If you are broke like many other Americans who are struggling with the bad economy on a weak paycheck, you might think it is impossible to save for a family vacation. If you are tired of just dreaming about a trip to Disney Land or Even a trip to the beach, now is the time to get serious about saving for a trip. If you want FREE Money for a vacation, you don’t need to apply anywhere because no one is going to give you a free vacation. Not even The Obama administration gives those types of handouts. If you want free money for your next family vacation, you will find it in your own bank account after following these tips on how to save for a family vacation.
Here are several ways you can save enough money for 9 or 10 months to take that family vacation you have been dreaming about. Get the entire family to help commit to these changes and surprisingly, what seems like a sacrifice can be a lot of fun.
Skip the Cable or Direct TV
With everything accessible on the Internet you almost don’t even need a TV these days. Watch your TV shows at hulu.com or fancast.com. You can even watch an entire series you missed the year before. If you are a huge NFL fan, watch your favorite football games at a local pub. Order a soda and a small appetizer only, but watch your meal spending or this could add up to the same cost or more than your cable bill. You could even talk to a few friends who want to save money and share a cable bill at someone else’s house in order to watch the games together.
Skip the Internet
WIFI is available for free at many places including Coffee Shops, Bread Companies, even many of the McDonald’s locations. Some local ordinances even provide free WIFI at the local parks through the Recreation and Parks Department. If you don’t use the Internet that much, you might want to consider using it at local establishments for free. Of course if you skip the cable and the Internet, you better be prepared for a serious lifestyle change. If you have a DVD player and a huge library of movies, you probably could do without both, but give it some serious thought or you might go insane. I did this for 2 years and it really improved the quality of my family and social life. TV can be a brain sucker and living without it can either drive you insane or make you incredibly happy.
Get Rid of Your Home Phone
If you have a cell phone, get rid of your home phone. If you have kids at home, get a second line on your cell phone and tell them it has to stay in the house. The second line on a basic cell phone plan is typically $5 or $10 more. If you get unlimited text messaging, the kids can text you in an emergency and you won’t have to add extra minutes to your plan. Unlimited text is typically only $15 per month and some phone plans are free with the second line. This is less expensive than a home phone line that will cost you a minimum of $30 to $45 per month with just the basic service.
Plan to Run Errands All at Once
By running your errands all at one time, you can save on gas expense for multiple trips. Get all the groceries you need at the same time one day per week and pay all your bills on line or at one location so you don’t have to run around paying bills all the time. Running errands is not only a waste of gas, it wastes a lot of your time and as the saying goes, “time is money.”
Speeding Tickets can be costly. When you get a speeding ticket, you might have to pay large fines and court fees or attorney’s fees to avoid points off being taken off your license. When you speed there is always and increased possibility of car accidents, which can also be costly. Having tickets or accidents reported to your insurance company will also cause your premiums to go up and you will end up paying more on your insurance for years.
Pay Your Bills on Time (As much as $2000 saved)
Late fees and disconnects can cost you as much as $30 to $50 extra per month, that can be as much as $500 in 10 months per account. With just 4 accounts (utilities, phone, rent, other) that is almost $2000. Keep your bills to an affordable amount and pay them on time or in advance every month.
Eat Conservatively (As much as $400 or more per month)
Don’t eat out, it adds up quickly. If you are really serious about saving money, try purchasing a case of Ramen Noodles and a big bag of rice with soy sauce, hot sauce, or barbeque sauce to give your rice some variety. If your family likes peanut butter and jelly, eat that. Grilled cheese is also very cheap. For breakfast, make pancakes.
A single box goes a long way and is very filling. It might be a little boring for a while but you can really save some cash on food and you might lose a few pounds as well. Skip the sodas, bottled waters, or any other drinks you might buy at a gas station or from a vending machine that are over priced. If you make less than $1800 per month, apply for food stamps. Sometimes people don’t think they will qualify for food stamps but they do. Then you can eat like a champ and never have to pay for it. Check with your local Department of Family Services or go on line and Google your State name and “Food Stamps application” to see if you can apply on line. Each state is different, for example, Tennessee allows you to apply on line, while Missouri allows you to download and print the application but apply in person.
