There’s that family vacation we all are dreaming of. But how can you afford it with sky-high childcare payments, increasing gas prices, higher food costs, and a never-ending pile of rising bills? Well, what if I told you that with just three realistic changes to your everyday spending, that family vacation to a beach, or other destination, can be within reach?
How Much Money Are We Talking About Here?
The American family vacation for four costs $4,580 on average. While that four-figure number is large and feels out of reach, you can free up enough money- and more– with just three changes to your recurring expenses. Bringing mindful spending to just three areas in your life can bring a dream family vacation closer than you think!
These Numbers Are An Illustration To Show What Is Possible
And while I’ll be using average spending figures throughout this article, I intend to illustrate in real numbers that you really can find family vacation money in your current spending. It’s about spending less in these three areas to divert money to that much-needed family vacation.
It Only Requires You To Focus on Three Areas of Spending
I get it. It’s no fun erasing all the fun from your daily life and attempting 50 different life changes to fund a one-week vacation. It’s also unrealistic to suggest selling your car or moving to a cheaper cost-of-living area.
And the thing is, you don’t need to make those dramatic life changes to travel to the places you want to see in life. With relatively small changes in three spending areas, you can find $4580 – and more!
Why We’re Aiming for $5,000
The average monthly spending for a family of four in America is $7,095 or $85,139 yearly. That means a $4,580 vacation would be 5% of a family’s annual spending. By focusing on changing three recurring expenses, you can find $5,856 of your own money for a family vacation that won’t leave you feeling deprived all the other days of the year.
While you’ll see many articles suggesting people turn to side hustles or other ways of making more money, that’s only realistic for some people. In this article, I’ll show how it is possible to go on a family vacation with the money you currently have.
Your Numbers May Vary – But You Can Find Significant Money for Vacation
I’ve done the math to show how powerful some spending swaps over 356 days can be! While your numbers will be slightly different, the concept of savvy shopping and mindful spending is the same powerful tool you can use to find money in what you’re already making.
1. Grocery Shop at a New Store to Save $3207 a year
Food is one of the three significant expenses of any household (with housing and transportation being the other two). Whether you’ve got hungry teenagers or younger kids, Americans spend a lot of money on food at home.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a family of four with two preschool-aged children spends about $890 a month or $10,680 on food at home, with families of older kids spending $1,062 or $12,744 a year. You don’t need to return to a college diet of ramen and PB&Js to afford a vacation. It can be as simple as buying your food at a different store.
Private Label Brands or Stores Save You Big
If you’re buying all brand-name groceries at a more high-end grocery store, switching to a primarily private label store (such as Aldi or Lidl) or Walmart Grocery can save you a lot of money. Like thousands of dollars!
Have You Tried Aldi?
A study by Cheapism showed that Aldi could save you 42% off your groceries bill as it is the cheapest place to buy groceries in America. If you’re already purchasing the generic brand at your current grocery store, you can still save 20% of your grocery bill by switching to Aldi.
Yes, there are claims out there that by doing nothing but changing your grocery store, you can save $2,548 to $5,352 a year by shopping at Aldi (the equivalent of 20% and 42%, respectively)
Have You Tried Walmart Grocery?
While there are over 2,000 Aldi stores across 36 states, if you aren’t lucky enough to have one close by, you can still save a lot of money shopping for groceries at Walmart, now the U.S.’s biggest supplier of groceries.
A study found that people can save 13.5% off their annual grocery bill or $1,720 over a year by shopping for groceries at Walmart.
Groceries are a Big Annual Cost – And A Source of Potential Savings For Vacation
Considering that most people will fall somewhere in the middle of these three options, the average savings of these three possibilities is a potential annual savings of $3207 a year on your grocery bill.
2. Replace Cable with Streaming to Save $1409 a Year
It’s time to cut cable for more affordable streaming TV and movie services. According to DecisionData.org, the average cable bill in America is $217.42 monthly or $2609.04 over a year.
Being generous and cutting down to a budget of $100 a month for TV, the average savings would be $117.42 monthly or 1,409.04 over a year. To give you a sense of how far $100 a month can go, you can buy a Hulu with Live TV plan, plus a Netflix account. Not too shabby!
