|by Sean O'Neill||4|
If you plan ahead, you can afford a great summer vacation without going into debt or raiding your long-term savings.
Consider opening a vacation fund now. Set aside a small sum every month to pay for the trip of a lifetime—and avoid credit card debt.
You probably already have your paycheck deposited into your checking account electronically. Why not put your vacation fund on autopilot, too? Each month, have an amount of money moved from your checking into a money-market or other fund. You'll be more likely to stockpile enough cash if you don't have to think about the process.
How much should you set aside? Here's a benchmark: You only need to move $310 per month in a savings account paying 2 percent to end up with $5,000 for a trip abroad in summer 2010.
Consider opening a savings account with an online bank, which may offer a higher interest rate than your current accounts do. Today's online-only savings accounts often come with debit cards you can use to withdraw cash at ATMs worldwide. A case in point is ING Direct's Electric Orange account.
To find the best money-market account (paying approximately 3 to 4 percent a year), visit kiplinger.com/money/credit/.
To compare higher-yield certificates of deposits, visit bankrate.com.
In the meantime, while you're waiting to take your next big overseas trip, you may want to take a more affordable road trip in your region. You'll find a list of suggested road trips at BudgetTravel.com/roadtrip.
ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB Get your finances in order in 31 days by reading the blog The Simple Dollar.
Are you nearly broke? You can still travel. Read the tips at the blog Less Than a Shoestring.