Don’t Take a Vacation From Your Budget!

July 11, 2013

family on vacation


Going on vacation is often the undoing of budgets in the summer months, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some tips for helping you stick to a spending plan when you’re off having fun.


Scope out deals ahead of time.


If you know there are certain places you want to eat or things you want to do, visit the websites of those businesses. There’s a chance you might find printable coupons, “Happy Hour” type discounts, or other deals. Last summer, my family saved a significant amount on one vacation dinner by ordering before 5:00. You can also Google the name of the business along with the word coupon or discount in case the deal is located on a different website.

Or do it the other way around. Find out what deals are available in the area you’re visiting, and plan meals and activities around them. Here are some online places to start:

My Kids Eat Free: U.S. and Canada

My Kids Go Free (U.S. only)

Meal Chase (Canada only)

Free admission to participating museums & science centers (Valid the first full weekend of each month for Bank of America card holders. *Card does not have to be used, only shown.)

$1 Regal Summer Movie Express all around the U.S.


There’s an app for that!


Here are some free apps that can help you save money while on the go by finding deals and/or gas prices based on location. No need to print coupons before you leave home! I’ve included screenshots from my iPod Touch so that you can see them in action. (Many of these can also be used from a computer if you don’t have a mobile device, but you’ll have to print any purchased vouchers ahead of time.)


Gas Buddy (U.S. & Canada)



Yowza! (U.S.)


Groupon (requires purchase of voucher)

Groupon screenshot

Living Social (requires purchase of voucher)

Living Social screenshot

Scoutmob (major U.S. cities ; use the deal on location—no vouchers to purchase)

Scoutmob screenshot


Use the envelope system.


Vacation is not the time to abandon a cash-only method of spending! Have separate envelopes for meals, gas, activities, treats, etc. Fund them before you leave, and stick to those budgeted amounts.Whatever you do, don’t bring a credit card and wing it. In the words of Dave Ramsey, “The worst vacation is the one that follows you home.”

Can’t afford a family vacation this summer? Plan a staycation!


Visit A Time For Everything for more budgeting tips!

Melissa is passionate about people living within their means and becoming--and remaining--debt-free. She is the owner of A Time for Everything, which includes both a shop where she sells handmade cash envelope system wallets and accessories, and a blog where she writes about frugal living, creating, and life in general. She's been blogging since 2007 and making pretty wallets since 2011.

4 comments on “Don’t Take a Vacation From Your Budget!

  1. Great tips! Will have to research the “kids eat free” options for when my family goes on a vacation to the beach this summer!

  2. Excellent tips! I am a big fan of both vacations and Dave Ramsey! I think people don’t realize how easy it is to use the envelope system and how much money you really do save.

  3. Sue says:

    There are always ways to save for a vacation. No need to take it out of your daily budget. I loved reading these tips and found them to be very helpful.

  4. sassy says:

    This is a great one! So true.

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