A few months ago, a group of my husband’s online gaming friends mentioned they’re planning to take an Alaskan cruise next spring or fall, and invited us to join. While we’ve mentioned the idea of taking a cruise some time in the future, this conversation put the decision, place, and time right at our doorstep.
After some thought, we decided…why not? We have almost a year to save for it and plan the details, and if we don’t go now — while we’re still without children — it might be a long time coming.
But then came the fun part: how are we going to finance it? Since we don’t own credit cards (and don’t want to finance anything), we plan to pay for it all out-of-pocket.
We don’t immediately have the funds for this kind of expenditure, especially considering the required round trip plane tickets and likely hotel costs, too. But we do have a solid history of being able to save for large expenses in the past, so I know we can do it again.
If you’re thinking of going on a cruise, here are a few of the strategies I’ve come up with for saving and planning for our cruise.
1. Create a New Line in the Budget
With our Goodbudget App, we have the ability to easily adjust our budget categories and make room for a new cruise savings line. I haven’t decided how much money to set aside, but this will probably come together once the plans become more final.
We plan to save more money than our final dollar amount, to leave room for miscellaneous expenses. Once we start “loading” our virtual envelope with funds, it will be encouraging to see it grow each month and build toward our cruise savings goal. It’s always so much more rewarding, and fun, to save for a particular goal, versus just saving money in general (that’s not nearly as exciting).
Whether you have a budget app, an online tool, or a paper-and-pencil version, see what you can do to create a separate savings category for your cruise trip. But be careful, you don’t want to take away from your usual savings allocations. You never know when you’ll need to use savings for other needs, so don’t short-change other goals to fund your upcoming cruise.
2. Re-Allocate Your “Fun Money” Funds
One of our budget categories is labeled, “fun money”. Basically, this is a fund we use for non-essential purchases, like entertainment, going out with friends and maybe even seeing a concert.
This line in the budget isn’t essential to our monthly spending, so we plan on shifting this fund to funnel more money into the cruise savings category. I’m sure we could get by a few months without purchasing unnecessary items, in order to reach our goal of going on a cruise.
3. Look for Unlikely Ways to Save
While you’re creating a new line in your budget, and re-allocating funds from other money sources, look for unusual opportunities to save more money. Get creative and see how you can still plan the trip of your dreams without spending additional money out-of-pocket.
For instance; one way we plan to save on hotel costs is by cashing in our travel rewards points my husband has earned during his travels for work, instead of using them on free hotel stays for other events. Even this little bit could save us a few hundred dollars!
4. Set Out a Cruise Savings Jar
While our savings account will work just fine as a short-term, and safe place to build our cruise fund, making a physical savings jar is a more visible way to keep us motivated. It’s a daily reminder of why we’re working so hard to work together towards a common goal.
From extra cash to pocket change, it all counts, so don’t think that any amount is too small to save in your cruise jar. Having the jar visible to family and friends will spark conversation and reinforce our savings goal. Who knows; they might even want to pitch in their extra change towards your goal — like an old-fashioned version of crowdfunding.
These are just a few ideas we’ll be using to save for our cruise trip. What’s another savings tip we can use to reach our goal faster?