4 Budgeting Tips So You Can Splurge on Vacation
You dream of jetting off to someplace new or spending a week at your favorite hideaway in the mountains. But you don’t want to put all your getaway expenses on credit or take out a small personal loan. To pay cash for your vacation, you need to budget and save.
While sticking to a budget can be a painful process at first, it can help you come out ahead. Many people reap the rewards of trimming costs for items they don’t need or use. Budgeting lets you save enough for a rainy day and splurge on the things and experiences that are most important to you. Here are four money-saving tips to help pay for your next vacation.
If checking accounts and ATM cards usually have one thing in common, fees reduce your income and savings. Banks and card issuers typically rely on fees to make money, but there are ways to get around this practice. Some banks will waive monthly maintenance charges on checking accounts if you maintain a minimum daily balance. Others won’t charge anything if you have more than one account, such as a mortgage and a CD.
However, looking at options outside of traditional and big-name banks can eliminate the possibility of most fees. You can open up an online checking account with a debit card that doesn’t have any recurring maintenance charges. No matter your balance or how often you use the card, you won’t get slapped with a fee. Some nontraditional checking accounts will pay interest or round up card purchases and place the money in your savings.
While tracking what you spend might seem tedious, it can open your eyes to opportunities to save. Money spent on groceries, takeout meals, morning lattes, and household items adds up without a second thought. Other incremental expenses, such as streaming services, can also seem insignificant. They’re not.
While you can’t control the prices set by manufacturers, retailers, and service providers, you can often find lower-cost substitutes. Switch out name brands for store or generic versions unless the name brands are cheaper on sale. Instead of going to a coffee chain each morning, purchase their at-home products at the grocery store. Look for weekly specials on takeout from local restaurants and skip the delivery fees by picking it up yourself.
Minor adjustments like these can create wiggle room in your budget for additional savings. But tracking and reviewing your expenses also reveals opportunities for more extensive changes. Maybe it’s time to check out different insurance providers and eliminate subscriptions and streaming services you barely use. Or perhaps you’ve built up significant equity in your home, and you could afford to downsize. Pay cash for a smaller house, and you’ll save on utilities and maintenance costs to boot.
Reasonable budgets optimize spending, but they also include plans for monthly savings. Emergency funds, ongoing car, home maintenance expenses, and retirement account contributions are usually factored in. Even if the amounts you save toward those categories start small, you can always increase them. Raises, bonuses, and tax refunds could help boost your savings to the recommended 20% of your income.
And you don’t have to designate that 20% to just emergency and retirement funds. Once you have those on track, you can set savings goals for other major expenses — like your longed-for vacation. If you want to take a trip in six months, start with a ballpark figure that includes everything.
Research flights, hotels, transportation options, meals, and outings. Say your ballpark figure is $1,500. For the next six months, set aside $250 each month so you can pay for your vacation outright.
Some people also use the 50/30/20 rule to help plan and save for vacations. They designate 50% of their take-home pay for necessities, such as housing and utilities. Savings and debt payments for loans (other than a mortgage) increase by 20%. The remaining 30% goes toward entertainment or other wants that aren’t considered essentials. You could devote part of that 30% to an upcoming trip. Or you could use it to pay for certain expenses ahead of time, such as airfare.
You may have noticed that online travel sites let you book your airline, hotel, and rental car together. There’s usually a percentage discount on the trip if you do this. Some sites also reduce the price of hotel stays if you pay in advance or book without knowing the name.
Selecting package deals and paying upfront are ways to save on more considerable vacation expenses. And just because you pay in advance doesn’t mean you have to come up with the money now.
Some travel sites let you borrow the cost of the trip using on-demand credit services that don’t charge any interest. You might have 90 days or six months to pay the balance and avoid interest fees. If you haven’t yet saved enough to cover your vacation costs, this is a way to buy yourself more time. Just determine what you need to pay each month before the same-as-cash period is up.
Vacations let you get away from the stress of work and everyday responsibilities. Relaxing on the beach or experiencing new sights and sounds can be good for your health. But it also puts a dent in your pocketbook, and you don’t want to pay more than you have to.
Using careful budgeting tricks, such as eliminating miscellaneous fees and prioritizing your spending, you won’t miss out. You’ll have enough money saved to treat yourself to the trip you deserve.