Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saving for a vacation

This is the time of year that it is good to look to the future. We should, of course, do this all year long, but I want everyone to get out of the habit of doing your next year planning in that week between Christmas and New Year Day.

My wife and I said that we would like to plan for a vacation. We went to Niagara Falls last year on July 4, and did not take a vacation this year. With the changing of jobs, I decided not to take one this summer (even though my company arranged for me to have 5 paid days off at the end of July.) Therefore, I will have ten paid days off as of January 1, and will earn 12 paid days off per year after that.

We have done vacations where we go shorter distances away, and further away as well. A short vacation may be 100 miles, and a longer one will be 800 miles or more. We used to make these travel trips with our travel trailer, but we do not have that any more. Someday, I will get into a comparison of RV vacations VS. Hotel vacations.

We were thinking of doing a short (four day) vacation to New Hampshire in the summer. This is about a four hour trip away for us by car. Before we had our RV, we used to rent a two bedroom house there, so we had a kitchen, living room, and a yard for the kids. My wife thought that it would be good to go back there again. We also would like to plan a trip to Florida, to Disneyworld, Universal, and Seaworld. In addition, we could go to visit some relatives as well. We set a tentative date of the middle of July, 2009, for New Hampshire, and March, 2010 for Florida. Our oldest son will be fifteen at that time, and it could very well be our last long vacation with him.

I opened up another tab in my 2009 financial control spreadsheet (Where I keep track of all spending, saving, and budgeting accounts), and began to plan for the summer vacation. It was amazing that with our family of five, including spending money, we came up with $2200 for our trip! We sat down and sharpened the pencil a bit, and were able to trim it down to $1810. We would have to fund $65 per week, or $258.00 per monthly bonus to have the money in time. Certainly not out of reach.

We began a quick plan for the Florida vacation, including airfare, lodging (probably will spend a few days with family as well), themepark tickets, extra for food, spending money, rental car, and the like. I was pretty generous in spending money, and theme park tickets as well. Our projected expenses for this trip came to just shy of $7000!

Well, at least we have 62 weeks, and 15 months to put away for it! I figured out how much was needed with funding coming from my weekly pay, as well as my monthly bonuses. $25.00 per week, and $356 per monthly bonus, will put us right where I figure that we need to be.

This is in addition to some other pretty agressive goals for this year, one of which is to build and accumulate a $20,000 emergency fund by the end of 2009. This will definitely be some work!

Well, we have decided that we will probably cut the projections for our summer vacation a bit short, maybe a weekend away, and work hard towards the emergency fund and the Florida trip. But, my point is, by taking the time right now to sit down and plan for events that are anywhere from eight to fifteen months away, we can make the decisions that we need to make, and set our priorities. It will be great to get on that plane, knowing that we will be gone for twelve days, and having every dime of it paid for in advance. No debt! That feeling, to borrow the Mastercard line, is PRICELESS!

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