Coming up with an exciting plan for a vacation is easy. Paying for it, though, can be a bit harder, especially if you’re trying to stay out of debt.
Fortunately, there’s a surefire way to not just figure out how you’ll pay for a getaway, but also ensure you’ll have the money for your vacation when you need it. All you have to do is turn your vacation planning into a SMART goal.
What is a SMART Goal?
A SMART goal is a goal that has the following five qualities:
- Specific—you have a clear picture of your goal in mind, such as a dollar amount.
- Measurable—you can track your progress toward meeting that goal.
- Attainable—you know how you’re going to achieve your goal.
- Realistic—you know that your goal can, in fact, be achieved.
- Time-Bound—you know when you’ll achieve your goal
These five aspects of a SMART goal can help you focus your efforts, create a plan of action and increase the odds you’ll achieve the goal you set.
How to Make Your Vacation Plans a SMART Goal
So SMART goals might seem like a good idea if, say, you’re saving up for a new refrigerator, but how will they help you get ready for your vacation?
The first step is to think about the five qualities of a SMART goal in terms of your vacation, like so:
- Specific–how much will your vacation plans cost?
- Measurable–how will you track your progress toward achieving those goals?
- Attainable–do you know how you’ll get the money to fund your vacation plans?
- Realistic–is it possible for you to achieve this goal?
- Time-Bound–when would you like to have money saved for your vacation?
For instance, if you’d like to spend a week going kayaking in northern Minnesota, you’ll want to figure out how much money you’ll need to travel up north, as well as the money you’ll need to invest in camping supplies and food. You might not be able to come up with an exact number, but you should at least have a good estimate. This will give you a specific target to shoot for.
After you know how much you plan on spending, you’ll want to think about when you want to take the trip. This will make your goal time-bound and help you see how much you’ll need to save up from now until the point your trip begins.
Now that you’ve figured out those two important metrics, you can start figuring out where you’ll get the money to fund your vacation plans and how you’ll track your progress. You might want to set up a separate savings account in which you can keep your vacation money, or even a club account where you can set aside money that won’t be available until the date of your trip. You’ll also want to review your monthly budget to figure out where the money for your vacation will be coming from, and perhaps even create a new budget category specifically for your vacation to make sure you’re setting aside money each month.
While you’re doing all this, though, you’ll also need to make sure your goal is realistic. You might really want to spend a week kayaking, but if you can’t save up enough money you’ll have to alter your expectations. Perhaps instead of kayaking the northern Minnesota rivers for a week, you might try some kayaking day trips closer to home, or you might want to delay your trip until later in the season to save up more money.
Achieve Your Vacation Goals With First Alliance Credit Union
Making your vacation plans into SMART goal might just be the best way to ensure you have a great trip. Once you’ve made your goal more specific and know how you want to achieve it, you can set up a plan for where the money to fund the vacation will come from and track your progress until you hit your goal.
You can also get help financing your vacation when you become a member of First Alliance Credit Union. You can save money for your vacation in a traditional savings account or a money market account, track your progress on our online banking platform or mobile app, and even use our uChoose rewards credit card if you need to take care of an unexpected expense on your vacation.