A Publication of WTVP

Summer is here again. Time for picnics, barbeques, and family vacations. But along with the heat, your family’s expenses can soar during your summer getaway. Avoid breaking the bank by considering some basic savings tips that can help your vacation memories last forever—but not your credit card bills.

Consider this: if a family of four spends approximately $4,400 on a vacation, puts all vacation expenses on a credit card with a 17 percent APR, and makes the minimum payments each month, it would take 38 years to pay off the credit card. Meanwhile, they’d accrue more than $9,847 in interest charges—more than doubling their original expenditures.

To avoid these summer budget busters, follow these tips:

• Save, save, save. Open a special savings account, and put money into it each time you get paid. At home, start a “vacation fund” for the whole family by collecting everyone’s loose change at the end of the day and putting it into a sealed jar. Clean out your garage and closets, and make some extra money by holding a garage sale. Saving money up front will help you avoid putting vacation purchases on a credit card.

• Realize that every dollar counts. If taking a big summer trip is a priority for your family, determine early on where compromises can be made in other areas of your family’s monthly budget. Look for things that can be eliminated or reduced. Pack a lunch instead of eating out. Avoid spending on credit except for true emergencies.

• Do your homework. Take advantage of the Internet to find information about discounts on hotels, airfare, tours, and other entertainment choices. If you research the possibilities ahead of time, you’ll be amazed at the discounts out there. Also be sure to ask about possible discounts for students, seniors, or auto club members.

• Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive. Those helicopter rides, bus tours, and shows can put you several hundred dollars in the hole, so why not be creative? Take walks on the beach or hike a mountain trail. Look for coupons or special promotions for discounted prices on otherwise expensive activities your family enjoys.

• Think outside the box. Instead of a lengthy vacation, take a quick weekend trip to a closer destination. Hop in your car and go to a nearby beach, mountain, or campground. Go camping instead of paying for a hotel. Check out state parks rather than expensive theme parks.

• See the potential elsewhere. If you’re planning a trip abroad and are open to “roughing it” a little, backpacking, walking, and bicycling can be a great way to tour the country. Hostels are popular with young adults and are considerably less expensive than hotels. Even if you’re interested in more traditional lodging, paying for a motel will save you cash—especially if you’re planning on being out sightseeing for the majority of your days. IBI