Do You Have a Travel Budget
We live in a society of instant gratification and that can get us travelers in financial trouble if we are not careful and don’t have a budget in place to help fund our trips when our points don’t cover all the costs. I won’t fall prey to the temptation of instant gratification, but rather, feel we should live within our means and only spend money that we actual have saved. With this in mind, I often talk about stretching our travel budgets as far as we can by taking advantage of points from loyalty programs, credit cards and frequent flyer programs. But, even with the use of points, we often need to have some cold hard cash available to make our trips happen. If you are like me and my family, we don’t often have the luxury of being spontaneous and taking advantage of low demand periods when award travel is most available. I tend to have more flexibility with my money than I do with my time. Therefore, I establish a quick and easy travel budget that ensures we always have funds available for trips like the ones you have read about in this blog.
There are many ways to establish a travel budget, and you should pick the one that works best for your family. I will touch upon two methods that are the easiest in my opinion. The first method is one that you most likely already know, and the second is one that you may have not thought of until reading this article. The first and most though of way to budget for travel is to just put away a set amount every paycheck for travel so that you build your fund until you reach your goal. This monthly amount may also just be an amount that you know you can spend every month. I don’t have the luxury yet to travel every month, but I envy those that can plan and take trips that often. This standard and most common method to budget for travel can easily be used throughout the year so that it continuously builds and ensures money is available to augment our points when necessary.
Plan Ahead for an easy travel budget
The second, and perhaps more creative, way to create an instant travel budget is to set up your family budget based on two paychecks a month (i.e. the 1st & 15th). Outside of the military, almost everyone gets paid every two weeks. With 52 weeks in a year, that equates to you having 26 pay periods (i.e. pay days) a year. If you set up your budget as if you get two paychecks a month, then that leaves you with two paychecks a year that you can allocate to your travel fund. Some may allocate one towards travel and the other towards a large purchase or perhaps Christmas fund, but either way you have an instant travel budget to use for your next trip. Below I have included graphics that show how and when these “extra” paychecks will appear in your bank account if you get paid every other Friday.
Your Extra Money
Luckily, for us summer time travelers, one of these “extra” checks in 2016 and 2017 comes during the summer. As you can see from above, I am about to realize our first travel budget infusion in July of this year and the second in December. That is a good thing as our last Spring Break trip consisted of a cruise that depleted our travel budget. Cruises are not very point friendly so more cash than normal was required for this trip, but our family loves the sun, beaches and sea so I see many more cruises in our future.
If you care to see the template I use to set up our family budget as described above just request it via a comment left below or an email via the Travel Brainstorm contact form. I also have some past posts that you can access that will describe in greater detail how to set up a family budget. I am a CFO so I harp on budgets more than most, but as is often proven, one’s failure to plan is planning to fail and I do not ever want to fail to travel. Like many of you, I love to plan trips and create memories for my family. By using this budgeting trick, you can always ensure you have some money tucked away to create those memories with your loved ones.
As always, happy brainstorming and safe travels!