Vacations can provide better health and happiness, along with increased productivity at work. Despite the benefits, finances cause many families to forgo paid time off from work every year. Recent estimates confirm that American workers only used 54% of paid vacation days.
Even with paid vacation days, families who failed to set aside money throughout the year could wonder if it is feasible to plan a family getaway. Use the following strategies to save the money needed for your upcoming summer holiday.
Start with a Budget
The first step to any getaway is knowing how much money you need for the trip. Without a budget, you will likely spend more than you have and run up debt in the process. The most important factor in the cost is where you decide to travel. Be realistic. If you have not saved ahead of time, you can still enjoy a low-cost regional destination, which can offer many of the same benefits of a more expensive or exotic holiday.
A long weekend trip to the beach or a nearby lake can provide a sense of rejuvenation at a fraction of the cost of flying your family to a destination. Enjoy the outdoors with a vacation to the mountains, or travel to another state you have yet to explore. Outlets such as TripAdvisor can help you plan for the cost of activities and hotels giving you an accurate budget for your trip.
Save on lodging. Where you stay will be a major portion of the budget. You can save money on lodging by finding last-minute deals, vacationing at a less popular destination or less popular time of the year. Other ways to reduce the cost of accommodations include staying with family or friends, camping, house sharing on a website such as Airbnb, cabin rentals in state parks, or home exchanges.
Save on food costs. Eating out three meals a day will drive up food costs. To save money, you can choose accommodations with cooking facilities. Even a microwave and mini-fridge can significantly lower food cost by allowing you to heat up a meal or store cold drinks. You can also bring a cooler, pack picnics, or stay in a hotel which serves a free breakfast to keep costs in check.
Your budget should include the cost of driving to the destination and an allotment for souvenirs. Once you have an estimate in mind, tabulate the number of weeks before you leave to determine the amount you should set aside each week to pay for the trip.
Based on the amount you need for your vacation, and how much time you have before departure, you can cut unnecessary costs to increase savings. Consider eliminating cable for a few months by freezing the account or cutting food costs by eating out less.
One of the easiest methods of saving money is through an automatic transfer. Each payday, put a set amount in a separate account. Some people prefer to put savings in a different bank, so it is harder to access. Leaving funds earmarked for a holiday in the checking account will tempt you to spend the money on impulsive buys rather than save for your upcoming vacation.
An automatic transfer means you only make the decision to save once. Then each payday it automatically goes to a savings account. If your employer does not offer the option to split your paycheck into multiple deposits, you can set up the transfer through your bank. When money is not readily available, you are less likely to spend it on other things.
Earmarking tax refund money can cover all or most of your vacation costs. The average family of four spends $4,580 on vacation, amounting to $1,145 per person. With the average refund at $3,120, the windfall can go a long way to contributing to the cost of your trip.
Every Penny Counts
Almost eight in ten people carry less than $50 in cash on a regular basis. Fifty percent of Americans carry $20 or less daily. When you pay with cash, save the change. To increase the amount faster, save both change and $1 bills at the end of each day. Over a couple of months, it will create a slush fund for your vacation.
Begin a Side Hustle
When you are short on cash, working a side job can help you save money fast. Today, there are many ways to earn money on a temporary basis.
Deliver food: Online companies such as Postmates or DoorDash allow nearly anyone to deliver food to others who order takeout. To ramp up your hourly rate, work during peak hours, and earn bonuses through company incentives. In addition to the delivery fee, you can also receive tips. These jobs allow you to work around your current schedule.
Walking pets/pet sitting: Taking care of animals for others on vacation can provide a solid side hustle without requiring special skills. Advertise your services on websites like Facebook or Craigslist or spread the word to friends and neighbors.
Babysitting: Watching children is not just a job for teenagers. If you enjoy kids, offer to babysit while parents shop, or go on a date. You can also watch children for someone working an evening shift when it is harder to find daycare.
Get paid to teach. Use your current skills to teach others in person or online. People are willing to pay others to learn a second language, play an instrument, cook, or learn a new skill. Another market for tutoring are students who struggle with a subject you know well. Increased competitiveness in school leads parents to seek tutoring for children of all ages and skill levels.
In a survey of 1,015 adults 18+, 66% participated in spring cleaning, which is the perfect time to earn extra money getting rid of items you no longer need or want. Go through your clothes, shoes, books, DVDs, kitchen appliances, and tools to find items to sell. Closets and the garage are great places to find unused items to sell.
If you have not used the item for more than six months, consider selling it. Yard sales and consignment shops are great places to get quick cash. Online options include websites such as Let Go, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, or eBay.
Before you resign yourself to a staycation or forgo a vacation all together, consider using these methods to save money. It is possible to enjoy your summer holiday without adding new debt, even with a late start.