Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tip of the Week: How to Budget for a Family Vacation

Tip of the Week: How to Budget for a Family Vacation with Julie Casserly, CFP®, CLU, ChFC, MBA

According to an Auto Club of America survey, almost one-quarter of polled travelers said they plan to spend less money on summer trips this year than they did last year, compared to 20 percent in 2008 who said they planned to spend less than in 2007. For those planning to spend less in summer 2009, 54 percent cited concern about the economy as a reason, 40 percent cited reduced income, 18 percent mentioned concern about their job stability and nine percent cited the loss of a job. Practitioner Julie Casserly says, “Position yourself to be lucky to spend the amount of money you actually have for vacation, instead of going into debt and later on having to pay for past choices. No one likes having what I like to call a “spending hangover”…it takes all the fun out of going on vacation in the first place”.

Ms. Casserly continues, “It’s all about what free cash you have to be able to afford a vacation and about what is right for you and your family, there is no right or wrong, it’s about what you have chosen as your financial priorities and making sure that you create a positive energy flow from your spending (spending on a cash basis) and not a negative energy flow (spending with debt).”

Ms. Casserly gives these tips for making your vacation memorable without paying for it until next summer:

* Last Minute Deals - We live in a world where there are so many things to do and many, many options. Many of the travel websites will have last minute trips at a deep discount, particularly today with this economic environment. Decide, OK, we have $2000 to spend on vacation and then search online for an all inclusive trip for the long weekend that falls into that number. The exciting part is that you are leaving yourself open to trying a new adventure or a new place.

* Look At The End, First - Steven Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind”. I couldn’t agree more. Decide what are your priorities for your vacation, what amount your will choose to spend, then build your plan out from there.

* Choose the Day - Choose to travel on cheaper air fare days, say Tuesday – Saturday

* Name Your Price - Rent your car, hotel, or your airfare through where you can name your own price. I have tried a 30% lower price than the market price and most times I am successful.

* Pack the Snacks - If you’re taking a road trip, pack a cooler!!! No need to spend extra money on those high cost, high calorie snacks.

* One Stop Shopping - Buy in bulk, get airfare, hotel, and car from one vendor.

* Locals Know Best - Talk to the locals once you get somewhere, go to the restaurants where the locals eat, they’re not tourist traps with higher costs, and many times better.

* Set the Plan and Open an Account - If you don’t have a vacation planned, set those financial intentions by opening up a separate savings account that is ONLY to be used for your vacations. If you’ve decided you want to spend $3000 per year on a vacation, then make sure you put $125 per check (if paid twice per month) into that savings account straight from your paycheck. I’ve met so many people who want to go on vacation, but they don’t because they don’t plan on it….this is a really easy thing to do to go have some fun in life!


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