How to Enjoy Your Summer Vacation Without Maxing Out Your Credit Cards

Summer is a time to let loose and have some fun.  That all sounds great but it can be horrible for your finances, especially when it comes to taking summer vacations.  Before you pack up your suitcase and grab your beach bag, take some time to balance your finances.  So what can you do this summer to make sure you don’t end up with a financial hangover?  Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your summer without disrupting your finances.

Make A Plan

Always start with a plan for your vacation.  It’s great to be spontaneous, but having a list of when and where you want to go, what you want to do when you get there and how much it will all cost will help you get started on the right foot.

Set Up An Adventure fund

With your plan in place, you can now start saving for your trip.   Creating a separate “fun fund” will help cement why you are saving the money and help you keep your eye on the prize instead of purchasing unnecessary items.

To figure out how much you need to save, divide the cost of the trip by the number of months you will be saving.  Major trips may require a lot more planning and a longer time to save.  If staycations or small weekend getaways are more your speed you may not have to save as aggressively.

Keep Your Credit Card Under Control

Now that you know your summer fun is going to cost and you have your adventure fund you have to come up with a plan to subsidize it.   Build your spending plan by setting aside an extra 5 or 10% from your check and put it into your adventure fund.  Also, consider setting up an automatic transfer to pull money into your savings before you spend it on something else.

Always Know Your Limits

Set a daily spending budget for your tip and try not to exceed it.  Try to include everything you will be spending on food, activities, lodging and any other special events that may come up.  Most importantly, your spending limits must be realistic.  It’s better to be honest with yourself when it comes to travel costs.  It is better to save for it than convince yourself you won’t be spending very much and then exceed your budget by two or three times.

Be Disciplined

Once you’ve set your spending limits stick to them.  It’s very easy to talk yourself into not counting small purchases like coffee and souvenirs.  Remember, those small purchases add up and can have a significant impact on your adventure fund.  So, give yourself a 3-5% cushion in your budget for an “I just have to have that” moment.

Have A Great Trip

Realistically, most of us are not going to plan our vacation down to the minute.  But, with the money you saved in your adventure fund and a cap on your daily spending, you can have a great trip and avoid maxing out those credit cards.  All of us at allU.S. Credit Union want you to enjoy your summer adventure today without any regrets tomorrow.