Weekend: Vacationing on a budget

By AMY M. CARLES
Vacations are a much-deserved treat, and are necessary for health and emotional well being. However, they can be quite costly and they can put you in debt.
Do not let the idea, “We deserve it!” set you back financially. There are ways to enjoy a vacation on a budget.
Start by planning your trip. If you plan early enough, you can set up a vacation savings account to pay for it.
Setting up an automatic deposit each month is more effective than putting money in a jar, plus it will earn you a little interest. It also helps you avoid dipping into your vacation fund.
Planning early can also often save you money on travel. However, you can often find last-minute deals if you can be flexible when and where you go.
Create a vacation spending plan. Determine where you are going, how you will get there, what you will do there, and what you will need to take with you.
You should also create a daily budget for food, drinks, activities, souvenirs and shopping.
Make a list of people you want to buy for and set a spending limit. Before buying souvenirs, ask yourself if you really need another trinket you will not use.
Would a photo of a landmark or tourist attraction be just as good? Consider purchasing souvenirs to use every day.
Be careful not to underestimate vacation expenses, and build in a cushion for the unexpected.
Travel during the off-season, take your own food, and eat large meals at lunch or breakfast to save money on meals. Look for packaged, all-inclusive deals and coupons.
Consider staying with friends and family. But, if you do, make sure you do not overstay your welcome, and give a nice gift to say thank you for the hospitality.
Pack light to save money on baggage fees. However, packing all you need may avoid expenses when you arrive at your travel destination and cost you less in the long run.
The weather may not be what you expect. Pack with this in mind by packing clothes that are versatile and easily layered, and do not forget a jacket and umbrella.
Alert your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans, especially if leaving the state or country. Otherwise, you may discover your ATM card or credit card shut down because the bank believes it to be stolen.
If you are going to use a credit card for your trip, make sure you can pay it off to avoid going into debt. Putting a vacation on credit is not a good idea.
The debt will make the vacation more expensive and create stress that takes the fun of your vacation. Taking out a home equity loan for a vacation is considered bad debt, and could put your house at risk.
If the only way you can have a vacation is to charge it, consider a “staycation” instead, then start planning and saving for a vacation later.
If you need help, Hancock Saves can help at www.hancocksaves.org.
Carles is with the Ohio State University Extension, Hancock County, and program coordinator for Hancock Saves.

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