It's hard in any budget to save money, even if you make what is considered a good income, there seems to never be enough. Or if you are like me on a fixed income, every dime has a place. Nothing is left over, especially for vacation. It's the time in all our lives when we have to make exceptions and get crafty without thinking day to day.
I think in everyone's budget, there's money for that vacation. You may just have to rethink what's important. Here's some of my rethinking and finding money in your house you don't even know you have.
Let's start, somewhere in this list is the money that can go for your vacation. Start in your closets, organize them, go through and make a pile. If you haven't worn it in 6 months, usually you aren't going to. Take inventory of what you think you need for the next season for work, church, even everyday.
Example: You really want a new outfit and love the new look. Instead of buying a bunch of new clothes, look and see if getting a new shirt to go with the skirt you already have makes that "old" outfit brand new. If you have the staples, such as, black pants, skirt, jeans, etc., you can get something new and make a whole new outfit without spending bunch of money. You may find you have things you have forgotten about. Get shoes that go with multiple things. Always buy things that you can make more than one outfit out of by switching it up.
Anything you haven't worn, that doesn't fit, or you just don't like, can be sold at a garage sale. If it's an expensive name brand, then you may want to check out local consignment stores you will get more money for them.
Children's clothes treat the same. If you have different ages then sort and keep what fits, take out what doesn't. Make a list of what is needed. I always look see what's in style and buy discount or at a thrift store. I promise no one will know the difference. The money you saved goes into vacation fund!
Since we now have gone through closets and the house for things not used or needed, go to your garage or storage unit. If you haven't seen it, or used it the same rule applies; sell it. My friend just moved and she had been paying $100.00 per month on a storage unit. When she went to clear it out, half of it she hadn't remembered or it wasn't needed anymore. There she had wasted money on the unit size and didn't even need the things in it for over 18 months. Look at the money that could have been saved.
We all do it, put it away, or store it never to see or need it again. There is more to put in your garage sale. By really thinking, saving money at discount stores, and clearing out unused things one weekend you will make money you never thought you had. It goes in vacation fund.
Recycling is a great way to get money that you literally throw out the door with the trash, or give away to the city. Start by recycling every bottle, plastic container, and can you use. Rinse it out; I have separate trash cans for mine. When the bag is full, I put it in my garage until I have a full load then I take it to the nearest recycling center. If you divide it at home, it saves time there. Wait until you see how much money you get for something most people don't give a second thought to. In my state when you buy it, you pay for it. If I didn't recycle, I would be losing twice over. Don't forget this is vacation money so put in the vacation fund.
Household expenses are another area where everyone can save, utilities today are higher than ever. The rule is, if you aren't using it unplug, turn off lights, turn down air conditioner (block off rooms where it's not needed), and do the same with heating. By unplugging everything when not in use, you will save so much money. Electricity is still flowing to it even if it's not being used, microwaves, lamps, computers, fans, stereos, etc. Just look around at all those outlets. Look at it like it money, because it is money you are wasting. Make a few simple changes, the kids will get used to it. Turning off air conditioner and replacing with a fan when it's not the hottest time of the day will become second nature. Remembering it's vacation money, the time you and your family need to get away and have some fun, and relax get back in touch; if you explain it like that to your family they be more likely to get on board with your new life style of saving.
I have heard of people saving hundreds, yes, hundreds of dollars, by doing this. Think about washing dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher (if you must use the dishwasher, then let your dishes dry naturally), don't do clothes unless it's a full load. I'm sure you can think of other ways you're throwing away your vacation money.
Cable and cell phones are another place to save. If you are in a bundle package always call every three months, usually there is a new promotion going on. Change to it. I found most companies have customer loyalty; mine knows me. I get free channels and when that promotion is up, I change to another one. You may be in a package that you really don't need. Here again think "vacation" and saving money. Do we really watch all those channels? My daughter actually went down in her cable. The response was, "only 99 channels", and this from an 8 year old.
Think about your needs and wants, then you may rethink what you really need. Whatever you decide, you can save money by calling, checking your bills and advertisements (if a company advertises one price and you are paying more they have to by law give you the price advertised). Make sure you are getting what you pay for. Don't pay for packages that you don't need. It may be you might not need so much cable in summer months when playing outdoors is an option or maybe during school time, if activities and homework take precedence over wasting money on cable. One more thing, shop around, they compete for your business whether it's satellite, cable, or a dish network.
