Did you fail to take a family vacation this year? If so, you’re not alone. According to an early 2016 survey from AAA, nearly two-thirds of families didn’t plan to take a trip more than 50 miles from their homes this summer.
While some of these “vacation fails” probably hinged on outside factors, it’s easy to imagine how some people stayed home due to a lack of funds. Perhaps a job loss was in play, or maybe they just didn’t save enough to afford a fun family trip.
If you find yourself in this camp this year, you’re probably wondering what you did wrong. The good news is, it’s never too early (or too late, depending on how much of a planner you are) to start saving for next year.
To find out the best ways to earn the family vacation you deserve, I reached out to several financial advisers who help their clients save for vacations all the time. Here’s what they said.
1. Make It a Family Affair
Taylor Schulte, a certified financial planner and founder of Define Financial in San Diego, says it can pay off to get every family member involved.
“One idea we have seen clients have some fun with is to assign a savings goal to each member of the family that’s appropriate for their respective age,” says Schulte. “Maybe it’s $1,000 for each parent, $500 for the oldest child and $250 for the youngest.”
With this strategy, each individual will do their best to save up their share. At the end of the year or the chosen timeframe, all monies will be combined and used to book an epic trip. Better yet, make it so the person who reaches their goal first gets to decide where the family vacation will take place – within reason, of course.
2. Break Your Goal Into Small Segments
Financial adviser Joshua Brein of Brein Wealth Management in Bellevue, Washington, says it can help you break your large goal down into smaller, more manageable goals.
“Why not figure out exactly how much you need to save every week between now and your trip to hit your savings goal and divide that amount up into weekly or bi-weekly savings goals to match your pay cycles?” he asks. “Keep the goals small and easily attainable by starting off as far in advance as you can and see if you can actually beat your goals and save more than your goal says to.”
If you want to take a beach vacation next year and expect it to cost $2,500, for example, you could see how much you need to save each week until you’re ready to book. Let’s say you want to book your trip six months from now. You would have 24 weeks to save $2,500. That’s a little more than $100 per week.
By putting that amount in a high-interest savings account each week, you’ll be on your way towards achieving this goal in no time.
3. Sell Stuff
Whether you want to add to your vacation fund or build one out of thin air, having some extra money lying around won’t hurt. Investment adviser Kenneth S. Feyers of Safety of Principle Wealth Management in Coral Springs, Florida, offers an old-fashioned strategy to raise money – a yard sale.
“Having a garage sale is a great way to save money, and it helps clean the mess that has accumulated for years,” he says. “The work may be hard, but the results are so rewarding.”
As an alternate approach, you could also sell unwanted and unused items online using websites like Craigslist or eBay.
4. Get a Part-Time Job
A part-time job might also do the trick, says Benjamin Brandt, a certified financial planner and founder of Capital City Wealth Management in Bismarck, North Dakota: “Saving extra money can be difficult and getting a second job can be exhausting, but with the proper vacation motivation, next summer will be here before you know it!”
While a traditional part-time job can work wonders for your savings goals, your side hustle can look however you want it to look. If you don’t want to clock in anywhere, you can consider mowing grass, babysitting, running errands or working as a handyman.
“Starting a dog walking service in your own neighborhood is an awesome way to save for next year’s family vacation,” says Jose V. Sanchez, a financial adviser in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “People love their pets, yet our busy schedules make it difficult to give them the attention they need.”
Depending on your skills and abilities, the sky is the limit.
5. Save Spare Change
If you think your “extra” dollars and change won’t add up, think again. In reality, small amounts of money can add up to huge savings over time – and that’s especially true if you have the entire family on board.
Once you set up a piggy bank or money jar, let everyone in the family know what comes next. “Every time you pay with cash and you have change, drop it in the piggy bank,” says Joseph A. Carbone, Jr., a certified financial planner with Focus Planning Group in Bayport, New York.
“You would be amazed at how much money you will accumulate over the course of the year,” he says.
6. Keep Your Family Motivated to Save With Visualizations
Charles C. Scott, a private wealth manager with Pelleton Capital Management in Scottsdale, Arizona, says he recommends creating a visualization board to remind your family what they’re saving for.
“Make a list and add pictures of where you want to go, then make copies and put them in conspicuous places around the house,” he says. “Eat the food of where you’re going, Hawaii for example. Keep it front of mind.”
Use this strategy in addition to the other ways you’re saving, and your family will be forced to remember their short-term goals. Obviously, that goal should be paying for a fun family getaway with cash.
If you missed out on travel this year, look for ways to change your fortunes by next summer. With the right savings strategy and some ongoing motivation, you can afford a fun family trip for everyone to enjoy next year. Remember: It’s best to get started now.
[Editor’s note: The allure of vacation can make it tempting to book a trip on a credit card, even if you don’t have enough money saved to pay the bill in full. It’s important to keep in mind that, in addition to being expensive, credit card debt can drag down your credit scores, which can cost you by way of higher interest rates when it comes time to buy your next car or take out a mortgage. You can see how your credit card spending and other habits affect your credit by reviewing your free credit report summary every 14 days on Credit.com]