Summer has arrived, and along with it comes the allure of warm weather and sunshine. Consumers everywhere are beckoned to plan their summer vacations. However, our debt counselors understand that it’s easy to overspend while indulging in the sun-soaked pleasures of the season. While we hope you have fun, it’s also important to save money this summer and avoid unnecessary debt. It’s crucial to strike a balance between enjoying the perfect summer getaway and keeping a tight hold on the purse strings to prevent financial strain. Let’s explore some valuable do’s and don’ts to help you save on summer expenses and make the most of your budget.
Do’s of Saving Money This Summer:
- Develop a spending plan. One of the primary reasons people overspend on vacation is due to inadequate allocation and budgeting of their funds. Before setting off, take the time to decide how much you are willing to spend and be specific in your budget breakdown. Include expenses such as plane tickets, hotel prices, transportation, meals, souvenirs, park admissions, and other activities. If the total amount seems too high, look for areas where costs can be cut back to ensure your vacation remains within your budget. By developing a detailed spending plan, you can avoid unnecessary consumer debt after the summer season.
- Consider off-peak travel. Traveling during the week, particularly from Monday to Thursday, can significantly reduce costs compared to weekends. By planning your vacation to take advantage of off-peak periods, you can avoid crowds and enjoy lower prices. Additionally, consider visiting popular summer destinations during the winter season, or vice versa, to take advantage of great deals and promotions offered during less popular times.
- Think outside the hotel box. Accommodation costs, especially at hotels, can be quite steep. To have a more affordable stay, explore alternative options such as home shares, condos, summer cottages, or campsites. Websites like Airbnb.com offer a wide range of choices that can help you keep costs down and prevent unnecessary credit card debt, especially if you are traveling with a group. However, if hotels are your only option, utilize platforms like Hotels.com, Priceline.com, and the HotelsTonight app to find discounted rates and special deals.
- Consider a road trip. Instead of flying to your destination and incurring additional costs such as baggage fees, consider embarking on a road trip. A road trip not only eliminates airfare expenses but also provides an opportunity for an exciting adventure. Make the journey enjoyable by bringing along fun trivia and car games. Additionally, packing your own food can help you avoid expensive restaurants and keep costs down throughout your trip.
- Travel during restaurant week. Treating yourself to a nice meal while on vacation is a delightful experience. However, dining at fancy restaurants doesn’t have to break the bank. Research if your vacation destination has a designated “restaurant week” where participating restaurants offer special menus or discounted prices. Or you could pick lunch over dinner. Either option allows you to enjoy dining out at more reasonable rates, making it a win-win situation for your taste buds and your wallet.
Don’ts of Saving Money This Summer:
- Get charged credit card fees. If you plan on traveling internationally, ensure that your credit card does not charge foreign transaction fees. While these fees may seem small on an individual basis, they can quickly add up over the course of your trip, potentially burdening your budget. Opt for credit cards that offer favorable terms for international transactions to save money and avoid unnecessary expenses.
- Eat out every night. Dining out for every meal during your vacation can quickly become expensive and unhealthy. Instead of relying on restaurants, consider bringing food with you on your trip. Packing meals that you can cook each night and having snacks on hand can help you stick to your vacation budget and maintain a healthier eating routine.
- Shop in tourist stores. Souvenirs are wonderful mementos of your vacation, but touristy souvenir shops often overcharge customers due to their prime locations and novelty appeal. To save money on souvenirs, explore local grocery stores or markets where you can find similar items at much more reasonable prices. By opting for these alternative shopping venues, you can bring back meaningful keepsakes without straining your budget.
- Delete email deals. Online travel websites and airlines often send enticing email deals and notifications about discounted tourist attractions, flights, and restaurants. While these offers may seem tempting, it’s important to exercise caution when trying to stick to a budget. One piece of financial advice is to eliminate the temptation altogether by deleting such emails. Just because a deal appears good doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right deal for you and your financial goals.
- Underestimate the value of free. Research ahead of time to see if there are any special offers or free activities available at your vacation destination. Many places offer free concerts, festivals, or community events that can provide enjoyable experiences without any cost. Additionally, consider exploring nearby areas or attractions a few states away. This can be an excellent opportunity for a road trip adventure while saving money on accommodations and entertainment.
By following these tips, you can save significantly on summer expenses and maintain your financial stability. However, it’s important to remember that financial responsibility extends beyond just planning for a vacation. Adopting good money management habits throughout the year will contribute to a healthy and secure financial future.
It’s worth noting that while saving money is important, it’s equally essential to strike a balance and allow yourself to enjoy your summer vacation. Remember to prioritize experiences and create lasting memories while being mindful of your financial well-being. With careful planning, smart choices, and a focus on authenticity and enjoyment, you can have a fantastic summer while staying within your budget.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with ACCC today.