7 Tips to Help You Save for a Summer Vacation
Planning ahead for your summer vacation can save you money and simultaneously make the costs more manageable. If you budget year-round for the family summer vacation, you won't find yourself scrounging to cover the expenses all at once.
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The following tips can help you set aside funds all year and may even open the door to vacation options you didn't think you could afford.
Set up a separate savings account.Put the money you're saving for summer vacation in a separate bank account and leave it untouched until vacation bills come due. You may be able to set up an automatic deposit from your paycheck directly into the summer savings account. This is a safeguard against forgetting to put money into the proverbial cookie jar every pay period or choosing to spend it on something else.
Skip one dinner out a week.Even saving $20 a week by forgoing that casual restaurant meal adds up to an impressive sum if you get the jump on things now. Start a savings plan in March for a July vacation and you could net about $450 simply by eliminating a weekly stop at the local haunt. If dinner out typically costs closer to $50, your nest egg could easily hit $1,200. Look at your spending habits and find cheaper sources of refreshment -- ice cream, perhaps, or a treat brought from home.
Let your credit card points accumulate.Most cash-back credit cards offer 1-2 percent cash back on your total purchases. Some offer even more for specific categories, such as travel, so do your homework and check out our blog post on the best reward credit cards. Rather than paying cash or using a debit card for groceries and gas, swipe your rewards card and rack up points. (Reminder: Keep track of what you're spending so there are no surprises at the end of the billing cycle.) For example, if you spend $5,000 with your credit card over the course of six months, you could earn $50-$100 just for buying the things you normally would. The rewards from these cards are not usually taxed, so you enjoy the benefits of the full amount.
Make up your packing list early.Planning ahead saves you from buying items on the fly and gives you the leisure to purchase what you need at the best prices. Search for coupons for the items on your family summer vacation list and keep an eye out for sales. Consider borrowing larger items, such as beach chairs or camping equipment, from family and friends. If you know what you'll be doing a year ahead, you can score huge deals at end-of-season sales. Bathing suits, for example, cost just a fraction of the original price once August rolls around.
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Earmark your tax return.While it's tempting to make a big purchase or a few home repairs when your income tax refund arrives, sock it away in your summer vacation savings account. This can make a big dent in your vacation expenses in one shot. And the timing may be just right, too, depending when you file your tax return. If you file well in advance of the April 15 deadline, you should receive your refund in plenty of time to pay for summer family fun.
Let loose change accumulate.Empty your pockets and your wallet of any loose change at the end of each week. Designate a piggy bank or jar for the entire family to pool their change. Count it up monthly and deposit in your vacation fund; every penny counts.
Put "extra" money towards your vacation fund.If you work at a job that awards bonuses or commissions, label a portion of it for your vacation. Ditto for birthday or holiday money that you don't depend on for monthly bills. Any unexpected income can help you reach your goal even faster.