The winter temperatures mean you have been stuck inside lately. Cabin fever has set in, and you are antsy for a getaway. But your bank account is as low as the wind chill readings. Here are some quick tips to help you save for a much-needed vacation and travel expenses.
Build your vacation fund
Sell the clutter
It is never too early to start your spring -cleaning. Take inventory of your house and get rid of what you do not use anymore. Post unwanted items online or haul them to a consignment shop. We are also approaching garage sale season, so if you want to get rid of more things this might be a great option.
Collect loose change
Round up all those pennies and dimes you have lying around the house and swap them for cash at your credit union.
Make a couple of budget cuts
Look over your budget and identify how you could tighten it up over the next month or two. A couple of small changes could mean more to travel with. Because it is short-term, you might not even mind missing your weekly dinner out or putting off your haircut.
Save on travel expenses
Think about your destination
Skip the indoor water park and make tracks for a historical point. Presidential museums and national parks make great getaways without breaking the bank. These are also great places to get outside and enjoy the open space.
Do not overlook discount sites
Peruse online daily deals sites to score great pricing on attractions, restaurants, and museum admissions. You do not have to live in a specific area to take advantage of the huge savings these sites offer. If you are going to certain cities, see if there is a card with a one-time fee for multiple attractions that you want to see. This can save you hundreds of dollars on attractions.
Use what you already have
Swap those credit card points for gift cards to redeem at restaurants, gas stations, and more.
Eat out sparingly
Pack a cooler with breakfast and lunch before you head out for your day of adventure and eat out only at dinner. This can be easier to do with the popularity of renting apartments or houses for vacation because you have access to a kitchen for your meals.
There are now so many lodging options! Check out sites like VRBO and Air B&B for different size rentals, whether it is a house, condo, or apartment. Hostels also provide a great alternative to traditional lodging, often at a fraction of the price. If you are still, and always will be, a hotel person, look for hotel and travel sites that give you a discount, and make sure to utilize any free rewards program hotel chains offer.
Look for freebies
Also, if you go the hotel route, seek out ones with free breakfast and Wi-Fi. If you are traveling with children, note that many restaurants also have kids-eat-free promotions on certain days of the week. Do not forget to check whether the hotels and attractions you visit offer AAA or military discounts.
Long-term savings solutions
When it comes to saving for vacation, slow and steady wins the race. If you have a bit more time to build your vacation fund, give this idea a try. Starting at the first of the year, save a dollar for whatever week of the year it is. During the first week of the year, put away $1. During the sixth week of the year, stash away $6. After a year of faithfully following this plan, you will have a vacation fund of nearly $1,400 to put toward travel expenses.
Keep the saving momentum going when you get back from your trip. See our free eBook, The Guide to Budgeting and Saving, for more information about long-term saving. Then use our free, monthly budget worksheet to jump-start the financial plan you need to fund your next trip!
Cobalt Credit Union also offers a Vacation Club account. This account allows you to save starting any time of year and earns interest. This account matures each year on May 1st.
Going on vacation does not need to break the bank. With some planning, you can make the most of your vacation fund, whatever its size.