I have a little challenge for you. One you’ll actually like. 🙂
Most people who are paying off debt don’t deviate from the plan and make money for vacation (which is a good call!).
But many of our readers end up taking trips anyway, even when they don’t plan them.
They’re not always expensive Disney trips, they’re usually last-minute visits to see friends or family (which means you still need money for vacation if you’re paying for gas, food, airfare, or lodging!), or they splurge on a small overnight or weekend trip.
What’s surprising though, is how much money they spend when they let it “sneak up” instead of planning for it.
So, today, I’m going to try to convince you to plan ahead and earn the money for a vacation, regardless of your budget and your status on paying debt.
That doesn’t mean we’re touring Europe or anything. Your vacation is going to be aligned to where you are in your journey right now.
If you are new to budgeting and you just want someone to show you what to do, you can grab the 90-day budget challenge here to get you started…
Benefits Of a Pre Planned Vacation.
- Something to look forward to.
- Something to save up for.
- Family bonding.
The best part though? If you’ve vacationed in the past when you’re struggling with money, it’s likely to have come with feelings of guilt.
Either you didn’t plan for it, and you feel like you shouldn’t spend the money on it but you have to (in cases of family obligation) or you want to (for fun weekend getaways).
But this time will be different.
This time, we’re planning with your budget and debt in mind, we’re making good choices and you’re going to enjoy every single second of that well-deserved rest.
And if you need it to, we can plan a vacation that’s free.
There’s a few rules here…
- Plan at least 5 months out. This gives you time to save up.
- NEVER book on a credit card. (That includes holding a deposit on a credit card, if you need to make a deposit, you have to save up for it).
- If you make a deposit it must be refundable.
- You can earn your vacation by making extra money (you get to keep 75% of any extra money earned and the rest goes towards debt or savings.)
Need ideas on how to make extra money? We have a ton here for almost every situation…
- You can also use up to 20% of everything you save each month. So if you spent $950 on groceries last month and only $650 this month, that’s $60 you could put towards your vacation (or something else you want more). The rest of the money saved goes towards debt or savings.
- Plan two vacations. If you don’t make the money for vacation amount you need for your goal vacation, have a staycation all planned out to go on.
Now, let’s plan your goal vacation.
This is the vacation we’re going to try to earn. But we’ll have a backup plan in place as well.
Brainstorm Places You’d Like to Visit.
List a quick estimated cost of the trip (just hotel and transportation). Circle the top 5 based on your favorites and whether or not you think you can earn or save that much.
Hint: If you’ve never made money outside of a traditional 9-5 job, stay under $3,000 🙂
When brainstorming vacations, here are a few things to think about…
- Last-minute cruise deals are great (they usually book within 3 months) if you’re within driving distance to the port.
- If you fly, you usually spend more on the last-minute airfare canceling out the deal. You can get last-minute 5-day cruises for as low as $264 per person.
(You can see all last-minute cruise deals at vacationstogo.com but you’ll need to give an email address to search through the discounts.)
- When going anywhere, Airbnb is almost always cheaper and more comfortable to stay in. We rarely use anything else now. You can even find unique lodging like houseboats and treehouses in most cities. You can search Airbnb here…(we can usually find bookings at $70/night).
- Airbnb experiences. If you love unique things to do (Goat yoga? Silver ring making?) Always check Airbnb experiences for that city. They’re usually well priced and they’ve always been my favorite part of trips.
Hint: you can also check your local area for these too, or create your own as a way to make extra money.
- The only exception to Airbnb being cheaper is if you have a lot of hotel points. I don’t recommend credit cards (let’s be honest guys, we’re the type of people paying the interest and late fees so everyone else can travel hack on points!)
But you don’t need a credit card to earn points. Each brand has their own loyalty program offering points and free stays after so many trips. By sticking to the same brand when you do stay in hotels, you can get up to 13% back in points.
Note: Wyndham’s loyalty program offers the best return, followed by Marriott, Hilton, Best Western, and IHG.
- If you have destinations within driving distance, you can save a ton of money on airfare. An easy way to find hidden gems near you is just to ask on Social Media what the best place to vacation is within driving distance to your town and why they loved it.
- Fit food into your grocery budget: When you vacation for a week, don’t forget that you can usually fit some of the costs of food into your grocery budget. And don’t overlook plate sharing.
On a recent trip to Charleston, we split 3 dishes, usually appetizers, salads, and sides for every restaurant we went to. We ate well and spent less than $35 per meal (at gorgeous upscale Charleston, SC restaurants!) for the whole vacation.
Packing easy breakfasts (like horizon milk cartons, cereal, bowls, and spoons) helps reduce costs too.
Have A Back-Up Plan
Your back up plan will be a free vacation (or as close to free as possible).
Plan a staycation where you take a few days off and have fun around your own town.
While you won’t need to pay for a hotel or transportation, you’ll want to carve a little extra money out for food and entertainment.
Look up Airbnb experiences in your town and then brainstorm a list of things you’d want to do in your town during your staycation. (Need ideas? I have a giant list of unique and fun things to do right here).
Earn Money For Vacation Action Steps
1. Arrange to take a few days off ahead of time. Submit your days off at work. (If you run your own business and are nervous about that… Clockwork and Profit First are both books by Mike Michalowitcz that are business changing. Implement them now and you’ll be able to take off in a few months. Start with Profit First and then do Clockwork.)
3. Let's get to work making some extra money!
We’re making your vacation happen AND we’re putting a sizable amount of money towards debt and savings.
ARE YOU IN? Commit to doing this in the comments!