With the COVID vaccination rate rising, more and more people are planning a long-overdue summer 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:
- Skip payment options. You may have received notice from your credit card company or mortgage company that “due to your outstanding credit,” you may elect to skip payments for the summer. Sounds good, right? Buried in fine print on your statement is the notice that interest will still be accruing on your unpaid balance. For example, skipping a $100 payment on a credit card with 12% interest could extend your payment period two months and cost you an additional $200. While it may be tempting to take a break from paying your bills for a month or two, it is not a smart financial move. If anything, you should attempt to accelerate the total payoff of credit card debt.
- Vacation packages. A popular marketing strategy this time of year is the solicitations you get for vacation deals. There are several variations on this theme. I have seen everything from free airline tickets and hotels to various discount packages. Some of these “opportunities” are legitimate; others are not. Be sure to take the time to read the fine print before you part with your hard-earned money. As the vacation industry emerges from its COVID-induced slump, vacation deals are plentiful. For good deals, check out Internet services such as Expedia.com.
- Car rentals. Car rental companies always try to sell you “zero” deductible collision coverage. If you do not accept it, you are responsible for the first $1000 or more of damages. Chances are, you do not 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 for the rental charge, so check with your card issuer before you leave on vacation. For great deals on car rentals and other packages, check out Internet services such as Hotwire.com.
- Hotels. Most hotels have ‘no-show’ penalties during peak season if you don’t show up or fail to cancel your reservation within a specific time period. When you make your reservation, ask about the hotel’s policy and make sure you get a confirmation number. Internet services such as www.Hotels.com allow you to book great rooms, as well as vacation packages at discount prices.
- Pay cash. Whenever possible, do your best to pay cash for your vacation. In other words, don’t spend money you do not have. One of the biggest mistakes I see 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 can dig out from under their new debt.
There are many options available to help create your next trip. With a little bit of planning, you can have a wonderful summer without putting yourself in debt.
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Stewart H. Welch, III, CFP®, AEP, is the founder of THE WELCH GROUP, LLC, which specializes in providing fee-only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. He is the author or co-author of six books, including 50 Rules of Success; J.K. Lasser’s New Rules for Estate, Retirement and Tax Planning- 6th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); THINK Like a Self-Made Millionaire; and 100 Tips for Creating a Champagne Retirement on a Shoestring Budget. For more information, visit The Welch Group. Consult your financial advisor before acting on comments in this article.
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