Vacation season is almost here! That also means, that school will be out soon and sports will start getting gear up. And if you’re a mom like me, you probably find yourself half beaten by the time the final school bell of the year rings.
So, in order to make sure that summer doesn’t catch you by surprise this year, let’s get some things planned out.
Make a plan.
Okay, so what do you absolutely want to make sure you accomplish this summer? A family vacation to the beach? A trip to the local aquarium? A must-see concert?
I’m a firm believer that if you don’t plan now for what you want to accomplish, it’ll never happen. For us here in Georgia, the last week of July or the first week of August is when our school year begins. We only get right at 2 months of summer vacation now and I swear it goes by faster and faster every year!
So make a plan, right now for what you and your family want to accomplish this summer.
Start Saving Now
If you’re on the debt-free journey and trying to pay in cash for things, like a vacation you’ve probably discovered that it’s not always that easy. I mean, when you go on vacation using a credit card it’s a lot easier to get lost in the moment – spending whatever you want so long as it’s within your credit limit because you’ll just pay for it later.
However, when you switch to using cash only you may suddenly realize that paying for a vacation in cash isn’t as easy as booking an airplane ticket with your credit card. With cash, you have to actually have the cash in hand to pay for that airplane ticket or to book that hotel room, or to purchase your souvenirs.
So, how do you make paying in cash for a vacation work?
As soon as you decide you’re going to take a vacation, start saving money right away. For instance, if you’re planning to take a family trip next summer for a week to visit your family up north, start saving the money away today, don’t wait until a month before your expected vacation to start saving.
Determine the Price
I know what you’re thinking, “yes, I know that I should save for a vacation, but how do I save for something when I don’t know how much it will be?” For us, I typically scout out places in the area that we are planning on staying at in advance. We pick a few places that we really like and I take the higher price point of those places and use that number as our “lodging expense” number. Granted, I’m certain I can get the price lower closer to our vacation date by booking through eBates, Expedia, or even Groupon, but I would rather plan to pay full-price and receive a discount than to plan on receiving a discount that may never happen.
I do the same thing with airfare if we’re traveling by plane and if we’re traveling by car, I typically calculate our estimated fuel costs by taking the estimated mileage to our destination and figure out how many times we would have to fill up based on our car’s MPG.
By doing this beforehand, I’m able to figure out a rough estimate of our travel costs before we even book anything.
Set the Budget and Automate
Once you know a rough estimate of how much you’re planning on spending while on vacation, determine how much you will need to set aside each week in order to pay in cash for your vacation.
***If you need help creating a budget and prefer a more computerize approach to budgeting, try Personal Capital (it’s free). You can track your goals and all of your investment accounts along with your regular bank stuff!
Let’s say that you are planning your vacation to run you $1,500 and you have exactly 25 weeks before you plan to leave for your vacation. You would then set up an automatic transfer withdraw to your savings account (or your vacation fund – you can use either a separate savings account or separate checking account – just make sure that it is separate from your regular checking account) for $60 a week.
This way, come vacation time, you have the money to pay for everything in cash so you won’t have to reach for any cards!
Related Post: The 6 Savings Accounts You Need to Have (YES! 6!)
Save on Food
One of the best ways to save when it comes to traveling in my opinion is to the take a portion of your dining out budget for your vacation and put it on gift cards to restaurants/fast food places that are going to be in the area you’re traveling. This will help prevent you from going over your allotted budget by making sure that you only have a certain amount to spend at a certain place.
If you happen to be traveling and staying somewhere that has a kitchen, I highly recommend you check out the local grocery stores in the area that you’ll be traveling. Is there a grocery store in town that you regularly shop at and can use your savings membership (like your Kroger Plus Card or a Costco)?
If so, make a plan to stop at the grocery store shortly after you arrive to purchase all the food you’ll need for the duration of your stay. Just make sure you go shopping with a list – I recommend you make it before you leave for vacation. This way you’re not tempted to just buy/write down anything because you’re starving.
Okay, so these are just some of the ways that you can make saving for an all cash vacation easier. I’d love hear what tips you may have for paying in cash for a vacation!
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