Saving for Summer Vacation!
Saving for Summer Vacation: 4 Tips for Success
Spring is upon us, which means summer will be here before you know it! There’s no time like the present to start saving for your summer vacation, especially since you’ve got so much to think about. You need to save up enough money to afford your trip, first of all. Then, you need to create a budget and spend that money wisely. Start planning now, and you’ll be financially prepared for your next trip, whether it’s long distance to Florida or some tropical isle, or closer to home, maybe the rocky coast of Maine, or the beaches of Cape Cod! Here are four expert tips to help you get started.
1. Make a Realistic Summer Budget
Most people don’t realize how much money they spend on vacation until they come home and open their bills. However, it’s not just the airfare or hotel fees that get you. It’s incredibly easy to make frivolous purchases when you’re on vacation (and most tourist destinations encourage it). You can ease your wallet woes by creating a vacation budget that includes the occasional Mai Tai or souvenir. Don’t forget to account for all the little, boring expenses too, like parking fees or cab rides. And, finally, leave room in your budget for miscellaneous expenses, too. Even if you have a superhuman memory, you can’t possibly account for every expense on your trip.
2. Plan Ahead
Saving money for your vacation is hard work. Don’t waste time by paying more than you have to. One of the best ways to save money on travel is to plan ahead and do your research, so don’t wait until the last minute to book your hotel or airline tickets. You’ll get the best discounts when you have time to do price comparisons and book in advance. Airline tickets in particular are notorious for being more expensive closer to the travel date. The prices can change depending on what day of the week you book, too, so try to buy your tickets on a Tuesday or Wednesday. If you book on the weekend, you’ll probably pay more.
3. Save Automatically
One of the hardest things about saving is, well, actually doing it. Instead of bemoaning your lack of self-control, why not just set it and forget it? Bellwether’s BudgetSaver24 program lets you set up regular, automatic payments from your checking account to up to five separate savings account “folders”. Basically, you’re automatically putting money into your savings account and designating it for a specific purchase category, which is pretty neat! Make one of those folders your “vacation folder” so you can automatically start saving for summer today.
4. Use Caution with Credit Cards
Credit cards can be great. When you’re making purchases overseas, for example, they’re a lot safer than debit cards, and you’ll have a much better change of getting your money back if your card gets lost or stolen. If you have a rewards credit card, you can automatically earn points on every purchase for travel-related expenses. That doesn’t mean you should rely on your credit card to fund travel expenses you can’t afford, however. Use your card to make payments that you’ve already included in your budget. That way, you’ll actually qualify for travel rewards in the first place, and you won’t come back from Jamaica with a mountain of debt.
Laura Edgar is a senior writer for NerdWallet.com, a consumer finance comparison website.