6 Ways to Keep Vacation Spending in Check
Relaxing on a trip is a wonderful thing, as long as it doesn’t mean loosening the reins on your finances. Vacations have a way of triggering poor money habits, from impulse buying to splurging with credit cards. Here are six ways to steer clear of overspending on your next holiday.
1. Budget. Before heading out, make sure to have a financial road map for your trip. Include categories such as airfare or gas; transportation at the destination; and lodging, food, drink and entertainment. And try to set aside a small stash for discretionary spending. Try not to deviate from the plan.
2. Pack well. Destination hot spots overcharge for everyday items, counting on tourists to forget the essentials. Make sure to have a packing list and to double-check your suitcases before heading out. Don’t get stuck dishing out funds for toothbrushes and shampoo, when you could be using that money to have some fun.
3. Finance-wise, take only the essentials. Identity theft predators are on the rise. It’s particularly easy for thieves to swipe information from unsuspecting tourists on vacation. If possible, leave unnecessary financial items such as checkbooks or extra credit cards at home. That way, if a purse or wallet is stolen, you don’t need to worry about immediately canceling all cards, and you’ll have something to fall back on. For the cards you do bring, it could be helpful to write down your card information somewhere safe as an extra level of precaution.
4. Use mobile apps. It’s easier than ever to keep track of your finances with the influx of online services available from institutions like Bellwether Community Credit Union. In addition to monitoring for suspicious charges, you can also keep track of day-to-day spending. Plan to check your bank statements, either online or with your mobile app, each evening on the trip. Knowing where your finances stand can help ensure you don’t run out of cash five days into a weeklong vacation.
5. Keep a tight grip on that credit card. Perhaps the most dangerous vacation temptation isn’t overeating — it’s over-swiping the plastic. Don’t let your guard down with a credit card. Although you may not immediately feel the consequences, no one wants to still be paying off a summer excursion in the dead of winter. If the funds aren’t in the budget for a splurge, don’t take the risk.
6. Have a rainy day fund. If you’re far from home and run into a pricey problem that can’t be covered by your debit, credit card or cash on hand, being able to draw on a rainy day fund can provide a solution. And imagine the nightmare of returning from a dream vacation only to find a broken air conditioner on a swelteringly hot evening. Keep Murphy’s Law in mind: If it can go wrong, it will. Make sure if things go sour you have enough emergency savings built up so that you don’t get stuck somewhere or need to go into debt to resolve the problem.
Sure, a vacation might mean putting on a few pounds or coming home sunburned. But don’t let the fleeting fun impact your financial future for the worse. Following these six steps, and making sure you have a cash cushion available, will help ensure that you don’t have a lingering financial hangover when you get home.
Article written by Cait Klein, NerdWallet
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