With winter barely behind us, it may seem too soon to start thinking of saving for summer vacation. Road trips with the family and choosing your next swimsuit are a far cry from the 3-foot icicles some of us had hanging from our porches last month. But as you know, reaching your financial goals is all about planning ahead, especially if you want to go anywhere this summer. It’s like Benjamin Franklin once said: “If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail.”
You’ve only got March, April, and May to put any money back before those summer months roll around. But before you worry if it’s actually too late to start saving for the summer vacation of your dreams, rest easy: The Bank of Missouri’s got you covered with some great ideas to help your summer goals become reality. Whether your dream for the summer is to build sandcastles with your kids on the beach, go camping with your friends in the woods, or to skip all the lines at your favorite amusement park (hello, VIP wristbands!), we’ve got 3 fun tips to help you save for your ultimate summer vacation.
Tip 1: Create a budget
If you have an income and you spend money, you need to have a spending plan. Otherwise, you may end up living paycheck to paycheck, and not really knowing where your money goes. So, the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out how much money you have coming in. Write down what your estimated income is for the month of March, the month of April, and the month of May. Then estimate what your recurring bills will be for each of those individual months: your rent/mortgage, utilities, cable, cell phone bill, groceries, and so forth. Then create an extra category for “Summer Vacation.” Subtract all of your bills from your income, and see what you have left over. If you’re confident you can put that leftover amount in savings, then here’s a tip: automate it. The Bank of Missouri has great options for opening savings accounts. Open a new one today, and designate a pre-determined dollar amount to be deposited into your “Summer Vacation” savings account every time you get paid. If you automate it into a savings account as though it’s a bill to be paid, you won’t ever have to deal with the temptation of spending it. Keep it out of your checking account, tuck it away, and forget about it until summertime.
Tip 2: Trim your budget down
Okay, so you’ve set up a new saving account with the bank. You’ve also set up automatic deposits each time you get paid. Way to go! But what if you only have, say, $50 in excess each month? If you’ve only got March, April, and May to save for the summer, you can’t get very far if you’ve only saved $150 for your vacation. Here’s where your creativity comes into play: comb through your spending plan/budget, and see what you can live without for a few months in order to make your “dream vacay” a reality. Could you live without cable or streaming services and only watch DVDs until after your amazing vacation is over? Could you pack your lunch every day for work, instead of eating out? Could you make your coffee at home instead of swinging through the drive thru? Try to make it a game to go through your budget and try to save, say, an extra $200 a month. Or what if you tried even an extra $500 a month? You can do this! Ask yourself, “What am I willing to sacrifice if it means I could give my family members the time of their lives this summer?”
Consider also doing a spending freeze. This is where you decide to stop spending any money at all, except for necessary bills that are on autopay. Take it one day at a time, and put an X on your wall calendar for each day you successfully didn’t buy a single item online or in town—that constant visual reminder can be motivating. Celebrate each X, and try to see how many X’s you can get in a row! Can you X out a whole week? Can you X out two weeks every month? Don’t even buy groceries or consumables these days, if you can. Eat things you have in the house already. Get creative and have fun with it!
Tip 3: Get a side hustle
If you have any skills that could potentially help you pad your summer savings account even more, then consider letting that be known on social media. Are you good at hand lettering? Great—script some cute quotes, frame them inexpensively, and sell them. Could you clean houses or babysit on Saturdays, if it meant you’d get an extra $200 a month ($50 each Saturday)? Would you consider mowing other people’s lawns or helping your neighbors finish their basement? Could you start selling antiques or collectables that are perhaps just collecting dust in your house? Have fun as your brainstorm ways to make some extra summer money. Be professional, utilizing social media as a free way to advertise, and go for it.
There you have it. Three fun ways to help you plan for your ultimate summer vacay. You work hard all year, so make your money work hard for you. And remember, we at The Bank of Missouri are always here to serve you and help you make your financial goals a reality. Happy budgeting, saving, and planning!