The temperatures are up. School is out. You probably haven’t traveled much over the last two years. Chances are, you’re thinking it’s time for a vacation!
Time away from the daily rat race is just what you need, and it’s been a long time coming. Wait for a second, though. Have you checked prices lately? Gas, airplane tickets, even hotel rooms — it’s all way more expensive than it was a year ago.
Don’t get discouraged. The higher price tag doesn’t mean this vacay (or a couple) is a no-go. It just means you must be a little creative in saving your dollars. The more penny-pinching you do, the easier it is to fund your time off. Check out these seven tips that will help you save before — and during — your vacation.
To get you started, here are some pre-vacay money sock-aways.
1. Avoid Bank Fees
When you’re around town, how easy is it to whip out your debit card for lunch? Or buy that cool T-shirt on impulse? Whatever you’re buying, it’s all taking money out of your account. That’s no big deal unless you’re trying to save up for your bucket list trip to Niagara Falls.
No, you don’t have to stop spending money altogether. But you could hold on to more of your cash if you have a no-fee debit card. Many of these cards offer money-saving benefits.
First, they’re linked to a bank account that won’t charge you extra if you don’t keep a minimum balance. Second, when you spend, some cards have the option to automatically round up your purchase to the next dollar and shuffle those cents into your savings.
Back in the day, magazine subscriptions were the main unnecessary money suck that emptied your wallet. Today, it could be anything — satellite radio, video streaming services, or discount club memberships. You probably put these subscriptions on autopay, and you forgot they’re draining your funds.
If you’re hoping for some sand between your toes, it’s time to review your bank account. You may be surprised by how many monthly $14.99 or $19.99 deductions you have. Be sure you’re using what you’re paying for. Consider choosing your favorite streaming service and saying goodbye to the rest. That could save you several hundred dollars yearly.
3. Grocery Shop Online
Going to the grocery store may be on your weekly to-do list, but it can also be fun. New products are scattered everywhere — each one potentially more tempting than the last. It’s far too easy to toss the latest cookie or chip flavor into your cart. Before you know it, you’re carrying a serious chunk of change in your buggy.
Sidestep the added expenses by doing your grocery shopping online. Quickly click on what you know you need without getting distracted. Sticking to your grocery list can shave hundreds off your monthly food budget.
4. Stick With Refillable Water Bottles
You know you should drink several glasses of water daily. That doesn’t mean you need to run through four or five plastic water bottles. It won’t make the environment happy, and it will drain your wallet.
A 24-pack of water bottles might cost less than $10. If you’re running through several packs a month, it adds up. Consider investing in a good refillable water bottle to carry with you. When you run dry, fill it up from a water filter pitcher in your fridge. The bucks will start to pour into your account.
5. Create Some Money Jars
Do you have a change dish? Just a small spot to empty your pockets? It keeps you from hearing a constant clink or finding quarters buried in the couch. What if you turn that dish into a jar and give it a bigger purpose?
Like the piggy bank you had as a kid, a money jar gives you a place to collect your funds. Instead of nickels and dimes, kick it up a notch. Consider dropping in every $5 that hits your palm. Before you know it, that first money jar will be full and you’ll be on to your next.
Alright, so you’ve stashed away a chunk of cash before you head out for some rest and relaxation. Want to hold on to some moolah while you’re chillaxing? You’re in luck. Here are a couple ways to save while vacationing.
6. Travel During Off-Peak
Summer is the traditional vacation time, but you can be a recreation rebel. Plan your vacation during the off-season when fewer people travel. For example, that trip to Niagara? Skip July and go in early November.
Taking trips at “unpopular” times can save money and give you more bang for your buck. Hotel rates are cheaper, so you can afford a bigger room. You may even find great deals on activities that are typically overbooked. Just check the weather before you book anything — the Caribbean during hurricane season isn’t welcoming.
7. Look for a Kitchen
Yes, a huge part of relaxing on vacation is leaving meal prep behind. Sometimes food just tastes better when someone else makes it for you. Ordering from a menu, though, makes your wallet considerably lighter. Add a few cocktails or glasses of wine, and your budget gets thinner quickly.
Booking an extended stay hotel or an Airbnb with a kitchen can save you a lot on food. Make a trip to a nearby grocery store to stock up on easy breakfast items and ingredients for simple dinners. You don’t have to get fancy. Cooking your own noodles and pasta sauce can put a few $20 bills back in your pocket.
Vacationing is expensive — especially these days. Higher prices shouldn’t keep you from traveling if you want to. All it takes is a little dedication to putting some cash aside. Follow these tips before and during your vacation, and you’ll fund more trips before you know it.