This post is by Ali Luke of Constructively Productive.
As I write this, it’s late August here in the UK—and the weather is already cold and miserable. By the middle of winter, I know that I’ll be thoroughly fed up of the rain and the grey skies.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere too, you’ll be watching the days grow shorter and shorter as winter approaches. By December or January, you’ll probably be wishing you were somewhere warmer.Now’s the time to plan (and save) for a winter getaway, so that you’ve got something to look forwards to as the months get colder.
Why it’s good to get away
You know how valuable a vacation can be. It leaves you refreshed and re-energized for your work; it gives you a chance to spend time relaxing with your family or friends; it may even be a chance to try out something completely new.
In the depths of winter, getting away to somewhere warm and sunny can really lift your spirits. Christmas is often a busy time of travelling to see different groups of friends or relatives, so taking a break in early December or in January can give you some much-needed time out!
Of course, you probably agree with me that a winter break would be great—if you could afford it. After all, with Christmas on its way, your budget might already be looking stretched.
Don’t simply wait until December to see whether or not you have enough money left over for a break: chances are, you won’t.
You need to start saving now so that you can enjoy a guilt-free trip.
How to keep your savings plan on track
You don’t have to save a lot in order to get away. A few hundred dollars might well be enough for a long weekend trip, plus cheap flights (try hunting around online for good deals).
If you saved just $50 per week—$10 each weekday—for three months (13 weeks), you’d have $650. Okay, it’s not going to buy you a month-long cruise, but it’s enough for a refreshing few days away.
Where can you find that $50? Perhaps:
- you and your partner go out for a meal twice a week, and easily spend $25 per head
- you’re buying a couple of new DVDs or computer games each week
- your daily lunch costs you $10—if you packed leftovers from home, or made a sandwich, you’d be paying a fraction of that
- you spend $50 on drinks every Friday night when you go out with friends.
If you haven’t got much idea of what you’re currently spending, try keeping a log for a week. Write down every penny you spend. At the end of the week, look for $50 worth of spending that you could cut.
It can be hard to stay motivated to save, so if you’re struggling, try these tips:
- Only take the cash that you need when you go shopping—that way, you won’t be swayed by impulse purchases.
- Book your trip ahead of time. Then you’ll know exactly what you’re saving towards.
- Put your savings into a separate bank account, so that it’s harder to spend them on a whim.
- Ask your partner or a friend to keep you accountable.
If you hope to enjoy a winter vacation in three or four month’s time, let us know what you’re planning to do, and how you’re going to make sure it happens! The comments are open…
Ali Luke blogs at Constructively Productive about productivity with perspective. If you’d like regular tips on getting more done, saving money, and—most importantly—finding time to do what you love, then grab the RSS feed here.