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Keep Summer Vacation Spending Under Control

Summer Vacation, Budgeting for Vacation, Planning a Vacation, Vacation Finances

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Keep Summer Vacation Spending Under Control

Summer is here, so the family is ready to head out on that long-awaited family vacation. With a little planning and management, family vacation does not need to drain the family bank account.

No one needs to go broke going on vacation, with a little research and planning; you could wind up saving a considerable amount of money.

Start by determining how much your family has to spend on a vacation this summer. This will be the starting point for your family vacation planning.

Make a list. If you're handy with a computer, create a spreadsheet and add up the cost of various expenses, such as hotels, meals, airplane or train tickets, park admission fees and kennel fees for a pet. Is the total within your budget? If not, start paring down the list.

Set up a tracking system for your spending while on vacation. You can use a simple notebook or find an app for your smartphone or tablet to help track expenses. If your children are old enough, have them help you with the tracking. It would be a great money management experience for them.

The top three expenses on a vacation are transportation, lodging and food. With a bit of planning and research, you can keep these expenses down and have more money for the fun stuff while on vacation.

Tips to get you started:

·         If flying or taking the train, calculate the best ticket price times the number in your family. Add in airport parking, checked bag fees, car rental, taxicabs or public transportation once you arrive at your destination.

·         If driving, estimate your fuel cost. Add in the cost of lodging, toll fees and parking.

·         Compare lodging prices on travel websites. Consider amenities, too. A complimentary breakfast will help you save on meals. A pool can provide free entertainment for the kids.

·         Be willing to ask: What's the best price you can offer? Do you have any special offers or discounts?

·         Use rewards, discounts or coupons.

·         Camping may be a less expensive lodging choice. The U.S. has many national and state parks that provide safe and affordable campsites.

·         Plan to eat only one meal out a day. Pack foods such as granola bars, canned or dried fruits, and canned juices for breakfast.

·         Go out for lunch. Try making lunch your big meal of the day. Many restaurants offer the same menu items at lunch for a lower cost than the dinner menu. You can splurge at lunch and eat a smaller, less costly meal for dinner. Beverages can add to the cost, so consider sticking with the complementary water.

Creating a plan, calculating expenses and tracking what you spend while on vacation can ensure that you'll still be able to pay your regular bills when you return home. It's also a good way to decide where to splurge and where to cut corners.

For more information about managing your finances, visit http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/money.

Source: Lori Scharmer, NDSU Family Economics Specialist

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