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I’m figuring out our travel budget for the year and I was wondering, how do you really save money for travel.
Everyone’s finances are an incredibly personal journey, I get that. And I am by no means a financial advisor.
However, do you make travel a priority? And is it a category in your budget?
No matter how you plan for travel, I would encourage you to set aside a budget for your travel plans so that it doesn’t sneak up on you.
Do you budget for where you’re going and know you need to set aside a set amount?
Or do you travel to a destination based on what you’ve saved?
Both are valid ways to save money for travel and I talk about them in figuring out a fail-proof budget here.
We’ve done it both ways. I have categories in my budget based on desired destinations, and I have a travel fund that we can use when we may want to take off for a weekend to the beach.
How to Really Save Money For Travel
To truly, actually, really save money for travel (yes, that’s a lot of adverbs!) you have to be conscious about where you put your money. It all comes down to budgeting for travel as mentioned above.
I use, and highly recommend, a budgeting software called You Need a Budget. The concept is that you give every dollar a job so that when money comes in, you have it assigned to pay bills, save for upcoming expenses, and goals such as travel. If you’re familiar with Dave Ramsey, it’s the same concept and allows me to look at what I have saved for a particular vacation, or what I might have extra to travel with.
Creating a Destination Goal
For example, for an upcoming trip, I’ve set a goal and a date by which to achieve that goal. You Need a Budget lets me know what I need to save each month in order to hit that goal. (Yes, I know basic math would do the same, but it’s nice to see the progress bar!)
That goal is a line item in my budget. It’s there staring me in the face because I put it near the top… meaning it’s a top priority after paying out necessities.
Each week when I get paid, I take care of all the bills, big savings, kids’ stuff, groceries, etc. Then with whatever I have leftover, it goes to the travel budget.
Travel is a priority in our house. Obviously, it is a want over a need. But, it comes before new clothes, toys, or dining out.
But setting up categories in my budget to reach those savings goals however, it’s how I can get the money we need to take a vacation.
I love fiddling around with where my money needs to go and how quickly I can reach my goals. It is FUN. You have to try it.
You can check out YNAB free for 34 days, so you get the whole hang of how it works.
Creating a Travel Slush Fund
In creating a fail-proof travel budget, another option I talk about is taking a vacation based on what you have saved, rather than saving for a specific vacation.
YNAB works for this as well.
Maybe you don’t have a specific dollar amount goal to reach. However, once again, as you have all the necessary bills paid out, you can put whatever money you have leftover into the travel budget category.
Then, when you’re ready to travel, you can easily see how much money you have set aside and find the best destination to match.
Maybe you have $500 set aside and you can take a weekend away. Maybe you have more and you can buy that plane ticket to Maui? Either way, it’ll be nice to know you have the money and room in your budget to travel.