As it gets closer and closer to summer, I can’t help but dream of vacation. Being a teacher, I am just as excited as my students for summer vacation to hit so that I can run out of the school with my arms in the air, yelling and jumping around. In my head I picture confetti raining from the upper floor windows, music playing over all of the loudspeakers, and teachers and students waving goodbye, bounding off to enjoy summer adventures. Why can’t we all be as excited to go on vacation as students and teachers are for the simpleness of summer vacation? I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everybody loves to go on vacation. I mean, dream for a minute…are you laying on a sandy beach by the ocean with a drink in your hand? Are you ascending a mountain visualizing the snow flying by as you race to the bottom of the slopes? Or a cruise through the Caribbean? Dreaming about vacation is easy and fun, but the price tag that accompanies it can be a giant weight dragging us back down to reality. Wouldn’t it be great to plan a vacation without the stress of how to pay for any extra expenses that crop up? Your budget can be a great tool to help you do exactly that! Here’s how.
Make a plan!
When my wife and I got married, we decided to delay our honeymoon for a bit. We got married in May, right at the end of the school year and as teachers, we didn’t want to leave our beautiful home in Duluth right at the start of summer vacation. We created a plan to honeymoon in Mexico the following February instead when it is freezing cold. As a bonus, our vacation coincided with a week long winter break from school. Now, we had nailed down the details of when and where, we only had to plan out the how.
Step 1: Our first step of how to make our honeymoon a reality was to figure out how much money we would need to buy plane tickets, pay for our hotel, and have enough spending money to really enjoy our trip. The magic number for us was $2000. We got a small head start from money gifts at our wedding, but still had a long way to go. In nine months we had to save $1500, while still trying to pay extra money towards our student loans, no small feat. Each month we set aside a specific amount that would go directly into our honeymoon savings. Saving small amounts at a time is not glamorous or even that exciting, but as the months pass by, it is so much fun to see the savings add up towards your goals.
Step 2: Extra paycheck month! If you get paid bi-weekly, you will always get two paychecks every month. But twice a year, a beautiful thing happens and there are three paydays in the same month! It is a magical for our budget! Since our budget is based around 2 paychecks in a month, we can pay all of our bills and expenses with just the 2 paychecks. As a result, our third paycheck is all completely extra! We can spend this in any way we choose, and a good chunk goes towards hitting some financial goals. We planned to use about $500 from this extra paycheck month to put directly into our honeymoon savings, and sent the rest towards our student loans. It felt like free money. If you’re not already taking advantage of the wonder of extra paycheck months, grab a calendar and mark them down!
Step 3: The next step of our plan was to work extra shifts at our second job during the holidays when we had time off from teaching. Both my wife and I, in addition to teaching, each worked as front desk clerks at a local hotel. We worked one shift a week during a normal school week, allowing us to make a little extra but still not overload ourselves too much to take away from our primary career. But when we had time off of school, this was prime time to pick up extra shifts and add some padding to our budget. This would provide the few hundred extra dollars we needed to reach our goal of $2000. During this time of savings, we stuck to our budget fiercely and pooled any extra money from each month towards our honeymoon fund. We also avoided unnecessary spending like eating out. In the end we reached our goal, saving $1,500 in 9 months, while maintaining steady progress towards paying off our student loans. We even had a couple months to spare!
Our favorite part of budgeting for vacation was saving enough money to pay for everything with cash. If you want to go on vacation without all the stress of worrying about money, I urge you to to do the same. There is no sense in using a credit card to pay for vacation because it only adds stress and financial burdens when you get home. It was such a wonderful feeling to be on vacation knowing that we had enough money with us to splurge on souvenirs, treat ourselves to fancy dinners and nights out, or do any fun sight seeing that came up. We could spend freely and fully engage our energy being with each other and celebrating our marriage. It was the best honeymoon gift we could have given ourselves.
Wrapping it Up
Vacations are awesome! They are even better when you save money ahead of time and pay cash. The worst way to vacation is to swipe a credit card and go further into debt. Start planning your vacation now by figuring out how much money you will need, save a little each month, and take advantage of extra paycheck months so you can be fully funded and pay cash for your whole trip!
Let Me Know in the Comments
How are you planning for your next vacation? What strategies have been successful for you?
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