For many people, summer vacation is one of the highlights of the year. After a rainy winter and spring it provides a much-needed break to help recharge, refresh and re-energize. However, the benefits of a summer break may be short lived if there are large holiday bills waiting at home.
Saving for a splurge like a summer vacation is like saving for anything else, says Barb McKeown, branch manager at Envision Financial. It requires a plan, a budget and discipline. Following a few simple but effective tips can help keep the post-holiday blues at bay.
“Even though there are a growing number of last minute deals available, planning upfront for vacations is still necessary,” says McKeown. “The longer you plan, the more time you have to build up a healthy holiday budget.”
One of the easiest ways to start up a vacation fund is to put aside a small amount of your paycheque every month. Seeing your savings grow every few weeks will keep you motivated to save and by spreading it out over the year, you’ll see less impact on your everyday life.
As for calculating the amount you need to save, McKeown says it’s wise to over-estimate rather than under-estimate your expenses.
“Get your family together and plan out where you want to go, how long you want to go for and what you want to do,” says McKeown. “From there you can get a pretty good idea of how much it will cost. Add 20 per cent to your estimated figure and you’re probably getting close to the real cost. From there, you can determine if your dream vacation is something you can realistically afford.”
Once you calculate your expected travel costs, it’s time to set up a budget. While similar to a household budget, a vacation budget is less about controlling expenses and more about saving.
”After toiling away at work all year you may want to take a holiday from all aspects of life — including budgeting,” says McKeown. “But by sticking to a budget and a plan, you can avoid financing your travels with high-interest credit cards or dipping into your long-term savings accounts, which will put you in better financial shape for future adventures.”
Envision Financial is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.’s third-largest credit union with 37 branches and 29 insurance offices throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat and Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson regions.
For more information, visit www.envisionfinancial.ca.
Barb McKeown is a branch manager at Envision Financial.