Making the Most of Your Spring Break Budget

Did winter, work and weather wear you down?

Now’s the time of year when short, dreary days and cold temperatures are coming to an end. You may want to break away somewhere warm and sunny. And it’s the perfect time to plan for a spring vacation.

No matter where you are in the Baby Steps, you can budget for a fun spring break. Here are a few ideas:

1. Spring Breaking on a Dime

If you’re building an emergency fund or paying off debt, you might think you can’t afford a vacation, but that’s not necessarily true. Sure, you probably don’t have room in your budget for a Caribbean cruise, but there are affordable spring break options for creative planners.

It’s not as sunny a choice as the beach, but one great spring vacation option is to plan some day trips. You’d be surprised by what a few Internet searches with words like “free admission” and “local attractions” can turn up. You know that state park with the gorgeous waterfall? It’s probably free (or nearly free) to visit. And that museum you’ve always said you’d love to visit with your kids? See if they offer a no-admission day.

A few more thrifty possibilities:

  • A day trip to a nearby town for sightseeing or shopping
  • A tour of historic sites in the area
  • “Recession” specials at movie theaters offering reduced tickets and concessions

2. Have Fun, But Stay Debt Free

Maybe you’re already debt-free or fully funded for emergencies and you can afford to put some money toward a vacation. If so, congratulations! You can take your spring trip farther afield. One thing’s for sure—you’re not going anywhere on the power of plastic. Vacations that take two years to pay back are no fun, during or after the fact.

3. The Mountains, the Beach and Beyond

Now you’re ready to plan the perfect spring vacation that fits your dreams and your budget. As you search for the ideal destination, be sure to get ideas from your family. You’ll all have more fun when everyone feels like they had a part in the decision.

Once you know where you’re heading, research prices and make a thorough list of all the expenses. Don’t forget to include things like airline tickets, fuel, food money and hotels.

When you have an estimate of how much you’ll need, divide the total by the number of days until your vacation begins. Then make a savings chart you can use to track your progress along the way. To stay motivated, print out a picture (or 50) of your destination and post them all over the walls and fridge. Thanks to your diligent planning, that’s where you’ll be headed in a matter of weeks!