With the summer travel season winding down, you might already be dreaming of a winter escape to a warm beach or a spring break getaway.
No matter the destination or date you envision, now is a great time to start putting money aside for your next vacation. And while saving enough to pay for a trip might seem like a lofty goal, there’s a handy hack to help get you there.
If you’re daunted by the task of saving for a vacation, here’s how to use a travel savings account to trick yourself into adding more money and bringing that faraway locale closer to reality.
The hack: Name your travel account
Most banks allow customers to rename their accounts with something custom. Choosing a name like “Great Reef Diving Trip 2020” or “High School Reunion” can help you mentally cement what that money is going to be used for and why it shouldn’t be touched for anything else.
Naming your account serves three purposes:
It creates an initial, specific intention for your money. By setting a clearly defined goal for the funds in your account, it becomes easier to visualize where your cash is going. It’s a modern version of a labeled money jar that you might keep at home, except your bank account will pay interest on your savings.
Leslie Tayne, a debt relief attorney and author, advises her clients to give bank accounts they create an explicit purpose and timeline.
“When you clearly define your goals and create something tangible out of the intangible, you become super focused,” she said. “Your mindset coincides with your values and what you want to accomplish.”
It reinforces good behavior in the future. By making your goal visible through the account name, the idea is that you’ll be able to stick to it more easily in the future. If you feel tempted to withdraw your savings, seeing your travel destination upfront will remind you why you’re putting money away and might encourage you to think twice about taking it out.
It promotes a more optimistic way of thinking about your finances. Naming the end result could turn negative thoughts about a seemingly insurmountable figure to save into a more motivating, can-do mindset, with the opportunity to feel victorious after each deposit.
Michelle Gielan, a positive psychology researcher and the author of “Broadcasting Happiness,” conducted a study with Frost Bank on the connection between optimism and financial well-being. Optimists, she says, focus on progress, not perfection. They believe their behavior matters and that every little step counts, especially when it comes to financial tasks like saving, Gielan says.
“When you give your brain a win by focusing on the smallest goal you can achieve, your brain feels compelled to accomplish more,” she says.
Here are a couple more ways to give your travel savings a boost.
Go direct: One of the easiest ways to set money aside? Keep it out of sight, out of mind. Rejigger your direct deposit details at work so that part of your paycheck automatically lands in your travel savings account every pay period. If that money never hits your checking account, it’ll be a lot harder to think of it as spending money.
Go high-yield: If your travel plans are far off, you may want to consider opening a high-yield savings account or a cash management account to store your trip funds. These accounts offer high interest rates — 2% or more — compared with the average interest rate of 0.09% of traditional savings accounts. Some of these high-interest accounts allow only electronic bank-to-bank transfers and not cash withdrawals, putting an extra barrier to accessing your money for non-travel purposes.