Try these simple strategies to help your family save for summer vacation.
52 Week Money Challenge
April is the perfect time of year for the 52 Week Money Challenge! It might be a little too late in the year for most people to save for a “big” summer vacation (Disneyland, Europe, etc.). So start now and plan for next year!
It’s simple. There are 52 weeks in a year. Starting on week one save $1. On week two save $2. On week three save $3. On week 20 save $20 and so on until the final week (52) when you’ll put $52 in savings. By the end of the 52 Week Money Challenge you’ll have saved over $1,300 to put toward a summer vacation!
· Tip: Create a Separate Savings Account
o Open a separate savings account just for the money you’ll be saving with the 52 Week Money Challenge. This way you can easily transfer money into the account from your checking but you’ll still have separated the funds so you’re not tempted to spend them.
· Tip: Involve the entire family
o If you have kids at home, bring them together for a family meeting and explain how the $52 week money challenge works.
o Explain what the money will be used for. This helps everyone have motivation to make the sacrifices necessary to save the money each week.
· Tip: Create a 52 Week Money Challenge Chart
o Help family members feel a part of the challenge by creating a chart to track each of your 52 weeks.
o You can use poster board or even just a piece of paper. Draw lines to make 52 boxes, decorate, hang where the family can see and watch the check marks fill up as you save each week!
o Did you ever play Phase 10 where you could pick your phase after your hand was dealt instead of going from 1-10 in order? This gives you freedom to tackle whichever phase you have the best hand for. You can tweak the 52 Week Money Challenge to best suit your needs in the same way.
o Create a chart on a piece of paper by drawing enough lines to make 52 squares. Next, number each square 1-52. As you begin your challenge, some weeks you may be able to save $30, $40 or $50 a little easier than others. When that happens, put the money in your account and put an X through the square with the corresponding dollar amount.
Save Now for Summer Get-A-Ways
There’s something about a long 3-day weekend that has us itching to get out and go somewhere. However, those long Memorial/Labor Day weekend get-a-ways always end up costing a little more than we expected. Help prevent those budget busters with a little planning.
· Tip: Automate 1%
o Automate 1% of your income into a separate account. This won’t seem like a huge cut on your income but will add up over time. You can draw on this money as needed to supplement extra costs on those long weekend trips.
· Tip: Use the Step-Down Principle
o Envision a staircase with multiple steps. Now think of an area where you could cut back your spending (eating out, entertainment, etc.) what can you do to take 1 step down to spend less in that area? Put the money you would have spent into the separate account.
o Examples: Go out to eat 1 time less. Stay in 1 night for free fun instead of going out for paid fun. Share 1 dessert, soda or entree instead of ordering two.
o Does it really add up? Yes! Saving just $2.50 a day adds up to $17.50 in a week and $70 in a month! That’s a tank of gas!
· Tip: Tax Return Time!
o It’s the time of year when we’re making decisions about what to do with that tax return money. While paying down debt or saving for retirement are key, it’s smart to take a bit of money and reward yourself. You may choose to put some money into your separate account for summer get-a-way expenses.
Amanda Christensen is an assistant professor at Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences. Visit: extension.usu.edu/morgan.