Tips and adviceOn a budget

9 Ways to Save Money for Your Next Vacation

So, you know about discount attraction sites like Smart Destinations, and you even know how to get the best deals on transportation and accommodations—that's awesome. But let's face it, you're still going to have to dish out some money for your vacation. If you've recently had a lot of expenses or vacations just don't easily fit into your budget, there's still hope for your vacation aspirations.

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Whether you're in need of a little extra spending money or trying to cover the entire cost of a trip, you can use these easy and creative tips to cut back on everyday expenses and put that saved money toward your vacation. But FIRST, you need to start a vacation fund! This part is easy and assures that the money you save actually goes toward your vacation—just designate a place to save aside some money. This can be an actual savings account at your bank or, better yet, a sock drawer, piggy bank, or secret space beneath the floorboard. Now, whenever you cut costs with one of the following suggestions, make sure you calculate your savings (an estimate is fine) and put that money in your vacation fund. Before long, you'll be leaving on a jet plane.

1. Make your Coffee at Home (Or Cut Out Caffeine)

The amount of money Americans spend on coffee per year is estimated to be over 18 BILLION dollars. Whether you're an avid coffee addict or you enjoy a cup every once in a while, the money you'll save when you cut your favorite gourmet latte from your morning routine is unbelievable. If you drink 2 cups of coffee a day, 5 days a week, at roughly $3 a cup, you're spending about $120 a month on coffee. Think about how great you'll feel transferring all those dollars into your vacation fund. Even if you only cut a cup or two a week, it'll add up!

2. Look your Bargains on Everything Before You Shop

Just like you can use our Go City and Go Select cards to get discounts on top attractions, you can take advantage of other online offers and coupons before you shop for anything. Try using daily coupon sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, or find websites that offer deals on specific products. Plus, many of the stores you already shop at offer printable coupons on their websites. It only takes a few minutes to check it out, and it's definitely worth your time.

3. Shop at Second-Hand Stores & Consignment Shops

You'd be surprised at how many high-quality items you can find at second-hand stores. Long gone are the days when you're limited to Salvation Army or Goodwill. In fact, buying "vintage" stuff is a trend right now—one you should definitely take advantage of for the sake of your travel fund. Do a little research and find the highest quality second-hand stores. Even if you're not into buying things like clothing at these shops, many of them have furniture, home goods, and other such things. Even searching websites like Craigslist can prove fruitful for top-notch "recycled" finds.

4. Cook for Your Friends Instead of Eating Out

No surprise here, eating out costs money. A lot of it. Although it's easy and fun to enjoy dinner with friends or family at your favorite restaurant, it does nothing to help your vacation plans. Moreover, you can have just as much fun, if not more, making a new routine of cooking and eating at home. Try implementing a system that involves a different friend hosting dinner each week. If you're dining with your family, take turns cooking, trying new recipes, and planning your vacation.

5. Sell What You Don't Want

Remember that guitar you bought last month you insisted you'd learn to play? Been holding on for too long to the boxes of knick-knacks in the garage? What about that shit you had to have but never wore? Now's a better time than ever to admit you're not ever going to use any of that stuff. Don't be dismayed: This just means you can sell the old junk and save money for your next vacation! There are lots of ways to sell your unwanted belongings. Have a yard sale, sell to consignment shops, or advertise online on websites like eBay and Craigslist. All that money can go straight to your fund.

6. Cut Back on Cable

Chances are, you're paying for more channels of television than you could possibly watch. If you are actually managing to watch 800 channels of cable, it's probably time to get off the couch anyway. Call your cable company and request to downgrade to a smaller cable package. Even if you just downgrade for a few months, you can save hundreds of dollars to put towards your vacation. And really, how many versions of ESPN do you need anyway?

7. Brown Bag Your Work Lunch

Many working men and women spend up to $10 on food every day on their lunch breaks. There's no need to explain how much money you could save by packing a lunch every now and then. As an added bonus, you are likely to eat much healthier by packing your own lunch. Just think about how great you'll look and feel on that vacation of yours after a month of nutritious home-made meals.

8. Have a Clothing Swap Instead of Shopping Spree

Sometimes events come up and you really need a new outfit. Other times, events come up and you really want a new outfit. Regardless, you don't have to sacrifice fashion for you vacation. Just ask a friend or family member to borrow an outfit. (This applies to men, too. Need a fancy sport coat for your second cousin's second wedding? Ask one of the boys). Maybe you just need an accessory to turn your casual dress into a night-on-the-town gown. Even easier. Don't forget to put the $100 you didn't spend into your vacation fund!

9. Carpool (or Use a Less Costly Method of Transportation)

If there's one thing we'd all like to save money on, it's gas. With gas prices where they are these days, filling up for the commute to work can be downright scary. Make it a little less intimidating by sharing the cost with a few coworkers. If you live in a city with a good public transportation system, consider using that for a few days every week. Subtract the amount you spend on gas this month (after implementing gas-saving techniques) from the average you used to spend and add the difference on to your next vacation. These ideas are just the beginning! Put some time into thinking about what you spend money on and you'll find even more ways to cut back and re-budget your money towards something you really need—a vacation.

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