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Vacation does not begin with “V”

Planning a vacation next year?

I sure hope so. A vacation offers families the chance to connect away from the pressures of everyday life, deadlines, household chores and school. Vacations interrupt the everyday routine, providing opportunities to make memories to last a lifetime.

While most vacationers invest time selecting hotel accommodations, airline tickets and packing lists, many forget to plan how to pay for that vacation.

If you’re planning a summer getaway this year, start saving for it now. (If you are already saving, kudos to you!!!)

According to American Express, the average summer vacation costs around $3,000-$5,000. Most of us don’t have that kind of money lying around so we need a plan. Of course, the alternative (NOT a good alternative) is to charge the whole thing and pay when you get home.  A $3,000 trip, paid entirely on a credit card at 15% interest would cost almost $3,800 if paid off in only three years. Ouch! That $800 could be used for a weekend away midwinter or a head start for next year! Hopefully you agree with me that saving is important. If you’re not sure where to start, try these savings ideas.

Vacation Savings Plan:

1. Set aside a minimum of $50 from every paycheck for your travel fund. If you get paid twice per month, you’ll save $600 by the time vacation rolls around. NICE! (Consider a separate interest bearing savings account just for travel.)

2. Forego the morning drive-thru coffee. I know… You want to do your part to keep Starbucks going. I promise, the company won’t collapse if you skip the non-fat, double-shot, caramel latte for a few months. At a cost of $3/cup (which is low), you would save $15 per week. Over six months that’s a savings of $360!

BONUS TIP: Did you know that Sam’s Club sells syrups to flavor your coffee at home? Check it out here. That’s right, you can have your flavored coffee at home for a whole lot less!

3. Eat out half as much as you usually do. The average American family eats out 4-5 times per week. At a conservative $25 per meal, that’s $100 per week spent on restaurant fare. Dine at home with “semi-prepared” foods such as pre-formed hamburger patties, rotisserie chicken from the deli or frozen meals to heat and eat and cut that spending significantly. A family can easily dine for $10 per meal at home. Doing the math, two restaurant meals is $50 and two at home meals equals $20, saving at least $30 per week. That’s a savings of $720 over six months toward your summer vacation.

Using these three tips, you can stuff that piggy bank with at least $1,680 by the time your summer vacation gets here. That’s more than half the trip pre-paid, no credit card interest… meaning more money in your pocket! Vacation does not start with “V,” it starts with B, for budget!

Share with us… How does your family do to budget for summer vacation?

Other Vacation Budget Planning Resources and Tools:

  • For more vacation budget savings ideas, read this article.
  • Let your house help pay for travel by using these ideas.
  • Dine for less on vacation, here’s how.
  • Estimate travel expenses so you know how much you really need to save.
  • Calculito’s vacation budget planner (a great online tool) can help you plan.
  • When traveling in the UK, consider travel lodge coupons to save.

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