Everybody has at least one dream vacation tucked away in their hearts. And, unless you’re one of the lucky few whose idea of a dream vacation is roughing it in the woods for a few days, that trip is likely incredibly expensive. Heck, even if your idea of paradise is a tent in the woods, you’ll still have to buy a tent and some camping equipment! So where do you come up with the money–especially if you’re already pinching pennies to get by as it is?
You might not be able to see it right now, but there are lots of things that you can do to start beefing up your vacation fund. Here are some of them:
- Pay Off Some Debt
Before you panic, we are not by any means trying to sell you the idea of funding your dream vacation via credit and creating an entirely new pile of debt to replace the one you’re currently paying down. On the contrary! When you pay off your debts, you free up the money that had been set aside for those monthly payments for your vacation fund! Plus, the more you pay on your debts now, the less interest on them you will pay in the long run, freeing up even more money for your vacation savings.
- Choose a Good Savings Account
Most people simply open up savings accounts at the same bank that houses their checking accounts. If your bank’s savings accounts have great interest rates, great! Do that! It’s worth it, though, to do some checking around first. Online banks, for example, often offer a much better interest rate on their savings accounts than traditional banks offer. You want the money you save to earn as much money as possible and the key to it doing that is a great interest rate.
- Learn to Differentiate Between Wants and Needs
Creditrepair.com says it simply and best in an article that discusses teaching kids about money: “People need clothes to wear and food to eat, but people don’t need electronic gadgets and games.” If you really want to take that dream vacation you’re going to have to figure out what you really need to survive and what you don’t. For example, unless you’re a game reviewer, you probably don’t need to drop a few hundred bucks on the new gaming systems announced at this year’s E3 conference. You don’t need to outfit your entire family in brand new and expensive clothes from the mall, when your local thrift shop is filled with equally great and wearable clothing.
Figure out what you truly need to survive and what you can go without (or find cheaper alternatives to) and then put all of that money you’re going to save into your vacation fund.
- Live Frugally
While we’re on the subject of affordable alternatives, now is a good time to talk about ways to reduce your differential spending. For example, instead of going out with friends and dropping $100 on dinner every week, why not have a potluck and game night at the house? Shop at thrift stores and buy furniture from consignment shops and off of sites like Craigslist. You don’t have to relegate yourself to canned spaghetti every night for dinner but there are lots of ways to reduce your spending.
- Sell Your Stuff
What better time to go through your house and declutter it than now? Go through every room and storage space in your house. Touch every single thing you own and ask yourself: “Do I absolutely love this? Do I use this regularly? Will it cause great emotional harm if I get rid of it?” If the answer to all three questions is no, out it goes! But do not toss it into the trash or drop it at Goodwill!
Donating is great for a tax break and helping your community. When you’re growing your vacation savings, though, your first step should be to try to sell the things you’re tossing. Sell things online, have a yard sale, etc. Then, donate whatever is left over (if there is anything left).
- Bring In Some Side Money
We’re not saying you have to start a full-fledged side business, unless you really want to do that. What we’re talking about here are one-off or part time side gigs that can be a great source of cash. There are lots of side hustles that you can use to your advantage. Pick your favorite and give it a go!
The point is this: your dream vacation doesn’t have to be a dream. You can make it happen! Use these tips to start making your dream come true.