By Kristen Fricks-Roman
I travel often throughout the U.S. and internationally and, in fact, consider myself fortunate to have a broad “wealth of experiences.” Early on in my adventures I realized I didn’t want to pay for my vacation after I returned home. Charging my trip on a credit card and then paying it off over the course of several months after my return didn’t seem ideal. Instead I wanted to plan and focus on the next one! The answer: adding “travel” as an item to my annual budget.
My next thought was wondering if saving for vacation and entertainment would take away from my need to save for a comfortable retirement, college education for my children and even my present financial well-being. There was only one way I was going to find out—with a financial plan beginning with a household budget.
I am financially aware of the income that is actually being deposited into my checking account each month and accounting for how much I’m spending and putting away in savings. The latter is of the greatest importance. Once I established the amount I planned on spending each year for family vacations, I was able to evaluate my overall savings and increase the amount I was putting away in investment and savings accounts each month. This then enabled me to take advantage of airfare and housing specials prior to my travels and virtually prepay for my trips.
For some women — and I’m speaking from my own experience as a financial advisor — their vacation savings plan begins with a part-time job. Not wanting to disturb the balance of their current household budget, they find or create work that enables them to earn enough to experience a great vacation and allow them the time off to travel. Here are a few examples:
· Become a tax preparer and work the first part of the year, leaving the summer and fall open to travel. This is a great option for those who may have retired from the banking, finance or accounting industries.
· Job share or work part time in the field of education. This option may offer summers and holidays free to explore the world. This is a wonderful way to return to the field of education, especially if one has been out of the workforce raising children or for those wishing to retire — but not just yet.
· Express your creative side by setting up a business to sell crafts, children’s clothing, etc., on websites such as Etsy.com. This is a favorite for those raising children and/or working part time, especially when you have a supportive partner to give you the time to work on, and in, the business.
· Consulting or counseling careers provide flexible schedules to work on a part-time basis and have selective time off to pursue your passion to explore at your heart’s desire.
I know many women who “work to travel.” Most are very disciplined in their savings strategy. I’ve seen these driven women set up separate checking and savings accounts to put their extra earnings in and then use those accounts to pay for their travel bookings. This simplifies the accounting system and should keep most on their budget.
Whether you create a holistic financial plan that incorporates a number of life goals and a corresponding savings plan, or your motto is “if I want to play more I have to work harder,” the best way to travel and leave the stress at home is to know that you are not going into debt to pay for that wonderful vacation. May your next vacation be pleasant, peaceful and paid for!