Part of being a good steward over our finances began with getting out of debt and staying out of debt. We put of vacationing for years until we paid off all of our consumer debt.
Now that we are debt free except for our mortgage, we take a family vacation every other year. We save and pay for it 100% cash by following a few easy pre-planning methods.
1-Start saving early. At least six to twelve months in advance. Even before we decide where we are going, we begin saving for our vacation. Where you decide to stash your money can be as simple as a rinsed out pickle jar or an account set up specifically for your vacation fund.
2- Decide on a vacation destination and travel dates. We plan our vacation six months out or even more to ensure that we’ll have ample time to save the money needed. The earlier you choose your travel dates the more time you’ll have to plan and prepare.
3- Research the details of your trip. Free travel guides and internet research will help you figure out what your total cost will be for lodging, food, transportation, entertainment and any other expenses. Now divide your total by the number of months until your vacation. Your answer will be how much you’ll need to save each month for your trip at full price.
4- Feed the pig. Now that you have some concrete numbers to work with you’ll need to get focused on how much you throw in the piggy bank. If the total from step three is unreachable within the time frame you set, consider changing your vacation dates to allow more time to save.
5- Follow the destination discounts. This is the fun part because as you begin to find deals on dining, attractions and more, you’ll see your vacation balance begin to decrease.
6- Find extra money to fund your trip. Not all of us have a built in vacation budget so we’ll need to be a little more creative with our vacation funding. I believe that the sky is the limit in terms of how you can come up with cash for a vacation. I have used survey earnings to pay for vacations and money earned from blogging. You could also take a part-time job or consider creating a business that could fund your vacation.
7- Begin a coin spending freeze. A coin spending freeze takes place when you decide not to spend any coins, only dollar bills. If you use cash only this will be easy to do.
Every time you break a bill, the change from your transaction will be placed into the vacation savings account. This can be done at the end of each day or week.
If you use a bank card more than cash just use the roundup method. Every time you make a purchase instead of recording the exact amount down to the penny in your checkbook, simply round up to the nearest whole dollar.
At the end of the day or week you can transfer the overage amount into your vacation fund.
8- Couponing to a Vacation is when you begin designating your weekly grocery savings toward your vacation. Whatever amount her receipt says you’ve saved, can be deposited into a vacation fund.
You can use her technique to coupon your way to any destination. If you are already couponing you’re half way there.
For this to work you’ll need to set a weekly, biweekly or monthly grocery budget. The goal is to try and come in under budget each month.
Having a grocery, hygiene and household items stockpile really comes in handy when trying to reduce your grocery budget. If your monthly grocery budget is $650 but you only spend $450, you now have $200 to add to your vacation savings.
9- Make a little extra money for your opinion. You can use your time to test on products, mystery shop and provide your feedback for compensation.
10- Don’t go into debt. The final tip is simple. If the vacation is going to encourage you to borrow or neglect other obligations, consider putting it off for a few months. The best part of vacationing debt free is coming home and knowing that you won’t receive any bills 30 days days after your vacation.