Saturday, February 13, 2016

Debt Free Vacations

Debt free vacations…yes, it is possible! How my family of 6 has been traveling the Caribbean, Debt Free, for the last 4 years!

IMG_3877

Family vacations are meant to be fun, relaxing, memory making moments that you and your family talk about for years after the fun has ended. However, the lingering credit card debt that can supersede those vacations, are not the kind of fond memories I’m referring to. A vacation is not a “vacation” if you come home to the stress of having to payoff a mountain of credit card debt from taking said vacation.

Here are 5 simple ways my family has managed to take amazing family vacations, completely debt free!

  • make it a priority-figure your vacation into your monthly budget! Open a savings account specifically for your vacation expenses. Treat this vacation account just like you would any other re-occurring monthly bill that you have. Determine an amount that you are comfortable with, that won’t put you in a financial bind, and fund this account monthly! The amount doesn’t matter. Just do what works best for your budget and you’ll be surprised how quickly it can add up! Making your vacation a priority will keep you accountable and focused towards reaching your goal!
  • loose change jars-we keep jelly jars in our each of our vehicles. Think of how many times you run through a drive-thru in any given month. (Ahem, Starbucks)! Each time that you pay with cash, throw the loose change into the jelly jar! We also keep a large jar in our master closet for pocket change and we empty the car jelly jars into this large jar once they are full. Once again, it all adds up! In a years time, who knows? It might just be enough to cover the cost of an airline ticket or your fuel costs if you’re driving to your destination!
  • plan ahead-we plan our vacations a year in advance. With a family of 6, cruises are the cheapest way for us to travel. Booking out a year in advance allows us to secure our state rooms for a small deposit, and then the balance is paid out over a 9 month period…without opening a credit card! All of your on-board expenses can be paid in full, in-advance, if you plan accordingly. That’s all gratuities, beverage packages, spa treatments (if you so please), shore excursions, etc…You will, however, need to save up some cash for taxi cabs, food, souvenirs, etc…that are not part of any pre-planned shore excursions. We prefer to jump in a cab and hang at the beach all day, try out the local food, and shop for t-shirts, etc…so we plan ahead for those expenses.
  • unexpected income-do you earn commissions or have the opportunity to earn bonuses? What about an income tax refund? If you are fortunate enough to acquire some unexpected cash, deposit a portion, if not all of it, into that vacation savings account! Don’t get distracted by all the “shiny things” tempting you from the Instagram boutique posts. Stay focused on the goal…VACATION!!
  • sell your unwanted “stuff”-you’ve heard this saying before…one person’s “trash” is another person’s “treasure”. Let’s face it, we all have stuff around the house that we don’t want anymore. Spend a rainy day scouring the house for unwanted stuff, or designate a large box/basket to accumulate things as you find them. I have a large box in my garage that I will occasionally toss the kids stuff in as they outgrow them, or I come across something in my closet that I’m sick of. Once you’re done, have a garage sale, sell it on a site like Craig’s List, Ebay, etc…or Thrift shops are especially popular these days!

Implementing these 5 simple vacation planning strategies will be well worth the effort! I know from experience, it takes some serious will power sometimes. But, if you want that vacation bad enough, you can power through! If you have some unique money saving tips, I’d love to hear from you!

IMG_0231IMG_6615IMG_4997