My wife and I spent the first eleven days of this month enjoying our debt free vacation. Although we didn’t exceed our budgeted vacation spending, we found that the unstructured life of vacation could easily spill over into our every day financial lives when we got back home.
When on vacation, it’s common to approach spending in unfamiliar ways. Just as you’re on vacation from employment, you’re likely to leave exchange your structured approach to money for a more relaxed approach. There’s nothing wrong with this… As long as you limit your spending to what you set aside for the trip, and then hop back on the budget horse when you return from vacation. The former is where we slipped up.
Here are a few ways you can avoid doing the same thing.
Create a vacation budget plan
This simply means that you should plan your spending while on vacation. Doing so will allow you to do all the things you want to do while helping you maintain a structured approach to spending.
Since you might not always know what you’ll be doing each day of your vacation, you should at least set a simple daily spending limit. If you have $1,000 to spend in five days, then limit your daily spending to $200/day.
Keep your receipts
Saving the receipts form each purchase will help you remain cognizant of how much you spend. Carry an envelope, place all receipts inside, and tally them up at the end of the day to ensure you have stayed within your spending limits.
Take a vacation from your vacation
Arriving home and jumping back into your job responsibilities the very next day may be a shock to your system! Try coming back from vacation a day or two early to help you ease back into everyday life. This will give you time to unpack, relax, go over your spending, and it will also give you a day or two to ensure you’re back on track financially.
Review your spending plan
When you get home, simply take a few minutes to go back over your normal family budget to help acclimate you to your existing plan. I think this would have helped me a lot. In fact, I was a bit out of sorts financially until I took the time to open our budget spreadsheet, review the numbers, and renew my passion for our spending plan!
If you’re able to jump right back into the family budget after a week or more of relaxed vacation spending, pat yourself on the back for exercising sound self-discipline. If you have trouble doing so, then following these points should help you more easily transition from a vacation spending mindset back into your every day spending habits.
If you have trouble switching between a more free-spending vacation mindset and your more disciplined “at home” mindset, then you should definitely consider adopting a more strict vacation budgeting approach. That way you won’t deviate from your normal patterns as much, and won’t have as big of an adjustment when you get back home.
What about you?
Do you have trouble stepping back into your spending plan after a long vacation? What are some of the ways you protect yourself against taking a vacation from your budget?