Can’t believe the year has flown by so quickly? It feels like just the other day that we were thinking about New Year resolutions and it’s nearly Christmas again. With the year having progressed so quickly, it’s likely you’ve also worked so hard that you cannot wait for the December break.
The break implies a well-deserved holiday for many of us.
Holidays can end up being a stressful time, especially when you’re returning from a holiday during a time when you really shouldn’t have gone on holiday because you couldn’t afford it. This could be even more relevant now that South Africa is in an economic recession.
You can still enjoy the break away from the gloomy economy with these money-wise tips:
If you need to use credit to go on vacation, it means you cannot afford it. Start your holiday planning by drawing up a budget. Think of as many types of expenses as possible to avoid nasty surprises. These would include:
- Travelling there (driving, flying sailing etc.)
- Car hire
Remember to get the whole family involved in this process, as it increases the level of excitement and accomplishment as goals are reached. You’re more likely to stick to the budget if you focus on the outcome (the holiday) than on what you’re giving up.
- Start saving
You don’t miss what you don’t have. Treat your monthly holiday saving in the same way as you would when paying a bill. Initially it may be difficult, but as you see the saving fund grow every month, it becomes easier. Keep the monthly saving at a reasonable and manageable level. Give the fund a name, e.g. Awesome Vacation Fund. Put a progress chart on the fridge and see the excitement build each month as you get closer to the goal.
Some families may even succeed in having one or even two no-spending months. This entails saving the normal entertainment budget (movies, take-aways, lunch money, coffee-on-the-go money) in the Awesome Vacation Fund. The idea is radical, but can end up being the biggest contribution to achieving your vacation savings goal.
For many this may not be an option. If you don’t have kids at school, you could save much by electing to take your holiday out of season. This is also ideal if a quieter holiday away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life is what you prefer.
Out of season times also provide opportunities to make use of special offers, such as boat cruises that offer discounts of more than 50%. These cruises usually include meals and accommodation and offer visits to various countries.
As you would budget for your vacation, it makes perfect sense to budget for your Christmas gifts as well. Make a list of people that you need to get gifts for and include a type of gift with a rand-value. Planning your gift shopping in advance will prevent those last-minute shopping sprees that often end up in overspending.
Have you considered giving intangible gifts? Offering to baby-sit, house-sit or pet-sit for family or friends may just be of more value than an expensive gift. Use a bit of creativity and technology to design and print a gift voucher with details of your offer to baby-sit at a time they may need it.
House- or pet-sitting for a small fee over weekends or short breaks leading up to the vacation could help you save up for your own end-of-year holiday.
- Travel arrangements
Arranging flights a day later or earlier could save you considerable costs due to the flight schedules of the different airlines. Browse through the many websites available and look for specials. Often airlines have special rates for short periods that could save you a lot. When flying overseas, you could save a small fortune if you are prepared to endure the inconvenience of a stopover when not flying directly to your destination.
- Credit cards
Paying for flights and accommodation using your credit card (and then immediately paying back your credit card) often ensures that you have free travel insurance. This insurance is handy if, for unforeseen circumstances, you need to cancel your holiday plans at short notice. However, this should not be construed as encouragement to go on holiday on credit.