Start saving for your summer vacation

This was originally published on Monday, September 14, 2015, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

Summer is officially over. You may be dreaming of next summer and can’t wait to get a little vacation time. But reality hits and your wallet says otherwise. Depending on how much you put aside, that vacation may be a little more within your reach than you think.

Budget. Rethink your budget. Is there something you can cut out or reduce? Maybe you reduce your cable bill or utility bills. Create a special category in your budget just for your vacation and streamline your expenses.

Sacrifice today for fun tomorrow. Maybe eat out once a week instead of daily. Pack your lunch to work. You will be surprised how much you spend on dining out. Cut back on how often you get your hair cut or skip a trip to the movie. Remind yourself that it is only temporary and in a few months you could be on the dream vacation you have always wanted.

Have a yard sale. Yard sales are a great way to make money and clean the clutter. Find items that you hardly use or clothes that the kids have outgrown. The money that you make should go directly into the savings account you created for your vacation.

Start a spare change jar. Take all the spare change you collect during the day and deposit it in a jar. You will be amazed how much change you collect. Include the family and watch it grow.

Pantry week. How much do you spend on groceries in a week? If you are like most of us your pantry never really gets empty. One week out of the month use only what is in pantry or the fridge.

This could save you hundreds of dollars and clean out old cans and food that you may have forgotten about. You will also be forced to use those items that are close to expiration. We all waste money by having to throw out expired items.

Holiday spending. There is one time of year that could potentially harm your vacation budget and that is the upcoming holiday season. Talk to your family and remind them of what you want to do. Create a slimmed down version and agree to stay within a certain amount. Do the same for birthdays and other occasions.

For extended family or friends, get creative and make homemade gifts or offer your talents or services instead of material goods. I read an online article recently on various things to do with unused Lego. Yes, Lego. Those blocks worth hundreds of dollars that your children don’t play with anymore. Items were created out of the Lego which could be used as very creative, useful gifts.

Tax refund check. Although it may be tempting to use, you could deposit your tax refund into your vacation savings account.

Second job. A second job does not have to be a formal one. It could be cutting grass or babysitting for others. If you can, sell your baked goods to friends or family during the holidays. If you are a good seamstress, offer to alter clothing for your friends. Maybe you’re a skilled mechanic and can help with oil changes.

Let others know. Let your friends and family know what you are planning. You may inform them that in lieu of gifts, this year you would prefer money which will be used for your family vacation. You’ll be surprised at how your friends and family accept the idea and are very generous when the money is going to a good cause and to the entire family.

There are several websites that you can use to help fund your trips. Your friends and family can make a gift or donation to your cause directly online. Don’t forget to keep track of who helped. While on your trip you can pick up little thank you gifts or create a thank you collage of all the wonderful places you visited. Send those that helped postcards to show them how their gift helped fulfill your dream.

Stay motivated. There will be days when you are tired of eating that same sandwich you packed for work three days in a row, or see a pair of shoes you just have to buy.

But before you go out and regret spending the money you are saving, find ways to motivate yourself to keep going. Put pictures of your dream vacation in your fridge, on your computer screen saver, home screen on your phone, or even in your wallet next to your credit cards and money.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.

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