The holidays are here. Are you one of those that are fortunate enough to be able to get away from the stresses and strains of work and routine home life? Many people will be heading home to spend time with friends and family whilst others will be heading for other destinations to enjoy their break. With all the excitement of deciding where to go and what to do, it is so easy to overspend. Here are a few tips for managing your holiday finances and still have lots of fun.
1. Plan ahead
Don’t wait until the last minute to make travel arrangements, unless you can afford to be flexible and accept whatever is available and at whatever cost. Last minute bookings can cost you twice as much as if you had booked weeks, if not months in advance. This can get really expensive when you are making a booking for a large family or group. When you book early, there is more time to make travel arrangements and shop around for better deals on fares, hotel accommodation and tour packages.
2. Draw up a holiday budget, and stick to it
Once you have an idea of the sort of holiday you would like and where you would like to go, work out how much it will cost; don’t forget the extras that tend to spring up. You do not have to travel to an expensive and exotic location just because “everyone else” is doing so.
Determine how much spare cash you have to spend? Set an overall spending limit and involve your family in setting their individual limits. Budget for the various aspects of holiday spending including accommodation, transport fares, food, shopping, entertainment, gifts, excursions and so on. Avoid borrowing to finance your holiday unless there is the absolute certainty of an impending inflow of funds.
3. Have you sorted out your spending money?
Cash withdrawals can be made using your MasterCard Debit Card; this is accepted at over a million Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) globally where the MasterCard sign is displayed to either pay for goods and services or access cash. Linked to your Current or Savings account, all transactions reflect instantly.
If you plan to use your cards whilst you are away to save you carrying too much cash, notify your bank or credit card company; as an added security precaution, many card providers look out for what appears to be “suspicious” activity.
4. How will you get around?
As far as possible book your car ahead of your departure as picking one up on arrival is usually more expensive. Read through the terms and conditions fully understanding the insurance terms, particularly where you require a self-drive car rental for a period. Car hire services are readily available but it is safer to patronize a reputable licensed agency.
5. Are you insured?
Have you given any thought to what would happen if something were to go wrong? While vacations usually go without incident, you don’t want to be caught unawares. What if someone in your family suddenly falls ill? What if your luggage gets lost or you have to cancel your trip? Travel insurance usually includes coverage for medical bills, lost baggage and cancellations. Read the fine print to ensure that you have the best coverage at affordable rates and make sure your medical insurance card is on you.
6. Beware of roaming charges!
To use your phone abroad you will have to pay to both make and receive calls. The “roaming charges” can result in a shocking telephone bill when you return home. Contact your service provider and be sure of the implications and costs. Often people end up with huge bills without even knowing how it happened. Pay your bills in advance so that you don’t get cut off whilst you are away.
The holiday season can be a special time of the year - proactively managing your finances during this time can help you focus on what matters the most.
_____________________________________________________________________ Nimi is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bestman Games Ltd who recently launched the City of Lagos Edition of Monopoly, the first African city edition of the world famous board game. Before Bestman Games, she enjoyed a successful banking career spanning 23 years first at Stanbic IBTC, where she rose to the position of Head, Private Banking and Director of Stanbic IBTC Asset Management Limited, and later at Barclays Bank