Cruises are a great holiday option. You get to explore amazing coastal destinations, see the vastness of the ocean, explore different entertainment and dining options and you don’t need to stress about planning something to do everyday. Whether you’re a couple, a young family or a group of friends looking to get away, a cruise has something for everyone. That being said, as with every holiday, finding the extra money in your budget to pay for a cruise can be hard. However, with a bit of research, clever budgeting and cutting back on a few luxuries here and there, you can find the way to kick-start those holidays savings. Here are eight ways you can start saving for your cruise.
Check your credit card statement regularly
It’s easy to pay down your credit card balance each month without paying close attention to where your money actually goes.
If you aren’t yet in the habit of doing so, check your statement regularly for unnecessary expenses. Are you paying for services you don’t use, such as an old gym membership or subscriptions to magazines you don’t read? Are you being mistakenly charged for something you cancelled months ago? Do you subscribe to one too many online streaming services?
By analysing your statements you can see where your money is going and how you could use that money more wildly. If you have a rough estimate of how much your cruise is going to cost, consider what you should be saving each month to account for this. By curbing your spending habits and cutting down on monthly cuts you can bring yourself one step closer to that holiday. Create a budget for non-essential purchases and stick to it.
Cut down on takeaway coffee … and alcohol
The maths is simple: replacing your daily $3.50 takeaway coffee with one made at home or in the office kitchen could save you over $80 a month. Similar savings can be made if you pack a drink bottle when you go out – all those $4 bottles of water you buy at convenience stores can add up.
Another luxury to cut down on is alcohol consumption. According to recent ABS figures, Australians spend an average of $32 a week on wine, beer and spirits, which is a significant amount of money over time. As a bonus, going easy on Friday night drinks means your health will thank you too. Plus, once your on board the cruise you can reward yourself with a couple of glasses of wine and feel zero guilt!
Start meal planning
Grocery shopping according to a weekly meal plan is much more economical than buying food on an ad-hoc basis. Not only does it encourage you cook more, you can plan your meals around items you already have in the fridge and avoid buying food you don’t need. To help you out, the Victorian state government has a weekly meal planner on their website.
Shopping smarter can also make a difference to your hip pocket. Generic brands often deliver the same quality at half the price, while buying in bulk can be cheaper in the long run. Try to buy fruit and vegetables that are in season – not only will the prices be significantly lower, but the produce will be fresher.
Meal planning also reduces that chance of your ordering food when you could be making something at home. Regularly dining out and ordering takeaway adds up and could be cutting into your cruise fund. Instead, try and stick with meal planning and think of all the inclusive dining options you’ll have on board!
Surf the web and watch for sales
When it comes to booking the cruise, you want to be getting the best bang for your buck. To do this, you should be regularly doing your online research with different cruising agencies and companies to see where the best deals are and what the best time might be to go. Keep your eye out for sales and promotions but be wary of how much you’re actually saving. Oftentimes, promotions or sales can promise big savings but they are based on the brochure price or a fare that has been bumped up. If you keep up-to-date with cruise pricing, you’ll have a better understanding of how good different sales are.
Usually, the best sales are those where you get value added to your cruise experience free of charge, for example beverage packages or on-shore outings that you would normally have to pay for. Signing up to different newsletters can help keep you in the know about these kinds of savings.
Cruise close to home
By picking a cruise that’s close to where you live, you can make a big difference to the cost of your holiday as well as additional travel costs. By picking a port that’s easy for you to get to and choosing a holiday that focuses on an area within your country, you won’t have to think about how you’ll get to the departure port or needing to book a flight.
Sell your preloved items
Is your home filled with furniture, appliances or clothes you no longer need? Turn your clutter into cash by selling your items on social media or online marketplaces such as eBay you can also look for part time work on Gumtree.
Listing your pre-loved goods is not only free; it can also land you a decent sum of money in just a couple of sales – especially if you have branded, big ticket items in good condition, such as a fridge or a dining table set.
Also, don’t forget your old childhood toys and collectibles; that old video game console gathering dust on top of the cupboard may be worth more than you think. By selling all those things you no longer need or use, you won’t only be freeing up space around your house, you could pay for almost the entire cruise with your preloved goods alone.
Automate your savings
If self-discipline is not your strong suit and you tend to whittle your pay cheque down to the last dollar, consider setting up an automated savings plan. If you’re saving for a cruise, you can change the amount you deposit into your savings account so you’re saving more in the lead up to the cruise. When estimating how much you will be paying for your holiday, consider the worst-case scenario or the maximum amount you might be paying so that you’re not caught off guard when it comes to paying using the money you’ve saved.
One way to do this is to set up a regular direct debit from your transaction account into a savings account. Make sure you time the transfer to happen as soon as you get paid. That way you won’t even miss the money because it will get squirreled away before you have time to see it in your everyday account.
Savings accounts also have a higher interest rate compared to transaction accounts, which will help your savings grow.
Entertain for free.
A night out with friends can cost a fair bit these days, if you add up the cost of eating out, alcohol and entertainment such as movies and concerts.
Instead of going out, you can save for your holiday by inviting friends over for a dinner party where everyone brings a dish and shares the cost of alcohol. Swap catching up over brunch with going for a walk out in nature. If you’re going to be going on holiday with your friends, these kind of catch-ups can be a great way to get excited about the cruise and to encourage one another to save.
When it comes to entertaining the kids, opt for free activities such as visiting a park, going for a family bushwalk or riding bikes. Lots of museums offer free admission for kids and run plenty of workshops in the holidays. Visit your local council website for other free entertainment ideas close to home.
Save on fuel
The average car costs $1,737 per year in petrol, according to the Australian Institute of Petroleum. Save the money you would spend on fuel by choosing other forms of transport such as walking to work, catching public transport or riding your bike. You can also use fuel price websites and apps to find out where the cheapest petrol is in Australia throughout the week. Another way to make some significant savings is to become a one-car family. While it may require some juggling, selling a car immediately injects a significant amount of money into your holiday fund. You’ll also save on insurance, registration and maintenance costs too.
Saving for a cruise holiday takes some self-control and willpower. It means making a few changes here and there to our lifestyle habits. However, if you imagine yourself lying on the deck of the ship, by the pool with a cocktail in-hand admiring the coastal views around you, all that saving can be worth it. Happy cruising!
Laura Martins is a content manager for RateCity, where you can make smarter financial decisions and compare thousands of financial options.