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How to afford a vacation
When I returned from our trip to Hawaii, I got a lot of comments. Most of them were positive, but a few were more along the lines of “I can’t believe you got to go to Hawaii” or “I wish I had the money to go on vacation.” I don’t travel as frequently as some (I wish!) but I am still asked how we are able to afford to do the traveling that we do. The answer is surprisingly simple. Priorities.
“How can you afford to go out to eat 5 times per week?”
“How can you afford manicures and pedicures every month?”
“How can you afford Starbucks all the time?”
“How can you afford a $400 car payment?”
Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not judging the choices that other people make. I love Starbucks just as much as anyone else! However, I know that buying Starbucks regularly is pretty hard on the budget. I try to limit myself to special occasions. Going out to eat is easier than cooking at home, but the costs add up. I have actually had someone tell me that I was lucky to be able to travel right after chatting about their brand new truck and the high payment that came along with it. It isn’t wrong to have a new truck, but imagine all the things that can be done without a car payment! I don’t mean to sound like Dave Ramsey (although I do love Dave Ramsey) but again, it’s all about priorities. The number one thing that you must do if you want to save money for anything is to get on a written budget,
How to start a budget
If you’re brand new to budgeting, you’re in luck. It really isn’t that complicated. We currently you You Need a Budget (YNAB) but I have used Every Dollar as well. I plan to do a comparison post soon, but if you plan to connect your bank account they will cost about the same amount. If you have $50 to spare, I love YNAB and how easy it is to use. I have used them both and while I do recommend YNAB, Every Dollar is also a good tool. YNAB also has tons of videos showing you exactly how to set it up and use the software. If you don’t want to do your budget digitally, a budget written on paper is just fine. There is an easy budget in The Total Money Makeover (which I highly recommend reading) or you can find free printables on Pinterest.
Upon starting a written budget, most people find out that they’re spending much more than they realized. You don’t necessarily need to cut all of these things out, everyone needs a little “fun” money. There are many ways to start saving, even simple ways like packing your own lunches. Once you have started your budget and established a vacation fund, figure out how much you can put toward the vacation. Many new budgeters notice that they are spending far too much on non-necessities. If you put that money toward a vacation fund instead, you’ll be off on an awesome vacation in no time.
The best kind of budget, in my opinion, is one that is 0-based. This means taking all of the money that you have and giving it a job. A very basic example of this is making $2500 in a month. This means you have $2500 to designate in your budget. Let’s say your expenses are as follows:
Household items: $100
Car payment: $200
Again, this is a very basic example, but the necessities listed here come up to $2050. This means that there is $450 leftover. It’s good to budget a small amount toward unexpected expenses, so you can put $100 in that category. I recommend building an emergency fund (Dave Ramsey suggests at least $1000) prior to a vacation fund, so for this example I will assume that you have already done that. In our YNAB app, we also designate money for Christmas, car repairs, a new car fund, and of course, the vacation fund. After the $100 for miscellaneous expenses, you have $350 left. I also suggest giving yourselves a little fun money, so let’s say that two adults in the home split $100 for “fun money.” The remaining $250 can go toward the vacation fund. At $250 per month, you can save $3000 in a year!
Keep in mind that is is all about priorities. Maybe you’ve been spending too much on going out to eat, clothes, or manicures. You’ll have to cut back on those things, but the end result is worth it. The “fun money” will help keep you in check. Having that fun money allows you to still do some things you enjoy, while prioritizing the vacation.
I hope that this post was helpful to you in figuring out how to afford a vacation! If you’d like to see more posts like this one, please let me know in the comments below. Should I write a budgeting 101 post next, or do a comparison for You Need a Budget and Every Dollar? Let me know what you’d like to see!
It isn’t about being lucky. Being able to do the things you want to do is about prioritizing and saving.
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