Five months into a nation-wide pandemic lockdown and some Canadians are starting to feel a little squirrely. Let’s face it, we love to travel. And, although many of us stayed put or chose cottage country in the summer months, the cold winter months are looming.
With travel restrictions and strict advisories in place, a winter getaway might not be in the cards this year. But instead of letting it get you down, why not take this opportunity to plan your dream vacation?
The pandemic has been stressful for many of us. When all of this is over, taking a much-needed getaway to unwind from the uncertainty will be top of mind for many Canadians. With a bit of extra time and careful planning, you could make that next trip epic.
Whether you’re dreaming of going to a 5-star, all-inclusive tropical resort, skiing down mountains to a chalet-spotted village, or wining and dining in a world-class city, you need a plan in place to save that cash money in order to make that dream a reality. We’ve got some simple tips that anyone can use to help save the money needed for their next dream holiday.
Set a firm budget for your holiday
The first step in saving for your vacation is knowing how much you need to save. Plan your vacation meticulously by researching all costs associated with your trip in the destination city, including accommodations, excursions, food, shopping, transportation, and taking currency exchange, fees and tips into consideration.
Create a budget so you can prioritize accordingly. Once the budget is set, you can start implementing strategies to save the necessary funds.
It is also important to be aware of your destination country’s pandemic status and health protocols, as well as any travel advisories, warnings and restrictions ensure your safe travel and return.
Set up a savings account specifically for vacations
When you set up an account specifically for pleasure travel, you are signalling a true commitment to your self-care. Of course, the vacation fund savings account only works if you work it.
Allocate a portion of your income to the vacation fund each month. If you don’t have to juggle expenses and you can afford to, automatically transfer funds to the account each pay cheque.
Keeping your vacation money separate from all other expenses is a good way to focus on saving and to avoid over-spending money that should be allocated to other living expenses.
Identify areas of savings in your budget
If you end each month either skint or in the hole, it is time to have a hard look at your budget. Examining your living expenses can help you to identify areas of lower priority that you can reallocate towards your vacation fund. Here are a few quick ideas that won’t hurt to implement:
Cancel non-essential subscriptions
Everything from streaming services and music to wine and beauty boxes can be packaged and delivered to you for a monthly fee these days. Subscriptions are so attractive because the monthly fee is relatively low; enough so that they don’t necessarily warrant a line item in your budget.
However, if you start adding up a magazine subscription here, a Birchbox there, and a few specialty TV channels everywhere, it quickly adds up. Most subscriptions are a nice-to-have, but often not essential for daily living. Cancel any non-essential subscriptions and redirect those funds to your vacation savings fund. You’ll probably find that you don’t even miss them.
Dine out & order in less
The math on this one is simple. It costs a fraction of the money to cook your own food at home than it does to eat out. And, it doesn’t even matter if you are living off of coffee and bagels. Brewing and toasting it yourself will still save you money.
If you buy your lunch every day, commit to making your lunch a few times a week, year-round. If you go out for dinner and drinks with friends a few times a month, commit to reducing it to once a month. The money you save will make a big impact on your vacation fund.
Trim your grocery budget
Food is one of the biggest household costs after housing, so it’s no wonder that we are touching on it twice. We already suggested you eat at home over eating out. However, with rising food costs, you also need to be a savvy shopper to ensure that you aren’t paying a fortune to eat fresh, healthy foods.
Trim your grocery budget by using coupons, buying in bulk, and avoiding prepared foods. Meal plan and stick to your grocery list; budget to maximize your purchases and avoid food waste. You’ll be surprised how much you can save when you really start to examine your food spending and shop more strategically.
Leverage rewards program
Travel reward credit cards are often worth the annual fee, if you find one that gives you perks you can really take advantage of. With some cards, you can get discounts on flights, like BOGO half off once a year or sign-up bonuses worth hundreds or thousands of dollars towards the cost of future travel.
You can also earn rewards on every dollar charged to your credit card. If you have big purchases that you can charge to a credit card and pay off immediately, you may want to consider a rewards card as a way of partially funding some of your holiday budget.
With a free bill payment app, like , you earn rewards points for paying your bills through . The points can then be redeemed for cash gift cards that you can use to buy groceries, pay for subscriptions, eat out, or shop — including popular brands like Amazon, Instacart, Starbucks and Best Buy. Why not let paying your bills help pay your future bills? It’s all about finding savings wherever you can.
Saving money is always easier when you have a goal that you can visualize and anticipate. Picture yourself sitting in a cabana by your private pool sipping a piña colada. Start dreaming and get planning.