As winter gives way to warmer weather, most people have stopped thinking about the cold and started looking forward to their big adventure of the year—spring break. However, even on a budget, paying for food, lodging, and rentals can quickly turn your holiday ambitions into a pipe dream. For many college students, preparing for spring break means cutting expenses with the exception of maintaining the absolute necessities.
The question is, does it have to be this way? Saving is important, but planning your spring break doesn’t mean you must put your life on hold and pinch every penny. You can still build up your vacation funds without becoming a hermit. Here are five tips to help you save for spring break.
1. Cut unnecessary purchases and expenses
One thing most financial advisors will recommend it to closely examine your everyday spending. A caramel macchiato from Starbucks is a delicious way to start each morning, but $4 for a cup can quickly turn into over $100 every month if it’s part of your daily routine. For many people, these small expenses are built into their habits, and it’s easy to ignore how much they can drain from your bank account.
Start with little things like brewing your own coffee and bringing homemade snacks instead of buying them at the store. These may seem like tiny savings in the short-term, but $12 a day is $84 a week just on snacks and coffee.
You can also cut out other expenses such as going out every night and even buying bottled water by purchasing a purifier and a good water bottle. A few dollars saved every day will be a great start for your vacation fund.
2. Make a monthly budget you can actually follow
Making a budget is easy; you just have to say how much money you’ll spend on each part of your routine and account for some unexpected costs. Keeping to your budget, however, can be trickier. For some people, the problem isn’t the budgeting itself, but creating plans that are realistic. When trying to save, it’s common to go to one extreme and eliminate all expenditures aside from bills and the absolute minimum for food and living. However, going that far can quickly backfire and make it hard to keep to your plan.
The best budgets cut down on unnecessary spending, but leave you enough money to live your life with a high degree of normalcy. Moreover, a well-planned budget lets you understand your personal finances by accurately visualizing where your money goes each month. Start a few months before your spring break, and you’ll see your bank account quickly add zeros, in the best way possible.
There are al bunch of awesome budgeting apps on the market now that we recommend getting to help you keep track of your finances.
3. Take advantage of student discounts
Being a student can be an anchor on your finances, especially if you’re working with a limited budget. However, many merchants recognize that students aren’t always flush with cash, and offer special discounts and promotions. If you’re seeking to save without having to sacrifice all of your fun activities, search for places near your campus or around town that provide special prices for students.
Don’t be afraid to ask if there are specials when you go to restaurants, cinemas, and other venues. Odds are, if you can show your student ID, most places in your town are likely to grant you deals or discounts. At the end of the day, any way you can save will help you have a more enjoyable trip. And this leads nicely into our next tip.
4. Find ways to make spending work for you
Sometimes spending money is inevitable. Whether rent, utilities, or even groceries, expenses are a part of life and you should factor them into your budget. However, spending doesn’t have to be a complete negative for your bank account.
Finding creative ways to make your expenses work for you can help you uncover cash in even the unlikeliest of places.
One of the best ways to save money as a student is by using the appropriate credit cards. Students enjoy many perks that non-students with similar credit ratings would never be able to get.
If you’ve got at least average credit, you can grab the Discover it® Student chrome for an even better cash back program with a host of additional perks.
Switching most of your purchases to such a credit card lets you cover your monthly expenses, but earn cash back to spend on your spring break adventure.
5. Use your phone to stay on track
Even the best plans can quickly go awry if you’re not motivated or forget your goals. Luckily, there are several ways to stay on track, and most of them are available directly on your smartphone. There are a variety of budgeting apps available for mobile phones, and they are designed to help motivate you to stick to your financial plans.
The best part about many of these apps is they let you set goals, and can connect to your bank account to give you a real-time snapshot of your finances, savings, and how close you are to meeting your targets.
Apps like Qapital, for example, give you encouragement to make day-to-day progress with your savings. Get organized, get motivated, and start keeping better track of your money to quickly see how your savings can stack up.
Collecting funds for your upcoming trip doesn’t have to be a tedious experience. While cutting back on spending may mean some short-term changes for everyday life, developing smarter financial habits will help you plan for spring break with money left over to enjoy once you arrive at your destination!