Wanna Put Away Some Cash? Take A Vacation!

A cruise to the Bahamas or a trip to that luxury spa aren’t going to get you ahead financially. However, if you’re looking to sock away a couple hundred bucks or more, some time off from work just might be the way to get you there -- if you do it right.

According to the Portland Business Journal, Expedia’s eighth annual Vacation Deprivation Survey shows that 31 percent of Americans will not use all of their allotted vacation days. With most workers averaging 14 days per year, they are giving that time back to their employers in cases of “use it or lose it.” The majority of those not using their total vacation time cite work pressures as the main reason for forgoing time off.

A small percentage of employers will allow unused vacation time to be paid out at the end of the year as an hourly wage, but many don’t play by this rule. It’s these employees that might consider looking at unused vacation time from a different point of view – one that may allow them to actually save some money for a large purchase, unpaid bills, or savings. A paid vacation away from work, but within the comfort of your own home, can net you big bucks.

Let’s take a look at what you may save on a typical 5-day paid vacation. Assuming that you work a set number of hours or don’t depend on overtime to supplement your income, you can avoid paying for:

  • Gas for the daily commute: $3-20
  • Parking and tolls: $1-4
  • Lunch out: $5-15
  • Wardrobe costs (dry cleaning, etc.): $4-15

These totals are an average, with some employees paying more and others far less. If you look at savings for an entire week, you could save between $65 and $270 on a 5-day vacation, with no decrease in your income!

The time away from work may also reap some benefits that are a little more difficult to measure, including: an improvement in mental or physical health, enhancement of family relationships, and the communication of healthy boundaries to your boss and coworkers. Some may even find that it is a perfect opportunity to earn some extra cash beyond their vacation pay by doing odd jobs or participating in a temporary or contract position!

If you’ve been putting off those much-needed vacation days for fear of falling behind at work, consider the monetary gain of getting away for a bit. You worked hard for those days. Why not put them to work for you?

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Guest's picture

There`s another good thing about vacation.
After holidays most guys work more efficiently.
It`s also a kind of advantage.

Guest's picture

Interesting post. I'd just like to point out that the savings listed above also offer excellent reason/incentive to try to work from home one day a week, stay home one weekend day, and/or generally just do less running around.

It's more relaxing that way too, and that itself can be very fulfilling. Another plus: if you don't go out, you can't go shopping. And less shopping practically always means less spending.

Guest's picture

Hey--there's a lot to be said for this.

I live in a place that people come to for vacations. One day it dawned on me: duh! Why get in a plane or drive my car hundreds of miles to go on a vacation when people pay to vacation right where I am? Besides its incredible cheapness, a vacation in the backyard has a lot to recommend it:

Sheer relaxation! No fighting crowds, having your privacy assaulted by Big Brother at the airport, being made miserable by airlines, losing your luggage, feeling like you have to rush to see everything.

The chance to slow down and appreciate what you have. You get to enjoy your home for the reasons you bought it. You can use the time to entertain your friends. And you can enjoy the cultural amenities of your own town that you tend to overlook while you're engaged in the daily hustle.

Opportunities to start new pursuits--learn something new, take up a new hobby, or do a project around the house that you've been wanting to accomplish.

A chance to be a tourist in your own town. You can do all those things your visitors do that you never get around to. Dinner at the nicest restaurant in town will cost you lots less than a trip to Bermuda. So will a day trip to the nearby mountains or seashore, a day at the local amusement or water park, a visit to the museum...whatever. And if you're past your teens and you behave yourself quietly, you usually can slip into a fancy hotel and sit around the pool without anyone bothering you...for free.

Could be you own your own resort. ;-)

Linsey Knerl's picture

This post came to me as the perfect way to sock away some cash after I was stuck home for over 6 months due to transportation problems. We didn't go anywhere, so we spent very little. No gas, no vehicle maintenance, no impromptu Target clearance shopping, etc. I couldn't believe the money we saved!

Since I work at home, I can save much more than just this 6 months allowed for. But not everyone has this option, so the vacation time was a nice way to give others the opportunity to save some bucks.

And I love the home resort idea  :)  I would be more likely to get a bunch of books and movies free from the library and grill out all week!

Thanks for the comments!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

are you insane?

Linsey Knerl's picture

Possibly, but I'm also debt-free.  :)

Guest's picture

Hmmm. I'm not sure I agree with your premise about saving money, unless you take a vacation at home (which I think is a fabulous idea!) Here's why:

- Many people don't have to pay for parking, or pay a monthly fee for parking, so there really isn't any savings there.

- You have to eat lunch whether you're home or away. In fact, you spend more if you are away because you're eating out more.

- Any savings on gas and parking is easily displaced by more expensive forms of transportation (bus, plane, train, cruise).

