(Holly is a guest blogger from Club Thrifty.)
If you’ve been dreaming about a family getaway, now is the time to start scheming up ways to make it happen. While traveling with or without the kids can be an expensive affair, the best deals always go to those who are able – and willing – to plan ahead.
Yes, you read that right. Those who take the time to dig below the surface will find plenty of money-saving strategies to take the sting out of paying for that much-needed trip. And since recent figures from American Express show that the average family of four spent $4,580 per annual vacation, you will probably need all the help you can get.
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First things first. As you transition into planning mode, you’ll want to build a stash of money you can use to actually book your ideal itinerary. Here are 5 strategies that can help you save for – and afford - the vacation you deserve:
Once you’ve decided a family vacation is definitely on the agenda, you’ll want to set up a targeted savings account right away. Saving money for vacation in your regular savings account isn’t the world’s worst idea, but it increases the chances those funds will get used up elsewhere. Don’t let that happen!
Head to your local bank to sign up for a fee-free or low-cost savings account with online account management. Better yet, search for an online savings account that offers a better-than-average interest rate. Once your new account is open, consider any monies you stash away “off limits” except in the case of an epic travel deal you can’t pass up.
Now that you’ve opened a savings account just for travel, you need to pump it with capital on a fairly regular basis. The best way to do this is to save a percentage of your income or a set dollar figure as each paycheck comes in.
It might even make sense to set up automatic transfers with your bank. If you have online account access, setting up automatic transfers on payday can be fairly painless way to take human error and forgetfulness out of the equation. Just “set it and forget it,” and your travel fund will grow over time no matter what.
Staying motivated to save is often easier if you have a sense of purpose or a specific goal in mind. This is where it helps to figure out what type of vacation you hope to take – and how much it might cost. The amount of money you need to save weekly or monthly will rise and fall depending on that amount.
Let’s say you found an epic deal on a cruise out of Miami on Yipit, and wanted to save enough money to take a similar trip over the next six months. If the cruise rang in at $1,000 for your family of four, you would need to save $166 per month, or around $42 per week, to make that happen.
When you take the time to break the numbers down, you can formulate weekly and monthly goals that are easier to manage.
Short on funds? If you repeatedly run out of money by the end of the month, you’ll have to cut your spending if you want to save. And even if you’re doing okay, cutting out some of the “extras” in your life can help you save a lot more than you would otherwise.
To free up extra money for what you really want (which happens to be a vacation at the moment), you should seek out the “low hanging fruit” in your budget – the expenses you can easily cut without too many consequences.
The best expenses to slash will depend a lot on your personal spending habits, but you should start with the easy stuff – money spent on dining out, entertainment, and frivolous purchases.
Most of have heard how you could save $4 per day by skipping Starbucks and brewing coffee at home at least once in our lives. Look for opportunities like this in your own life and cut feverishly until you’ve made a dent worth celebrating.
Before you start hashing out your ideal savings plan, let’s point out the obvious. The more you can save on your upcoming vacation, the less money you have to stash away!
This is where Yipit comes in. No matter where you want to go, Yipit offers access to the hottest deals in travel. From huge discounts on cruises and all-inclusive vacation packages to markdowns on tickets to all your favorite attractions, Yipit is the place to find the savings you crave. As a one-stop-shop, we hook up with partners such as Groupon, LivingSocial, Gilt, Travelzoo, and others to offer the best deals in travel – no matter your budget.
Once your vacation budget is fully-funded, you can use Yipit to make your travel dollars go further.
Fantasizing about the perfect getaway may not cost a cent, but actually getting away can be expensive. These tips can help you build the travel budget you need to afford your dream trip – without too much sacrifice, of course.
Just remember, the earlier you start saving, the more money you’ll have for the vacation you really want. So don’t delay; start saving today, and don’t stop until you have the funds you need to enjoy the trip you deserve.