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Meet the Winners of Our Dream Summer Sweepstakes

June 1, 2017
Managing Money, Personal Finance
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New York, Mexico, Greece, and Peru: These are just some of the summer destinations our readers shared in their entries to our first Dream Summer Sweepstakes. We’re inspired by their adventurousness and how they’re saving for their getaways. We randomly chose the five reader tips below, and we’re sharing them along with personalized savings advice from our experts.

Jamie Roxanne Taylor: We’re taking a cruise out of New Orleans to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico! One of my favorite savings tactics is to take any $1, $5 or $10 bill I get and to set it aside. I’ve been doing this since March, and I’ve put aside $200 so far! I’ve also been using Qapital, a money savings app, and I’ve managed to save around $100 with that so far. I’ve also used Groupon to shop for hotels on the way there and back from our cruise. I managed to find a hotel for $80 — the same hotel would’ve been $150 through Expedia!

Advice from our experts: You’ve got a few handy savings tactics already. If you want to add an easy-to-use investing app to your strategy, consider Acorns. Like Qapital, it automatically takes small amounts from your checking account, but it then invests your money so you gain returns over time.

Amanda Hanson: Guanajuato, Mexico. I stashed away a certain amount of money every week.

Advice from our experts: You’re off to a good start! Take your savings plan to the next level by opening a separate savings account with a high-yield rate.

Kym Barnett: Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada. By using air miles and having a prepaid ferry card, we can save one-third of the ferry costs. We hope to soon have one ticket paid for.

Advice from our experts: Frequent flyer miles can be a great way to pay for airline tickets. To set aside money for future trips, consider splitting any income you receive between your checking and savings accounts. Set up a direct deposit to both, and a portion of your monthly pay will end up in your savings account without you lifting a finger.

Jovan Johnson: Going on a cruise to Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. My college roommate’s mother is a travel agent, so she was able to work out a reasonable deal for the cruise. I was able to pay for the trip through my vacation fund online savings account. I try to contribute a consistent, small amount per month to my vacation fund, so I won’t have to stress when I’m ready to pack up and go.

Advice from our experts: You have a solid savings strategy for your cruise. Since you like saving small amounts over time, try the 52-week savings challenge. Save $1 the first week, $2 the second, $3 for the third and so on for one year. Stash the money in a separate savings account, and at the end of the year you’ll have $1,378.

Ashley Henk: Dallas! I’m using Groupon for a hotel and credit card points for everything else.

Advice from our experts: You’re already using smart strategies to save money on your trip, but don’t forget to step back and look at the big picture. Set a vacation budget so you’ll know exactly how much to save each month, the accommodations and expenses you can comfortably afford, and how your trip fits into your overall budget. Then automate your savings to stay on track.

Congratulations to the winners, each of whom received a $100 travel gift card. You don’t have to win a contest to set aside cash for a trip. Follow our experts’ simple savings tips to build your own vacation fund for some well-deserved summer fun.

Reader entries have been edited for clarity.