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Money Fix: Saving for summer vacation

Imagine yourself hiking a trail in Grand Canyon

Imagine yourself hiking a trail in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona? Start saving today for a summer vacation and you can make it happen. Photo Credit: Handout

Summer really isn't that far off. Perhaps you're already dreaming about that vacation. Start saving today and you can make it happen.

Decide where you want to go. "Begin cyberstalking your desired destination on travel websites and keep your eyes out for deals," says William Hammer, a certified financial planner with Vanderbilt Partners in Melville. Consider resorts that are newly opened or renovated for good prices.

Be flexible. Don't get stuck on travel dates, destinations or means of transportation. Flexibility provides options and cheaper choices.

Calculate costs. Add 15 percent to be safe. Determine how many weeks you have between now and when you'll pay for the trip. Divide your total trip costs by the number of weeks, and set your bank account to automatically debit that weekly amount. Give the account a name that motivates you to save, like Rome Italy 2012 Fund, suggests Jonathan Gassman, director of tax and wealth management for Gassman & Golodny in New York City.

Come up with the cash. Do a budget; see where you can make cuts. If you have a credit card that offers rewards points, check statements to see how many points you have. Can you convert them to airline tickets or hotel stays? Give up expensive habits like Starbucks for eight to 12 weeks and plow those savings into your vacation stash. Spring clean and have a garage sale or hawk your goods on Craigslist or eBay.

You'll be thanking yourself come summer.

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