by Michael J. Swanson

It is important to put aside the time to take a vacation, but it can be stressful financially to spend money on the trip you need and deserve. Here are a few tips to help you afford your next vacation:

Out of sight, out of mind.
Create a “vacation” bank account and have your employer split your paycheck to automatically deposit a set amount into the vacation account with each paycheck. By doing this, you won’t be tempted to spend the money that you need to take a vacation.

Rack up points and save.
Find a credit card company that gives you points for hotels and airline tickets when you make purchases on the card. Be sure to pay off the balance at the end of each month so you are not accumulating debt while saving for your vacation.

Pick the perfect time.
» When you are planning your vacation, research off-peak travel times and the best days to book and take flights to get the best deals.
» The time of year makes a difference in the costs of hotel rooms and flights. No matter where you are traveling, it is in your best interest to do an online search for the cheapest time of year to visit that location.
» The day of the week that you book and take your flights can also affect the price of your tickets. According to Skyscanner, Tuesday at 5 a.m. is the best time to book flights to get the best deals. Be sure to plan ahead and book your flights weeks in advance for domestic flights and months in advance for international flights.

Automate your savings.
Another way to save money over time is by using automated savings apps like Qapital, Bank of America’s Keep the Change, and Chime. These apps allow you to save money when you spend money. They have automatic savings features like rounding up your purchases and putting the extra money into a savings account.

Don’t forget to use your piggy bank.
At the end of each day or week, check your pockets, wallet or purse for any change, and designate a vacation savings jar at your house to put coins and small bills in. Even small amounts of money can add up quickly over time.

Clean out your closet and collect your cash.
Selling items that you no longer want can be a great way to make some extra cash for a vacation. Clean out your closets and look around your home for clothes, furniture, electronics and other items that you may be able to sell. There are numerous online services like Letgo, Ebay, Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, and OfferUp that make it easy to sell your unwanted items. If you would rather sell your items in person, garage sales and consignment stores like Plato’s Closet are great options.

Get a side gig.
Do some gig work or get a part-time job and devote that income stream to the vacation account. If you want a side job with flexible hours, consider driving for a ride-share company, delivering food, babysitting, dog-walking or cleaning houses on the side. There are also websites like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99 Designs that allow you to use your skills and talents to take on commission work in your free time.

Start planning and saving for your next vacation today using one or more of these savings methods. Bon voyage!