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How To Feel Like You Take Free Vacations All Year

By David Bakke

free vacationsUp until a few years ago, vacations in my life were always a non-budgeted expense for me. Sometimes I had the money for them and sometimes I did not. I never made any plans for them and never saved up for any of them. I decided to change that in my life for a few reasons. And for the past few years, I have been able to take vacations seemingly without spending any money out of my wallet.

Everything Should Be Budgeted

First, everything should be budgeted in your life, unless of course you have no notice about it. If your car breaks down, that is going to be an unexpected expense and will need to be dealt with. That’s what an emergency fund is for! However, we all take vacations and we all take them every year, so why shouldn’t there be some sort to plan or budget for them?

A Time to Let Go

Also, if there is any time of the year that I don’t care about saving, and really don’t even want to try, it’s when I am on vacation. Sure, if there is an airline ticket to be bought or a hotel reservation to be made, then of course I’ll do my research and get my best deal. But, once I am on vacation, I honestly don’t feel like doing that stuff.

It’s because a lot of times, it is fruitless anyways. If you are in any kind of “touristy” spot, the majority of the restaurants are going to be overpriced, most souvenirs will be too expensive, and so on. I view my vacation time as more of a time for letting go of all this and if I have to pay a few extra dollars to enjoy a dinner at a fairly nice restaurant, or if I want to blow a little money on some overpriced souvenirs, then so be it.

My Simple Plan

The plan I devised is simple, I just can’t believe it took me so long to implement it into my life. Right now, I get three weeks vacation each year. At least one of them is spent at some sort of tourist destination, and the other two are normally spent in Florida. I have a lot of family there, so sometimes these vacations are pretty inexpensive.

My “touristy” vacation will usually run in the area of $500 (depending on the place) and my vacations to Florida can be as little as $150 if we stay with family, or about $300 if not. So, worst case scenario is that I spend about $1100 per year on vacations.  Of course, these are estimates.

I started my plan after a vacation several years back where I simply spent too much money. This part did not bother me so much, but what did bother me was all the scrambling that I had to do afterward to try to pay everything off.

Shortly after that, I went to my bank and opened up a separate savings account. Then, I adjusted my direct deposit with my employer to take $20 out of each paycheck and deposit it into this account. If you make any kind of good money at all, I can promise you that you will not miss this $20. And from that day forward, I had a vacation fund built in to my budget. At $20 a paycheck, I have just under $1100 to spend on my vacations annually.

Right before I leave for vacation, I go to the bank and withdraw how much I think I’ll need for wherever I am going, and there you go, I have a “paid for” vacation. The first time I did it was absolute bliss, and since then it has made my vacations much more enjoyable.

You should at least try out this concept. Start setting aside some money each paycheck for your next vacation. When the time comes and you see that almost no money comes out of your wallet so to speak, I think you may decide to get yourself on some kind of vacation budget.

Have any ideas that you use to budget for your vacations? Please share them with our subscribers and visitors below.

(photo credit: christianhaugen)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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  • http://change-is-possible.net H Lee D

    My husband and I are both paid once every two weeks (for 10 months — both teachers). Our monthly budget is based on four checks per month. But once per school year he gets a third check in a month, and once per school year I get a third check per month. Unless there is an emergency, those go into the vacation fund. This year, he had a surgery that ate up one of the checks, but the other we were able to use.

    But “we all take vacations and we all take them every year” isn’t at all true. In summers when we haven’t had money, we haven’t taken vacation. (Typically we don’t vacation at other times, as neither of us likes to miss work.)

    • david

      H Lee

      Sounds like you have a built in vacation fund as well. That’s great!

      But you’re right–it was a little presumptuous of me to claim that we “all” take vacations every year.

      Thanks for stoppin’ by–hope to see more of you…

  • http://www.startwelllivewell.com Meghan

    Loved this post! I tend to “chunk” my savings because it helps me feel like I reach goals faster. What I mean by that is as far as “extra savings” goes (not retirement savings) I put more toward ONE goal for a shorter period of time than I would if I were putting a little toward several goals for a longer period of time.

    And though that has worked for me for awhile I think I’d like to try going your route again (I used to do this) and see how it goes. =)

  • David Bakke

    Meghan

    As I have always said–whatever works for you!!

    Thanks for weighing in

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