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 five steps to get you on that sweet summer adventure:

1. 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.

2. 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!

3. 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.

vacation savings

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 money goals like your emergency fund or retirement savings.

4. 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.

5. 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!

Start saving for a vacation with your EveryDollar budget, like now! Your week of chilling out awaits.