Family Holiday Funded: How to Save for a Vacation

how to save for a vacation
The family vacation is a memory children grow up to cherish, remembering the times they spent bonding with parents and siblings, as well as getting their first tastes of what life is like away from home.  Unfortunately, they are also expensive and can be a little tricky to save for—especially when you’re already keeping up with daily expenses. Here are a few tips for saving for that special trip that won’t send you deep into debt:

Cut Back On Your Food Budget

We’re not advocating you make your family go hungry in order to take that much-anticipated vacation, but there are some ways to shop smarter. Cutting back on alcohol and meat in favor of healthier, the cheaper fare can shave a big chunk off of your bill. As can shopping according to when vegetables and fruits are in season or paying attention to your store’s weekly promotions. Frame this challenge as a way to start eating healthier, and you’ll feel less like you’re pinching pennies.

Pick Up a Side Gig

Embrace the sharing economy and earn some cash on the side—whether means getting a part-time job after work twice a week, signing onto a ride share service or babysitting some local kids, but your skills to good use. Put away your earnings from the second job, and don’t touch it until it’s time to start booking that trip. Remember, if you’re saving for a vacation, don’t burn yourself out or let your newfound side job get in the way of your bread and butter gig.

Get Debts Under Control

Pay down debts as much as possible before splurging on a vacation—especially if you’re planning on using a credit card for some of the expenses. Having too much debt can lower your credit score, and send ripples throughout your financial health.  If you’ve got debt spread across multiple accounts, learn more about the benefits of consolidating.

Open Up a New Savings Account

The benefit here is two-fold—first of all, many savings accounts come with a signing bonus of a few hundred dollars, which, you guessed it, can contribute to a plane ticket or a night at a hotel. Second, getting that bank account separates your holiday savings from your regular stuff, meaning you’ll be less tempted to dip into off-limits cash when you are low on cash. 

Look Toward Credit Card Rewards

Consider signing up for a credit card that offers cash back rewards or airline miles. The rewards can be applied to your vacation, and help you save a little extra by making your usual business or personal expenses. The catch here though is, you’ll need to already have good credit.

Sell Your Stuff

This tip only works if you’ve got some stuff on hand that’s in good condition, that people will want to buy. High-quality unworn clothes and shoes can sell quickly on eBay, and things like sports equipment (skis, snowboards, bikes) can net you an extra chunk of change if you try selling to your neighbors. If you’ve got furniture or other large items, try having a garage sale.

Photo: Nathan Richardson

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