You’ve identified your dream Christian vacation, finding a trip to a perfect destination, duringan ideal time of year, with a ministry, teacher, or artist you deeply respect. There’s just one thing keeping you from reserving your space: the cost. While cruises can be very reasonable—after all, they include room, board, and transportation at the same time—the price tag is still a little much for some budgets.
But even the tightest budgets offer a few opportunities to save even more, without feeling too much of a pinch. How? By locating small areas of savings…which add up to larger sums over several months. Consider the following tips:
- Save your change. Locate an empty jar, and at the end of every day, empty the change from your pocket or purse into the jar. Over several weeks and months, even a few cents a day can add up quickly. Most people can save around $100 a year this way.
- Cut back on entertainment. Do you attend movies regularly? Consider renting instead. (Using Redbox, you can rent or stream a variety of films for less than $1.50.) If you rent several videos a month, rent fewer until your trip. Take that extra cash and add it to your savings.
- Pack a lunch. On work days, do you or your spouse dine out for lunch? Replace that meal with a lower-cost brown-bag lunch from home. Once you’ve done this for a week or so, figure out how much you’re saving every day and transfer that amount of money into your vacation fund.
- Sell your stuff. All of us have closets full of old clothing and unused items. Clear the clutter from your garage, basement, and junk drawers with a yard sale or garage sale. With the right pricing, almost everything will capture someone else’s attention and earn you some extra cash.
- Buy others’ stuff. Now that you’ve realized how many people shop at yard sales, it’s time for you to join them! These are great places to find children’s clothing, dishware, used appliances, used furniture, books, games, sports equipment, and more—at ridiculously low prices.
- Stop buying new things. This doesn’t apply to basics like household items or new shoes for the kids, but for big-ticket purchases like a new car, new carpet, or a new freezer. Try to hold off on these things until after the vacation.
- Avoid the mall. Nothing busts a budget like giving in to temptation, so just stay away. Steer clear of online “malls” like Amazon or Ebay, too. When possible, do your shopping at discount stores.
- Be a thrifty giver. Parents know that buying birthday presents for a child’s many friends can be expensive. Look for clearance items and buy in bulk whenever possible. For holidays or friend’s birthdays, consider a handmade gift. The cliché is true: it really is the thought that counts.
- Grocery shop with a purpose. Don’t head to the supermarket without a detailed grocery list, and then stick to it. Pay attention to the weekly sale circular. Collect coupons. Plan your week of meals, and then buy only what you’ve planned. Eating at home is much cheaper than dining out, and adhering to a list lowers the cost even further. Even better, it saves time—no more wondering “What’s for dinner tonight?” or scrambling to the supermarket as mealtime approaches.
- Temporarily cut extra expenses. Does someone clean your house or mow your lawn? Try to do without this service for the next few months, and save that money. You might have to work a little harder around the house, but you’ll boost your vacation fund significantly. Could you do without cable television or that daily latté? Cut it until you’ve paid for your cruise.
In the book Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote “…to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.” Saving money may require a few small lifestyle changes, but the result—a long-awaited cruise vacation—is worth every penny.
Good luck, and happy saving!