So, you are flicking through this week’s travel magazine and discovered your dream vacation package. The location is just right and packed with experiences at every corner.

But there is one problem – YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT!

On the positive side, you have at least taken the step to admit what others won’t. For many families, the answer is often more debt with the hopes of paying it back later (and vacation savings are often absent for the family budget).

Your ability to say ‘yes’ to your dream vacation next summer all comes down to creating a budget that works. By budget that ‘works’, I am referring to realistic spending limitations that guarantee the monthly savings you need to make your dream vacation a reality.

Yes, your ability to save the correct amounts each month will require a clear strategy and outline for your budget as a whole. This could mean calculating how much could be saved on meals out on the weekend, or perhaps whether more conservative spending on birthday gifts could mean more left over for a nicer vacation hotel.

For sure, sitting down to crunch the numbers and creating these realistic target milestones is a key place to start, but remember that the behaviors and habits behind the balance sheet are what really ‘make or break’ when it comes to building momentum and making sure these targets are met.

Come back to the credit card? Yes and no

For the majority of consumers, credit cards can sometimes be seen as ‘magic money’. However, knowing that reckless borrowing – especially at the interest rate of the majority of credit card providers – is out of the question for your budget is a key mindset to have from the start.

Instead, as you plan your vacation, your credit card becomes a smart tool to make your existing vacation go a bit further, but also, a tool to ensure that your transfers can be made safely online.

When it comes to credit cards; yes, there is the advantage of more secure online transactions. This is guaranteed as part of the agreement as you sign up for the majority of credit card providers. Should you, for some reason, lose your payment to a vacation fraud or other schemes that catch you off-guard during your excitement, your credit card company is there to return your funds back.

In addition to the safety factor, there are also many relationships set between hotel and travel providers that can mean cash-back once you accrue a certain number of points. Yes, for the credit card company, statistics tell us that this might still be outpaced by the interest paid by the consumer, but staying within your monthly limit and resisting temptations can mean all the benefits, but without the interest that your credit card provider expects back.

Save and Stash

Then comes the saving factor. Yes, ensuring that you are able to budget and find the best tools are key before beginning with any savings plan.

But are you actually beginning to appropriate some money to your vacation several months in advance? If not, then betting on savings from the month before might be riskier than you think. As any smart budget tells us, unexpected expenses need to be anticipated.

The difference? The mental budget you think you can rely on most probably refuses to factor these realities in. That only puts your savings plan in jeopardy when you only have that final salary payment to count on.

As I tell my Sharks-in-Training, the key is to start small and build up slowly. Yes, the ‘savings jar’ can be more than a metaphor. In fact, you might be surprised how many of those bank notes are actually disappearing to behaviors and items you never really cared about to being with.

Start small and bring back the savings jar!

Keep Your Eye on the Prize. Build Habits That Pick Up Momentum

Where and how much you add to your monthly vacation savings does come down to sitting down and being frank with the numbers. If you anticipate that unexpected medical bill lurking in the back of your mind, how much could you really save reliably at a minimum? By denying a frank budget that has been checked professionally against your past spending behaviors, excuses, and violations to your budget plan are only guaranteed. That’s not a stress-free foundation when a vacation is something you should be excited about.

Instead, behind the numbers is often your own reflection in the rear view mirror. You need a plan and a budget that addresses the sore points of your spending behaviors you tend to ignore the most. The habit of picking up the check to impress friends you really don’t like, the fake smiles at the cocktail party as you order yet another margarita – they all point to you as the biggest variable.

Get Your Budget in Motion

They often say that “a shark compartmentalizes with one side of the brain switched off to help the other” as making a double like just ‘okay’. But that’s exactly the opposite of how you should be managing your finances, let alone a vacation savings plan that your spouse and children are excited to chat about at the kitchen table.

Instead, be the ‘shark’ with an eye on the prize.

However, ultimately this comes down to a budget you can rely upon; stopping at a mental budget and hoping for the best does not acknowledge the factors you know are only bound to change.

Get your shark on with a budget that works so you can build your dream vacation.

Are you ready to take the dive and get your finances in order? Schedule your free consultation today!

Ready to get started right now? Check out the Sharktress Success School were I teach you how to become a Bada$$ Shark with your finances!

Financial Management for Millennials