5 Ways to Afford the Vacation You’re Longing For
In a year of being largely confined to quarters, many aspects of our lives were put on hold. Our jobs moved into our homes. Our time with friends moved to video chats and virtual happy hours. And our travel plans were left to the imagination, as we dreamt of vacations we would take post-pandemic.
Now, with the world opening back up, you can use those miles you’ve been saving for the past year. It’s time to escape to warm, sunny beaches or explore snowy mountains. Before you pull out your wallet at your vacation destination, though, it’s important to understand how your finances stand. With these five tips on overhauling your finances, you’ll be vacationing in no time (and with fewer financial worries).
Assess Your Spending
Say you’re at the hotel bar, reaching for your wallet to pay for your Mai Tai. The last thing you want to happen is to have your card declined. So before you book your vacation, you need to know how much money you actually have to spend.
Start by making a list of all your current expenses, from your rent to the gas you need to get to work. If you use your debit card, it’s pretty easy to watch where exactly your money goes. When you’ve added your outlays together, compare the total to your income. Do you still have money left over? Or are you spending more than you’re bringing home? If so, it’s time to make some adjustments in your budget.
Either you’ll need to spend less or take in more. To make your vacation dreams a reality, you may need to add a side hustle to amass the needed cash. You could do some freelance writing or make deliveries for DoorDash or Uber Eats. You could sell those cool earrings you make on Etsy. Wherever your talents and the marketplace intersect, you can find the funds to enable your travels.
Trim Household Expenses
Of course, the other way to solve a travel fund shortfall is to spend less. If you’re looking to refresh your budget, there are several ways you can develop healthy spending habits to help you save.
One area where you can make some pain-free changes in your budget is in your household expenses. Set your air conditioner at 78 degrees instead of 74. Turn off the lights when you leave the room and unplug devices when you’re not using them. You’d be surprised at how much you can lower your utility bill with these behaviors.
You can also form healthy habits with regard to grocery costs. How many times have you gone to the grocery store hungry and came out with a bagful of impulse purchases? It happens to the best of us. Instead of grabbing whatever looks good on the shelves, make a list before you head to the store. This will help curb your temptations.
Another way to cut grocery costs is by planning your meals around what you already have at home. If you have a lot of pasta in your pantry, look for new recipes and plan your meals around them. By forming a few new habits at home, you can have more money to enjoy on your vacation.
Cancel Those Unused Subscriptions
We waste a lot of money on subscriptions we don’t really need, from magazines to streaming platforms. When we initially signed up, we had nothing but good intentions. Now the New Yorker issues are stacked up in the corner, and we haven’t looked at BritBox in months.
Whether you use your subscriptions every day or once a year, you’re still getting charged for them. These costs can add up, and if you don’t make use of your subscriptions, you’re giving away your hard-earned money.
Print out your bank statements and highlight all of the charges that go to subscriptions. If there are some you don’t use enough or aren’t worth the money, cancel them. Keep an updated list of your subscriptions, so you can make a routine of canceling unused services.
As you inventory your subscriptions, don’t forget about those free trials you signed up for. It sounds enticing to try an expensive service for seven to 30 days for free. But once that trial period is up, you’ll start paying for it. When you sign up for subscription trials, write the last day you get free service on your calendar. When you’re canceling your unused subscriptions, cancel your free trials, too.
Opt Out of Takeout
With our busy schedules, convenience is everything. With just a few taps on our phones, we can have coffee, lunch, and dinner scheduled for pick-up. Ordering out has become a part of our everyday lives. But it’s one habit that comes with an expensive price tag.
As you’re reviewing your budget, ask yourself whether you need that $5 latte every morning. That’s $25 for coffee during your work week and $100 each month. Wouldn’t you rather
use it for a night at an Airbnb?
It may seem challenging to cut these daily delicacies out of your life, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Limit your latte runs to Fridays, and make coffee at home the rest of the time. You’ll have a treat to look forward to during the week, and you’ll save money in the process. And when you know your coffee cutbacks will result in an awesome vacation, the temporary self-denial will be worth it.
Travel on a Budget
So you’ve side-hustled and saved your way to a travel fund. Now it’s time to plan that trip you’ve been jonesing for. To make sure your money stretches as far as your vacation dreams, you’ll need to travel on a budget.
If you’re flying to your destination, don’t just look at the top searches that appear on Google. Look for discounts with different airlines. Many airlines offer specials on last-minute tickets, which can save you on airfare. Consider hostels or camping to keep your lodging costs down.
Another way you can travel on a budget is simply to visit inexpensive locations. Cities like London and New York make for a costly trip, but there are many beautiful destinations to be enjoyed. Trade the London Eye for some hiking in northern Thailand instead. (Surprisingly, flights to London and Bangkok are quite comparable in price.) With just a little research, you can find dreamy destinations to add to your bucket list.
Are you ready to take the vacation you’ve been planning throughout all your time at home? Before you leave, don’t neglect to do a quick overhaul of your finances. With these tips, you can save money and know where you stand financially. Money is the last thing you should be worrying about when you finally get a break from your home.