- As for laundry: many people need to buy clothes or gear for vacation, which could be higher than dry cleaning.

I think working from home or taking days off doesn't "save" money so much as it frees up some money in the budget to be used for vacation. It's only "savings" if you invest it or put it aside.

That being said, it's money worth "investing" in travel and learning experiences, whether in your hometown or further a field.

While I'm skeptical, this post certainly made me think carefully about what it costs to work outside the home!

Philip Brewer's picture

Part of what makes a great vacation is doing something that's very different from what you do at work.  Although it's sometimes nice to just veg out--reading trashy novels and sleeping in the shade--there are all sorts of useful (even productive) things you can do if you're not stuck at work all day.

Back when I had a day job, I more than once took a week of vacation just to stay home and write.  It might have been cool to fly to a Greek isle and write there, but staying home was not only a lot cheaper, it meant I didn't have to take days away from the writing and spend them traveling.

Of course, in my case, writing was what I wanted to do.  It might be harder to work up as much enthusiasm for, let's say, repainting the garage.  But still, while you're on vacation is a great time not only for lazing about, but also for having fun with your hobbies--and many hobbies can pay their own way, or even make a little money beyond that.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Your point is spot on.  My intent was to acknowledge the money saved by staying home on your vacation, and with many people I know having an hour commute one way to work, it is a big savings.  Plus, we all know you don't have to dry-clean your pj's should you choose to lounge in them your entire vacation, and the temptation to eat in a work cafeteria or fast food joint is diminished by the option to cook healthy and cheaply at home.


Guest's picture
Debbie M

Like Mary, I wouldn't save money just by staying home. (I bring a lunch, I ride the bus for free, and I wear thrift store clothes, just like I would at home.) I would actually be more likely to spend more money (not trapped in my cube all day, turning on the air conditioning, etc.).

I was thinking from the title that you would give us ideas on things to do with our time off that could help us save money. Like we could do things we might normally pay others to do, such as making our lunches for the rest of the week so we don't go out to eat, ironing our own clothes, mowing our own lawn, changing our own oil, stuff like that. Things we don't mind doing or even would like doing if only we had more time.

Another idea is to schedule service people to come over and take care of little things before they become big things. Of course you have to be home for this, but there's no reason not to do relaxing things while you're waiting like watching videos, playing games, reading, quilting, or any other time-consuming thing you can do at home that is interruptable.

Or you could fix or mend things that you would otherwise replace.

Some things are also cheaper or at least easier to do during the day. Movies at theatres are cheaper (matinee prices). And lots of places are less crowded, so you might be able to get lots of errands done and then have more free time after work for the next week. And some places are only open during work hours. I think my local consignment shop only buys things during M-F 8-4 work hours, I can drop off hazardous wastes (like old batteries) only during those hours, and my local AAA offices are open only then.

Linsey Knerl's picture

You are brilliant!  All of your DIY ideas are super ways to save money, and I LOVE the bit about scheduling service calls for your vacation days.


Guest's picture
Debbie M

I like when I'm brilliant!

Phillip's comment was reminding me of another way to take vacation time. I once took off two hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon for a month to write.

If you have too much vacation that's going to roll over but too much work to do, you may be able to do something like that too. You could come in late, have long lunches, leave early on Friday, and/or have several three-day weekends. My boss likes to take long lunches to do errands sometimes, for example. One of my co-workers takes off every Friday afternoon each summer.

Then no one will have to wait more than a few work hours before you'll be back. Most people will feel guilty complaining about this, especially if you can time these during the slow periods.

That sort of strategy probably works best for people who get paid by the hour rather than a salary. Salaried folks could probably squeeze in a couple of long weekends or mid-day weeks before their time rolled over.

Guest's picture

Nice! Another great reason for my husband quitting his job. (if you want to know the rest of the reason, see my blog)

Guest's picture

My husband has a long commute and a backlog of vacation days to use up, so he took this past Monday and Tuesday off from work (I already had the days off). Because his commute is long, he saved a tank of gas by not going to work those two days. Yes, it would be better if he didn't have that long commute in the first place, but we can't afford to live where he works at this point. For example, our mortgage (including taxes and insurance) is what most people pay for an apartment in that area.

That point aside, we used this time to get stuff done around the house. We built our garden boxes, ran errands, did yard work and so forth. It was nice to do this on Monday and Tuesday because places were less crowded. For instance, we needed to get new tires and an oil change and had that done in less than two hours.

Although we'd like to take a more relaxing vacation later, this was really productive for us. It saved us from having to rush around on the weekends when we'd likely get less done, and lets us feel a bit more relaxed...at least until we come up with another project!

Guest's picture

This is a cool look on taking a holiday. I never thought a holiday could MAKE you money. Cool tips