With spring well underway and most school semesters drawing to a close, many people are looking forward to summer as a time for vacations and relaxations. While summer vacations are a long-standing family tradition, they can strain the pocketbook, especially in a troubled economy.
Between gas prices, food, lodging and entertainment costs, even a simple vacation can quickly escalate into a prohibitively expensive affair. Fortunately, with a little forethought and planning, you can set aside money for a dream vacation and cut vacation costs.
Five Ideas for Saving Money for a Vacation:
1. Have a yard sale. You're bound to have found plenty of items you can no longer use while spring cleaning. Find a way to profit from these items by having a yard sale, posting items on Craigslist or even selling them on Ebay. Set aside all of your profits for the vacation.
2. Set aside your spending money. Can you give up coffee for a few months so that you'll have spending money on your trip? Make it a family venture: Set up a "vacation jar" and encourage everyone to chip in. Add some photographs of your destination to entice donations.
3. Put money aside first. Before paying bills, buying gas or going shopping, put aside a small amount of your paycheck into a place you won't be prone to touch it. You probably won't notice its absence and even small amounts can add up quickly.
4. Cut a few non-essential expenses. See if you can remove a few bills from your spending until it's time for the vacation. For example, you might scale back on your cable, cancel a magazine subscription or cut back on eating out. After the vacation, you can always add it back. Then again, you may discover that you no longer need that expense at all and can cut it from your budget.
5. If you can't go this year, invest in a CD. A certificate of deposit allows you to set aside money in an interest-bearing account. There are some short-term CDs that can be purchased for a few months to a year. If you start now, you can set aside a vacation fund for next year. Not only will you not touch the money, it will accrue interest.
Five Ways to Have an Affordable Vacation:
1. Sign up for updates or alerts from airlines or other travel sites. Also be sure to "like" their Facebook page so that you can take advantage of special offers, contests and other deals. The more flexible you are with your destination, the better your odds of getting a great deal.
2. Book in advance but choose a flexible rate. If you choose a flexible rate for a hotel, you may be able to save even more money by switching to a cheaper option closer to the vacation date. If no better deal comes along, you will still have an affordable room booked.
3. Make connections. If you know anyone in the city you're visiting, you can ask for tips on affordable entertainment, eating and sightseeing venues. They may be able to help you find affordable lodging as well. If you don't know anyone in the city of your choice, you can find a forum or website dedicated to it and find similar information.
4. Do your research. The more you know about a destination, the better you will be able to plan for the vacation. You can determine the peak times to visit, find the hole-in-the-wall destinations and have the most reasonable idea of the journey's cost.
5. Budget for the vacation. Once you know how much you can expect the trip to cost, you can draft up a budget. Give yourself some wiggle room for unforeseen expenses, but be sure to stay within the budget as much as possible.
Although it takes some creativity and advanced planning, it's possible to have an enjoyable and affordable vacation. By starting now you can put a plan into action to ensure that your family's vacation will be a success.
Jessica Bosari is a freelance writer and blogger for various publications and her ownblog. You can read more of Jessica's work here. If you have any comments or questions about Billeater or about saving money, leave your comments in the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!