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How to Afford a Summer Vacation this Year

By Kelly Gabriel

Setting money aside for a summer vacation might be the last thing on your mind when struggling with the cost of living. But once summer rolls around and friends share pictures from their summer vacations, some kind of a holiday suddenly becomes top of mind. If you know this will likely happen to you this year, here are tips that can help you afford a summer vacation even when money is tight. The key is to start planning as early as possible. Here’s how.

Having an affordable summer vacation playing in the water at the lake or at the beach.

Start With a Goal

There isn’t much time to save up a lot of money for a summer holiday, but some time is better than no time. Set a flexible goal and look into options for what you could do rather than what’s beyond your budget right now. For example, to save on accommodation costs, reach out to family in another city and ask about visiting them or swapping homes for a week. Look for specials on air travel and consider taking the train if that price looks better. If you would drive, factor the cost of summer maintenance for your vehicle into your goals. The last thing you want is an emergency repair bill for something you could have prevented.

It’s important to figure out how much money you truly need for a vacation. Spontaneity is great – like booking a last-minute deal – but keep your spending within your budget. Nothing ruins a vacation memory faster than a credit card bill you can’t afford to pay.

Create a Spending Plan to Manage Your Money

The first step to finding some money for a holiday is to create a household budget or review the one you have, if it’s been longer than 6 months since the last time you checked-in with yourself about your spending. It might seem like a lot of work to start with a budget, but without a realistic, current budget you won’t know how much or how little your lifestyle is costing you.

Part of creating or updating a budget is tracking your spending. Most people are surprised by what they learn about their money habits when they keep track of what they’re spending for a few weeks. Try not to spend differently while you’re tracking; there will be time later to do that. When you start, spend normally so that you can get a good idea about what your habits and expenses are right now.

Learn How to Budget Your Money

Look for Ways to Spend Less and Free Up Cash

After you’ve outlined your budget and tracked your spending, you might notice a disconnect. Most people spend more money than they think they do. If you’re one of them, look for ways to cut costs so that you can free up some cash for a holiday. For example, if you’re a single person, start by looking at your grocery shopping habits. It can be much harder to save, so check out these tips specifically for a single person’s grocery budget.

If you’ve got several people in your household, challenge your whole family to find ways to spend less. If you need some ideas about where to start, here are tips for how a family of 4 could save as much as $70 every week.

Spending less is a conscious choice. It means asking yourself if you truly need whatever it is you’re going to buy. If the answer is no, find something else to do until the temptation passes. It means reviewing your bills carefully and looking for ways to only pay for what you need. Contact the utility companies, service providers, and your cell phone company. Ask each one how you could save some money on your bills. Commit to doing this annually and for sure at each contract renewal. And don’t forget subscriptions when you do this; they are silent spenders that might cost you more than you think.

13 Money Saving Tricks to Pay Off Debt or Top Up a Vacation Fund

Safeguard the Money You Save

Once you’re found some ways to save money, set your savings aside to keep it safe. Open a separate account so that you don’t inadvertently spend it. How you add to this account will depend on where you found the money to save. An easy way to save is to set up automatic transfers through your online banking. If you know that you can spend $50 less each pay cheque, take this $50 right off the top when you get paid. Siphon it into your vacation savings account before you can spend it.

If you’re finding money to save by spending less, transfer manually or deposit the cash as soon as you have it. For instance, if you had budgeted to spend $100 on groceries and you managed to only spend $92, get the $8 into your vacation savings account ASAP. By keeping your savings out-of-sight and out-of-mind, you’re ‘tricking’ yourself into a great new money habit!

30-Day Savings Challenge Results in $465

Create a Plan for Your Affordable Vacation

If you’ve done everything you can to come up with money for a vacation, and you still don’t have enough, avoid reaching for a credit card to pay for a get-away. It will only result in stress and misery. Instead, turn your attention to a staycation. They became immensely popular during the pandemic and there are countless websites dedicated to helping you plan a successful staycation. It’s about more than just staying home for a week; it’s actually a change that feels like a break.

30 Ideas for Summer Staycations

Affording a Summer Vacation When Money is Tight

With summer just around the corner and when money is tight, look for ways in which you can spend less right away. Then for next year, continue looking for ways to save each month so that you’re not trying to come up with vacation money at the last minute. You might even look at ways to earn more with a side hustle, find a better paying position at work, pick up a few extra shifts each month, or use your home to generate additional income. Our credit counsellors are happy to review your budget with you. An objective look and professional guidance won’t cost you anything, so reach out. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

 

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