The pandemic made the last year and a half extra long. You may be ready for a break and to get away once you feel comfortable enough to travel.
You're excited about thinking of places to go and fun activities for you and the family. But you need adequate funds to make it all happen. That means it's time for a budget.
Planning your budget ahead of time can help ensure you have the money you need to enjoy your trip without stressing. Here are eight budgeting hacks to know before your next trip.
Start by deciding where you want to go, when, and how long you want to be there. Research expenses like airfare and rental cars - don't forget extras like baggage fees and rental insurance.
The next big expense is usually hotel rooms. If you need to save on expenses, compare the cost of hotels and vacation rental services like Airbnb. Depending on your needs for space, you may find renting a whole house to be a good value.
Do you plan on going to amusement parks and attractions? Don't forget to add those tickets into the budget as well. Some tourist-friendly cities and attractions offer discounts for ordering tickets in advance. Also, be sure to include a budget for meals and snacks, which are typically not discounted.
It always helps to set aside extra money just in case you run into unplanned expenses. If you don't know how much to budget, shoot for about $2,000 per person.
Families shop and spend money every day. Groceries, school supplies, eating out, and entertainment are typical expenses. You can make these expenses part of your vacation savings plan, and find a way to set aside money for them.
One easy way to save is to find a debit card that offers a round-up feature. When you use this card, the carrier will round up your purchase to the nearest dollar. They will then deposit the remaining money into a separate savings account you own.
You'll be surprised at how quickly those pennies add up and pad your vacation fund.
If your vacation includes travel, especially flying, you can save money by using a travel rewards credit card. When you make large purchases with this benefit, the company will offer you "points" towards airfare. When you are ready to buy your plane tickets, exchange the points to help pay for your ticket.
Using cashback cards and debit cards, like those mentioned above, these actions will quickly help build your travel nest egg. And once you pay for this vacation, you can begin saving for the next one too.
Some families find it difficult to save money when it all lives in their primary checking account. If the money is there, it's okay to spend it, right? That's usually not the case.
Move this money out of sight and temptation's way by setting up a separate savings account just for your vacation. This account is an excellent place for the debit card round-ups mentioned above. Experts also recommend setting up an automatic monthly transfer of this savings account to help it grow. But remember to keep the transfer within your monthly working budget, too.
In today's digital world, there are all kinds of phone apps that can help you save money. From budget management to investing, there is a money app for just about every need.
Some apps partner with stores. When you buy items from that store, snap a picture of the receipt into the app. Then you'll receive points that can be used for gift cards or other items. In addition, some of these apps allow you to purchase through their online portal to receive immediate discounts.
Other apps scan the internet for coupons and discounts. So get your shopping list ready, open your app, and find where to buy your items with coupons. It certainly saves the paper hassles of old-fashioned couponing methods.
If you want to see your vacation account grow faster, consider getting a second, part-time job. Retailers and restaurants are often seeking part-time cashiers and servers, and many hire seasonally, too. This may represent the perfect chance for you to earn some extra money.
You may already be working at hourly rates at one of these retailers. See if you can work some extra hours to cover for any staffing shortages. Some employers are also willing to offer overtime, which increases your per-hour saving efforts.
As a spending bonus, put half the extra earnings into your vacation fund and use the other half for everyday extras. Or put that second half into a rainy-day emergency savings account.
Another way to save money is to cut back on discretionary spending. To do this, look at your receipts for a month. Undoubtedly, you can find items you don't need to buy as often. Then you can put that money into your vacation fund.
For example, you may realize you eat out several times a week. Instead, choose one week a month and eat food you already have at home. Another option for coffee shop fans is to skip the fancy coffee twice a week and brew it at home.
You may find you have several monthly subscriptions for services you don't use, like the gym. If you aren't using the service, now is a great time to cancel and use free fitness apps at home. That way, you'll save money for vacation and maintain your health to enjoy it.
Many families find small cash windfalls throughout the year. These windfalls might be your annual IRS refund or a performance bonus at work. Maybe friends and family will give you cash for your birthday or Christmas.
Add this money to your vacation fund. Putting these unexpected bonuses aside now means you'll have more to spend on your vacation. And since it's money you weren't necessarily counting on, it's a pain-free way to save.
Vacations are something most people really look forward to. Travel provides a change of scenery. It's also a chance to get away from work and the daily grind and get a new outlook on life.
Doing some planning ahead of time and knowing how much you need to save will save you stress. When you're on vacation, you'll have the stress-free confidence of knowing you can afford the fun you're having.