If you’re dreaming of a getaway this summer, the best thing you could do right now is to stop dreaming and start taking action to save money for your vacation. You still have plenty of time to make small adjustments to your everyday life that can result in a big impact on your travel fund.
The best part is, these ideas to save money can be applied to whatever goal you want, whether it’s traveling, hosting an large event like a wedding or a buying a new car. Try a few of these tips and see how much you can save:
1. Make your vacation fund separate from other savings and checking accounts. This way, you’re less likely to dip into it when you need some extra cash. Plus, that’s what your emergency fund is for.
2. Factor saving for travel into your budget, and then automate deposits into your vacation fund so you don’t have to think about it. Automated savings make it easier to store away cash without spending it first.
3. Sign up for a few email alerts from travel companies and airlines that share flash sales and limited-time-only offers. You’d be surprised at the deals you can find!
4. After you decide on a few places you’d like to visit, research when they have their off-seasons. You can find much more reasonable rates if you’re not traveling there when everyone else is (and smaller crowds).
5. Consider an all-inclusive trip. This will help you keep costs down throughout the vacation, as your meals and drinks will already be paid for.
6. Check to see if your credit card offers a rewards program if you’re not already using one. You can use points you earn for hotel and dining discounts.
7. Streamline your expenses for a few months. Consider cutting out one or two things: Can you substitute web streaming for cable? Bring a bagged lunch instead of eating out? Then, deposit whatever you save each month into your vacation fund.
8. It’s almost spring, so get started on your spring cleaning and sell your unwanted stuff in a yard sale or online. Everything you make can go right into the travel fund.
9. Use coupons and cash back when you’re shopping for things you need. Coupons, whether you print them or use them online, are an easy way to save money on things you’re already buying. If you start clicking through a cash back site before you shop online, you can build up money in an online account and then cash out for extra money towards your trip.
10. Create a change jar and add your spare change to it whenever you have any. Bonus if you can add in small bills, too.
11. Sign up for a library card to rent books, e-books and movies. It’s free!
12. Offer your services instead of buying gifts for a while. Babysitting, cooking dinner or housesitting for friends can be really helpful and needed more than you think.
13. Only withdraw money directly from your bank or your bank’s ATM. These fees can add up quickly.
14. Never go to the grocery store hungry, and always arrive at the store with your shopping list. This makes it less likely that you’ll give in to impulse purchases.
15. Tax refunds are coming up. Though it’s tempting to spend any refund you receive right away, put some or all of it right into your vacation fund.
Lastly, one of the best travel budgeting tips is to total the approximate cost of your entire vacation (factor in transportation, hotel, dining and entertainment), and then divide up the amount you will need to save each month leading up to the trip. If the monthly amount seems like too much, then push your travel dates out further — or as suggested above, cut out some of your other monthly costs. Remember, the total you’re saving for is just an estimate, so aim high to be safe. If you find a really great deal, you might even be able to go away for longer or pick up some souvenirs while you’re gone. Happy travels!
Jon Lal is the founder and CEO of coupons and cash back website BeFrugal.com, which saves shoppers an average of $ 27 an order thanks to coupons plus an average of 7 percent cash back at more than 4,000 stores.