Kyle and I committed to attend the black tie wedding in Chicago that I’ve mentioned a few times. In addition to attending the wedding itself, we are going to make it a long weekend to see some of our good friends who live there as well as sight-see as we have never been to Chicago before. We are excited to make some amazing memories!
Financially, though, the trip is going to be a stretch. We haven’t totally planned our itinerary yet but we’ve already spent $225 on the wedding gift and a tuxedo for Kyle. We can cover our lowest estimate with the money in our Travel and Wedding Gifts savings account, but that will require bringing our lunches with us from Durham and maximizing our couch-surfing opportunities. If we want to upgrade some aspects of the trip or can’t keep things quite as tight as we would like, we might have to find some other sources of money like our recent gift or our budget leftovers from last month.
Scheming about how to pay for this vacation made me reflect on the ways I’ve paid for vacations in the past and other approaches as well.
Strategies for paying for vacations:
- pick up additional work (overtime, side hustles)
- save every month
- use bonuses/gifts/found money
- get someone else to pay for you
- use debt
I’ve used all of these strategies except using debt (thank goodness!).
I paid for a cruise vacation in 2008 through my side hustle as a clinical trial guinea pig (i.e. healthy volunteer). As we are salaried and currently have no side hustles for which we control our rate of income, we can’t drum up money this way at the moment.
We now have a travel saving account that we fund every month and we also sometimes supplement this account with cash gifts and found money. We’re paying for our Chicago trip through both these methods. The savings account is how we pay for far and away the majority of our expense and it really reduces the stress of whether or not we can afford a vacation. It works out well because we take small trips throughout the year so we’re fairly constantly spending money from it.
Last summer my parents paid for most of a vacation for our family (tickets to an event, hotel room, and some food, so we paid for only incidentals and other entertainment) and later this summer they are renting a beach house for our whole family. Kyle and I are a little iffy on how we feel about being treated to these vacations as we view ourselves as financially independent from our parents. My parents instructed us to view these family vacations as birthday gifts so that makes us feel better about it.
I think that if vacations are a regular part of your year, an every-month savings rate is the best way to make sure you can afford it when an opportunity presents itself. But a vacation can also be a great motivator to hustle more for extra money or save found money/bonuses toward that purpose.
How did you pay for your last vacation and what is your preferred method? Would you ever pay for a vacation with debt or let someone else pay for you? Do you have any additional strategies for coming up with money for wants?