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Avoid vacation budget anxiety with these simple tips

This week marks the first “unofficial” week of summer – many of us dusted off the grills, packed away our winter clothes or soaked up some sun at the newly-opened beaches. And it’s also the beginning of the summer vacation season.

It’s incredible how anxiety-inducing a vacation can be, even when many look at a summer get-a-way as a ticket away from everything – the stresses of the office, family issue, or personal struggles. And their budget. Using the time away as a break from dealing with your finances isn’t healthy. But stressing over them doesn’t do any good either. When planning for your summer holidays, keep these three financial tips in mind.

Spend what you save

Maybe your big summer vacation happens around the fourth of July. If you already set up a “July 4 vacation” savings account and have been putting away money in it regularly, kudos! If not, start today. Saving a little more each month, week or day isn’t that hard.

We all have some level of emotional attachment to our finances. So stop saving for your summer vacation with a negative mindset and start thinking about it as a way to fund your dream. And when you finally get to your destination, remember to stick to that positive mentality by respecting your budget.

Set a budget

And make simple cuts to really stick to it! Don’t get too swept up into the “spending” part of your vacation that you completely undo all of the hard work you’ve done on your finances.

A good place to start your “vacation budget” is by breaking down your expenses. You know about how much you’ll need to spend on food, entertainment and personal items. And you know almost exactly what you’ll need for local transportation, lodging and travel. At this point, it’s about budgeting the luxuries. Maybe you’ll limit your splurges by cutting back on alcohol or limiting souvenirs.

Whatever limits you set, know that sticking to a budget on vacation is not as difficult as it may seem. You can still enjoy those holiday indulgences without derailing your financial progress.

Ditch the credit cards

There’s no better way to blur your financial situation (as well as ruin it) than with credit cards. Using your vacation as an excuse to charge your bill to the max is bad planning and even worse execution. So stick to cash; chances are if you need to charge up half of your vacation and you can’t pay the balance in full when you get back home, you probably can’t afford it anyway.

Vacations are supposed to be a relaxing time you spend with the people you love doing things you enjoy. They shouldn’t bring more stress into your already packed life. So utilize that “vacation savings” you’ve worked so hard for, and stick to your budget and stone-cold cash. Keeping a cap on the financial anxiety during your time away makes those vacations even better.

Tags: summer vacation budget, emotion behind money, Julie Murphy Casserly, Chicago personal finance, Chicago financial planner, female financial planner, family finance, money

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