Saving Up for a Vacation with the Kids

Saving Up for a Vacation with the Kids

Like a lot of other parents around the world, I had to face facts early in 2020 that a family vacation wasn’t going to be happening. We didn’t have anything particularly ambitious planned (though my two little ones very much missed our annual Fourth of July beach getaway with extended family). But the lack of any kind of interruption tried our family like so many others.

Don’t get me wrong, I leapt head-first into home activities. I built LEGO sets with both children; we worked our way through much of the Disney+ library and a handful of my old favorite kids’ books; we even played video games together — not something I ever expected!

But I also became conscious that this was going to be a year without experiences for my kids. In place of annual memories rolling down dunes and splashing in the waves with their cousins, they’ll have a gap. They won’t have had other little trips, birthday parties at friends’ places, a week in the lake at the nearby summer camp, or even dinners out! I’ve loved building those LEGO sets and letting them teach me video games, but I ache for them for those lost experiences. And so I made up my mind to do two things. I decided my husband and I would plan a big post-COVID vacation, and I decided we’d start saving for it immediately.

I won’t claim that we’ve perfected vacation savings at all. But we did try some strategies, and I want to share them!

The first was to skip the morning Starbucks trip. Now, I’m aware that the “skip the lattes” strategy is a cliché. And if I hadn’t been self-conscious enough about it already, my son’s query (literally, “how will you wake up every day?”) did the trick. But I still had to face facts: I’m one of the people who spends close to $5 daily, and when a new barista at my local shop knew my name and order before I’d even registered her face as familiar, I decided maybe I was overdoing it. Early shutdowns actually helped me kick the habit though. Then, I decided to pay the price of my would-be drink every day into a vacation fund — easily netting $100-plus a month!

The second strategy was to find a savings account and map out a strategy that could pay us back the vacation’s cost. I had read about high-yield savings account basics a few years ago (when I went through the obligatory phase of reading the entire internet to plan for the kids’ education costs), and this resonated as a suitable option. These are essentially savings accounts that yield more compounding interest if funds aren’t withdrawn. So, if you have a chunk of cash to put away that can mature meaningfully, it’s a way to set up savings for a specific reason. In our case, we (roughly) estimated costs and targeted that amount. We won’t see that money for a while. But ultimately, it will reimburse much of the cost. (And if need be, we can withdraw it sooner.)

Step three was to start doing some online writing, which is actually something I did in my pre-motherhood days (on my beloved blocky, glossy old white MacBook). The good news, as I quickly discovered, is that the resources for online writers today are much better than they were even five years ago. During the pandemic, I was able to take advantage of some of these and devote time to writing — sometimes even with my little girl seeming to enjoy “watching,” which was of course adorable and heartwarming! Without writing anything particularly groundbreaking, I wound up with some respectable earnings.

Those basically comprise the savings efforts. I hope they’re of some help to other parents looking for a way to make the next year a bit more special for the little ones.

Now all that’s left is to wait and see when it’s safe for us to jet off to Italy! Maybe I’ll treat myself to some good coffee once there….

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By Ashley Owens

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