Cell phones are very much the same, everyone is getting locked into a 2 year plan. Now there are so many companies and so many plans. I have a no contract phone with rollover minutes. It also has triple minutes which means they give me 3x what I pay for. I can use it, cut back, change my phone habits, etc. and not be penalized for it. Shop around, you may find a vacation is worth more than a child texting continually and having gone over your minutes, where you pay many times over what the original bill was suppose to be. Keep in mind the vacation, everyone in the family seeing a common goal again helps also.
Since this is just the way I live, I have no idea of some of the things you may be doing that waste money, such as paying for lawn care (if you have a teenager vacation may be incentive to help). Don't over water the garden or let water run for an hour in shower. You do pay for it sometime, twice actually, for the hot water heater and the actual water depending on where you live.
Gas, yes we have seen it go higher than ever before, drop and go back up. We all need to rethink how much gas do we need. If you are putting gas on a credit card and paying interest, then you are paying more than the pump says. To stop wasting money, pay cash. More times than not they charge more for using a debit card or charge card (see more on top of interest). Also you can use a computer to see where the cheapest gas is in your area. Drive and do errands at the same time, if kids are at ball practice, for example, you are already out, so do the shopping and other errands while out instead of making several trips. It all adds up to money you could be saving, instead of throwing/giving away. If you can walk or ride a bike, do it, the exercise is good for you. We live in a country where walking to the corner is almost unheard of. Like I said as a whole we need to change and you need your vacation money. Most people are making sure cars are tuned up, tires filled to the right pressure, oil changed, and even some can use a lesser grade of gas (check with your car's manual). All of this gets you more miles to the gallon, meaning spending less money.
Shopping for food, here you can save with a little thought. Check sales, if you get coupons that you use, clip them (save them) some stores have double coupon day. Go shopping at night if possible that's when the bread, meat, and fresh produce is marked way down saving you money. I personally have found going to the 99 Cent store has saved me. I can buy name brands and fresh produce for $.99 or 2 for $.99. When going to places like this (I go once a month), make sure you don't get caught up in buying what is not on your list. It's a very good way to save on things like condiments, staples, toothpaste, batteries, etc. and whatever is in season. It is not a good time to buy junk food; we eat too much of it anyway and vacation sounds so much better without having to worry about dental bills, etc. You may also look to see if there is a farmer's market, you will find big savings there when in season.
Extras offer another place to save, yes the extras like eating out, going to movies, buying things that really aren't needed, and giving in to an impulse. So much money is spent on impulse buying, so make list, only buy what's on the list. Keep eating out to a minimum (if at all). As for movies, rent one, make some popcorn and have a family night instead of spending $50 which with gas and a family of four is about what it would be, if not more. You can even get free movies at the library, as well as games and books for free, so why buy if not needed. Have game night, everyone will have fun and remember we going on vacation this year. It will all be worth it. Being together as a family is what's important, not seeing or playing the latest game or movie. Try making pizza at home, it cost 1/2 as much as ordering out and can be fun as a group activity (make extra and freeze). You aren't wasting gas, no arguments in the car, and the pizza is way better.
Save your change, get a change jar and put you change in it everyday. Some people even like saving their one dollar bills. At the end of the year you will be surprised how much money you have saved and not even missed.
Decide now where you are going on vacation? You have saved hundreds if not way more with the garage sale, lower utility bills, spending less on gas, you didn't waste food (ended up not throwing as much out either), and you have recycled. I am sure that surprised you on how much money you were throwing away there (or giving to the city), your phone and cable is up to date and you aren't over paying.
Now let's find out how to save on where you have decided to go. If you have AAA, they have discounts (even in stores you may shop in to save$), not just on cars, but hotels, parks, gas, and food while on your vacation. If you look on the computer find out everything about where you plan to go. Get the number of the Chamber or visitor's site. I promise they have recommended places where there are so many discounts, like stay somewhere that includes a continental breakfast, has shuttles, does group/family activities. Everyone offers them you just need to do little research. If flying always check more than one site for flights, they change and are competitive, (most also have discounts on rental cars and hotel rooms). Get the most for your buck.
Remember to take travelers checks, you have saved all this money, why not start saving for next year's vacation by not paying interest on a charge card if you aren't paying it off as soon as you get home. Stop giving away your hard earned vacation money and go make some memories.
Source: This is made from my life, what I have learned, read, and do. It does save so much money. Vacations are important, when you do these things it will become a way of life.
By Luana M. from San Diego, CA
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