Financial Planning: Six Months to Save for a Vacation

A vacation is meant to be relaxing, so budgeting the money for it shouldn’t be stressful. With some smart financial planning and these money-saving tips, in six months you may be able to save enough for your vacation and enjoy peace of mind in paradise.

Six Months Out: Set a Financial Goal

Determine how much money you’ll need to save for your vacation, and then use a Regions calculator to find out how much you’ll need to stash away each month to reach your savings goal. Open a separate savings account dedicated to your trip. If you have some extra cash coming in on a regular basis, set up an automatic monthly deposit into your new account.

Five Months Out: Audit Your Recurring Expenses

“If you haven’t checked your auto insurance quote in a long time, you might be eligible for a lower rate,” says Miranda Marquit, Financial Journalist and founder of Planting Money Seeds. You might reduce your cable TV package and instead watch your favorite shows through streaming services. You could also review your cell phone plan to see if a less costly one can offer many of the same services you currently use. If the weather is nice, opt for outside exercise instead of a gym membership. Cancel online or magazine subscriptions that you no longer use.

Four Months Out: Make a Meal Plan

Food can eat up a good chunk of your budget, so if you eat out frequently, start planning more meals at home. Look for food items on sale, decide ahead of time which dishes you’ll make, and create a grocery list — buying store brands when possible. “When I did a meal plan, we started saving between $50 and $75 each week,” Marquit says.

Three Months Out: Get Creative with Entertainment

Saving money doesn’t have to mean forgoing fun activities. Instead of going on a weekend dinner date with your spouse or partner, meet for lunch during the week. The meals will probably be cheaper, and if you have kids in school or day care, a lunch date means you won’t have to pay for a babysitter. For family activities, scout out what’s available in your town for free. Libraries, zoos, and museums often host free activities for the family. Also, movie theaters may offer discounted prices on movie tickets prior to a certain time, like 4 p.m.

Two Months Out: Go on a Spending Diet

As you get closer to your vacation, every time you find yourself considering a purchase, ask, “Why do I need this?” If you realize you don’t need it, deposit what you would have spent into your vacation savings fund. You might even find resisting temptation fun. “When every week you’re saying, ‘How much can I save to transfer into my vacation account?’ it kind of becomes a game,” Marquit says.

One Month Out: Find Items to Sell

Take the final month before your vacation to clear out items in your house that you no longer need. Look for toys or strollers you don’t use that another parent can take off your hands. If you have enough items to sell, hold a full garage sale. If not, take advantage of local websites where you can find buyers without having to worry about shipping costs, such as neighborhood Facebook groups.

With a set savings goal and a cash management plan broken down into manageable monthly chunks, you’ll be able to pay for your vacation without worrying about breaking the bank. You can also watch this video on saving for vacation, or use these tips to make your vacation more affordable.