There are two pieces of the equation to consider: saving and budgeting.
Everyone has that one place they’ve always dreamed of visiting. Whether it’s relaxing on a beach in California or wandering through the streets of Paris, vacations are a time to explore, decompress and create memories that will last a lifetime.
When it comes to planning the perfect vacation, Stacey Black, a BECU financial educator, says there are two pieces of the equation to consider: saving and budgeting. “Although saving for a vacation can be a challenge, it doesn’t have to be a painful process,” Black explains. “There are easy financial tips available to help you plan ahead and turn your dream vacation into a reality.”
Research and plan
Once you have chosen a potential destination, spend time looking into the costs of anything vacation-related. “It’s not just the big-ticket items like hotels, meals and airfare that add up quickly, but also the smaller items like souvenirs, sunscreen and snacks,” Black says. Are there side excursions to consider? Activities that require equipment rentals? Being realistic about your travel expectations now will help ward off disappointment later.
“If you don’t have enough set aside in savings to pay for the trip, divide the total amount by 12 and plan to save that much each month into a separate account (or divide by 24 and save for two years, etc.),” Black says. “Or look into cheaper options.”
Dig for discounts
Before embarking on your fun-filled adventure, explore travel websites, apps and other sources to see what vacation packages are available for your destination. Your financial institution may even offer great deals as well. For example, BECU members receive exclusive discounts on everything from local sporting events, concerts and food festivals, to national discounts on car rentals and theme parks. Plus, if you’re a BECU card-carrying member traveling overseas, you don’t have to worry about a foreign-transaction surcharge when paying internationally.
Prioritize your wish list
After conducting your research, Black recommends prioritizing the big-ticket items and identifying where you want to invest. Ask yourself: What are your travel needs and where can you cut spending for nonessentials? “For example, are you interested in traveling internationally or domestically? Would you rather stay in a 5-star hotel or explore shared lodging? Vacations can add up quickly, so it’s important to ask yourself these types of questions beforehand to ensure you stay within your allotted travel budget,” Black says.
Use budgeting tools
Once you have set a budget for your vacation, it’s important to stick with it. Spontaneity is fun and there will always be unexpected opportunities to explore when traveling. However, no matter how many new things there are to see and do, you don’t want to find yourself stuck in a hotel room with no funds available for the last couple of days of your vacation, either.
“When I go on vacation, I always use the envelope system to save money,” explains Black. “I will designate a certain amount of money into an envelope for each day of my trip so I know just how much I am going to spend daily.”
Another easy way to track daily expenditures is to use a convenient app like BECU’s Money Manager. “Setting timely alerts – likely daily spending limits – viewing your accounts in one place and managing debt online in real time can make it much easier to achieve your financial goals, and make you aware of when you might be going over budget while on vacation,” Black explains.
Plan for next year
It’s never too early to look ahead and start planning your next vacation. “To help you prepare, consider opening a savings account dedicated just for future trips and setting up automatic transfers (or deposits) to ensure money is being set aside each week or month – treat it like a bill!” Black says. “Saving can also be made easier through opening a certificate of deposit (CD), which has specific fixed terms and interest rates. CDs are locked in for a certain time period, which will help you resist the urge to dip into the account for other purchases.”
As a member-owned, not-for-profit credit union, BECU is focused on helping increase the financial health of its members and communities through better rates, fewer fees, community partnerships and financial education. BECU is federally insured by NCUA.