How to get away without your spending getting away from you
Spring break is coming up — an opportunity for a week-long respite to recharge those batteries and make memories with the ones we love.
But those plans for a week of bliss and relaxation often come to a screeching halt when we look at the price tag. The 2017 LearnVest Money Habits and Confessions Survey recently found most people spend more money than they can afford when they go on vacation. The survey found that 74 percent of people go into debt — adding an average of $1,108 to their bills — to go on vacation.
There’s plenty to be said for taking a break from our busy lives to reconnect and, even, just sleep. But adding more debt to an already tight budget will leave you with only more stress when you return. It’s possible to take a vacation on a budget, but it will take some planning.
Here are six ways to plan and prepare for Spring Break now:
1. Consider your budget
Take a serious look at what you can actually afford. Are you meeting your other financial goals and plans? Have you set aside any money in your emergency fund? Do you continue to pay down credit card debt?
If you’re not meeting your financial goals, maybe this year isn’t the year for that spring break cruise or beach vacation. Instead, plan a much cheaper staycation at home. You might be surprised to find out how much free fun is right in your backyard.
2. Get together with friends and family
Group vacations can be a great way to cut the costs of a vacation. With another family, you can split the cost of a rental house or vacation condo. If enough people are in your group, you might even get a discounted group rate when you visit an attraction or other destination. The key is it plan ahead. Before you go, work out a meal and excursion plan with the other family. If your group is large enough to take advantage of group rates, you’ll need to lock those in before you go.
3. Scrimp on fun now for fun later
If your budget allows for a week away, but just barely, cut back on fun now. Instead of eating out during the next couple of months, save that money for meals out during your vacation. See movies at home, not the theater, and use that extra money for a special activity while you’re on vacation. It all adds up.
4. Look for deals
Whether you’re planning a staycation or a week away, look for deals ahead of time. Groupon and Living Social, for instance, can offer some great discounts on restaurants and family venues, but, often, you’ll need to line these up in advance.
5. Set expectations
Let your kids know upfront how much money you’ll give them to spend on souvenirs (and include those amounts in your own budget for the trip). Let them make the hard decisions about how to spend that money and whether they’ll bring along any of their allowance or other earned income for T-shirts and toys.
6. Bring your own stuff
Especially if you’re driving to your destination, stock up on whatever you’ll need now. Prices for food and other essentials often are more expensive at stores in vacation destinations. Take advantage of sales and coupons, if you use them, over the next couple of months to buy what you’ll need when you’re away.
A trip is exciting — especially if you can afford the expense. Making plans now can shave some of those costs so that when you get home, there’s no vacation debt to stress about.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free. Speak with a certified counselor for a free debt analysis today