You know you need to get away, but money’s been tight lately. How can you fund that much-needed vacation when there doesn’t seem to be anything extra in the budget? There’s nearly always a way to find the cash, especially when you have the extra motivation of anticipating a few days lying on a beach, hitting the slopes or exploring a new city to keep you focused.
Use Your Credit Card
This sounds counterintuitive—aren’t you supposed to be saving money and not spending it? However, if you have a credit card that offers travel rewards, such as flight miles and discount on hotel rooms, using it for as many of your regular expenses as possible and paying it off each month can help you rack up those points quickly. Some people even charge their rent payments in order to drive those points higher. If you don’t have a credit card with travel rewards, look around for one. Be sure to check out any annual fees associated with it.
Look for Hidden Savings
These are ways to save that go beyond throwing your daily latte money in a jar or staying in to watch a movie instead of going to the theater. What you think of as fixed payments may not necessarily be. For example, by shopping around, you might be able to lower what you’re paying for homeowner’s and auto insurance. You can probably get a better deal for your cell phone. If you have student loans, you should look into refinancing them at a lower interest rate. This could mean lower monthly payments, longer to repay, and you can put the difference away in your vacation fund.
Consolidate Your Accounts
There are plenty of perfectly good reasons to keep your emergency savings separate from any extra savings and your vacation fund, but if you’re trying to increase your savings, it might be worthwhile to consolidate them in one high-interest account even if you only do so temporarily. You could earn a lot more interest on the larger amount, and that can all go toward your vacation. Just make sure you aren’t accidentally dipping into your emergency fund.
Make Savings Automatic
Find out if part of your pay can be directly deposited into this account so that you never see it and so are never tempted to spend it. If this isn’t possible, your bank can probably make an automatic transfer into your vacation account with each paycheck. Make a promise to yourself that if you get any additional payments, such as a tax refund or a bonus from work, you’ll resist the temptation to splurge and put it into the vacation fund immediately.
Get a Second Job
If it’s anywhere near the holiday season, you can probably easily pick up a temporary retail job. For the rest of the year, consider work that you can do at your convenience. This could include driving for a ride-sharing service, tutoring, programming, pet-sitting, editing and more. This allows you to make some money without committing 10 or 20 hours more every week on top of your full-time job.