There are only two ways to come up with extra money: either make more, or spend less. Here are some ways you can do both painlessly. You may even have a little fun along the way.
- Use a change jar. Did you know that if you put aside $1.36 a day, you’ll have saved $500 in a year? Designate an empty jar for change. Make it fun: label it the “Disney Fund” or “Beach Bank” and decorate it with things that remind you of your destination. After you empty your pockets into the jar, get your kids into the act. Mine are masters at finding quarters hiding under the couch cushions, pennies on the ground, and dimes between car seats. Convince them that their found change is better spent saving up for an awesome vacation than on yet another trip to the candy store.
- Have a garage sale. Your trash is somebody’s treasure. This strategy has a double benefit: you make money and get to clear out clutter. When asking kids to donate excess toys, let them help value and price what they’re going to be selling. Depending on their ages, you could even let them man a small table with kid items at the sale. This way, they get to make their own money to donate to the cause. Or consider setting them up with a lemonade or Kool-aid stand during the sale. I’ve seen kids make a killing selling lemonade and smiles to thirsty garage sale shoppers.
- Recycle. Another double benefit, this strategy is good for the environment and your vacation fund. Aluminum, metal, and even newspapers can be organized and exchanged for cash. Have a surplus of books? A used bookstore may pay for all those old romance novels you aren’t planning to reread. If you have out of date video game consoles or unwanted games around, many independent video game stores, pawn shops, or your local GameStop will pay for those items. You may want to call around and see which of those places will give you the best deal.
- Keep the change. When you write a check, record it in your checkbook rounded up to the next dollar. For example, if your check is for $35.64, record the amount as $36.00. This is the same basic concept as the change jar. Before you know it, you’ll have saved a decent chunk of change. Some banks have similar programs available for debit card holders; they will round your purchase up to the nearest dollar, and then deposit the difference into a savings account. Find out if yours offers a similar service.
Saving money can be hard, but if you’re a little creative and motivated, you can make it work. Put that little bit of extra effort in and make your dream vacation a reality!