How to (Painlessly) Pay for a Vacation: Hint, NO CREDIT CARDS – Part 2
Are you daydreaming about your next vacation? Me, too!
Hello again! As promised, today I’m going to share exactly the things I am doing to squeeze a nine day international vacation into our (already tight) budget.
Let’s start with a quick recap of part 1. First, I explained the process I used to decide which trip would be our best value. Once we chose a trip, I made a realistic list of all the costs. My goal was to include any “hidden” expenses, in order to avoid (costly) surprises. Next, I planned the trip far enough in advance to allow time to save enough money. Finally, I sat down with my husband to have an in-depth talk about our budget. It is important for us to put in writing exactly what changes we’re going to make in order to pay for the trip without using any credit cards. That brings us up to speed and now we’re moving on to the hard part. Saving.
Saving for Vacation (AKA – The HARD part!)
Now that we know the amount we need to save (approximately $2,500) and we have a deadline (November 2018) we know that we need to save approximately $140 per month for the next 18 months. While our budget is already pretty tight, I knew there were a few places where we could squeak out the extra money to pay for the trip.
Like most American families, we spend a TON of money on food. While we don’t dine out as a family very often, I am bad about hitting up the cafeteria at work. It’s a bad habit because the food is expensive and mediocre at best. I also include $10/grocery trip for expensive “splurge items.” After just making a few tweaks to our household budget (by the way, we use Mint.com to track our finances) we realized we could easily afford the trip by next November! Here’s the breakdown. You’ll be surprised how painless it is.
Here are the things I’ve taken out of our budget in order to pay for our trip.
1.) No weekly meal in the cafeteria – savings $7.50/week x 72 weeks = $540
2.) Bring coffee from home – savings $23.40/month x 18 months = $421.20
3.) Reduce grocery budget by $20/month – Savings $20/month x 18 months = $360
4.) NO splurges on makeup (use what I have! There’s more than enough to last! LOL) – Savings $10/month x 18 months = $180
5.) No fast food trips with Chase on grocery days – Savings $20/month x 18 months = $360
6.) No wedding anniversary gift exchange for the next two years – Savings $200 x 2 years = $400
7.) Skip 2 date nights (planned monthly) in the next 18 months – Savings $80/each x 2 = $160
8.) Cancel Audible subscription – Savings $14.99/month x 18 months = $269.82
Total Savings = $2691.02
With just those small tweaks, we’ll save more than enough for our trip. My husband surprisingly tried to talk me out of giving up my cafeteria lunches and fast food trips with Chase. I explained it to him like this, “I can pay $8.00 for a lousy convenience meal a couple times a week or I can make healthier food at home for pennies on the dollar, which then allows me to have more money for what I really want.”
When I broke it down for him, he was so impressed that he also planned out some small changes. He agreed to skipping the vending machines at work and drinking more Kool-Aid/water and less Coca-Colas. I didn’t plan out his changes in our budget, because it’s hard to say exactly how much he spends on those things (they come out of his spending money budget and we each have our own.).
For me, the most difficult changes are going to be giving up my coffee in the cafeteria and giving up my Audible subscription. However, I know there are plenty of places to get free audio books and it won’t kill me to get up five minutes earlier to make my coffee at home.
Staying motivated will be the biggest challenge. I know we will reach a point where it’s going to suck, saving for something so far in the future, when there is something fun we want NOW. However, any time I feel my resolve slipping, it’s fun to log into carnival’s website to see my cruise countdown. Only 510 days! LOL.
We’ll never be perfect at our budget and things will come up. However, by agreeing to the budget and sticking to it MOST of the time, we’ll meet our goal without a lot of pain and suffering or worse, debt!
I cannot wait to put my toes in the sand on the beautiful Bahamian beaches! If doing that means I need to give up my cafeteria coffee for the next 18 months- count me in!
Are you planning a big trip in your future? What are some tips you have for paying for a vacation without taking on any debt? I’d love to know! Please share your advice by commenting below.
As always, thank you for reading. I hope you have a beautiful and blessed day.