10 Ways to Save Money for Vacation in 30 Days

Your family really wants to go somewhere nice this summer but you just don’t have enough money for vacation. Since you don’t want to put it on a credit card and be stressed about debt, you think you can’t afford it this year. Think again! Here are 10 actions you can take today to save money for vacation over the next month. Be the family hero:

Quick Money for Vacation


1 – Pantry Purge

Start digging through your pantry, your freezer, your desk drawer.. you know the one. And scrap together as much food as you can. Avoid buying any food from the grocery store during this month and you can save a lot of cash, which you can use for vacation. This may mean breakfast for dinner – but who couldn’t use pancakes and bacon for dinner one night? If it’s good enough for fine dining establishments like Denny’s and McDonald’s, then it’s good enough for us too, right?

2 – Dining at the Dinner Table

Nothing fancy about this strategy. Just don’t dine out for a whole month. Find creative ways to use leftovers. Combine this with the Pantry Purge for a truly full month of no food expenditures. That is a significant amount of money to set aside for vacation.

2 – No Wallet Week

Don’t spend any money for a week. Of course take your wallet with you – for emergencies or in case you need your ID while the officer explains the difference between stopping and slowing down at the intersection. But try not to spend any money. No spending on coffee, on doughnuts, on soda, on gum, on clothes, on shoes, on tools. Just don’t spend. It’s only a week! And you might like it so much you repeat it for the rest of the month. Think of the cash you could save!

4 – Frugal Fun

Don’t spend on entertainment. Choose free things for a month instead such as libraries, museums, and open concerts of local and up-and-coming bands downtown. As the weather gets warmer, sit outside and play cards or a family game on your iPad (there are several board games to choose from that are free). There are many ways to have fun without spending money – but if you just can’t quite do it – use Red box and keep your spending to less than $5 per week for entertainment. That leaves more money for vacation.

5 – Redemption Roulette

Did you know there are websites that sell discounted gift cards? They purchase unwanted gift cards for a discount and sell them a smaller discount. That means if your mother-in-law gave you a $100 gift card to scrapbooking emporium… and you don’t scrapbook… then you may be able to sell that gift card for $80 cash through CardPool.com or Raise.com and someone who really likes scrapbooking may end up buying for $90. Everybody wins – except your mother-in-law.

Turn Your Debt into Dollars

6 – Credit Card Cash

Credit cards do have several benefits, so you might as well get something from all that extra spending you did over the past year – you know the spending that is now forcing you to come up with vacation cash over the next 30 days! Redeem your points to get cash back if possible, or get gift cards you can use for items you were going to purchase anyway (such as supplies of vacation, something that must be repaired at the house, or even gas for the road trip). Now, take the cash you would have used to pay for those things that you have a gift card for instead and save the extra money for vacation.

7 – Unload the Unwanted

Now is the time for the yard/garage/Craigslist sale. Everything you don’t want or can’t use anymore could be valuable (well, a few bucks valuable) to someone else. You help the planet, help a neighbor and help your wallet all at the same time. Is this outside of your comfort zone? Maybe. But extra cash for vacation is a great incentive. Besides, you’re doing this for the kids. Don’t have kids? You’re doing this for the spouse. Don’t have a spouse – then what exactly are you taking a vacation from anyway? That’s a marriage joke – if you didn’t get it – you are not married 🙂

Quick tip – If you itemize your taxes each year, you can donate a lot of these items to a qualified charity and deduct them on your taxes next year. How does that help now? Ask your employer to adjust your W-4 (The form that tells your employer how much to withhold in taxes from your paycheck each pay period) and add one extra exemption. Then adjust it back after your next paycheck. Essentially you keep more of your cash from one paycheck and give less to the IRS – because it will even out at the end of the year when you deduct the stuff you donated.

8 – Cancel the Cable

This could be the month you really reduce your cable channels – or eliminate them altogether. Who watches TV that much in the summer anyway? You can pick it back up in the fall, when all the good shows come on. In the meantime, you can get streaming services for dirt cheap… or even use their free trial for this month.

9 – Weekend Warrior

If you know anyone that has a service business and needs a little help (think manual labor) for a single job or two, ask if you can do it. Let your friend know you are trying to earn a little extra money for vacation with the family next month. You could also tutor students who need summer school, or those getting ready for college (and preparing for math or english placement exams). Be creative. Find a need and see if you can solve it quickly for some cash.

10 – Refinance Your Ride

Refinancing your car is just one of the tips in our post The Top 5 Ways to Save $1,000 in 2 Hours. If you have a car loan and refinance it now, your next payment could be lower – which means as much as an extra $50 towards your vacation fund in 30 days (plus you will continue to save that amount every month). At $50 per month, that means you could have $600 saved by this time next year, which will really help with your next vacation fund.

Make it Fun

Cash - Traffic

I truly believe that our focus must be on the journey and not the destination. That means you shouldn’t make yourself miserable when implementing these strategies to save money for vacation. Instead, you can make a game of it and actually collect the cash savings in a jar or chart your progress so the whole family can see. Realize you are not really sacrificing anyway – you are simply prioritizing that the vacation means more. When you have a goal, it is easier to adjust your spending habits for a short time period to achieve what you want.

Good luck! And please share this article and post your comments in the thread below… what do you think of these ideas, and do you have nay of your own?

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Bill Pratt

Bill is an Assistant Professor of Business at Piedmont Virginia Community College. He speaks on topics related to personal finance on college campuses across the country and is the author of multiple books on personal finance. He left the financial industry to focus on helping people become personally and financially successful. He lives in Charlottesville, VA with his wife and their three pets.

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