Friday, April 25, 2008

Vacation Saving

Its starting to get warm outside and summer is just around the corner - time for all those summer vacations.

I thought I'd share how I plan and save for vacations, especially since this week I've been pushed to figure out my vacation plans since my new boss of two weeks told me I have to have my vacation request for the rest of the year to him no later than April 28th. (I've never had to turn in my vacation requests more than a few weeks in advance not 8 months in advance but thats neither here nor there).

I had to quickly plan a summer vacation if I wanted to have one this year, plus confirm plans for my cousin's wedding in September, Thanksgiving, and Christmas plans. At least those were slightly easier because there's less choices.

With the crazy hours I'm having to work on this new project by the time I get home each night I barely am able to find time to eat dinner and post here before I crash into bed to start the process all over again - I'm hopeful that this will eventually change but I don't see an end insight until we start the finishes in the building and move to 24 hour a day which will force us to have shifts so maybe I could work a normal amount of hours even if they are at odd times -- but I digress this post is about vacations. With the crazy hours I've been putting in, I didn't have the time to deal with trying to plan a vacation and with the rush to plan a summer vacation and not having the time to invest in researching my options, I could have easily over spent but I'm proud to say I haven't.

The way I plan for for irregular expenses like Vacation is by saving every month through out the year by utlizing a "dummy" transfer in my financial software even though it stays in my Money Market until needed. To come up with the amount to save each month for these irregular expenses is that I track my expenses from the previous year and then add 10%.

Last year my summer vacation was a 5-day weekend at Destin with Fashionista. I also took m 3 day weekend mini-vacations to Savannah, hiking, and Hilton Head. For the Destin Trip and my mini-vacations I spent $1020 excluding gas for driving (gas and maintence absorbed in my regular monthly budget).

So far I didn't have any plans for this year's vacation. Since Fashionista was going to Europe this summer and using up all of her vacation time then I knew our usual Destin trip would be out. I was talking to my mom and she brought up the two of us going on a cruise - we'd been talking about this for years but for one reason or another it just never worked out.

Niether one of us had ever been on a cruise and so thought it would be a fun adventure for us. My mom's not a planner so planning the cruise fell to me, I did a few quick google searches and found the options overwelming. I had no idea how to evaluate the options and which lines were the best. I ended up calling a family friend who's also a travel agent, told her what we were looking for in a cruise and with in a day she emailed me four options and the pros and cons of each cruise - plus two of them she'd actually sailed on herself.

My mom and I ended up choosing to go on a cruise to the Bahamas on a Royal Caribean for 5 nights. On top of the cruise we're going to go down two days early and stay at the beach. Total cost of this trip per person is $770. Yeah! Under budget and have seveal hundred dollars worth of spending money for the trip.

Moral of the story...when you're out of your league and short on time seek professional help. It can really pay off, by contacting a travel agent I saved both time and money.

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