The economic downturn has made many families believe that a vacation is just too expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to make changes to your current budget to save money for a great trip with the family.
We spoke with Paul Vasquez, VP of Business Development for Keycode.com, a website that aggregates coupon codes, deals and sales from popular retailers, like Petco, American Eagle Outfitters, and other brands.
Paul shared his tips on how to make changes to what you're currently doing to save money. Whether it's stocking up on ketchup in July or taking the kids for free activities, this list can help you save money, and use your savings for the perfect family trip!
1. Create a household budget: One of the best ways to save money is create a household budget. Despite what most of us believe, budgeting is a pretty simple concept – when you spend money on one thing it means you can’t spend it on something else. Budgeting is really just an exercise in setting priorities and making purchases in accord with those priorities. If you have kids, consider involving them in the budget process. Not only will they learn valuable lessons about money management, getting their “buy in” early may help you avoid arguments when it comes time for the family to make the tough choice not to spend money on the latest game or gadget.
2. Be a smart grocery shopper: When shopping for groceries, stock up on seasonal specials. For example, grocery stores know that consumers typically buy more condiments during the summer. Therefore, they put these on deep discount during June and July to encourage consumers to shop in their stores. You can take advantage of these “sales cycles” to save money by stocking up on seasonally discounted merchandise. And never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry and try not to take the children with you. Empty stomachs and kids in tow are two things that often lead shoppers to impulsively spend money they didn’t intend to spend.
3. Steer your kids toward less expensive entertainment options: Instead of going to the theater, rent movies. For the price of one movie ticket, most peop
le can join a movie subscription service for a whole month. Many supermarkets, drug stores, and discount chains also have kiosks where you can rent a movie for $1 per night – or less if you have a coupon. Another option – encourage your children to read. There are all kinds of books available for all ages, including some fantastic book series that will grab a child’s attention and keep them coming back for more. Most books are available at the library, or you can establish a “book club” with friends and neighbors who share the cost of books that you lend to one another. Re-introduce your kids to the things you did as a kid. Arts and crafts are a great way for children to be creative and have fun without having to spend a lot of money. Board games and card games are another great option. And if all else fails, encourage them to go outside and play.
4. Pack a lunch: With some advance planning, you can save big on daily lunches by planning the week in advance and buying groceries in bulk from your local “big box” store. Not only will this save you money on lunches, many of the items you purchase may also be used for after school snacks and family meals offering shoppers even more “bang for their buck.”
5. Look for government-sponsored ways to save: Many states offer money saving opportunities like sales tax holidays, free energy audits, and appliance rebates. Shopping during a tax holiday will save you about 5-8% on Back-to-School clothes, shoes, accessories, and supplies. An energy audit can uncover a number of costly problems that are simple to fix without spending a lot of money. And if you need a new kitchen appliance, water heater, AC unit, or furnace, make sure to check with your state and local governments to see if they have a rebate program that can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expense.