• I really wanted to take a solo vacation at the end of 2021, and I needed to save $1,000 to take it.
  • The biggest gains to my vacation fund came from selling household items I didn’t want anymore.
  • I also planned other trips in advance, set a budget, went to free events, and put aside gift money.
  • Read more from Personal Finance Insider.

I’ve never taken a solo vacation before, and heading somewhere alone was a 2021 goal of mine. I wanted to reward myself at the end of the year with a personal getaway, and decided not to wait until the very last minute to plan that trip. I started saving, strategizing, and arranging details for this vacation back in January, and as of now I have the spare $1,000 I need to embark on this adventure.

This trip was just one of the many things I wanted to save for this year — including an apartment redesign, a wedding adventure, and more — so I had to be organized with my expenses every month to save up for it. Here are five ways I managed to save up over $1,000 for an end-of-year vacation without changing my lifestyle.

1. Planned other vacations in advance 

At the start of the year, I carefully mapped out other trips and vacations I wanted to take so I could budget accordingly for this one. 

These savings came from setting travel alerts for flight and hotel deals, using credit card points for activities on the trip, looking for budget hotels, and searching for rental car discounts months before the arrival date to find the best prices. By doing this, I managed to save $250 total that I could use toward my solo trip.

2. Paid attention to free local weekend events 

I love to explore locally and do activities on weekends. During the summer months of June and July, I decided to start finding ways to enjoy my weekends without having to spend money on ticketed events, or adventures that came with a price tag. 

So, I signed up for local newsletters that featured free events, like concerts and movie nights in the park. I also packed at least one meal with me when I headed out on a Saturday or Sunday so I didn’t have to pay an extra $10 or $20 for breakfast or lunch.

This helped me save an average of $150 a month, and that cash was put toward my end-of-year vacation. I still do this and use the money saved to help other financial goals. 

3. Sold items around the house 

I did a lot of quarterly cleaning around my apartment and bagged up clothes that didn’t fit anymore or gadgets I no longer needed. I brought these bags of clothes, shoes, and electronics to a local secondhand store and was able to make around $50 to $100 per quarter off these items. 

I also did an apartment redesign this fall and decided to get rid of about five pieces of furniture, including an old kitchen table, chairs, and a desk chair. I sold these items by posting them in social media neighborhood groups and was able to get $500 total. I put that money toward my solo vacation as well. 

4. Put aside a small portion of gift money from events and holidays 

I had two main occasions this year where I received gifts: my birthday and an elopement. I’m usually not great at spending gift money on things I enjoy or want, so I created a separate savings account for my gift money to pay for travel, hobbies, and even toward starting a future business. I also took only a small chunk of that money — around $150 — to put toward my solo trip. 

5. Stuck to a budget for the entire year

One thing that kept my spending in control, and kept me from dipping into my solo trip fund for other stuff, was sticking to a set budget. 

I had never done this before, but I created a realistic budget in January that was based on my spending from the year before. From there, I optimized my spending categories based on activities or needs for the month ahead, and checked in on my budget both daily and weekly. 

This allowed me to follow strict guidelines with my spending, and keep me on track. I also planned savings goals for the month, both for this trip and for other things as well. Because I did this, I was able to save an extra $15 a month to put toward this end-of-year-vacation.