Eight tips for vacation savings
As school lets out for the summer, vacations are on many families’ minds. A Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA) website poll showed that 84 percent of families haven’t had a vacation in the past year. Many can’t afford to take one unless they pinch their pennies. But whether someone plans an elaborate vacation or something close to home, it is vital to first create a vacation budget to avoid overspending, as spending too much will ultimately just add more stress to a family and their finances.
“People are still feeling pinched by the economy so in order to take a vacation, they have to look at affordable options,” said Mark Foster, Director of Education for CCOA. “The first step is to take a look at your budget and see how much vacation you can afford. And if you use credit cards to finance your trip, make sure not to charge any more than you can pay off within a few months’ time so you’re not still paying on the vacation next summer.”
Because of tight budgets, many families vacation close to home, opting to travel to nearby places they can drive to in the morning to visit and return to their home by night. This is called a staycation. It eliminates lodging costs and can significantly reduce travel and meal costs. There are probably numerous fun choices within a three-hour drive from home – perhaps a zoo, a science museum, a park, an aquarium, or sporting events. For those who think no vacation is financially possible for them, a staycation can be doable for many on a very tight budget: Instead of going anywhere, staycationers can plan something fun at home, such as renting some movies, camping in their backyard or grilling on their porch.
More vacation savings tips from CCOA:
* Pack your own food, drink and snacks, rather than paying $3 for a bottled water at a park, hotel, or convenience store. Taking snacks, food or drinks can save a small fortune.
* Eat at restaurants where kids eat free. Also, stick with water and no dessert. A family of four can easily spend $10 a meal just on drinks alone.
* Give children a trip allowance. Kids will learn to manage their money as they contemplate buying souvenirs and snacks.
* Look in the newspapers and the Internet for discounts and coupons to area events and attractions.
For a free budgeting and credit counseling session, consumers can contact CCOA at (800) 889-4916 or go online to www.CCOAcares.com. CCOA’s Debt Management Program can lower interest rates and lower monthly payments to help debtors become debt free.
Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA) is an Arkansas-based, non-profit organization that is supported by grants to provide free financial seminars, free and confidential counseling on budgeting, credit, home buying and mortgage delinquencies and a debt management program. Founded in 1995, CCOA’s free counseling is available in-person, by phone and online. CCOA helps over 20,000 people every year with free financial counseling and education. For free and confidential advice, consumers can call (800) 889-4916 or visit www.CCOAcares.com.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.