It’s no secret that budgets are tight these days, and many households feel like they have to forego luxuries just to keep the budget balanced. However, you shouldn’t deny yourself and your family a little fun – like the occasional vacation. Even if money is tight, with the right motivation, you can save up for fun vacations for the family, as long as you are smart about it.

One of the best things you can do to enjoy a more stress-free vacation together is to plan out your family getaway. Definitely plan where you’re going and what fun adventures you’ll get to do there, AND don’t forget to plan for it financially too. What you can afford will affect where you can go and what you can do for fun. A great online budget planner can help you see and understand your cash flow, which will help you before, during, and after your vacation. Before you even sign up for a vacation package, consult your budget to see what you can afford and what you can do to cut your everyday costs to free up money to add to your vacation budget.

Saving up for a vacation might take a little while, possibly a year of planning, but it is absolutely doable. Here are some tips for helping to make it happen. Try these tips to help you get there sooner:

Saving For Family Vacation Fun Online Budget Planner

Your vacation planning should begin long before you book a flight or even decide on a destination. The best way to save for a vacation is to look at your expenses and lifestyle, then find ways to reduce your costs.

For example:

1 – Embrace cash-back shopping promotions

Numerous stores, credit cards, and other third parties offer cash-back options for shopping online. Even if it’s only 1% or 2% cash-back, that can add up decently over a year or two. The trick is not to increase your spending. Instead, count that 1% or 2% savings as found income and put it to good use in a separate saving account set up specifically to save for bigger purchases like your family vacation.

Some third-party sites like Ibotta, Dosh, and Rakuten are a few resources for other cash-back offers to help you save money over time. We know experiences are mixed opinions with each of these cash-back sites. So let us know what your experiences have been and what your favorite cahs-back sites are.

2 – Reduce your number of subscriptions

It seems like more and more online systems are moving to subscription-based pricing models, and it’s easy to lose track of just how many you’re signed up for – particularly if they’re set to auto-renew each month. Also, don’t forget your offline subscriptions. Create a category in your online budget planner to track all of your subscriptions to keep track of them all.

Take a hard look at these services. How many are you paying for, and how many are you actually using? Do you really need to be subscribed to three different online movie services? Are you really making use of that store-specific discount club like Amazon Prime? How often do you visit that gym you’re a member of or use the system from your online personal trainer?

Don’t forget to look for free alternatives. For example, several video streaming services offer free models. The advertisements are a bit of an annoyance, but they’ll help you save money!

3 – Consolidate your debts

Do you have multiple lines of credit that all require monthly payments? In many cases, these can be consolidated into a single debt, typically with lower monthly payments or lower interest rates than the total of all the individual debts. This is a complicated topic, and you’ll want to do research and work out the calculations to make sure you’re truly saving money. However, it can significantly reduce your monthly payments if you plan things out just right. When you have consolidated your debts as much as you can and still find you have more than one debt, try the debt snowball or debt avalanche method to reduce your debt faster. Using your online budget planner will help you keep track of all of your debts and what you have left owing on them. With the calendar layout, CalendarBudget gives you a clear overview of what money should be in your account on any given day. You can also quickly identify your low points using the high/low balance indicator. From there, you can use your budget to free up money by eliminating unnecessary expenses to pay down your debt faster.

4 – Cut your grocery budget

Chances are, you could be spending less at the grocery store. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Buy in bulk! If it’s non-perishable, you’ll save plenty.
  • Make your own products, such as bread or yogurt. If you have the time to make them yourself, there’s really no reason to buy these, and fresh tastes so amazing.
  • Switch to store/no-name brands. They’re typically just as good as the name brands but at a substantial discount.
  • Review the weekly flyers and plan your meals based on store discounts and sales.

Also, if you start planning meals ahead of time, you can often find ways to combine purchases that will help your meals stretch further.

5 – Sell the stuff you don’t need

Is your basement, attic, or garage stuffed with things you’ll probably never use again? Hold a garage sale, sell them on Facebook Marketplace, or auction them off on eBay. Even if you only get a fraction of the original price, it’s much better than nothing – and you’ll free up space in your house too.

Making The Most Of Your Vacation Savings

So, once you’ve got money saved up, how can you keep your vacation expenses reasonable?

1 – Be flexible about travel dates

Travel expenses vary wildly day-to-day. Weekends are typically more expensive than weekdays, and of course, holidays always have inflated travel prices. However, if you plan your vacation to begin and end on less-popular travel days, you could drastically slash your travel costs.

2 – Pick a type of vacation, then the specific destination

Don’t go into vacation planning set on a particular place, i.e., “I’m going to Disney World!” Disney is incredibly expensive, and there are plenty of other less-expensive theme park resorts around the country. Or, if you want a ski vacation, you don’t have to go to Colorado. Less popular ski resorts exist as well while still providing excellent slopes.

Plus, if you choose one of these second-tier options, you’ll likely see fewer crowds and might have a better time overall.

3 – Partner up with another family

Do you have family friends, coworkers, or friendly neighbors who also want to go on vacation? Going as a larger group will virtually guarantee lower per-person rates for many of your expenses, especially lodging and food. You might even make some new best friends along the way.

4 – Keep checking prices, even after you book

You never know when a great deal will hit the online shops. In some cases, you could potentially cancel one booking – even if there’s a fee attached – and still save money by switching to another provider. This is because you aren’t locked into a particular vendor or service until you’re actually using them.

5 – Set a hard limit on food and souvenirs 

It’s easy to lose track of your spending on vacation, and many resort destinations actively do what they can to help you get lost in having fun that you forget to keep track of costs. For example, when they ‘conveniently’ bill items directly to your hotel room, you won’t be noticing your cash flow.

Always watch the price tags, and have a per-diem or daily allowance budget set in stone. Don’t let them manipulate you into overpaying for cheap trinkets or inflated fast food.

Be Budget Friendly To Make Your Vacations Possible

Make your budget your friend in the pre-vacation stage as you work on saving money for your vacation. Your online budget planner will help you see where you are overspending using your categories, daily balances, and reports. Then, reduce these expenses and use that found money to reduce your debt faster and pay for your family vacation expenses.

Your budget can further help you determine how much you have to invest in your holiday so you can find packages and activities that fit the available funds. Don’t forget to track each of your expenses in your online budget planner while you’re traveling. This will help you stay on budget and give you a track record to plan for future travel expenses.

Some of our fondest vacation memories have had little to no cost. My favorite inexpensive holiday I heard about was my in-laws’ favorite trip. They set off in the car with no particular destination in mind. When they hit a fork in the road, they flipped a coin to see which way they would turn. They watched for places to stay along their travels. Sometimes they camped or used other less costly lodgings. I believe they stayed in their car a time or two as well. They’d enjoy looking out for any obscure landmarks along their travels. We broke up our travel time seeing, for free, “Carhenge” (a replica of England’s Stonehenge made of cars) in Alliance, Nebraska. We enjoyed their little souvenir shop to keep a little reminder of a very cool obscure find.

Contact CalendarBudget for more about our innovative online budget planner!

Building some fun family memories doesn’t have to be a thing of the past or only a dream. Make a plan for it and make it happen. CalendarBudget offers a top-quality online budget planner that everyone can use! So get a head start saving for your next vacation by working through our FREE budgeting course!