Choose a trip based on your budget
Ideally, the first thing we should do is establishing a realistic budget that is within our means and try to respect it as much as possible. One trick I’ve developed over the years when I plan my budget is that I try to allocate a percentage of our income for contingencies like towing expenses and for variables like getting school supplies at the end of the summer. In the past, I always made the mistake of only calculating fixed expenses forgetting about contingencies which meant I inevitably had to use up my vacation budget.
You can use a program like Microsoft Excel to build your own personal budget and include in it a section dedicated to vacation and a special table for you to manage your vacation budget according to what activities you want to partake in during your trip. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada also offers an online budget calculator that gives you a model you can use and modify to suit your expenses.
Finding an affordable trip
When you have made your choice of destination and have an idea of what you want your trip to be like, I suggest you inform yourself of the best times to visit the place of your choice as prices tend to vary greatly throughout the year depending on the period. Also watch the advertised specials on travel booking sites like Expedia, itravel2000 and Var Vacations that are a great way for you to be able to compare prices and services of different hotels, flights and packages that are being offered.
Feel free to also visit a travel agent who can guide you and help you choose a vacation that suits your needs. Try to talk to your family and friends who may be aware of a major deal you didn’t know about.
Changing your habits
Do you usually go to the drive-through every morning to get yourself a good cup of hot coffee and maybe even a donut for you to enjoy on your way to work? Have you been thinking about quitting smoking for years but never had a good enough reason to actually do it? Do you eat at a fast food joint several times a week?
It may be time for you to finally get rid of those bad habits since you actually have a valid reason that should be able to motivate you into action. If you have a coffee machine and a travel cup, it’s time you start using it. When you plan your menu for the week, try to always include fun and attractive options for your lunches so you aren’t tempted to go eat out. If you can you’re ready, stop smoking! It’s very rewarding to see the money that used to be spent on cigarettes now accumulating in our vacation savings account.
Ideas to help you save
Here are some ideas I’ve found helpful to help me meet and respect my budget so I can put aside money for my dream vacation:
- Keeping all my change in a piggy bank
- Immediately moving the dedicated vacation money to my savings account to avoid temptation of spending the unused money.
- Motivating myself by looking at the total amount that keeps growing over time or keeping a visual with me of where I’m going like a picture or the hotel brochure.
- A friend of mine is enjoying the benefits of multiple (up to 5) Tangerine Forward Banking which allowed her to eliminate costly monthly service charges and which pays her interest on every dollar invested.
- Bringing back all my cans to the store and pouring the change into my piggy bank.
Feel free to share your own tips for planning your vacation budget with us and we wish you a wonderful vacation for next year!