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The official start to summer is only two weeks away! If you’re anything like us, you’re anxiously waiting to hit the road for your summer vacation. Brandon and I had planned to road trip this year but moving killed that dream. Now, instead of a cross-country road trip we are looking at flights or nearby destinations. Living in West Virginia, we have a lot of major cities within a reasonable driving distance. Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and a host of other major areas are within a couple of hours. That is one of the top reasons we chose to move here.
We are looking ahead to a lot of weekend travels and short trips. I follow a lot of travel bloggers and travel is a big goal for us this year. A couple of weeks ago we sat down to review our budget and make adjustments in order to afford more trips and adventures. Since I know a lot of you are probably feeling the same way (wanting to travel but having a hard time coming up with the money), I wanted to share a few of the things we did to free up room in the budget.
8 ways to save for summer vacation
If you have any additional money-saving tips to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments below. 🙂
Evaluate budget + priorities
Sit down and take a look at your budget. Where are you spending? What are your biggest financial categories? What can you cut or trim to free up extra travel money? We cut back date night to 2x a month and cut our grocery + shopping budget.
Drop or combine subscription services
I was shocked at how much money we were pouring out each month in subscription or auto-pay services. Do you really need Netflix + Hulu Plus + Amazon Prime? Can you cut the gym membership and work out at home? Review the subscriptions you have on auto-pay and look for things to scale back or eliminate.
Negotiate with service providers
At least once a year I’ll call my service providers and ask about ways to reduce my bill. I usually have this on the schedule for March (as part of my spring cleaning routine). If you haven’t done it yet, now’s the time. Call your cable company, utility companies, cell phone company, etc. and ask about promotions, bonuses, or other deals that could reduce your bill. Most of the time they’ll work with you and drop the price. It’s easier to keep a customer than it is to attract new ones and they know it.
Learn the app hacks + tricks
Credit card rewards aren’t the only way to save big on airfare and travel arrangements. There are plenty of tools out there to help you get the best deal. My friend Autumn from Stay Gold Autumn shared this great post detailing how she and her husband bought round-trip tickets to Ireland for under $400 a piece! Seek out budget travel bloggers and follow along for their tips and tricks.
Tighten your grocery budget
For a lot of families, groceries are a huge monthly expense. When I went grocery shopping to fill our new kitchen I was stunned at the amount I spent on food. Insane! It is definitely a one-time thing because I refuse to spend that much on groceries ever again.
To cut your grocery budget, buy in bulk, shop at farmers markets, or start a garden in your own backyard or patio. My mother-in-law bought me this book about home gardening in pots which is a fantastic resource. You can also earn rebates on your groceries by taking pictures of the receipts with apps like Checkout51 and Ibotta.
Be smart + savvy
There are a lot of cost-effective ways to take a vacation if you know to take advantage of the right resources. Use your credit card miles to save on airfare and travel on weekdays rather thank weekends. Check out websites like LivingSocial and Groupon for deep discounts on locations and experiences. Buy tickets through CityPASS and save 40% or more off admission to attractions in select cities.
Think outside hotels
I’m not knocking hotels; hotels are great! It’s just that they aren’t the only option when you’re traveling and you can often score better deals by staying elsewhere. Check your destination for deals on Airbnb or Bed & Breakfast. You can also look around for campgrounds which may have cabins or other rentals available.
If you do stay at a hotel, don’t be afraid to ask for a better rate or a complimentary upgrade, especially if you are a reward card holder. Most reward cards or memberships are free to join. If you haven’t already signed up for hotel programs, do so now and start saving points.
Open a vacation account
It’s actually a little bit ridiculous how many accounts Brandon and I have between us. We have an account dedicated solely for Christmas + holiday spending, another for vacation + travel spending, one for auto-deducted bills, one for day-to-day spending, one for blogging income + expenses, etc. but it keeps us on budget. Setting up a dedicated travel account keeps you aware of exactly how much you can spend on travel without affecting your living expenses.
Once you have the account set up, start sending automatic deposits into it. If you choose an interest-bearing account, your money might even grow while you’re looking forward to your trip. If you deposit $50 a week, you’ll have $2,600 to spend on a summer vacation. Once you’re on your way, using this account keeps you on budget and prevents you from over-spending and facing sticker shock later on.
I also recommend calculating how much you save by doing the other items listed above and adding that savings to your travel account as well.
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Now, grab your push pin travel map and get ready to start recording your adventures! If you have any other tips to help save for summer vacation, I’d love to hear them.