Earlier this year, IPX 1031 surveyed Americans to see if they plan to take a vacation. Of those surveyed, 90% answered with a resounding “yes.” Trips varied in scope, but 9 out of 10 said they plan to go somewhere.
Here’s the rub: Around the same time IPX 1031 conducted its survey, LendingClub released a report stating that 60% of U.S. adults, including more than 4 in 10 high-income consumers, live paycheck to paycheck. Practically speaking, it may be challenging for some living paycheck to paycheck to come up with the funds needed to get away for a while.
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If you’re among those who long to hit the open road but are just making ends meet, these five ideas may help.
1. Automate savings
The majority of us opt for immediate gratification. When offered a choice, we immediately do (or buy) the thing that provides satisfaction. Psychologists call it “present bias.” In other words, we are biased toward our present selves and likely to make choices that will benefit us at the moment.
Let’s say there’s a choice between going out for a great dinner tonight or using the money we would have spent to open a holiday savings account. Even though we know we’ll wish we had that holiday account when December rolls around, our present bias pushes us to go out and have fun instead.
The best way to overcome present bias is to remove the temptation. Go over your monthly budget with a fine-toothed comb, looking for any expenses you can live without. The lowest-hanging fruit tends to be things like gym memberships that are rarely used and subscriptions you’ve forgotten you’re still paying for.
Once you decide how much you can cut, ensure the funds go directly into your vacation savings. Here are two ways to have money automatically deposited into your savings account:
- If you use direct deposit for your paychecks, update how the deposits are made. Financial institutions have made it easy by allowing you to request a “split” each time your check is deposited. For example, if you usually have $2,500 deposited into your checking account and your budget shows you can spare $100, split the deposit, with $2,400 going into checking and $100 into savings.
- Another easy way to move money into savings without lifting a finger is to set up automatic deposits from checking to savings. For example, if you’re paid every two weeks, set up a transfer the day after each deposit hits your account. The money never passes through your hands, making it less likely that you’ll spend it.
2. Stop loaning the government money
The average tax refund for 2022 was $3,028. If you regularly receive a federal tax refund, ask yourself why. Why are you loaning your hard-earned money to the federal government, free of charge? Unless you have a good reason for doing so, now may be the time to raise the number of deductions you claim.
If your refund runs around $3,000 yearly, that’s an extra $250 per month that could go into your vacation fund instead of sitting in government coffers.
3. Save on energy bills
If your bills are shockingly high right now, you’re not alone. It’s been a wickedly hot summer. Still, there are easy things you can do that cost next to nothing but will positively impact how much energy you’re using and how much you’re paying for utilities each month. These include cleaning your air filters and changing the type of lightbulbs you use.
Even if your monthly utility bills drop by $50, that’s an extra $600 per year toward your next vacation.