So you want to know how to afford a family holiday EVERY year?
Of course you do, who doesn’t!
Well the good news is I’m here to tell you it’s likely you CAN. I’m going to go one step further and tell you that you SHOULD.
Because I believe in investing in experiences – especially the ones that lead to making memories as a family.
And like all good investments, the best time is start early.
Someone said to me the other day that there isn’t any point in taking children on overseas holidays because they ‘won’t remember’ it.
Now if you have very young children maybe they won’t ‘remember’ it as well as you do (if they do at all).
But here’s the thing – YOU WILL.
Holiday’s aren’t just about making memories for the kids – they’re as much about making memories for you and your partner too and finding new and exciting ways to enjoy the world and it’s beauty as a family.
And whether the kids are likely to remember or not, spending quality time together as a family will not only fill up their little emotional cup, its strengthens their relationship with you and you with them.
Now that’s not to say that every holiday has to be overseas or five star. I wish!
There’s just as much fun to be had taking a road trip somewhere near or far or staying in a camping ground by the beach.
You are the best judge of what kind of holiday your family needs each year and the need to balance that against what kind of holiday your family can afford each year.
Here’s what you need to do.
Work out if holidays are a priority for you
How big of a priority is it to have a family holiday every year?
Is it something you’re prepared to achieve by making sacrifices in other areas of your family’s finances? Because you need to make it a priority.
Not a priority paying your bills, paying off your debts and ensuring you are planning for your family’s financial future – but a priority specifically over things. Over possessions. Over more stuff.
If you’re going to make it a priority to afford a family holiday every year, you’re more than likely going to have to cut back on the ‘stuff’ you buy.
By doing this you will be able to free up some additional funds within the family budget every month which you can then allocate to your holidays savings account.
Summary: Make affording a family holiday every year a financial goal for your family.
Renegotiate your expenses
Ok so you’ve made it a financial priority and a financial goal – what next?
Now you need to look at the family budget and work out where you currently spend money on ‘things’, ‘possessions,’ and ‘other stuff’ that you can cut back on.
Do you have a sneaky home decorating habit that you could reign in? I love a new couch cushion as much as the next woman but man that stuff can add up quickly through the year.
Maybe you can take lunch to work three days a week. Let’s say that saves you and your partner $60 a week between you – there’s $2,880 per year (if you take out the 4 weeks holiday you’re going on).
Do the kids really need to do seven extracurricular activities each term between them? Maybe you can scale that back and grab some more time together as a family in the process.
Summary: Find your weak spots and renegotiate as a family.
Use day care & car loan funds
When is your car loan up?
Once you’ve paid this loan off in full you could consider redirecting that $500 or so a month into your family holiday savings account.
You may not want to do this in perpetuity but doing it for the next 12 months at least will allow you to build up a nice cash cushion for family holidays to come.
Unless of course you have other debts that need servicing or extinguishing; in which case, I’d be directing them there instead.
What about daycare fees?
If you happen to have a little one off to school this year or in future years, you might want to consider redirecting some of what would have gone to pay day care fees into your holiday savings account.
You’ve obviously adjusted your household expenditure to accommodate this expense in the past so why not continue and just allocate it elsewhere?
Now I know it was probably tight for a while, so it’s unrealistic to think you’re going to allocate 100% of that money to funding holidays!
You’ll want to live a little now the kids are off to school!!
if you knew these funds were going now to pay for a nice family break every year you are likely to be less upset about it.
Join a frequent flyer program
And try and stick to just one.
That way you can focus your attention on the one program and familiarise yourself with the features of the program you choose.
Which credit cards are they affiliated with?
Where can you earn bonus points?
What are the ways you can redeem your points e.g. flights, upgrades, which hotels are they affiliated with, rental car companies etc?
Once you’ve done your research, then commit to accumulating as many points under that program as possible and steer clear of redeeming them for a toaster!!
The Qantas Frequent Flyer program is one of the best in my opinion.
You can earn points and status credits with more than 35 partner airlines and affiliates, covering 1,000 destinations globally.
So the chances of building those frequent flyer points sooner are much higher.
Summary: Make your spending count for something!
Pay for your household expenses on credit
Use your rewards credit card for as many expenses as possible.
Have a look at what your expenses equate to each month, then multiply this number by the point’s earnings ratio that applies to your card.
For example, if your monthly expenses are $5,000 per month and you attract 1.5 frequent flyer points per $1 on your rewards card, then you could be accumulating 7,500 points per month or 90,000 points per year.
What can 90,000 points get you?
How about two return economy fares to Fiji. Sound worth it to you?
You see – you’re already half way there to an annual family holiday for four!
Summary: Use your credit card to YOUR advantage
Take advantage of payment plans
Most travel agents have payment plans these days which will allow you to lock in your holiday travel with a deposit and pay it off over time in the lead up to your trip.
This is a better option than putting your trip on credit card (because you don’t have the funds) and being left with a debt you’ll have to worry about repaying at some point down the track.
In addition, sites like Booking.com will allow you to lock in your accommodation with a deposit as long as payment is made as late as two weeks before you’re due to arrive in some cases.
This allows you to plan ahead and take advantage of deals even if you are yet to save up the cash to pay for it.
Basically you’re giving yourself the same advantage as putting it on the credit card (locking it in now where you don’t have the funds).
The difference is you aren’t accruing interest on it while you save the money to pay it off.
Summary: Don’t reach for credit when you can lay-by.
Wait for the DEAL
Nowadays you really don’t ever have to pay full price for a holiday…like EVER!
In fact, my golden rule is to just wait for the next deal….because it’s coming!!! Now if you’re having to holiday in school holiday’s then you may not be getting the best deals all the time anymore.
BUT there are always travel deals to be had.
One of my personal favourites is Luxury Escapes.
If you enjoy the finer things when you travel but have a limited budget, then this is a website whose accommodation deals you are going to want to sign up for.
They’ve got deals on all the best family spots Australia wide as well as overseas (think Fiji, Bali, Hawaii) and the best bit is they are LUXURY escapes.
Meaning the accommodation is mostly 5 star, some 4 star properties and it’s usually half the price or less with some pretty cool package options included.
Now you’re always taking a chance with accommodation purchased over the internet, but if you’re buying a deal for an InterContinental Hotel or a Ritz Carlton hotel – those international chains have an important brand reputation to uphold and you can bet your bottom dollar that they’re going to be good!
Others like Scoopon, Groupon, and even Kogan Travel have some pretty amazing holiday package deals that appeal to families as well.
Summary: Wait for the deal – don’t pay full price.
Look into alternative holidays
Ok so if you’re saving for a big purchase OR you don’t have a lot of spare funds to put towards a family holiday, there are still other options to consider.
If you’ve seen The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet you might know where I’m going with this…
A house swap!
There are heaps of different sites that facilitate a home swap – this global one has over 2,000 Aussie properties listed alone.
Aussie Home Swap is all about Aussie properties ready to swap. There are a heap of other Aussie families that are probably looking to holiday in your neighbourhood. All you have to do is find one you are happy to swap with and that’s your family accommodation sorted!!
Summary: Travel anywhere, live like a local and stay for free!
List the house
If you’ve already got your heart set on that Fiji holiday or a Cruise to Hawaii, don’t forget that you can possibly recover some of the cost of that holiday by listing your home on Air BnB for example.
There’s possibly another family or couple who might really be looking for somewhere to take a break the exact same time you are off on that family trip!
Summary: Recover some of the cost
There are lots of ways you can afford a family holiday every year – you just have to be prepared to make a few sacrifices here and there, wait it out and then be smart about minimising the cost.
Remember my motto – always take the holiday!