The weather is starting to turn and thoughts of travel may be distracting you from your day to day grind. But you’ve got a problem. There’s not quite enough money to afford that dream vacation just yet. What can you do about it?
First off, don’t just give up. Too many people just decide they’ll never be able to afford that trip they’ve been longing for and set it aside. Don’t. Take a hard look at the trip you are planning. In fact, plan out the trip, figure out the costs. Once you have an actual budget you need to meet, look at the available funds. You can even decide to cut back on some trip expenses to make it easier to afford.
Did that bring your dream a little closer? Do you still have a way to go before you can actually make it happen? If so, you need to get some more money into the equation. How? Well, here a few thoughts you can ponder.
If you have some time before your vacation, you can save up some money to make them happen. Find out how much more money you need, maybe even open up a separate savings account to hold the funds you’ll be using. Divide up the amount by the paychecks you’ll get between now and then. Deposit that amount each time. You can set it up for automatic withdrawal each time you are paid to make it even more painless. Some other good tricks is to open the savings account in a more inaccessible spot, a bank across town or in another town, or even invest in short term certificates of deposit. It makes it tougher to use those funds for non-vacation spending without realizing it.
Cut back on your expenses. This can be handled a number of ways. Check through all your monthly subscriptions, gym, phone, cable, internet, streaming services, and see which ones you are using and which ones you can give up. Haven’t gone to the gym in a few months? Cancel your membership and put that money in your vacation savings. Too many unlimited options on your cell phone? Take a look at your usage and save the difference. Can you bundle your phone, internet and cable? Put the savings into vacation funds. How many movie and music subscriptions do you need? Cut back to the ones you use and see if you’d rather cut a few extra and use it for your travel. Try other cuts, like eating out. Pack a lunch instead of buying one. Fix your own coffee before leaving the house in the morning. Check your expenses and save the difference.
If you’ve cut your expenses to the bone already and are still coming up short, see how much you can change your time into money. Do you have some skill you can turn into extra income? Look into some ‘side hustles’ to make a few extra dollars to put toward your vacation. Did you get a income tax refund this year? You should put that money away for travel funds, but in addition, do some calculations to find out how much you can change your tax deductions on your paycheck. Take the difference in your pay and put that into your vacation savings too.
Do you have things you don’t use? Are they worth any money? There’s dozens of ways to turn those dust catchers into cash. Try Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and others. If you have a lot of stuff, you can run a yard sale and sell off bunches all at once. Selling on commission or to pawn shops are also options, but you might be better off working to maximize your profit and move them quickly. Remember to be realistic, on both sides, about the value of the things you sell. Just because it has high sentimental value for you, for example a battered old table you bought for your first apartment, doesn’t mean you can make a lot of money from it. On the other hand just because you don’t see the value doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any. Some of those old comic books might be worth a little more than you think. Some resell for a few dollars, others for a few hundred.
Have you left it until too late? No way you can gather enough money to afford your vacation before the time comes? As long as you will quickly be able to gather that money after, borrowing the money might be a reasonable option. But, just using your credit card, as convenient as it is, can put you quickly into double digit interest rates and make it tougher to pay off that debt. On the other hand, a loan with low interest can score you a much better deal and a set pay schedule which lets you determine the full cost of the loan up front. Just be sure you can pay the loan off quickly, you don’t want one of your souvenirs from your vacation to be long term debt.
You don’t have to cancel your dream vacation for lack of funds. There are many ways, even more than listed here, to gather up the money you need to travel and see the sights. The earlier you start, the better. In fact, if your funds seem pretty limited this year, you might consider a smaller, local trip and save up for the big trip next year. With more than twelve months to plan and save you can make it a vacation to remember for the rest of your life.