Personal Finance

January 13, 2014

Start saving for that summer vacation trip

Planning and budgeting for that summer trip makes so much sense.

As I sat through a subzero day, cooped up inside last week, I couldn’t help but slip back to last summer vacation. I’d give just about anything right now to go back for just one day. The only thing I can do is start planning and saving for next summer.

I didn’t always think this way. Oh sure, I’d always dream of where to go, just never planned how to pay for it. The result may sound familiar. Most of my vacation bill wound up on a credit card.

Planning and budgeting for that summer trip makes so much sense, I wonder why it took me so long.

First and foremost, there’s the debt factor. Setting aside a little money every week or payday can help you cover the cost of the trip before you even get behind the wheel or board the plane. It’s so much better than coming home to a big credit card bill. In my experience, you will also enjoy the trip so much more knowing your expenses are covered in full.

Secondly, you might surprise yourself with what you can afford. What may sound like a lot of money up front may actually be within reach, if you can chip away a little at a time.

Another plus is the excitement and purpose behind regular and visible savings. With each deposit you make – into an envelope or dedicated savings account, some financial institutions like ours even let you name the accounts, (

) – you’re one step closer to being there. The anticipation is fun, and the satisfaction is real.

So how will you get there, wherever there is? Like most things money, it starts with a goal.

Determine a destination, research what you can reasonably afford (transportation, lodging, meals, etc.), and come up with your best estimate of the total trip cost.

Say you’re planning a trip in mid June. That gives you roughly six months to reach your goal. If you need $1,800 for a trip to Mount Rushmore, (

) that means your vacation fund needs a $300-per-month infusion.

Now it’s time to figure out where that $300 will come from. What are you and your family willing to give up? Skipping six dinners out a month could do it. Brainstorm ideas with your family and decide together. If you’re expecting a tax refund, that can go a long way toward your goal.

Don’t get caught up in thinking this requires large chunks of change to work. Whether it’s $5, $10 or $20 here, $50 or $100 there, each dollar is a step in the right direction, one that gets you closer to summer and the vacation we’re all dreaming about right now.

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click

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