As the school year winds down for many families people may have already begun planning for their summer vacation. Whatâ€™s incredibly tempting is to do whatever you want to do and just put it on a credit card and worry about it later. However, thatâ€™s a backwards approach, and not the most financially responsible thing to do. The financial aftermath of charging a vacation you cannot afford could be a stressful mess that will take a long time to pay off, and may make paying your normal monthly bills and living expenses that much more difficult.
The most important thing you can do? Look at your finances and see how much vacation you can realistically afford. Think you deserve a super-duper vacation? We think you do, too! But the question isnâ€™t whether or not you deserve a terrific vacation, but rather â€œWhat can you afford?â€ We are emotional beings, and when we let our emotions drive our spending we can damage our financial health and increase our stress. Even if you think you can handle the debt because your income is sufficient, none of us are guaranteed what tomorrow may bring. Weâ€™ve seen people who could juggle a fair amount of debt who suddenly found themselves struggling with it when an illness or injury occurred, or they lost their job or had their hours cut unexpectedly.
If you do charge some or all of your vacation make sure that itâ€™s an amount you can repay within a few months. Otherwise you could find yourself still paying on the vacation when next summer rolls around, and the increased debt could add a lot more stress to your life as it lessens your financial stability.
To avoid expensive hotel costs look at fun options in your area such as parks, museums, concerts, and other local attractions. And be sure to pack your own food, drink, and snacks rather than pay $3 for a bottled water at a park, hotel, or convenience store. Lastly, remember that fond memories are made by spending wonderful moments together and not necessarily by spending a large amount of money.
Mark Foster is Director of Education with Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA). CCOA is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. To schedule an appointment with a Certified Consumer Credit Counselor contact CCOA at 800.889.4916, or visit CCOA online atÂ www.CCOAcares.com.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.