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Financial Planning

Plan Ahead When Saving For Vacations

We’ll help you plan and save so you can stress less about your bank account while you’re on the beach, on top of a mountain, or wherever else your travels take you.

Articles by katiemarie

By Katie Marie
Content Manager, Betterment  |  Published: June 21, 2019

Based on how much you need to save and the amount of time you have to save it, Betterment’s major purchase goal will give you advice on how much you should be setting aside for your next vacation.

Setting up auto-deposits with Betterment that are aligned with your pay schedule can help ensure you stick to your plan and achieve your goals.

Taking a vacation isn’t something that should make you feel guilty. Unplugging from work can help you connect with your loved ones, the world around you, and even yourself. Here at Betterment, we recognize this with policies that encourage work-life balance for our employees.

Thankfully, our financial advice can help you, too. When you’re prioritizing your financial goals, consider any vacations you plan to take in the future. Perhaps you know you’ll have to travel for a wedding next summer, or your family always takes an annual summer vacation when the kids are out of school.

Don’t make the mistake that 55% of Americans make—forgetting to budget and save for an expected vacation. As your financial partner, Betterment can help you plan so that you can be a smart investor and get some well deserved relaxation.

Dust off your sunglasses

How To Plan A Vacation

I live in New York City, so when I think about a vacation, I often think about pristine white sand beaches and serene ocean views.

Let’s say you were planning a hypothetical vacation to the beaches of Florida next summer: we’re going to walk through the setup of a major purchase goal so that you can see exactly how Betterment helps you prepare.

First, let’s talk about cost. Although the cost of a vacation can vary greatly depending on your destination, the price tag of the average vacation is about $1,145 per person. For a family of four, this would increase fourfold to a total of about $4,580. These figures will frame our discussion today, but make sure to do your own research on your desired destination before setting up your vacation goal in your Betterment account. Know that if costs change, your goal can be adjusted and updated at any time.

Setting Up A Major Purchase Goal

After choosing a destination and determining the cost, the next step is to set up a major purchase goal, either on the website or through the mobile app. Simply using a goal-based system to save and invest for a vacation can help you actually achieve that goal—among other benefits.

Let’s name the goal “Florida Vacation” to stay organized and differentiate it from other savings goals. If you wanted to take this vacation in the next year, set the time horizon for one year, just in time for next summer. Assuming that you’re traveling alone, select the average vacation cost of $1,145 for the target amount, knowing that you may end up needing more or less, depending on what flight and hotel deals you’re able to find.


As shown above, Betterment has selected a risk level for you that’s 24% stocks and 76% bonds. This risk level is based on the amount of time you’ll be investing for, which is only one year. Generally, the shorter your time horizon, the less risky you’ll want to be with your savings. Auto-adjust is also selected by default, which means that the risk level will automatically be dialed down even more as you get closer to your vacation date.

Reviewing The Possible Outcomes

As shown in the screenshot below, after setting up the target amount, time horizon, and risk level, you’re then presented with a graph that tells you the earnings over the designated time period under certain levels of expected market performance. You will likely meet your savings target plus an additional $6. That’s good, because airport coffee can be expensive.

If the market performs poorly, Betterment’s technology predicts that the growth projection is $45 less than the target. This means that you would likely need to make some minor last-minute adjustments to your plans (for example, taking public transportation to and from the airport rather than a cab). Regardless, you can still feel good knowing that you’re saving most of what you might need.


Automating Future Deposits

Most importantly, the screenshot above demonstrates how Betterment also recommends a monthly deposit amount you should be putting into the goal so that you can reach your target of $1,145. It looks like a monthly deposit of $94.49 is the recommended amount according to Betterment, although you could always split it in half and set up auto-deposits to occur when you get your paycheck (every two weeks, bi-weekly, etc).

Because this is the one of the most recommended ways to set up auto-deposits, you should choose the option that aligns with your pay schedule.

For a family of four, coming up with $4,580 to drop on a summer vacation might seem like a challenge when thinking about all of your other expenses. However, breaking it down into “per-paycheck” deposit amounts over a year period makes it seem more manageable.

For a Betterment major purchase goal that’s set for a one year time horizon, and a target amount of $4,580, the recommendation is a monthly deposit of $377.95.


Split between two paychecks per month, and even between two spouses, the “per-paycheck” savings per spouse would be about $94.49.

As you can see, it pays to plan ahead.

If you don’t have a Betterment account yet, there are no upfront costs associated with signing up to create your own major purchase goal. Take a look at the advice and play around with different target amounts and time horizons. If you do decide to invest your savings with us, our management fee of .25% offers unlimited access to automated portfolio management, Tax Smart investing features, personalized financial dashboards and customer support.

In a year’s time, you will thank your past self for taking the time to set up a major purchase goal and automating your deposits. I suspect that your family will, too.

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