If you didn’t know…. Money can’t buy happiness… well maybe not long term happiness anyways. From Spring Break to Summer Vacation, I am often asked if you are working hard, isn’t it ok to also have some fun every now and then.
God even rested on the 7th day, so I believe we should also follow His example. Taking time away where we can reconnect with friends and family and recharge our batteries definitely can make a lot of sense. The problem for a lot of us is having to pay for it. I have a few tips that you can use so you can enjoy your time instead of worrying about how you will have to pay for it when the good times are over.
1. Pay ahead now or you might have to Pray about it Later
When I say pay ahead now… that means pay for your getaways with what you have in your vacation fund. Many people are familiar with the envelope system where you set aside money in envelopes for each of your spending categories. You can apply the same principle for larger expenses throughout the year like property taxes, home owner’s insurance and family getaways. Consider opening a separate account that is not linked to either your checking or savings. And I mean open an account at another financial institution. The reason I suggest that is so you are not tempted to use that money for anything but your vacation. Set a budget each year for your annual family vacation and then what you want to do is to create a draft or automatic bill pay to transfer a portion each pay period to your vacation account. For example, let’s say you are budgeting $1,300 for travel and fun. If you are paid every two weeks that works out to be 26 paydays per year, so by drafting $50 dollars every two week you will end up with $1,300. If you get paid weekly that would come out to $25 a week. The best part is that you won’t have to put it on your credit card!
2. Be a little frugal
To save money consider vacationing off season. You can find some great getaway packages by not taking them during the peak months. Also, instead of staying at a resort, consider renting out a condo or apartment. What I like about that is that you have the ability to cook some or all of your meals instead of eating out. If you have a family of four or more, taking everybody out to eat three times a day for a week can eat up your entire vacation budget alone! Consider cheaper methods of travel. If you have the time, consider traveling by train. Yes I said train! Believe it or not train travel is becoming increasingly popular as a way to get to your destination and see some of this great country along the way.
For my English majors, yes, I know that really isn’t a word but it is a wonderful way to reduce the cost of a vacation. By spreading the cost out between a few families for a condo, house, or villa at your favorite beach or vacation getaway can be a win-win situation for everyone. Having a kitchen and a washer and dryer can not only save on food cost, but you won’t have to pack as much since you can wash clothes there. One of the best parts is that your kids most likely will behave better when there are other adults around!
We all work extremely hard and I believe it is perfectly acceptable to spending money on family fun because the memories you will create are priceless. They will stay with you and your family for a lifetime; just keep in mind that you just don’t want to spend the rest of your life paying for those memories!
Steve Repak, CFP®, author of 6 Week Money Challenge: For Your Personal Finances