3OYS: Start saving now for the 2014 summer vacation

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PHOENIX -- The kids are back in school and the long Labor Day weekend is behind us. So September just might be the perfect time to start planning next summer's vacation.

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 this summer.  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, particularly when traveling by air. Try to avoid peak periods like Memorial Day and July 4th to save money and headaches.

The best thing you can do is start saving now. Take a percentage of your paycheck every pay period and put it in a vacation fund.