Whether it’s the beach or the mountains, the city or the country, many families take their vacation time during the summer. School is out and it’s the perfect time to get away together for a week (or more!). But someone’s gotta pay for it and planning for the costs ahead of the time can help to reduce the stress and increase the relaxation. But even if you didn’t think ahead, there is still time to enjoy a break. ~Kristina Hernandez
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Tip #1: Plan Ahead for Summer Vacation
You plan ahead for flights and hotels and time off work so why not start planning in advance for all the costs associated with your dream trip? Court Creeden, who runs Parent Financial, advises that families should first figure out what the trip will cost and then incorporate those costs into their annual and monthly budgets, where a certain amount of money can be saved each month.
“From there you can start by determining how many months you have until the trip and then calculate how much you should be putting away each month to have the trip saved for when the vacation starts,” Creeden explained.
“As an example, if you are planning on spending $2,500 to take the family to the beach in July, you could start at the beginning of the year knowing you have seven months until the trip. To be ready for the total cost, you should have been saving $357/month leading up to the vacation and then you would have been fully prepared for the trip. The earlier you start the better and the less likely you will need to dip into savings or use a credit card to help handle the costs!”
Tip #2: Don’t Forget the Smaller Costs – They Add Up
This is so easy to overlook but those extra costs of a vacation, both before and during, can really add up. Maybe $100 for clothes, another $50 for shoes, $20 for sunscreen, a few dollars here and there for games for the car or plane ride all adds up. Then once the vacation starts, don’t forget about extra food and snacks, drinks, magazines, taxis or Uber, or the t-shirt and photos from the theme park.
“These small expenses can add up to hundreds of dollars if not planned for,” said Creeden. “As a result, many parents find that they look at the hotel and flights for a trip to figure out the ‘costs’. Once the vacation is over they realize that the trip was hundreds of dollars more because they didn’t take into consideration the park passes, new clothes, beach toys, etc that were purchased and increased the total cost. “
So plan wisely for all those extras ahead of time or put away a special fund for purchases.
Tip #3: Consider Less Expensive Alternatives
Some of you are reading this and saying, “But I want to take a summer vacation now and I haven’t budgeted seven months for it!” Hang in there.
“Consider hotel alternatives and look at Airbnb or VRBO to find less expensive lodging options,” suggests Creeden. “Don’t book hotels online or from a 1-800 number. Call the front desk and see if there are any special prices or availability to potentially get a better rate. If flying, consider two ‘one-way’ tickets rather than roundtrip to find some potential cost savings.”
There are also some great day trips to local spots that don’t cost much where you and your family could leave early in the morning and make a long day of it. And if you left early enough, you could drive to the beach, have fun all day, and drive back in the evening and save money on a hotel.
Tip #4: Do Your Homework
Besides planning ahead and thinking of incidentals and special gifts or purchases beforehand, there is a lot you can do to be smart about vacationing.
Creeden suggests to “do your homework and look for off-season passes, Groupon specials, and discounted rates. Don’t forget to consider using your rewards miles or points to offset costs for flights or hotels.”
Using those reward miles is how my family paid for our summer vacations. We got free flights and hotels and my parents taught us how it works but that you need to be smart and pay off the credit card bills while racking up the miles or points!
Tip #5: Remember that the Amount of Money Does Not Necessarily Equal the Amount of Fun
Remember that your children don’t know how much you spend, so a great weekend at the beach could be just as fun as one at an expensive amusement park.
Tip #6: Pack Your Lunch and Snacks
Pack lunches or buy snacks for the plane flight or car ride.
Tip #7: Pack a Souvenir
Buy the kids a fun souvenir ahead of time to give them when you arrive at Disney rather than paying a much higher price buying gifts the theme park.
Tip #8: Consider Listing Your Home for Rent While You Are Gone
Consider listing your home for rent on AirBnB while gone to make some extra money.
Try to think ahead and be financially smart so that taking well-earned your summer vacation won’t cause stress afterwards.
Do you have a tip to add that helps you save for your summer vacation?
Court Creeden is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC [www.SIPC.org] 6000 Fairview Road Suite 400, Charlotte, NC 28210 (704) 557-9600. Court Creeden is not authorized to give legal or tax advice. Consult your own personal attorney legal or tax counsel for advice on specific legal and tax matters. CRN 201807-203641