March Challenge: Start Planning and Saving for Your Dream Vacation Now
Half the fun of going on vacation is dreaming about what you’ll do when you get there. Fresh oysters. Boat rides. Lounge chairs. Room service! The earlier you start saving for your trip, the more cash (and less stress) you’ll have when you arrive.
That’s why this month’s challenge is to start planning and saving for your next vacation now. Here are six steps to get you on that sweet adventure:
1. Decide when to travel. With the summer months approaching, you may be thinking about a summer vacation. But the question here is: Should you take a trip this summer? If you’re debt-free with three to six months of expenses in the bank, then by all means start stocking up on sunscreen and beach reads.
If you’re working to pay off debt or saving up for an emergency fund, that’s awesome! Use the dream of a vacation in the future to help you stay laser-focused on your goals today.
2. Pick a location. The options are endless. The East Coast. The West Coast. The Hawaiian Islands. The mountains. Whether you’re hitting the ski slopes or windsurfing on your favorite island, go ahead and pick your perfect spot before another month goes by.
3. Determine the cost. It’s time to dig into the details. Look up flights, estimate gas mileage, compare hotels, and think about meals. Say you decide to go back to your family’s favorite beach spot. You know you’re going to spend $100 in gas, $800 on your hotel stay, $500 on food, and $400 on entertainment. Looks like you’re going to need $1,800!
4. Put it in your budget. The best way to keep that $1,800 off a credit card is to save the money before you go. Here’s how: If you’re heading out in five months, take that $1,800 and divide it by five. That equals $360 to save each month until your trip.
Meet your money goal each month by creating a vacation line item in your budget. You may have to temporarily cut back on a few flexible spending categories like clothes or coffee. And that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you don’t cut back on any long-term savings goals.
5. Watch it grow. There are two ways to keep up with your vacation money. You can simply make a fund in your EveryDollar budget, or you can auto draft that $360 into another savings account each month. In five months, you should have exactly what you need to enjoy the heck out of your dream vacation.
6. Track your spending when you get there. Fast-forward a few months and you’re in paradise. This is when you can sit back, relax and recharge. But make sure you track your spending while you’re on your trip so you know how much you’ve spent and how much you have left to buy those cute knickknacks and delicious dinners.
EveryDollar Plus makes this super easy; your transactions will be waiting for you when you sign in, so tracking your expenses will only take a few seconds of your vacation time!
Bonus Tip: Sign up for coupon alerts for your destination through Groupon, Living Social, or individual restaurant sites today. It’s totally worth another email if you get half off the city’s best sushi or a huge discount on that dream spa treatment. You can unsubscribe when you get back home!