Plan Next Summer’s Vacation Now

(CNN) — The kids are back to school, the days are getting shorter, and the long Labor Day weekend is behind us. September may be the perfect time to start planning next summer’s vacation.

It’s not just something to look forward to. Planning ahead can actually save you money.

First, set aside a bit of each paycheck during the fall, winter and spring months in a vacation fund, like a separate savings account. Having cash on hand for vacation expenses will avoid credit card burden.

Look at areas where you went over budget during this summer’s vacation, whether it was airfare, food or entertainment, and pad the budget for next time. Consider a credit card with hotel points or airline miles attached. Use it for everyday expenses, pay off the balance each month, and bank the rewards towards free stays and upgrades next summer.

Choosing a destination well ahead of time will also give the greatest options on pricing and availability, especially when traveling by air. Try to avoid peak periods like Memorial Day and July Fourth to save money and headaches.

And an early start on vacation plans means more time to compare prices and research discounts from your employer, your bank, or other groups.

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