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Could holidays on plastic end up being just “plastic holidays”?


japanese street food

For the past few weeks our family has been enjoying the planning of our annual holiday (sort of). We work long hours and are busy with the kids but we always try to get away for at least two weeks to a place where there is no mobile phone or email access (these days it's usually self imposed). Those destinations are becoming scarcer but we don’t feel like it’s a holiday if we’re still contactable.

Another golden rule we always follow is we have to be able to pay for the entire holiday upfront. The only aspects that go on plastic are daily expenses while we’re away. But we’ve budgeted for these as well and put an appropriate amount onto our credit card or savings account before we leave. That way we know everything is paid for and we don’t return to a debt that will ruin all the happy memories of our time away.

Obviously not everyone is as disciplined, and a lot of people spend up big using their credit cards to pay for holidays. If that applies to you, here are some tips to help you save for your next big break without relying on debt.

Start with a plan

Create a simple budget. Automatically allocate some money from each pay to a separate account and don’t touch it. It will quietly build while you plan for your holiday.

Hide it before you spend it

If you already have credit card debt, schedule an automatic deduction from your cash account direct to your credit card from every pay. In both of these tips, if the money isn’t there, you can’t spend it.

Sell stuff

Do you have unused gym equipment, a bicycle you never ride, or even clothes you’ve hardly worn? Have a big clean out and stage a garage sale, or sell it online. Reduce your card balance or top up your holiday account with the proceeds.

Use windfalls

Are you due a bonus or tax refund? See yourself on the holiday of a lifetime. You know where it’s going!

Spend less

Careful spending doesn’t need to impact on your lifestyle. Try these ideas:

  • Entertain at home rather than at restaurants or cafes.

  • Lay-by birthday and Christmas gifts during the store sales throughout the year...but stick to your predetermined budget!

  • Check out upmarket clothes recycling stores; they often have quality clothes at bargain prices. No-one will ever know and it reduces clothing waste (double benefit).

Ask for help

Sometimes it’s difficult to get back on top of debt by yourself. We have plenty of other great suggestions that can help, or if you would like to share your experiences and ideas for our readers, we’d love to hear from you. Send us your suggestions and we can all help each other.

I can’t tell you how great it feels to be on holiday knowing that we won’t return to debt. The freedom this gives us makes the holiday even more enjoyable. Try it, then send us your holiday snaps!

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