3. Look for More Affordable Fun to Save $1240 year
While the pandemic has been painful, one of the things it reminded us of is that you can have fun in many different ways. And many of those ways are free or very inexpensive! A recent Harris Poll survey showed that 82% of Americans realized they don’t have to spend money to have a good time. And their bank balances increased for it.
Americans Spend Tons of Money a Year on Entertainment
The average household spends $2,482 over a year on entertainment. Just AMC Movie tickets alone are $50 for a family of four, not buying any concessions. All that fun adds up over a year to a lot of money.
I’m by no means suggesting no fun at all! But you could save $1240 over a year by cutting this amount in half. First, list no-spend activities you’re interested in and review your list before spending on entertainment.
Free Fun Does Exist
Whether it’s going to museums on their free days or checking admission passes out from your library, continuing to visit county, state, or regional parks free outdoor free fun, movie & board game nights in, quality time with your family doesn’t mean opening your wallet every single time.
Even Reducing it By Half Free Up a Lot of Money
This 50% approach still leaves you with $1240 for the year for those exceptional movies that are best seen in theaters, golf rounds at reasonably priced public golf courses, special shows or concerts that come to town that you don’t want to miss, and amusement park tickets for the family during the summer.
The Idea is To Inspire; Your Calculations May Vary
While I used averages to run these numbers, I hope the exercise’s intention opened your eyes. Finding money in your bank account for your next family vacation is possible. It’s about finding ways to spend money on the things that are important to you.
And yes, feeding my family well is crucial to me, but if I can do it in a way that saves me thousands of dollars, you bet I will try out a new grocery store. So even if you don’t do everything in this article, I’ll still call that a win if you found $1,000 to divert to an affordable family vacation!
The Safest Places to Travel In 2023
For the eighth year in a row, travel insurance provider Berkshire Hathaway has combined travelers’ feedback with data to create the State of Travel Insurance Safest Destinations report.
So if you want to book an international vacation in 2023, take a travel planning shortcut and book a trip to one of their 15 safest countries or 15 safest cities.
30 Reasons Families Prefer Legoland Florida to Disney World Theme Parks
Our family spent the last two Spring Breaks in Orlando, the most visited destination in America, but we had two very different experiences. In 2022, we had a typical Orlando family vacation visiting Disney theme parks. Then, in 2023, we went to non-Disney theme parks, including Legoland Florida, and it was a night-and-day experience.
After these two trips, our family prefers Legoland Florida to Disney World. And it turns out we’re not the only ones. After interviewing 25 other families who feel the same, here’s why people are opting for days with Emmet, Lloyd, and Master Wu instead of Elsa, Luke, and Mickey Mouse.
6 Ways to Score Atlantis Bahamas Discounts and Even Free Rooms
Whether you’re looking for a couples trip, an upscale honeymoon, or the ultimate family vacation, Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas is often on people’s wish lists. But this once-in-a-lifetime experience is costly. Even booking an off-season trip will cost thousands of dollars for the most affordable room.
But it’s no myth that a getaway to Atlantis Paradise Island is possible even for travelers with a small budget. So if you found a scorching hot flight deal or have frequent flyer miles to use, it’s possible to book Atlantis accommodations on sale or get a free room and only pay the small daily resort fee.
20 Cheap Travel Destinations Across America For Fun-Filled Vacations
91% of Americans are looking to practice better personal finance habits. So when it comes time for a vacation, don’t drain all your savings, or even worse, go into credit card debt. With over 19,000 cities in America, there are many fantastic cheap travel destinations for a vacation outside of expensive towns like Waikiki, San Diego, Washington D.C., or Chicago.
Here are 20 Budget-Friendly Destinations across American to inspire your next fun-filled vacation.
Think Luxe Sint Maarten Is Out of Reach? Here’s How This Caribbean Island Can Be Surprisingly Affordable
What if I told you about a small island nestled in between The Caribbean Sea and The Atlantic Ocean with one idyllic setting after another? One that is actually two European territories and considered the melting pot of The Caribbean with over 130 different nationalities? It’s a fabulous beach vacation with an international flair. It’s called Sint Maarten.
If you’ve only considered this destination expensive and out of reach, here’s what we discovered on our trip to the island.
This article was produced by Planner at Heart.