Painless Way to Save Money for Vacation

by Alli

My husband and I love to travel.  And I rarely pay full price for anything.  Just ask my family.  And we always encourage everyone we know to take a vacation every year, if at all possible.  Just a change of scenery and getting away from the same routine works wonders!

It’s nice knowing that before your bags are packed and you walk out your front door that you’ve already paid for your travel and lodging in advance.  But what about spending money?  Restaurants?  Souvenirs?  If you’re not careful, the budget can get completely blown to smithereens.  And we tend to be more carefree when we’re on vacation.  I mean, we’re on vacation!

Years ago we decided that we would have our spending money saved up and would not have to touch our checking account or credit card.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be paying for a vacation long after it’s just a beautiful memory.

I was looking for our 2014 vacation a few days ago – just looking, mind you – when I had a thought that I should share my #1 painless way to save money for vacation.  Actually it was originally my husband’s idea, but what’s his is mine and what’s mine is mine.  🙂

So this is what we do:  We pay cash (as opposed to debit card  or check) for as many purchases as possible throughout the year AND we never give the cashier the exact change.  We use paper money only.  That’s right.  If the grocery bill is $115.06.  (that’s a very conservative amount), we hand the cashier $116.00.  The change goes into our vacation savings.  And occasionally my husband will throw some bills in with our change to make it all interesting and to surprise the daylights out of me.


It’s not hard once you get used to it.  A few days before we leave for vacation, all the change is taken to the bank, dumped into the coin machine and exchanged for bills.  My husband always takes it to the bank. It’s heavy!

We always try to guess how much change we have.  And we are always astonished at the amount we have saved.  And we did it all pain free.

This past summer we spent three weeks in St. Maarten celebrating our (belated) 30th Anniversary.  We used our vacation change for spending money and we ate out a lot and went on a couple of excursions.  I mean, you have to try all the restaurants and French Pastry shops on the island, right?  I still dream about those macaroons!

We never had to dip into our checking account OR use our credit card.  And we brought back  souvenirs for all of our children and grandchildren.  (Our oldest grandson wanted euros for one of his souvenirs – so cute).

All of our vacations are certainly not for three weeks (I wish), but as soon as we get home, we begin saving our coins for the next year.

Or, maybe travel is not your thing, maybe you’ve had your eye on a certain big ticket kitchen appliance like a Viking range (oh, sorry, that’s my dream)  or a new washer and dryer.

Start saving all of your coins and see how fast they add up.  I mean, look at it this way:  A year or two is going to pass by anyway, right?  And way too fast, mind you.  Keep adding those coins to your savings and pretty soon, you’ll have enough for whatever you are saving for.

I’ve also heard of people skipping that daily stop by the specialty coffee shop and saving the money they would have spent on that latte.

Do you have some money saving tips that are painless?   Please share!



Shirley @ Intelligent Domestications January 13, 2014 - 7:35 am

Alli, I couldn’t agree with you more! A yearly vacation away is essential to maintain sanity! We like to plan in advance, already planning for this year too 🙂 Great tip for saving change. We were rolling change to put into our savings account this weekend 🙂

Alli January 13, 2014 - 7:41 am

It seems like such a simple tip, but we save several thousand a year by just that one little habit.

Simple Nature Decor January 13, 2014 - 8:23 am

Stopping by from the Gigham blog hop, Great pointers in your post! I also love to travel so we have lots in common, I’m always looking for great deals when I travel abroad, my favorite place is Italy. I never stay at a hotel, the best place to stay is at a cute apartment, Hotel are very expensive. So if you are going to Italy , let me know I know some great deals, Tuscany Or Rome.

Take Care Maria

Alli January 13, 2014 - 8:35 am

Italy is definitely on my to-do list! I’ve never been, so when I do get ready to go, I’m going to ask about those deals!

Melanie January 13, 2014 - 10:13 am

Paying cash is an excellent idea- much easier to keep up with the expenses that way!

Kristen from The Road to Domestication January 13, 2014 - 1:56 pm

Great idea! We don’t pay cash for everything, but when we do, we save the change! We normally take it for vacation spending money or a nice dinner while we’re out. Now, we DO save for Christmas by starting in the summer and taking a certain amount out of each paycheck and setting that aside. By the time it’s time to purchase gifts, we never have to touch the checking account.

Amanda Smith January 13, 2014 - 6:50 pm

That’s great! I should try doing this. i don’t use cash very often, but maybe this would make me start. I need a vacation. LOL

Laurie January 13, 2014 - 8:42 pm

That’s a great idea! I don’t use change. It goes into a container when I get home so now I know what I can spend it on. 🙂

Anna @ Northern Homestead January 14, 2014 - 12:06 am

No stops by the coffee shop is my trick. Just if I am out shopping for hours, I have a drink, but not just so on a road. Since I m not used to it, I do not miss it at all.

Kristin January 16, 2014 - 1:42 pm

I really love your post! We’ve been cc debt free since 06′ so I really appreciate it! We haven’t taken a long vacation for awhile, though. I love your idea about collecting the change. We have a change bank in the car and in the house that we collect for special outings and we collect redeemable recycling that we can cash in when we want fun money. We gave up our daily, cup o’ joe this yr. and I can’t exactly claim that’s easy. LOL But, it’s saved us a lot so far. And I like the way you dream! Viking!
Thank you for all that you do!

Michelle January 17, 2014 - 1:01 pm

Cash only is the way to go. I am going to try to convert us over to this system this year, but I’m not quite sure how to start. I use my credit card for everything and I’m a BIG online shopper. What do you suggest for that? I’ve heard about Dave Ramsey’s plan but haven’t taken the time to review it. Thanks for the tips, Alli!

The comments are great too! Thanks for sharing!

Tenns @ New Mama Diaries January 17, 2014 - 3:09 pm

I love this idea of saving for vacation with spare change! I love the piggy bank graphic by the way, so cute! My bank actually does the keep the change automatically and transfers the “loose” change to my savings account. My husband & I are also doing the 52 week challenge in order to hold ourselves accountable with saving money. I use my credit card, but use it like a debit card, because I earn rewards. I always pay my balance off in full every month so that I don’t incur any interest charges. I think accountability and diligence is key to saving money!

Thanks for linking up at Gingham & Roses!
Hope to see you back next week!

Tenns @ New Mama Diaries

Clara Mathews January 20, 2014 - 8:56 pm

I think I will give this savings method a try. There are a few blogging conferences I would like to attend. But it is difficult to put away the cash each month.


chika January 20, 2014 - 9:21 pm

great ideas. I believe credit cards are one of the best inventions, when used properly . Unfortunately most people don’t .*Stopping in from SITS Girls Tribe


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