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Plan Budget For Smooth Vacations
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Summer vacations can mean big headaches, but with careful planning and budgeting, they can be fun and relaxing.
Dr. Beverly Howell, Mississippi State University Extension Service's family economics specialist, said a plan for saving money makes a yearly vacation possible.
"First sit down and look at your overall financial situation," Howell said. "Look at what type of vacation you would like to take and decide how much money you can save each month. Actually designate that money for a vacation. Saving money is a continual process throughout each year and makes vacationing easier."
Travel agents and newspaper travel sections have information on different kinds of vacations. Howell said guide books, available at public libraries, can help because they have information about vacation spots that have actually been visited by the authors.
Howell said there are many ways to get the most out of vacation money.
"Travel in the off-season, stay in suburbs of metropolitan areas, take a package tour with known costs and make airline reservations in advance to make your money go a little further," Howell said.
Howell said it is important to not only put vacations into the monthly budgeting process, but also to plan a budget for how and where money will be spent during the trip. Spontaneous activities may be the most fun, but sticking with a plan helps the budget last longer.
"Give older children an allowance to spend on the things they would like to do. This can work well because they know how much they can spend, and they will have to decide what is most important," Howell said.
Howell said using credit cards on vacation can be safer than carrying cash, but cautioned that it may cost more later.
"If you use a credit card, make sure the items you put on the card are already covered in your vacation budget," Howell said. "It is easy to overspend and have to pay interest with a credit card. The whole purpose of a vacation budget is to eliminate costs that exceed what you know you can spend."
In case of an emergency and for protection if the credit card is lost, write down the account number and toll free service number and keep these separate from where the card is kept.