How to Save Money for Your Summer Vacation

You can't wait for summer vacation. Maybe you're imagining laying on the beach, enjoying time with your family. Perhaps you have visions of a trip to an amusement park or other popular vacation spots. Wherever you're going, however, it needs to be inside your budget. How can you save for your family vacation?

1. Plan Early

Try to avoid waiting until the last minute to plan your summer vacation. Take a look at where you plan to go. Often, you can find better deals during the off-season, before most people start planning for their vacations. More importantly, planning for your vacation early will give you a better idea of exactly how much you'll need to save.

2. Set Aside Money Out of Each Check

Whether you're planning for a big blowout vacation or a smaller trip on a tight budget, figure out how much you'll need to take out of each paycheck before your trip. Then, set it aside before you take care of any other "fun" spending, from heading out to a restaurant instead of cooking dinner to picking up that impulse purchase at the mall. This will ensure that when you're ready to write the check for your vacation, you already have the funds in place.

3. Pick Up a Side Job

Are you struggling to come up with the funds for vacation this year? Do you feel like it's just not in the budget? Pick up a side job! From mowing lawns on the weekend to putting together crafts or selling cakes, there are plenty of things you can do to earn some extra cash on the side. Remember, this money is still taxable, so make sure you keep track of it for your financial records at the end of the year.

4. Clean Out the House

Do you have unwanted items sitting around that you don't need--and probably won't need in the future? From clothing, especially children's clothing, that's still in good condition to games, kitchen items, and appliances that are just cluttering up your home, now is the time to get rid of them. Set aside a specific account or envelope just for those items, and get selling! The more items you can sell, the closer you'll be to your vacation goal.

5. Cut Expenses Where You Can

Take a look at your budget. Can you cut down on food expenses, especially eating out? Do you have time to make more items from scratch? What about your cable bill: are you really watching all those channels? Look for ways to cut down on your current monthly expenses, then slide that money straight into your vacation savings fund. It often adds up faster than you think!

6. Cut Down Your Travel Budget

If you're struggling to budget for your vacation, look for cheaper ways to travel. You might, for example, need to skip that expensive theme park vacation this year and save it for next year, when you've had more time to save. Driving may help reduce your expenses significantly over air travel. You may also find that staying for 5 days, rather than 7, significantly reduces your expenses without cutting down substantially on the fun. By cutting down your travel expenses, you can enjoy quite a vacation, even if it wasn't the one you originally had in mind.

Family vacations are one of the most fun and exciting parts of the year, but that doesn't mean they have to break your budget. With these simple strategies, you can improve your overall vacation savings and increase your odds of enjoying the family vacation of your dreams--without having to go into debt to make it happen.