Hopefully, you got your summer off to a terrific start over the Memorial Day weekend. Now, you’re probably looking forward to some more long weekends or a real vacation. Of course, you deserve to have fun this summer but don’t throw financial caution to the wind. Here are some tips to help keep your finances on track this summer:
Matt Timmons of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida enjoys planning great vacations for his family. He says the single most important key to a successful vacation is taking the time to plan the trip out in advance. Decide what type of vacation you are looking for…packed full of sights, laid back, education oriented, action oriented, then do your research. One of his favorite websites is www.TripAdvisor.com. Matt says pay close attention to reviews by other travelers…and write one of your own after your trip. Here’s my favorite tip from Matt: We are so used to ‘shopping’ the Internet, Matt says he’s gotten some of his best deals by simply calling direct and asking, “What’s your best rate?” Other big time savers, according to Matt, are websites like www.kayak.com, which allow you to compare many major travel sites at once. If you’re traveling abroad, he says one of the biggest mistakes people make is failing to realize their passport is not current.
A popular marketing automation tool strategy this time of year is the solicitations you get—via mail or Internet—for vacation deals. There are several variations on this theme. I’ve seen everything from free airline tickets and hotels to various discount packages. Some of these deals are legitimate, others are not. It will be up to you to take the time to read the fine print before you part with your hard-earned money. With the economy still struggling, vacation deals are plentiful, especially if you are prepared to negotiate.
Car rental companies always try to sell you “zero” deductible collision coverage. If you don’t accept it, you are responsible for the first $1000 or more of damages. Chances are you don’t need this costly coverage. Before you start your vacation, call your auto insurance agent to see what your existing policy covers. Also, many credit card companies offer zero deductible collision coverage if you use their card to charge the rental car, so check with your card issuer before you leave on vacation. A good place to check for deals on car rentals is www.Hotwire.com.
Most hotels have ‘no-show’ penalties if you don’t show up or fail to cancel your reservation within a certain time period. When you make your reservation, ask about the hotel’s policy and make sure you get a confirmation number. www.Hotels.com specializes in discount hotel rooms and vacation packages.
Do your best to pay cash for your vacation. Now I don’t mean literally pay cash, but I do mean don’t spend money you don’t have. One of the biggest mistakes I find people make is to take off for a vacation with a wallet full of credit cards. A month after their trip, the bills start rolling in causing several months of financial pain before they are able to dig out from under their new debt.
If you take the time to plan, you can have a wonderful summer without putting yourself in the poor house.