant for your vacation money. If your employer offers direct deposit, you can usually specify a certain amount of money be put into this account. Some banks will schedule an automatic direct transfer to your savings account if you don’t have direct deposit or if you are not able to deposit money into two separate accounts.

Examine the amount of money your family spends weekly or monthly on family entertainment and fast food restaurants. Then reduce that amount, storing the remainder away for your trip. So that a pending vacation doesn't become a joy-buster, shop around for freebie and reduced-cost entertainment options to enjoy during the months before you depart.

Another good way to save up money is to save your change. When you use cash, resolve to use only paper money. Then take the change you receive and put it aside at the end of every day. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it can build up.

One family reported that they kept a “vacation jar” in a convenient place and each family member would deposit change and the occasional dollar bill into it. When they emptied the jar and had it counted, they had managed to save $5,000 – enough for them to enjoy a tropical getaway to Grand Cayman Island!

While you may not have that much in your change jar, emptying it at vacation time can mean extra spending money or that little boost you need to go on your dream vacation.

Be sure and involve your kids in the saving venture. This is a great time to teach the valuable lessons of saving and budgeting money.

Look for other ways to add extra cash to the vacation coffer. One family we know would save aluminum cans and take them into the recycling plant periodically for cash. Throughout the course of a year, they managed to accumulate an extra $1,000 for their vacation.

You could have a rummage sale to earn extra vacation cash as well. There are plenty of opportunities out there to add to your vacation savings. You just need to think outside of the box and resolve that any extra cash you get will go toward your family vacation.

You need to budget realistically. Vacations need not be expensive. Budget an amount and stick to it. If you're driving, set a fixed spending amount ($150 per day, for example). Include all of your expenses, gas, meals, admissions, special activities, etc.

Involve your children in the process. Share with them that conserving money on one day allows them to go to a water park on another day. Be creative.

To save money, you can eat only one meal in a restaurant per day. For the other two, prepare your own food and eat in the hotel room or have a picnic. Take turns letting the kids choose the type of food—and, if you are adventurous, the restaurant—each day. This way, the children feel important and it minimizes arguments.

A good point to keep in mind when determining how much you can afford to spend on a vacation is to be sure that you consider other periodic expenses that may be waiting for you when you return, such as back-to-school costs, holiday expenses, and next year’s taxes.

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