The majority of the year, your spending habits closely align with the frugal budget you’ve mapped out for yourself. Your thrifty lifestyle is characterized by wholesale purchases, an anti-materialistic mentality, and a keen eye on your personal finances. Overall, money management is going well, so when there are a few occasions throughout the year when you decide to splurge, you tend to turn a blind eye. Vacations are certainly one of those times when peoples’ spending patterns change dramatically. During the summer months when you want a getaway, accruing vacation debt isn’t all that difficult. Before planning that big vacation, be sure to ask yourself these three important financial questions.
How are you paying for your trip? As basic as it might sound, a holistic understanding of the current state of your finances will do a world of good. Look at your family budget and the amount you can spend. Make a detailed vacation budget that accounts for every expenditure:
- Train tickets
- Car rental
- Amusement parks
- Activity rentals
If the cost of the trip is more than you are able to afford, consider another destination or adjust your budget accordingly. Once your budget matches up with your finances, stick to it! It’s easy to come up with a budget but following it is another matter.
Another question to ask yourself is whether you will be able to pay all your bills before leaving. Your wallet will take a heavy loss if you return from your vacation, likely after having spent a small fortune, only to be welcomed by a tall stack of unpaid bills. Simplify your financial responsibilities by dealing with all of the expenses you have accrued prior to jumping on that plane.
According to CreditCards.com, eight out of every ten Americans who planned a trip in 2016 said that they would pay a portion of their vacation expenses with savings. There’s no better way to pay for something than with cash you have on hand. Saving isn’t easy, not to mention that it can take a while to accumulate a sizable amount. The best way to ensure money enters your savings fund immediately is to automate the process. Request that a certain portion of your paycheck go directly to your savings fund.
Funding a portion of your travels with credit can actually have significant benefits. Before taking advantage of a credit card opportunity, make sure you understand everything that is included. Cash back bonuses and incentives can be excellent opportunities to save if done so properly. Fifteen percent of vacationers use credit cards to pay for a fraction of their trip, and there are many rewards to be had.
How about a Staycation? Sure, exploring your city or the next one over might not be as appealing as sipping Mai Tais at some tropical resort. Unfortunately grandiose getaways like this aren’t always the most affordable. The biggest appealing factors of a staycation can easily be overlooked. Convenience is certainly at the top of the list. You already have transportation and know the city well enough to arrive at your destination. An unexplored part of town that you’ve heard rave reviews of but have never had the opportunity venture to might make for an excellent staycation. How about signing up for some activities around town that you’d never previously considered? Hot air ballooning, wake boarding, zip-lining, touring local museums, etc.
At the end of the day, anyone can have an enjoyable and memorable vacation. However, be aware of your financial situation. Select the trip that’s right for your friends, family, and finances.