Back from holidays!
by Tim St Vincent
No, no, not me, you! Are you just back from holidays, all relaxed and feeling good? Ready to get back into your normal lifestyle? Good, because that’s important!
Holidays are a great time to relax and enjoy the benefits of all your hard work, but unfortunately they do come to an end. We come home and we get back to the realities of life. Coming back from holidays we have to realize that while it was fun, we can’t maintain the holiday lifestyle when we get back. The tap and go mindset is great for a well prepared, well budgeted holiday, but it can be very dangerous and difficult to maintain in our everyday lives.
When we get back, it’s time to return to budgets (or as they are now more popularly named, spending plans), tracking and enjoying our day to day lives. Within a few weeks of returning from holidays a little dose of reality will come your way – the dreaded credit card bill; that little piece of paper that tells us how well we stuck to our holiday spending plan (budget)!
Wait, “What holiday spending plan,” you say? Oh, I see, you didn’t have one. In that case you might be in for a nasty surprise when the credit card bill arrives!
Holidays are an expense, and like any expense, they should be planned for and mapped out – not so much that you take the fun out of the experience, but definitely enough so that you aren’t shocked when the credit card bill arrives. That can be a delicate balance to achieve. Here are a few basic steps that can help you plan a successful holiday – including your holiday spending plan!
Name the purpose of you taking a vacation
- Visiting family?
- Destination wedding?
- I just want to get away from it all? (My favourite!)
Decide on a location for your vacation, away or at home
(Yes, you can have a vacation and stay at home!)
Recognize all the different types of vacations
- Adventure, sand sun & surf, driving, sight-seeing, camping, environmental, stay-cations etc.
Plan for your vacation by exploring
- Accommodation options (B & B, hotel, resorts, camping, etc.)
- Transportation – the best ways to reduce your flight costs (booking sites? Air Miles or similar programs?)
- Transportation – the best ways to reduce your rental car costs
- Food and eating out
- Fun activities
- Communication (e.g. cell phone roaming fees, check your carrier, they often have plans to help reduce the costs)
- Insurance (health and cancellation) and
- Other costs (ATM fees, currency exchange, gifts and souvenirs, house/pet sitters)
Take care of business at home
- Let close friends and family know of your travel plans, do NOT mention anything about your holidays on any social media site.
- Create a vacation spending plan (we kind of just did that!)
- Set the financial goal for your vacation and work backwards to find out what you need to put away each pay cheque to save. It is okay to put your holiday expenses on a credit card and generate some points with your favourite program, but only if you have planned for these expenses and can pay for them in full when the bill arrives. You should never finance a holiday.
All of these items are important, but it’s also important to recognize the advantages of a stay-cation. Yes, you can have fun at home! Most of our readers are Manitoba based, so let’s look at just a few things you can do at home, and ask yourself – have I done these things, gone to these places? If not, why not?
- Have you ever gone to the Carberry desert? Yes, we have a desert in Manitoba complete with sand dunes! So pack a lunch and head to the hills, or in this case to the dunes!
- Have you gone to Lower Fort Garry? No, not the hotel, I mean the actual fort that the hotel takes its name from. Yes, we have an old stone fort just a 40-minute drive north of Winnipeg! It was built in 1830 and during tourist season the staff dresses in costume, fires off the cannon, and even make and serve period food! You can even see and old-time blacksmith at work!
- What about the Morden Corn and Apple Festival (Hmmmmm good food!) or the Altona Sunflower Festival? Or the Carman Country Festival (running since 1879!)
- Then there is the Folk Festival and Folklorama, the Manitoba Museum, and the Human Rights Museum, and so much more!
When it comes time to have a holiday, whether you have one in your own back yard or go on an exotic trip, there’s one item you must ensure to pack so that you can enjoy yourself. Don’t forget to pack (and stick to!) your holiday spending plan. It truly is the key to a successful and enjoyable holiday!
P.S. A quick thanks to my wife for suggesting this month’s topic – she is working on our holiday plan right now!. Thanks hun!
Tim St Vincent is a retired CFP and is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance with the Credit Counselling Society, a Non-Profit organization. If you wish to contact Tim for a free workshop or webinar, have a question or would like to submit an article idea please contact Tim at 1-888-527-8999 ext 1330. You can also contact the Credit Counselling Society for further information or assistance at 1-888-527-8999 or visit www.nomoredebts.org or www.mymoneycoach.ca