Having a staycation rather than going on a typical vacation can save you a lot of money.
You don’t have to pay for a flight, a rental car or a place to stay. You won’t need to buy souvenirs and you can easily avoid all the typical tourist traps that encourage visitors to spend extra money.
But depending on what you decide to do during your staycation, you could end up spending a lot more than you ordinarily would in a typical week or weekend.
While it’s easy to just quickly throw together plans for a nice staycation, not preparing for it financially could mean you end up charging expenses on a credit card or pull money from your emergency savings.
That’s why it’s important to budget for a staycation.
How to Budget for a Staycation
Budgeting for a staycation is similar to budgeting for a vacation or any other savings goal.
First, you’ll want to think about your expenses. What do you plan to do during your staycation?
A staycation can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. Will you stay at home, or do you plan on booking a room at a nearby boutique hotel for a change of scenery?
Will you cook your own meals, or are you thinking about eating out most of the time?
Do you have activities at home you can do, or will you be spending money on tickets to a nearby amusement park or a trip to the spa?
Make a list of all the expenses you anticipate. Don’t forget little costs like tipping your server when dining out or paying parking garage fees if you’ll be spending the day downtown.
Total up your expenses and compare it to what you’ve already budgeted for discretionary spending like dining out or entertainment. If your anticipated costs are less than that budgeted amount, then you’re ready to enjoy your staycation.
If your staycation costs are more, you’ll need to save up for the extra expense over time. Take your total and break the cost up over several weeks, putting money aside toward your staycation each week. This is called setting up a sinking fund.
Alternatively, you can re-examine your staycation plans and see where you can trim expenses so you don’t have to take as long to save up.
When creating your staycation budget, it’s good to include a little spending cushion to cover any last-minute expenses that come up — like treating yourself to dessert or going on a spontaneous day trip to a nearby town.
Having extra wiggle room in your staycation budget gives you the freedom to enjoy yourself without worrying about money.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.