“Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.”
As we travel across the country in a motor home, I’m often moved with thankfulness for the simple privilege of vacation. Our fearless crew is comprised of myself, my beautiful wife, my father, my step-mother, and her step-father (which I suppose makes him my step-step grandpa).
Although we’re not the most likely group of travel companions, we’re all delighted for the opportunity to get away for awhile. My wife and I are especially excited to be funding our vacation with cold, hard cash!
Let’s take a look at how we did it.
Set savings goals
Back in early 2009, we set a series of savings goals for ourselves. One of our goals was to create a vacation fund and contribute $100 each month while we were still in debt.
Staunch followers of Dave Ramsey might turn their noses up at the idea of saving for vacation while still in the midst of aggressive debt reduction, but we knew it was a sound decision for us… So we set up the vacation fund and started saving.
Automate your savings
With your goals in place, I suggest you automate your savings each month. Consider using a high yield savings account that offers an automatic savings plan (I use ING Direct) to make saving as easy as possible.
Practicing purposeful saving will help convert wannabe-savers into successful savers. Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking you’ll miss the extra money. Once we set up our automatic savings system, we never even noticed the difference in our cash flow, and the money faithfully continued to grow until we were ready to use it.
Plan your vacations carefully
As your money grows and your debt shrinks, you have plenty of time to plan your vacations. Where do you want to go? How much money will you need? We gave ourselves about a year to figure things out and set our plan in place.
Living in Michigan, we knew that March and April were the worst months for spring fever, and that my wife would have this week off for Spring Break. We also knew that we’d have about $1,200 saved.
Saving over the course of the year allowed us to maintain our strategy of aggressive debt reduction, gave us plenty of time to plan, and is allowing us a vacation free from the anxiety of spending money we don’t really have… And boy does it feel good!
Enjoy the spoils of your disciplined saving
So here we are… Just north of Jackson, MS. I’m actually typing this article in a moving motor home, with my laptop tethered to my cellphone for internet access! Our trip is planned out just enough to give me the spontaneity and adventure I need, while still making my organized wife feel comfortable. We have plenty of money saved to cover our expenses, and we have a whole week on our own. Life is good.
Using money specifically allotted for vacation is affording us care-free spending. Vacation should be a time for each of us to relax and recharge our batteries, but for many people vacation can be accompanied by the anxiety of having to pay off the debt we incur far into the future. To that, I say: Thanks, but no thanks.
How did you fund your last vacation? Did you plan the trip in advance and save accordingly, or did you leverage a bit of your future for a small slice of immediate pleasure?
If guilt free vacation spending sounds good to you, perhaps it’s time you considered a debt free vacation.