1. Open Up a Dedicated Vacation Bank Account
We recently asked our TurboTax users for their best money-saving tips. Sheerin James, Lisa Bosher and Catherine Reynolds all suggested saving at least $20 per week in a savings account. Great tip!
One easy way to save for a special trip is to take the amount you can save each week and put it into a dedicated vacation savings account. You can set up automatic payments, and, with a little intervention, leave that money there until it’s time for your trip.
If you choose an interest-bearing account, your money might even grow while you’re looking forward to your trip. We suggest opening a TFSA or Mutual Fund TFSA account – that way, your money will earn interest and you’ll be less tempted to withdraw it.
Once you’re on your way, you can use this same account to track how much you’re spending on your vacation.
Bonus savings! If you get a tax refund, a monetary birthday gift, or a bonus at work, save it! According to the CRA, 69% of early tax filers will be receiving an average refund of $1,706. That’s a great amount of money to put towards your next vacation! No matter how small the amount, it will help you reach your goal.
2. Create a Budget and Stick With it
Create a realistic budget and stick to it. You don’t have to stay home every single time your friends have a night out, but budgeting for entertainment will help you enjoy your leisure time while keeping your vacation fund safe. Include rent and hydro, groceries, toiletries, birthday gifts, car-related expenses, entertainment, etc., and include saving for your vacation! Make this a non-negotiable and contribute religiously. Keep your receipts and record your spending. It might seem tedious but it’s a surefire way to make sure you don’t overspend. Plus, after tracking your expenses for a few weeks, you might find some fat you could trim and put toward your vacation!
3. Slash Your Food Budget
For so many households — especially those with little ones or teenagers running around — food can be a huge expense. Cut back a little bit on the extras and in no time, you’ll notice you’ve got some extra cash to put toward your getaway.
- Buy in bulk at stores like Costco and Bulk Barn, or shop at your local farmers’ market or flea market. If you have the space, try growing a fruit and vegetable garden with your kids!
- Eat in more often. After a long day of work, it’s tempting to let someone else do the cooking (and cleaning!), but those nights out and delivery meals add up. At one point, my husband and I were ordering sushi twice a week – until I looked at the bill one day and nearly flipped! We were spending around $50 on every order! With a savings of $400 a month, I’m so glad we put a stop to that.
- Shop more often. Sounds strange, right? Well, if your fridge is where food goes to die, you’re throwing away money every time something gets too old to eat. Instead of taking one major trip to the grocery store per week, consider making smaller strips every three days or so. This will require some meal planning, but it will be well worth the savings.
- Cut out unnecessary items like pop and sugary treats (sorry, sweet-toothed friends). Keeping them out of your cart while you’re saving for your vacation helps your family get healthy and keeps more money in your bank account.
4. Get Your Credit Card Working for You
Consider using a credit card that accumulates Air miles or Aeroplan miles for all of your regular expenditures throughout the year. Come vacation time, you could be flying for free! If you don’t have one already, choose a card with a signup bonus. Some credit cards will give you thousands of free miles just for signing up!
You can also earn tons of frequent flier miles without signing up for a credit card by shopping online, eating out, taking surveys and other methods.
Another option to consider is credit-card sign-up bonuses. There are some credit cards that give you thousands of free miles just for signing up!
5. Sell Some of That Unwanted Stuff
If you love to vacation, you know that life is about experiences, not material things. Especially when your unused stuff can put some cash in your pocket.
Try selling some of your clothes, purses or shoes to consignment stores, or even electronics you don’t use anymore, on sites like Kijijji or eBay. Check your garage too—you never know, there may be some hidden treasures there that could make you some quick bucks in a garage sale.
6. Get Yourself a Side Gig
Earning extra money outside your regular job will increase your income and the amount you can comfortably put away.
Consider trying out the sharing economy. Earn some extra cash by driving with Uber or by renting out a room in your home. As an Airbnb host, you can make money while you’re away on that vacation you’ve been saving for! If earning income from Airbnb is for you, make sure you include the income and deductible expenses when you file your tax return.
As for side jobs, you could try something traditional like babysitting, or something a little less orthodox. Some people clean headstones or stand in line for tickets for extra cash. Look for short-term work opportunities related to the season. During winter, many retail employers hire seasonal workers to help with the holiday rush. In the spring and summer, look for businesses that need extra help, like landscaping companies. The sky’s the limit for side jobs that help bring you one step closer to affording your dream getaway.
Working a side job may mean sacrificing your weekends for a while, but it will help make your vacation dream a reality. For some inspiration, read about how Barry Choi saved an extra $20,000 over the years through freelance writing!