You work hard for most of the year so those few weeks of holiday are a welcome break and an excellent opportunity to catch some rays, but the bank balance doesn’t always match your destination aspirations.
Start with the basics
You need the grown-up equivalent of a savings jar if you are going to be able to successfully put aside some money towards your holidays.
Exercising financial prudence on a regular basis is going to help keep your bank balance in a better state over time, but the discipline of separating the money and putting it one step away from temptation, by opening a savings account , is the basic route to achieving your goals.
Think of your savings account as a savings jar and then start transferring whatever spare money that you have over to this account. Having a dedicated savings account that is there for a specific purpose like a holiday, allows you to see exactly where you are with your savings target and can often encourage you to save regularly, when you see an end product for your efforts.
Work out a household budget and see how much spare money you could afford to put aside each month, then set up a regular transfer, in just the same way as you would when paying a bill.
Get real with your finances
Even the most financially prudent and astute people would probably be surprised at the disparity between what they think they are spending each month and what they are actually spending.
The only way that you get a true financial picture and see what you are spending and where savings can be made, is to do a comprehensive household budget.
It is amazing how many small purchases like a daily coffee on the way to work, can soon add up to a sizeable chunk of money each month. Once you have an accurate picture of your financial expenditure and have worked out how much you need for your holiday plans, you can then set about seeing how far away you are from reality and what steps you need to take to meet your goal.
If you are planning a family holiday and will be traveling with kids, you already know just how expensive it can get, as you have to find the money for more plane tickets, hotel rooms and everything else that gets multiplied in that situation.
It is not a bad idea to try and get your children to see the importance of putting money away towards a family goal like a holiday, even if their contribution is going to be understandably small.
If they get a weekly allowance, encourage them to put away a part of that towards the holiday. Even if you don’t intend to use any of their money towards the holiday itself, kids always like the idea of having a bit of their own money to spend on vacation, plus it gives them a good lesson in the importance of saving.
Cash is king
Although technology is doing its best to turn us into a cashless society, the trouble with paying for things with your phone or waving a card at a terminal, is that it is not always that easy to keep track of your spending.
Drawing out the cash that you need for the week and then heading to the grocery store and other places, will almost certainly ensure that you don’t spend as much as you would if you were paying with a card or using your smartphone.
Those special offers and extra items don’t seem so tempting when you have to part with real cash for them rather than charge your card. Try drawing out cash for a few weeks and when it runs out for the week, so does your spending.
You will probably find that you end up spending less when you use cash, which means that if you keep that up for a few months, you will be able to put some extra towards your savings target.
If you start employing some money-saving tactics and become more disciplined with your spending, it could make all the difference to your holiday plans.
Rosie Hart is a personal finance consultant who readily hands out her top tips for saving money around the web in her articles and in online discussions.