Budget-Friendly Vacations

by: Larry Kallevig – Haven Financial Group
Minnesota Good Age
March 2019

Whether March comes in like a lion or a lamb, by now most Minnesotans are feeling a little spring fever. But before you book that warm weather getaway, make sure you’ve packed wise financial decisions.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans have gone into debt to pay for a vacation. On average, that debt adds up to more than $1,100 per trip, according to a 2017 study by Learnvest. No one wants to come home from vacation to face a pile of bills! Start taking steps now to reduce the cost and the stress of paying it off.

Save Your Money for the Trip
This is the easiest place to start. Sometimes we feel like we need a whole new wardrobe before we go on a trip, but we can probably get away with what we already have in our closet. Taking away this expense can free up more money to spend on your travels! When it comes to the necessities like sunscreen or an umbrella, these items will be more expensive at a hotel or resort, so pack them and bring them with you.

Create a Daily Cash Allowance
Set a daily budget for your vacation, and be realistic. Figure out what you expect to spend on food, drink, activities and shopping and then inflate the number by 10-15%. That will serve as a cushion for the “unexpected.” A great way to stick with your budget is to use cash and keep credit cards for emergencies only. Each day, only carry the amount you have allotted to spend. When the cash is gone, you’re done spending for the day!

Avoid Fees
Don’t pay more than you have to for your bags to travel. You may be able to avoid checked bag fees by using an airline’s credit card. And literally pack lightly. Oversized bags and heavy bags can rack up additional fees. Try getting creative: you may be able to pack some additional items in a photographer’s vest with multiple pockets. You may also find it handy when you’re sightseeing!

Stick With Your Final Answer
Making changes after you’ve booked is another common way to rack up fees. Airlines may charge you for switching or cancelling your flight. Make sure you are aware of potential fees before you book.

Don’t Get Scammed
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to try to get your money. Scammers will post photos of properties that aren’t for rent or that don’t exist to try to get your credit card information. Follow these tips to avoid falling for a travel scam:
● Always use a reputable company and website to book your trip.
● Look closely at deals on social media and sites like Craigslist.
● Search for reviews and complaints before booking.
● Ask for references before renting a vacation home.
● Check out companies with the Better Business Bureau.
● Never wire money to someone you don’t know.

If your choice is between going into debt or not going on vacation at all – I suggest you don’t go. If money is tight, consider a “staycation” instead. Minnesota has great places to visit, and you can save on airfare and accomodations.

As you plan for retirement, make sure to factor in vacations. If you want to travel often, you need to plan for it! Talk it over with your family and your financial advisor to figure out how much you’ll need to save during your working years so you can have the retirement of your dreams.

Larry Kallevig is the owner of Haven Financial Group in Burnsville, Minnesota. For more than 15 years, Larry has been helping his clients create financial plans that ensure dependable and comfortable income in retirement. Learn more at havenfinancialgroup.com.

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