Top Ten ways to afford a Big vacation

DSCN0577Saving for a vacation doesn’t have to be painful but it does take some effort, especially if you’re wanting to go somewhere further than within the state lines. The following are hopefully easy ways to make your dream vacation happen.

  1. Go through your weekly expenses and find just one thing you can give up – whether you choose to make it temporary or not- and do it for a set period of time like 2 months or a year if you’re being ambitious. It can be something small like your daily coffee or maybe decide to find another way to work other than driving so you can pocket the gas money you would have otherwise spent.  The motivation with this is you can always go back to having this one thing in your life, you just can’t have it right now.

  2. Setup automatic withdrawals in whatever amount you can afford at the end of each month or week to come out of your paycheck so you don’t have to manually do the work of setting it aside. Every little amount helps so if you can only put away $20 each week, that’s $100 at the end of the month and $1,200 at the end of the year. Call the account the money is going to Vacation fund or something to encourage the deposits so you won’t be tempted to dip into it when you get the itch to go shopping in a moment of weakness.

  3. Do your research on the best deals you can get for the big expenses of the trip. This is going to entail a lot of work up front but it can save you hundreds of dollars if not thousands if you learn basic things like when the off season of the place you want to go which will end up making the trip cost up to half the peak season rate. There are hundreds of websites to find cheap hotels and flights, go through all of them and keep going through them until you find something that is the lowest rate. Research what the lowest rate has been in the past. Know your stuff about costs and you won’t have sticker shock and you won’t be paying more than necessary to get or stay there.

  4. While you’re doing research, figure out a way to avoid paying for taxis or private cars if at all possible. Obviously if you’re going somewhere in the middle of nothing, you’ll need a car but those visiting major cities can get away with using public transportation or even walking.  Iowans don’t have the subway riding experience like other cities to get around but it’s well worth the hundreds of dollars you’ll save to figure out how your vacation city’s subway system is laid out. Taxis are not worth the money if you can put in some basic research on how to get around for less. Most major cities tend to have their star attractions within walking distance of each other or at least nearby. Walk if you can to a lot of the places. You’ll get to see more of the city than being stuck in a taxi and you’ll get exercise in the process.

  5. Find ways to get extra money . Be it a second job or passive income like selling your stuff on ebay, this is a good thing to do anyways. If you have too much stuff in your garage, see if any of it has value and sell it. What good is it sitting in your garage when you clearly don’t need it or you’d have used it at this point? Part time jobs are tricky to get a decent schedule that will work with your normal job but I’ve known plenty of people who’ve been able to work up to 3 jobs at a time so it’s possible. The extra money will speed up how much you end up saving without having to make a big dent on your normal life.

  6. Find credit cards that offer travel deals and sign up for them. This isn’t the best option for people with no or bad credit but there are many credit card companies out there that offer travel incentives if you spend a certain amount of money within a determined time frame like you have to spend $500 in the first 60 days sort of thing. United airlines offers this sort of thing and you can get your flights for free or highly discounted just in points. Credit cards want to attract you to sign up for them so use those incentives to your advantage.   Use the card like you normally would or to pay for large expenses like insurance that you would be paying for anyways. Don’t add extra debt to yourself just to get some reward points but if you can use it on the purchases you were going to make anyways, this helps cut down on your costs without much effort. There are some excellent websites and blogs on this subject and Nerdwallet is one of the best.  Here is a link

  7. Stop shopping. I know this is hard for a lot of people since it’s kind of a national pastime to go to stores and buy things we don’t really need. Every time you are tempted by a sale, say the word vacation or whatever place you’re going and this should stop you. Put a note in your wallet or your purse saying vacation so you have a visual reminder. Put pictures of the place on your desktop at work or on your fridge at home.  I went so far as to hide both my debit and credit cards from myself for 6 months to stop the mindless spending.  Buy the things you need of course but go on a spending diet. You can always go nuts in souvenir shopping when you get to your dream spot.

  8. Give up your vice. Do you smoke? Do you go out to eat way too much? Do you drink? Besides all of the health benefits, this is a fast way to save money on something that isn’t essential. I understand giving up smoking is hard but you need to do it anyways if you want to live a fairly decent life span so why not give it up for the sake of your vacation? Do you really need to drink at a bar every weekend? If you can’t completely give up the vice, find a way to cut back on it at least so you can still save some money. Smoke less per day. Drink at home. Your health and stress levels will only improve once you put your health first and the extra money will be an added bonus.

  9. Go over your credit cards and see if there’s anything that is a recurring cost that you don’t recognize or you can cut. A lot of people will blindly pay their credit cards without actually reading their bills and will miss a recurring $19.99 that you were signed up for when you bought flowers online two years ago.  Check your medical bills and insurance bills to make sure you aren’t getting charged for things you didn’t have done or don’t need.  Insurance bills can be greatly altered by the things you change so be sure to be covered but don’t be over insured. Paying extra doesn’t guarantee you’ll be extra covered if you ever need to make a claim. Insurance companies are billion dollar industries because of this mindset.

  10. Enter contests especially if you’re saving up for your honeymoon. Companies love to hold contests to give away lavish locations and the hotels they give in the prize are usually top notch places. Honeymoon vacations are very popular giveaways in the spring time in conjunction with the wedding season. You will have to worry about paying taxes for it and you may be stuck with paying for airfair, but it’s not much effort to enter the contests and if you win, you can have a great vacation for either completely free or substantially less than if you didn’t win. I’ve never won a contest but I’ve seen enough advertised to know that they’re at least worth the 5 seconds it takes to try.

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