I think it’s safe to say that everyone enjoys a little vacation sometimes. But in the grand scheme of a budget, a vacation can be a deal breaker if you haven’t prepared for it.
A vacation can be anything from an overnight trip visiting friends to a month long safari. If you aren’t saving money towards a vacation and you decide to take one anyway, it’s going to put you into debt. It’s an easy concept, but sometimes it gets lost in the excitement of a new adventure.
When you get into hardcore budget mode (does everyone do this? No? Just me?) or are trying to pay off some debt, it’s easy to say that you aren’t going to take any vacations for a few years to pay the debt off or save some money. While I totally understand and respect this mindset, I think it is generally better to be realistic. When we first started working towards a debt free life, we went on one vacation that year. We were living in DC and we flew to Florida to visit some friends. We bought flights with credit card miles and stuck with a plan for enjoying budget friendly activities like going to the beach and hanging out at our friend’s pool. It was a great break from reality without breaking the bank and we did it by planning it out ahead of time so we didn’t end up with more debt.
My point here is that it’s important to budget for fun! We do our vacation budget much like our Christmas budget, so we plan out what we want to do that year and save up per month accordingly. We always add a little cushion in there for smaller weekend trips like visiting friends.
A few weeks ago, I had a rare phenomenon occur. We had been saving to go on a Disney Cruise in April for months. Since we have a crazy schedule we could only go during spring break so it was going to be especially expensive. So, a few weeks ago I was checking out the prices (which had gone up, of course) because I knew we needed to purchase it soon. I noticed that there was a sale on cruises in October and November… And we could take the same cruise I was looking at in April for half the price. Half price just for taking the cruise in November vs. April? My frugal mind was blown. So, I checked the available dates and emailed my husband immediately. And we booked a cruise for 3 weeks later!
I tell you this story partially so I can post some fun photos from our cruise, but mostly to tell you the amazing feeling I had doing this. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge planner, so deciding to go on a cruise 3 weeks out was a huge step for me. But the amazing feeling came from being to take this trip with no guilt at all. I would normally freak out about a big purchase like that, but since we had been saving for months, we already had enough money ready to pay for the trip AND we were saving a ton of money from our original plan!
This is just one more small way budgeting can change your life. And now we can start planning and saving for our next trip!
Where do you want to start planning to go???