Southern Mom Loves: You CAN Take That Vacation! Part 1: Planning

You CAN Take That Vacation! Part 1: Planning

Saturday, June 10, 2017

When's the last time you took a vacation? I mean a REAL vacation where you actually left your home and had a fabulous time instead of just taking time off from work and hanging out at the house. For many of us, a real vacation might seem worlds away – something we'll get to when our finances are a little better, but we’re wasting so much precious time waiting for that to happen. Stop waiting and start doing! In this 3-part series, I’ll walk you through how you can take that vacation you’ve been waiting for starting with part 1: Planning.

How Much Will It Cost?

Sit down with your family and plan your dream vacation. Maybe it's full-on Disney or a trip to the beach. Whatever it is, start planning it. You want to think about everything you'd want to do while on vacation – the sites you'd want to see, the restaurants you'd like to visit, etc. Make a list.

Next, you need to research how much everything will cost, and I mean everything. You need to consider how much gas or plane tickets will cost, the cost of the hotel room, food, attraction tickets, souvenirs – everything. Be generous in your estimates. It's better to have more money than you need than less. Write down all the estimates and then total them. The number may seem high, but there are ways to make it happen.

When Are You Going?

You want to set a date for your vacation. The reason you want to set a date is it makes it easier to work towards that goal. For example, if you know that you want to take the vacation in 6 months, and you know that if the vacation will cost $2000, you'll need to save around $335 per month to make it happen on time. It's much easier to think about reaching $335 per month than $2000. It's also easier to think about only needing to put away $85 a week.

Do the math. It will make reaching your goals so much easier. Plus, if you or your partner need to request dates for their vacation time, you’ll be much more likely to get the dates you want if you request them far ahead of time. You’ll also be more likely to stick with the plan if the dates have been set in stone.

Brainstorm Budget Cuts

If you’re reading this article, chances are you don’t have a big, fat savings account waiting for you to dip into. That means cutting things out of your budget that you may be able to do without for a while. Bonus: If you make the cuts and don’t miss them, saving for your next vacation and the one after that becomes so much easier.

Start by sitting down with your monthly bank and credit card statements and make a list of all of your expenditures by category:
  • Hard Necessities (rent or mortgage, utilities, car note, etc. that can’t be cut)
  • Soft Necessities (bills like cable or cell phone that you may be able to decrease or eliminate)
  • Non-Necessities (like trips to convenience stores or fast food that can be eliminated altogether.) 
It will be easier to see what you’re spending and what you could absolutely do without.


You probably have some little expenses that you don't actually need that can save you big bucks over time. For example, cutting your satellite or cable and switching to a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu can save you $100 or more a month. Cutting out those daily $5 lattes during the work week can save you around $100 a month. You could do your mani/pedis yourself for a while and save quite a bit.

One woman's old LV bag is another woman's new LV bag.

Did you know that the clothes, accessories, and shoes that you no longer wear may pay for a large chunk of your vacation thanks to companies like Poshmark or Tradesy? Spend a few hours clearing out your closet and you could be much closer to your goal. You could also consider doing a whole-house cleanout and having a yard sale.

What's cookin'? A vacation.

For us, eating out was a huge part of our expenditures every month. Eating out in a fairly inexpensive restaurant for 4 cost us between $50-$70 per meal. It got so easy to say “let’s go out to eat” when my husband and I were both too tired to cook. Making a resolution to completely cut out frivolous trips to restaurants has saved us so much money! Saving dining out for special occasions rather than an expensive twice-a-week habit can save the biggest bucks of all.

Shop around.

Some other ways to make budget cuts are to shop around for better deals on the services you currently use, but can’t do without. Shop for better deals on things like internet service, cell phone service, oil changes, groceries (switching to store branded food items can save big!), and refinancing loans or high-interest credit card balances at a lower interest rate.

Dough. Cheese. Payola. Loot. Moolah. Dinero.

A great hack to help you save a LOT of money is to pay only in cash. You'll be surprised at how much less you spend when you're actually handing over cash. It's all in your mind, but people are much less likely to spend frivolously when using actual currency. You could also vow to not spend any of the change and place all loose coins in a jar to go towards your goal.

Press pause. Applaud.

Another great hack is to do an occasional no-spend month (try a week first if you're not sure you can pull off a month) in which you only buy things that are a complete necessity. Make it a game and see how little you can spend that month. Put all your extra money into your vacation savings and watch it stack up. Pat yourself on the back! You'll be there in no time.


A vacation is never going to happen if you keep saying, “Someday.” You can at least try planning it out if only to see how much it might cost. You may be surprised at how affordable it could be. Watch out for the next article where I’ll cover methods of saving!

Check out the next post: You CAN Take That Vacation! Part 2: Saving

Check out the last post: You CAN Take That Vacation! Part 3: Stretching Your Money

When was your last big vacation? Where would you like to go next? I love to read your comments!

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