By Bruce McClary Summer is a time of fun and relaxation, but the gentle breezes and the sound of the ocean surf can be replaced by the sound of an emptying savings account. The NFCC wants to help consumers avoid the top money wasters that could get in the way of fun in the sun. Impulsive Travel – Hastily booking a trip at the last minute can be very expensive, mostly because no time is taken to research deals and comparison shop for the lowest prices. Recent studies have found that the majority of travel is booked online, where there is the best opportunity to save. Use the tools available on the web to capture the most savings. Start by comparing package offers and try to be flexible with travel dates. Many travel booking sites offer special value-added deals that include hotels where kids eat at no cost. You may also catch a break from rental car companies offering free upgrades, giving you and your family a little extra room. When it comes to travel, a little planning helps your money go a long way. No Spending Plan – A budget is essential for saving money throughout the year, allowing for necessities like housing and food. The same is true for any summer holiday with its mix of familiar and unique spending categories. Research the destination and compare prices for all of the anticipated activities. Start saving money each month throughout the year in order to have enough to cover as much of the cost as possible. Less worry about credit card spending leads to a more enjoyable time for everyone. The NFCC offers a variety of online financial calculators including ones for travel budgeting and saving for a specific goal. Extra Baggage and Other Airport Blunders – A little extra planning saves a whole lot of money at the airport. Savings can start with the number of bags packed, if limited to the size and quantity allowed by the airline being used. Each airline has different guidelines, so it pays to check before traveling. Food and beverage costs are sky high in the terminal and on the plane, so bring some snacks in the carry-on luggage since certain types and quantities of non-liquid food items are allowed through security. An empty water bottle can be filled at any public fountain and helps spare the extra expense of buying bottled water at premium prices inside the terminal or on while in transit. Speaking of security, it also helps to know what items are allowed to be taken through the checkpoints. The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has a website dedicated to summer travel, offering plenty of advice that can help save time and prevent confiscation of valuable personal items. For some relief from the stress of summer vacation debt, and to put the sizzle back into your savings, speak with a certified financial counselor by contacting the NFCC at www.nfcc.org or 800-388-2227. Bruce McClary is Vice President of Public Relations & External Affairs with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. 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.
Tuesday June 23, 2015/