Many Americans look forward to summer, not just for the warmer weather but for the opportunity to get a break from the grind. Summer is among the most popular times during the year to take vacation, and last year, many of us weren't shy about getting away.
In 2017, Americans spent a cumulative $101 billion on summer vacations, with 35- to 54-year-olds plunking down the most cash on an individual basis: an average of $2,628. And while there's nothing wrong with indulging in a little time away, the problem is that most folks who enjoy their travels can't actually afford it. In fact, almost 75% of Americans have gone into debt in order to pay for a vacation.
If you're planning a getaway this summer, you should know that charging it on a credit card is a good way to wreck your finances. Rather than do that, follow these tips to save up the cash before you go.
1. Rethink your budget on a short-term basis
If you're following a budget -- which you should be -- you probably have a number of non-essential expenses built into it, whether it's takeout meals for the nights you're too tired to cook, date nights with your partner, or weekend entertainment for your kids (think zoos, amusement parks, and the like). There's nothing wrong with spending some of your disposable income on the things you enjoy, but if you're looking to save up for a vacation this summer, one of the easiest ways to get there is to cut back on non-critical spending in the months leading up to it.
Rather than splurge on movie theater tickets, rent something and see it at home. Instead of a costly water park outing, take your kids to the free community pool. Reducing your spending for even a couple of months could spell the difference between affording your vacation or racking up debt because of it.
2. Get a side hustle
Maybe you already live a pretty frugal lifestyle and your paycheck doesn't leave you with tons of wiggle room. If that's the case, it pays to take on a side hustle for the next couple of months and use the money you make from it to fund your getaway. These days, an estimated 44 million Americans have a side hustle, and while some people do that extra work to help pay down debt, others do it to get their hands on additional money for leisure.
If you're able to earn $100 a week between now and mid-August, you'll have $1,000 to work with for vacation purposes later in the season. And that might help you avoid charging that trip on a credit card.
3. Sell things you no longer want or need
When's the last time you combed through your attic to take inventory? Chances are, there's plenty of stuff up there you haven't touched in months, if not years. The same holds true for those rarely used clothing pieces in the back of your closet and the barely touched tools sitting in the corner of your garage.
The good news, however, is that selling items you no longer desire is easier than ever these days whether you do so online or via an old-fashioned yard sale at home. Even if you only manage to accumulate an extra $100 or so, you still are better off pocketing that cash and using it for your vacation than letting those unwanted items collect dust.
Whether you're planning an overseas excursion or a trip to your local beach town, getting away can cost a lot, especially if you're dealing with peak season prices. Follow these tips to save some extra cash and with any luck, you'll enjoy a nice, relaxing vacation you can comfortably afford.