Gearing up for a vacation is always a bit stressful. See my method for building a budget tracker with this simple and effective technique!
I just found out some fantastic news, guys! This Christmas, Jon and I are going to Las Vegas courtesy of Jon’s parents! They decided that in lieu of a bunch of individual gifts, it would be all around easier to go to Las Vegas as a family and make memories instead. Isn’t that awesome? My in-laws are going to cover the flight, hotel, and food, but it’s up to Jon and I to bring cash for gambling and shows. So I decided that I needed to start planning two things: the stuff we should do in Vegas and the budget to cover it. So take a peek at my handy little budget tracker to plan out the finances of this fabulous trip!
Building the Budget Tracker
I stole an idea from my lovely friend Savannah (hello, Sav!) on building a budget tracker, and you guys should totally steal it, too! The idea is that you draw out a big brick wall in your Leuchtturm – the dot grid really helps with this – and you decide that brick equals a certain amount of money. I chose $10 for each brick. Then you figure out where the big milestones are in your wall. Write the number in the brick so you can see at a quick glance how far you have come towards your goal. I used my trusty Microns to plan out my big ol’ budget tracker. I would suggest you use a nice metal ruler for this, because otherwise you are going to get super frustrated drawing all these lines out by hand.
Now here comes the tricky part, my friends. You have to start putting money aside! Keep the money separate – like a different bank account, your sock drawer, the back of your toilet – whatever you need so you don’t accidentally spend your savings. Tracking your budget helps a ton, too. I use a website called YouNeedABudget and it is fantastic! It’s amazing how much less money you spend when you actually know what you’re spending it on (You can try YouNeedABudget for free). As you build up your savings, fill a brick in your budget tracker, and go crazy with the colors if you want! I used my Staedtler Triplus Fineliners to draw out my Vegas sign and fill in my bricks. Using a bunch of different colors to fill in your bricks is a great way to add some pizazz to your page.
As you can see, I already have $750 bucks filled in on my budget tracker. Thankfully, Jon is marvelous with money and already had a fun-stuff budget set aside for something just like this. If you don’t have a savings already, don’t sweat it! Build from the bottom and watch your budget tracker bloom into a big ol’ cash lump. You’ll love seeing your progress! This is a great spread to add to your bullet journal so you can keep it conveniently handy.
Tips on Saving
Now, I’m no expert on budgeting. But I think I have collected a few pointers over the years, so maybe I can help you a teensy bit with some of these tips.
- Save money on a consistent timeline, if you can. Pull a specified amount from your account every week and set it aside, or just pull a bigger lump each time you get your paycheck. If you are consistent, you won’t be as susceptible to your own excuses.
- Set up an auto transfer. If your bank allows it, see if you can’t have it put $X into a savings account automatically. Then it’s out of your hands and less of a hassle!
- Try using cash for daily transactions. Actual paper money in the hand has a lot more meaning and value than a debit card, so you might be less likely to spend it and more likely to tuck it away.
- If you try using cash on a regular basis, pull your change out of your pocket or purse every evening and put it in a big jar. Accumulated pocket change has paid for a small vacation for me in the past, so I’m sure it can work for you!
- Try to earn extra income whenever possible! Here are a few proven ways to do so:
- Use Check Out 51, an app that lets you get cash back on select groceries. It’s like couponing without all the work. I’ve made about $10 so far this month, which is not a ton of money. But I’m getting the groceries anyways, so why not make some extra cash?
- Use Swagbucks to earn quick rewards while waiting for the bus, in between tasks, or when you’re just plain bored. Plus you get five bucks right off the bat!
- Start a blog. This one is obviously near and dear to my heart. Starting a blog is a great way to develop a creative outlet and earn extra income. Check out my post on how to start a blog to get a $50 discount on hosting and start your blog for less than $5 a month!
Planning the Details
Besides budgeting, there are a ton of fun things to plan out in preparation for Vegas. Jon and I have nearly complete autonomy for our vacation since the family is not going to do everything together. Instead, we’re going to split up for several hours at a time and meet up for meals or the occasional show. That will make sure all the little groups can try out a bunch of different things while in Vegas. Isn’t that just a wonderful way to do a family vacation?
Anyway, I have a few things already added to my “Things to See/Do” list, such as go to Fremont Street and ride the roller coaster at the Stratosphere – if they let Jon on the ride, anyway. He’s really, really tall, guys. As in 6’8″. So any rides are definitely not set in stone. We’re also considering taking half a day to hike at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. That is, if we can pack our hiking boots without too much trouble. I will keep adding more stuff as I research all the kickass activities in Vegas. Hopefully, I can fill up the page with awesome inspiration!
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And of course, it’s not a real Vegas experience unless we can go to a show. I have always wanted to see Cirque Du Soleil, so now’s my chance! Of course, they are outrageously expensive, so that’s something to save up for with my budget tracker. Do you have any cool experiences from Vegas? If so, I’d love to hear! I’ve never been to Las Vegas, so I’m totally open to suggestions!
This vacation is a wonderful opportunity to knock something off of my bucket list. I’ve wanted to go to Vegas since I gambled for the very first time. You know what’s funny? I used to think gambling was a waste of time. As a teenager, I just didn’t understand it. Then I went to my first casino when I was eighteen in Oklahoma. The age laws are different on Native American land, so they got me young. After one trip, I understood the excitement. Now it’s one of my favorite leisure activities!
On top of the gambling, this is going to be my first time visiting the desert. Another big deal for me! I’m a simple Midwestern woman, and I expect a few days of bright city lights and winter desert will satisfy my adventure bug for a few months at least. Hopefully. with the help of my budget tracker and vacation planner, I can make sure this is an unforgettable trip.
Even if you don’t have a specific date in mind like I do, there’s no reason you can’t start setting money aside today. Make it a habit to save little amounts of money passively. Soon enough, you’ll have a big vacation fund just begging to be spent on the trip of your dreams!
What’s stopping you from saving up for your dream vacation today? What’s somewhere you’ve always longed to visit? Tell me in the comments below!