Here at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, we always support money-mindedness. With that in mind, here are a few helpful strategies to make your summer vacation a smashing success.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Airfare and travel costs seem like a wildly complicated algorithm, but by researching with vacation planning websites, you’ll quickly see certain months, and days of the week, can be much cheaper. Use online vacation booking resources to price-compare and find the best possible rates for your destination. During peak travel times, air, hotel and other expenses tend to rise. Work your trip dates around these times and easily shave hundreds of dollars off your vacation tab.
PLANS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Be flexible - frankly, some travel destinations will be cheaper than others, and so it’s important to keep your options open to new possibilities. Deal-tracking websites for travel, lodging and meals are your friends in this situation; use them to determine a relative sense of how much you should expect to spend there, reducing the likelihood that you’ll blow your budget.
CREATE A TRAVEL ACCOUNT
Keep your vacation savings in a separate account. Setting up a separate savings account specifically for your summer vacation is easy, and will help you keep better track of your money and focus on making that account grow. Contribute to it weekly if you can, and watch your vacation plans grow!
FRUGALITY GOES A LONG WAY
Cut corners. Take a few months before your planned vacation and live frugally. Don’t go out out to eat as often. Studies show that dining out is one of the biggest, and one of the most avoidable, expenses to try and avoid while saving. Take a closer look at your spending habits, and consider how much you are spending on eating out, entertainment or even last-minute trips. Put yourself in a mindset of limiting extra expenses so you can maximize your budget.
ELIMINATE THE BIG COSTS
This one’s a little controversial, but stay with me. Cable television can be a huge strain on your finances, especially if you pay for hundreds of channels you never watch. As the weather becomes balmier and outdoor activities ramp up, consider disconnecting your cable for a while so you can plant those savings into your vacation fund. If you absolutely cannot live without your favorite programs, look into online streaming programs like Hulu and Netflix. And, yes, digital antennas still exist, and you can easily install one at a low cost to watch local and public programming.
USE TECHNOLOGY TO STAY INFORMED
Stay organized with budget apps. Account management is tricky for a lot of people, with or without a vacation on the horizon. U.S. News & World Report recommends using a financial planning app, like Mint, to keep a close watch on your dollars and cents. At SCFCU, we offer a host of smartphone apps that will keep you in close contact with your finances. To use an old but true statement - knowledge is power!
And there you have it - a short but good launch pad for getting your finances ready for that well-earned trip. Have another idea for saving? Did we miss one? Leave us a comment and tell us how you are preparing for vacation! Good luck!