Top 5 Ways to Save for a Family Vacation this Winter
So you want to go on a family vacation this winter? You should and it’s not too late! Family vacations are a great way to bond, to get to know each other and to relax as a family. They are a great way to make memories and take a break from the everyday. That goes for all types of family vacations, whether you fly to Europe, go all-inclusive to the Caribbean, spend the weekend in a cottage or camping in a provincial park. One thing is for sure, everyone, no matter the budget, should take the time for a family vacation and it’s not too late to plan for a trip this winter now!
Here are my top five ways for getting you to your vacation quicker, no matter what you decide to spend.
Every household should have a working budget. We should all know how much we earn and how much we spend. There are many apps that you can use for your smart phone, but starting with a simple spreadsheet in Excel will work just fine. Budget your monthly income to what you think you will need. Then input what you actually spend and anything left over can be put in your vacation fund.
When you’re setting up your budget be sure to set aside some money for yourself – always pay yourself. 10% of your income is a good start and you can put it in a high interest savings account and use it for your family vacation.
Not only should you budget to figure out what type of vacation you can afford, but set up a budget for your actual vacation. You should have an idea of how much your vacation will cost you before it actually happens.
2. Trim the fat
Trim down on your spending. When you have your budget laid out before you, you can actually see where your money goes and in turn figure out the best places to cut back. Meal planning is a great way to save money. When you plan out every meal for every week, there is little waste and no last minute guessing about what to have for lunch or dinner and therefore no splurges on expensive takeout. It’s great for your wallet and great for your health.
Cut down on fancy coffees – You really don’t need to spend the extra money and you definitely don’t need the extra calories. Indulge every once in awhile; just don’t make them a part of your daily routine.
Have a look at your kids’ activities. Do they really need all of them? Once you decide on what activities you’d like to keep them in, check out your local gym and community centers for activities that might be cheaper but just as good.
Consider spending less on holiday gifts for your kids this year. Spending less on each child and putting that extra money towards your family trip will be well worth it. They likely won’t notice but they’ll remember your vacation forever.
3. Spare Change: Cha Ching
My husband is notorious for carrying around a ton of change in his pockets. At the end of every night he dumps all of it into a bowl in our bedroom. Whether it’s a few nickels or ten loonies — every penny counts. I, too, like to empty out my wallet of change into our change bowl. Once your bowl is full, sort out the change and package it up in paper rolls. I like to involve my kids in this activity, they love sorting and counting money and once we’ve rolled it all up we deposit it into our family vacation fund. It’s great to teach them to save our coins and to see that we are saving for something to do together as a family.
4. Take a break
Cut out big spending for six months. Our society is geared to spend, spend, spend, and once you have your necessities covered — winter coat, boots, hats and mittens — then you really don’t need to spend on anything other than your basic needs. Take advantage of the fact that it’s winter and you will likely spend more nights indoors. Make it a fun challenge for your family! Cut out new items and nights out and play some games together instead. When you do need to make purchases, consider making them online and Google search promo codes. You’ll be surprised on how much you can save!
Sell your stuff and look into clothing and toy swaps in your neighbourhood. As the old saying goes, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” It’s also a great idea to swap babysitting services with friends and family. No matter what your budget is, parents still need time away from kids and babysitting can sometimes cost as much as your night out. What better way to cut costs than to take turns babysitting?
5. Spend Smart
This is a great time to examine the credit cards that you are using. There are so many choices out there right now. Why not use your everyday spending to help you reach your vacation goals quicker? Look for a reward card that helps you use your everyday spending towards benefiting your family.
The holidays are quickly approaching and between buying gifts for family and friends and hosting and going to parties, I find that this is the time of year that I spend the most. This is why it would be clever to apply for a card like the American Express Gold Rewards Card. Charging ‘the holidays’ to your new card (keeping your budget in mind of course) will get you that much closer to your family vacation. You can earn travel rewards that can be used towards all aspects of travel, earn a welcome bonus of 25,000 points and the annual fee waived for the first year.
With this credit card not only will you earn points but you will earn double points for every $1 you spend in eligible purchases like gas, grocery and drugstore purchases. You can also earn double points for every $1 you spend in eligible travel purchases with your card. What I like best about it is that you can transfer your points to other frequent flyer and hotel rewards programs like Aeroplan, Starwood and so many others. I love that you don’t have to fly to use your points, you can pay for any type of travel with them including hotels, car rentals and vacation packages. You can even use your points to cover taxes and fees on your trips!
Who doesn’t like earning rewards on everyday spending? Not only does buying groceries on your card feed your family but it also gets you points that you can use towards important family time. Bonus. You can also get a free supplementary Gold Rewards Card for a family member to use and use their everyday spending to help you reach your travel goals faster. Want to earn an extra 10,000 bonus points? Refer the card to a friend and help them get more for their money too.
Before you know it you’ll be ready to pack for your family vacation. With just a little bit of thought, planning and wise spending you will create memories to last a lifetime all the while earning more points that you can put towards your next vacation.
This article was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this article, however, are purely my own. Stay tuned for information on upcoming Facebook and Twitter contests.