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FLM 2017: How to Plan Your Summer Vacation Now and Avoid Debt in 2018

With another summer in the rearview mirror, it’s hard to look past all the white stuff and think about the next time it’ll be warm.

If you’re having some debt regret about a big vacation spend, though, it’s never too early to plan for a smarter getaway next year — especially since November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada.

Why plan almost a year ahead? Because statistics show that many Canadians are comfortable paying “whatever it takes” to keep their families entertained during peak vacation times. A BDO Canada poll from March showed that 79% of parents believed spending an average of $597 over spring break was a reality for their kids’ activities.

Here’s how can you start planning now for a happy summer vacation in 2018 — without blowing your budget and seeking help with debt.

Start by making a budget spreadsheet

Aside from your household budget, a vacation spreadsheet can help you keep track of vacation savings and where you need to spend them.

If you’re going away, be mindful of airfare and accommodations, as these can take up a big chunk of your budget. Some tips to cut corners:

  • Buy your airline tickets eight weeks ahead of your trip. A lot of research and travel experts suggest that this is the golden time to get a deal.
  • Consider staying at an Airbnb or apartment rental if you’re staying in one place long-term. With access to a full kitchen and other homey amenities, you can save money on eating out (and enjoy living like the locals do). These can often be more affordable than staying in a hotel, but you may need to book an extended stay in advance.


Practice mindful spending while away

Ahead of your trip, plan what you’ll be doing each day and give yourself a spending limit. This is a solid tip from financial blogger Jessica Moorhouse, who traveled to Thailand on a shoestring budget. She suggests reviewing receipts at the end of each day.

You can also be strategic about your spending. Paying for some of your trip now (accommodations, insurance) with a cash back or rewards credit card will give you some kickback for spending later. But this only works if you aren’t carrying a balance. As Moorhouse puts it in her blog, “if you can stick to using [a credit card] for your big purchases and have saved up for those… so you can pay off your credit card right away, it’s hard to deny there are some great benefits to using a cash back credit card over cash or debit.”

By keeping these tips in mind and starting to plan now, you’ll be less susceptible to post-vacation debt blues. While debt relief options are available for you, using this November’s Financial Literacy Month as an opportunity to plan can help you avoid debt altogether.

Got tips for a more budget-friendly vacation? Share them on social media using the hashtags #DebtSolutions or #FLM2017.

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