Planning a holiday? Start saving for it now with these useful tips
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Enjoying a holiday is important to our wellbeing, but saving for it requires a plan, says financial columnist Peter Sharkey.
That didn't take long, did it?
I mean the very sudden onset of winter. Following an officially-sanctioned Sunday lie-in to accommodate the clocks going back and the next thing, it's almost time to hang the Christmas decorations.
Yes, mornings are, for the time being at least, lighter much earlier, this week revealing a frost hard enough to require a scraper to tackle translucent car windscreens, while a brilliant autumnal sun highlighted vibrant, near-golden trees, putting a spring in everyone's step.
But it's also pitch-black by 5.30pm, the central heating is on permanently and typical weekend garb has unceremoniously changed from t-shirt and shorts to t-shirt, jumper and jeans.
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Against such a backdrop, the thoughts and personal devices of many folk have, almost inevitably, been dominated by images of holidays and warmer climes. Right on cue, holiday supplements featuring azure-coloured skies, luxuriant palm trees and enough beach-ready bodies to shake a stick at have fallen from newspapers or appeared online.
Although ruminating over possible holiday destinations is one of life's pleasanter undertakings, planning them takes a little more effort. Actually paying for that three-week break in the West Indies, or the tour around Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, or…well, you get the picture; wherever you're planning to go, arranging to pay for your holiday usually requires serious application.
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Ordinarily, this column concerns itself with longer-term planning or retirement, but saving for specific goals such as a holiday is just as important. Even though that might sound contradictory, saving sufficient cash to pay for and then enjoy a few weeks in the sun is pivotal to our wellbeing.
After all, if you fail to recharge your batteries, you'll eventually run out of gas.
Convinced? Good. Let's take a look at paying for that break your body will be pining for by the time the clocks go forward.
I read recently that, according to National Savings and Investments (NS&I), individuals who set their savings goal ultimately save faster and up to £550 a year more than people who don't bother with a specific target.
I'm not sure about the £550 because the figure depends upon the scale and frequency of saving, but giving yourself a saving goal definitely works; it's also true that if you give your objective a name, you'll reach it faster.
You have other priorities? Well, of course you do. We all incur those 'must-not-miss' monthly outgoings, from mortgage or rent, to travel and utility costs. Then there's the hugely important annual stuff, such as your Mum's birthday, or the long-anticipated one-offs including a friend's stag do or hen party. Older readers will acknowledge here the importance of remembering 'landmark' or 'significant number' celebrations.
With so much to which you must commit, saving for a holiday, or anything else, can get pushed towards the foot of your priority list. However, we've established that this is something you must avoid doing. Getting away from work; enjoying yourself; staying out till 4am; soaking up the sun; meeting new people; visiting different places; what's not to like about being on holiday?
That last sentence should act as an incentive for anyone feeling hesitant about saving for a holiday next year because they believe the multitude of other financial commitments may throw a spanner in the works. As the famous running shoe ad implores: Just Do It.
'Yes,' you cry, 'but how?'
First, grab a pen or prepare to email yourself (I find this method of reminding myself of something important absolutely foolproof) and write down your goal. Let's call it Hols 2020.
Next, calculate how much the holiday will cost. Be reasonable and remember, you'll probably have to pay for your break in full at least two months before departure.
If your total 'Hols 2020' cost is £800 and you're planning to head off next July, budget to have this paid by the end of May. Assuming you'll save every month, that's a regular £117 you must set aside from the end of November.
Lots of people believe they must save only from what's left over from their monthly pay, but there's one way of guaranteeing you'll hit your target: pay yourself first.
Now, strike while the iron's hot. Open a simple instant access savings account and arrange to make a monthly payment in order to achieve your 'Hols 2020' target. Enjoy the break.
TAM Asset Management Ltd offer savers the opportunity to invest for the long- and medium-term in Investment ISA portfolios comprising a variety of different funds pursuing cautious, balanced or adventurous strategies. For further details, please visit the MoneyMapp website.
For more financial advice, check out Peter Sharkey's regular column, The Week In Numbers.