Sell the things you don’t use (unlimited savings)
Check out your storage, your garage, and every room in the house for items you no longer use or items you are willing to give up for the sake of a family vacation. Ask everyone to contribute something. Place an ad on Craigslist.org that says “almost free” and get rid of it. Keeping stuff around clutters your home and takes time to clean. Get rid of the junk and make a few dollars at the same time.
Don’t Let Advertisers Win
Quit Buying Stuff You Don’t Need. Impulse buying adds up to a serious amount. If you are out of control with buying anything and everything, advertisers are probably doing their job right. End caps and checkouts at the store have a drawing effect that make you want to buy something you don’t really need. The entire purpose behind a display in a store is to get you to make impulsive purchases. When you buy into this, you are letting them control your shopping habits and they win the game. Don’t let them win. When you go to the store, stick to your list. Don’t buy items impulsively that you don’t really need. If you didn’t think you needed it before you went to the store, chances are you don’t really need it once you get to the store. If it is toilet paper you forgot to put on the list that is one thing. If you can do without it, then pass it by. You can also estimate your groceries or necessities and take cash to pay for those items, leave your credit cards and debit card at home if you are too weak to pass up impulsive buy items. That way, you only have enough money for what you need and you can’t make additional purchases on impulse.
Whenever Possible, leave the kids at home. They have a way of playing you to buy things they want and they are the most susceptible to the advertising in stores. Typically before a parent gets done shopping a child has asked for at least one special snack, an item at the checkout, and gum or candy from the machines as you are walking out the door.
Don’t bounce Checks at your Bank
Bouncing checks can have a huge impact on available cash. One bounced check can offset your account charging you multiple fees for overdraft. If you can’t maintain a balance, try getting the Virtual Wallet Account at PNC bank. They offer a text balance alert when your balance is getting low. You can ask that they notify you by text message if your account falls below a certain balance and you can choose whatever you want for a balance. Instead of writing checks, use a debit card. PNC bank offers rewards for using your debit card including money back, which is another way to save. Check your balance daily and be sure you account for any gas pump spending or other debits that have not been processed in full.
Use Coupons and Don’t fall for Gimmicks attached to coupon sites
Everyone hates junk mail, but sometimes you get some good offers in the coupon pages or money mailers. Money mailers don’t typically have every day purchase savings for necessities; typically they are more service oriented like house cleaning, tree removal, carpet cleaning, house washing, or duct cleaning. Avoid these types of coupons that will lead you to believe you need to spend money on a service you can probably handle yourself. However, your local coupon page offers savings at the grocery store. Skim the pages for items you know you already purchase without reading the ads in detail. If you read the ads in detail, it’s just like shopping on the end caps and at the checkout. The advertisers win. If you skim the paper for items you already purchase, you can reduce what you are already spending by the size of the coupon.
There are some on-line coupon websites, which offer direct printable coupons. Don’t get sucked into the scams that require you to spend something first, take a survey, or “complete an offer” of any type. A legitimate click and print coupon site should look like the one at www.MoreForYourCash.com. Moreforyourcash.com offers items that are either FREE or have a legitimate click and print coupon without any obligation of the user.
Find Creative Ways to have Fun that don’t cost you money until you have saved enough for your trip
Here’s a list of just a few things you can do alone or with a friend or family member that won’t cost you a dime or might only cost you the gas it takes to get there:
A Nature Hike
A Bike Ride
Take a Walk
Play a Board Game
Take Digital Pictures (use a phone or camera you already have)
Go to a FREE Seminar
Watch an Old Movie you already have
Play video games you haven’t played in a while
Play Free On-line video games
Write a story, poetry, or song
Take your dog to a free dog park
Go to the beach or lake if you are close
Go Camping and rough it
Take advantage of any sports equipment you already have: Roller blades, tennis rackets, Frisbee, disc gold, basketball, baseball, volleyball, etc.. play alone or get some friends together at a park.
Take you kids to the park.
Go to open houses just to look at the décor for fun
Visit an elderly person just to talk
Bake something with what you already have in your cupboard