It’s almost Labor Day and the summer is almost over. It goes by so fast. Vacation with the family was great, but it’s actually time to start thinking about your next vacation. Our debt counselors recommend planning and saving for a vacation ahead of time.
The Importance of Saving for a Vacation
Preparing a budget is essential for saving for a vacation. Your budget should cover everything you plan to spend money on. This includes travel agents, flight costs, lodging, meals, entertainment, gas, cabs/car service, spending money, souvenirs, lodging for pets, babysitters, passports, and any other expense you can think of. And don’t forget clothes! We all know we want some new clothes when we go on vacation, so don’t forget to budget them in. You should also plan your activities (e.g., day excursions, theme parks, water parks, tours) ahead of time to determine the estimated cost. An emergency fund for any unexpected expenses is also a good idea. Once you know the cost of your trip, compare it to how much you are able to save. Make sure these numbers line up or find some other ways to save on travel to make it work.
Opening a vacation account is a wise choice. A passbook account is also a great option when saving for a vacation. Putting a little away each week and watching it grow is fun because you know that it is going towards time away with family or friends. Another fun thing to do if you have children is making a vacation jar. Having them contribute to a family vacation will make them feel that they were an important part of the planning process. Give them assigned chores each week and an allowance. Also, saving small change adds up to dollars. Give the children their own spending money for the trip. It will be fun for them to make their own decisions about purchases.
Some important advice: never put your vacation on a credit card. Obviously, if you are making flight reservations or hotel reservations it is the only way to make them, but make sure you pay it off as quickly as you can. Budgeting your trip at least a year ahead of time is a good practice to avoid credit card debt. If you’re thinking of a more elaborate vacation, planning should begin much sooner.
Additionally, if flying to your destination, you will need to start monitoring flight costs to get the best deal. Most credit card companies offer rewards programs with points that earn you flight, hotel, and dining discounts that can help you plan when saving for a vacation. You might want to consider an all-inclusive trip. This will keep the cost down throughout the vacation as your meals and drinks will already be paid for. If traveling with a large group, sometimes house sharing and meal planning is practical, and will save you money.
Vacation is a time to relax and unwind. Knowing that you are financially prepared and without consumer debt will relieve stress and allow you to focus on just having fun!
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.
Donna Conley is the Vice President and has been with ACCC since 1993. As Vice President, Ms. Conley assists the Chief Executive Officer with the day to day operations and assists with the strategic planning and growth of the organization.