By GALTime Financial Reporter Jodi Grundig
If you haven't already saved for this summer's vacation, it may be too late to cover all the costs, especially if you're taking off in June or early July. But, it's never too early to start thinking about fabulous getaways later this year or even 2011. Before you get too far with your savings plan, keep in mind the first step of saving for anything, including vacations, is knowing the true, full costs of what you are planning for. So, how do you come up with a realistic estimate of the FULL cost of that getaway?
First, decide exactly where you want to go, and how long you plan to visit for. Consider how much time your kids can miss from school and how much time you can get away from work.
Once you know the destination and length of visit, estimate your flight and lodging costs. Keep in mind that these costs can be seasonal - school vacation weeks can be considerably more costly than other weeks. To get the best estimate, use the Internet and/or a travel agent.
Then, think about your food and attraction budgets. Again, look to the Internet for accurate estimates. You can actually subtract out your standard budget for food during the time you are away, since you won't be eating at home. Don't forget the "hidden costs" of vacations.
Once you have a good estimate of what your vacation will cost, develop a savings plan. Think about any large amounts of money you may receive (a bonus or tax refund, perhaps) that you can apply to your vacation savings. Then divide the remaining amount you need to save by the total number of months you have before your trip. That's the monthly amount you'll need to save.
Need motivation? Consider putting a picture of your destination up in your home, so that you'll always have a reminder of what you are saving for!
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