Do you love to travel? Is there a destination you’ve always wanted to go to? That seems to be the case for most of us. Sometimes it’s a yearly destination. Sometimes it’s that daydream “I’d love to go but I’ll never be able to” destination. You can get to either of these places, I promise. As long as you’re willing to budget. No matter where your dream destination is, I’m going to show you how I get to the places I want to go.
For me and my boyfriend, budgeting is a way of life. For some people, budget is a dirty word they want to run far away from. But it’s not that scary when you break it down into small manageable chunks. As they say, what’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The first step is to take out a piece of paper (or open a word document) and list every bill you have. Be sure to note which bills are weekly, monthly, and yearly. This list should include everything from your mortgage or rent to insurance and entertainment costs. Multiply any weekly bills by 52 (52 weeks in a year) and any monthly bills by 12. Add your yearly numbers together to get your total yearly expenses. NOW, this number tends to be large, but don’t freak out on me. We’re gonna break it down into manageable chunks, remember?
Now, as I said, I get paid weekly. Therefore, I’m going to work this budget that way. If you get paid biweekly or monthly (I can’t imagine but I do know someone who gets paid this way) you work your budget accordingly. What we are ultimately working towards is how much money you need to take off your paycheck as soon as you get it cashed (or deposited although that makes it a little more complicated and requires more self discipline). Simply take your yearly expense total and divide by 52 (weekly, change this number according to your pay schedule). Now, in our house, we do not add groceries or fuel for our vehicles to this budget list because we keep that money in our wallet as part of our “live on” money. If you feel like you need to add it in, feel free. After all, it’s your budget and I’m not here to tell you what works best for you.
The next step is to subtract that number from your weekly paycheck. Hopefully it is a steady number, but if you are like me (I work on a “flat rate” number that changes my paycheck based on the work that comes in or is completed that week) it doesn’t. If this number is too close to what you make in a week, perhaps consider trimming out a few things (like cable or netflix?) to slim down your expense category. I can make a post about debt solutions later if anyone is interested. Moving on. Assuming that you have money left over, we take at least $100 more off the top than our expenses. THAT money is where our vacations come from. Well…one of the places. We stick that money in an envelope that we hide in our house, but if we were smart, we would probably stick it in a high interest savings account.
That money adds up more quickly than you think. And if $100 leaves you feeling stretched too thin, find an amount that works for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s $20 a week, because even $20 a week is $1,040 at the end of the year. Which is enough for a decent vacation depending on destination, length, and the size of your family. If you’re looking for that dream vacation, stick that money into a high interest savings account and watch it grow. Make yourself a chart where you can mark your progress and you’ll be there before you know it.
Another way that most people don’t think about to help pad that vacay fund is something my boyfriend has been doing for a long time. He started this habit when we got together and I
made him get suggested a budget for him. He stopped almost every morning on his way to work for a pack of smokes and coffee. When he came home, he put all his change in a tray on his dresser and forgot about it. As it piled up, I started rolling it and stashing those rolls in a coffee can. That spare change adds up because you don’t think it will. We’ve been together 7 years and have paid for at least 3 vacations (all around the $600 mark) with spare change.
The second thing he does is at the end of the week, before he sorts his money from his paycheck, he goes into his wallet. Any $5s or $1s go into an old coffee can. We affectionately call it “the stripper fund”. *Note: neither of us has ever been nor has any desire to go to a strip club (but we don’t judge those who do), it’s simply a name*. That money is another one that adds up as well. Now, he takes the larger bills and either leaves them in his wallet (for extra to “live on”) or removes them to his personal “stuck back” account to buy things he wants, like hunting or motorcycle gear. You could choose to add that money to your vacation fund as well.
Now, to help keep track of making sure all bills are paid and paid on time, (late fees just cut into your vacation fund) I keep a book. It also helps keep a running record of your growing savings for vacation! We’ve found the key is to find something simple that you can turn into a habit and you’ll be on your dream vacation in no time! I’d love to hear your ways you save for vacation and all those dream places you want to visit.