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How to Start Saving for Your Summer Vacation

One of the great traditions is the summer vacation. The kids are out of school, and many parents have saved up vacation days or flex time that can be used to go on vacation.

Unfortunately, a summer vacation can get a little expensive. Whether you drive or fly [3], you need to come up with the funds to pay for your excursion. You shouldn’t go into debt for your summer vacation, though. You should come up with a plan to save up enough money for a summer vacation.

What Do You Want to Do?

Your first step is to figure out where you want to go, and what you want to do. You also need to decide how you’re going to get there. For a larger family, it is sometimes more cost-efficient to go on a road trip [4].

No matter what you decide, though, you need to estimate the costs. Research vacation packages and airfare online. If you are going on a road trip, AAA has a calculator that can help you estimate fuel costs for your car, depending on the gas prices in the areas you plan to travel.

Consider food, lodging, and other costs that you might incur as you get ready to go on vacation. When my family took a three-week road trip while I was growing up, my parents had to factor in the cost of doing laundry on top of other costs.

Put together a list of what needs to happen, as well as a list of things you can do to reduce your costs. Look for discounts on everything from admissions to attractions to hotels. Consider that you can save by bringing some of your own food, or by getting accommodations with cooking facilities (and then shopping at a local grocery).

Now that you know how much you will need to go on vacation, it’s time to create a savings plan.

Can You Save Enough for Your Summer Vacation?

You will need to develop a short-term savings plan [5] if you want to save for a summer vacation. Once you know how much it will cost, you need to divide the total cost by how long you have to save until you need to head out the door.

If you figure that your vacation will cost $2,000, and you have four months, you will need to save $500 a month to make it happen. For those who want to go on a bigger vacation, it might make sense to keep this year’s “vacation” to camping and other inexpensive, short-term trips and then save up for a year. I know a family that goes on a big vacation every other summer. In between, they save up for 24 months to get the money needed.

Determine the time frame that makes sense for you, and then get everyone involved in the savings effort. Many children are happy to contribute a portion of their earnings/allowance [6] to help fund the trip. Keep the money in a high-yield savings account [7] to help the money grow a little faster. You can talk abut cutting back on unnecessary expenses to make the vacation happen, or you can look at ways to earn extra money.

No matter how you do it, saving up for a summer vacation can be a fun way to get the whole family involved in a shared financial goal.

What are your tips for planning and saving up for a summer vacation?

(Photo: Ken_Mayer [8])