Savings

Easy ways to build a last-minute vacation fund and cover travel expenses

The winter temperatures mean you’ve been stuck inside lately. Cabin fever has set in, and you’re 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 and on travel expenses.

Build your vacation fund

  • Sell the clutter. It’s never too early to start your spring-cleaning. Take inventory of your house and get rid of what you don’t use anymore. We’re close enough to the holidays that you might still even have some unused presents lying around. Post unwanted items on Craigslist or haul them to a consignment shop.
  • 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’s 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.
  • Don’t overlook discount sites. Peruse online daily deals sites to score great deals on attractions, restaurants, and museum admissions. You don’t have to live in a specific area to take advantage of the huge savings these sites offer.
  • 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 fixings before you head out for your day of adventure and eat out only at dinner.
  • Hostels vs. hotels. Hostels provide a great alternative to traditional lodging, often at a fraction of the price.
  • Look for freebies. If you go the hotel route, seek out ones with free breakfast and Wi-Fi. If you’ll be traveling with children, note that many restaurants also have kids-eat-free promotions on certain days of the week. Don’t forget to check whether the hotels and attractions you visit offer AAA or military discounts.

Spring break doesn’t have to break the bank. With some forethought, you can make the most of your vacation fund, whatever its size.

What’s your favorite way to make the most of your travel expenses? Use our free, monthly budget worksheet to jump-start the financial plan you need to fund your next trip!

Long-term savings solutions

When it comes to saving, 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. So, 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’ll 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 “Saving money: 5 tips for savvier saving” for more information about long-term saving.

Author SAC FCU Managing Editor

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