How I saved for my vacation

Meg W of Boston shares how she saved for her vacation…

Last year, my husband and I were asked by our friends if we wanted to take a late Spring trip with them to Florida in 2016. The spontaneous side of me said “Pack the bags!”, but the practical side of me said “Hold up – let’s check the bank account.” As far as a vacation goes, traveling with friends and to a different state could be a bit costly, so I wanted to make sure that we did our research before we bought non-refundable plane tickets.

Before making our decision, my husband and I followed the below steps:

Step 1: Research and plan

Before we could figure out how much to budget, it was important for us to think about the vacation as a whole and come up with a few estimated costs. For example, how much does it cost to fly to Florida in May? Were we going to be getting separate hotel rooms or renting an apartment with our friends? Could we save money by renting a place with a kitchen to make a few meals? How many days were we going to spend there?  

Activity Estimated cost
2 plane tickets, round trip $350
Apartment rental for 4 days ($50/night per couple) $200
Car rental for 5 days ($20/day per couple) $100
Estimated food budget (2 meals day at $15 x  2 people) $300
Souvenirs $50
Estimated Total $1,000

Step 2: Can we swing it?

Since we had about 8 months to save for this trip, we figured that we needed to save about $125 per month ($1,000 / 8 months).

Now that we had an understanding of how much we needed to save per month, we had to take a look at our monthly income. We subtracted our fixed costs (such as our mortgage, car payment and utilities), as well as our estimated variable costs (groceries and gas).  Once we figured out all of the math (Joint income – fixed costs – estimated variable costs), we were able to see that we would be able to save the $125 per month to hit our goal!  Great news — this vacation is starting to become a reality!

Step 3: Make a budget (and stick to it!)

Now the tricky part — we had to make sure that we stuck to our monthly budget. Sadly, we did have to turn down a few drinks with friends and had a few more date-nights at home versus dining out.

Step 4: Enjoy!

Nothing beats meeting your savings goal! By sticking to our budget, we were able to save enough money to go on our trip, which was an amazing feeling.

Plus, all of the budgeting and keeping an eye on what we were spending our money on, actually made us even more money conscious! We were able to save additional money each month that went into our “rainy day fund” — maybe next year’s vacation?!