Vacation planning: taking debt out for spring break isn’t worth it
Spring break is a chance for fun and a holiday from school and work, but it doesn’t automatically have to come with a hefty price tag. You may think that a staycation is a budget-friendly option, but according to a recent survey, some families are willing to blow the budget just to keep kids entertained. This is a short term solution that will only add to your debt in the long term.
The BDO poll found that:
- Most parents (79 per cent) have resigned themselves to the fact that they’re going to spend money on March break activities
- On average, they intend to spend $597 per child with some willing to pay up to $1000
- 49 per cent will pay whatever they have to in order to keep their children happy
- The majority intend to pay for their entertainment with cash or debit, but 18 per cent plan to use credit cards and 3 per cent plan to draw from their line of credit
- 40 per cent believe that it will take them more than a month to pay off their spring break entertainment debt, which means extra interest charges.”
“In addition to contributing to your debt load by spending beyond your means for spring break fun, you’re also sending the message to your children that it’s ok to rely on debt when you want to have fun or are bored. That attitude will create money trouble for them later in life,” says Jeff Schwartz, Executive Director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“Instead, as a family, choose activities or travel that you can afford, and make your budget part of the conversation,” says Schwartz.
Don’t resign yourself to the fact that spring break expenses are a necessary evil in order to keep your children entertained. And most certainly don’t adopt the attitude that good times trump good budgeting. Here are some tips on how to cut costs.
It’s ok to say no
No one likes to be the wet blanket; it can be hard to say no to your kids, especially if you really want to be able to show them a good time or if “everyone else is doing it”. But for the sake of your budget, you’ve got to draw the line- and that’s completely ok. Don’t feel guilty. Doing the responsible thing may not seem like fun, but dealing with growing debt that’s accumulating interest isn’t fun either.
Sleuth out the deals
Saving money is all about planning ahead and sourcing out deals for food, activities and travel. Subscribe to daily deal sites and search out attractions coupons.
You should also see what you can find for free- like outdoor festivals, community events and- of course- the library. There are always loads of free (or low cost) activities for all ages at your local library.
Plan your outings
Admission prices for museums and attractions can be substantial, so always ask about group discounts (i.e. family rate or larger groups). If you’re heading out of town to check out attractions, consider hotels with package deals, which often offer discounts both on accommodation and attraction ticket prices.
Make sure you avoid the gift shop as you exit the attraction, a sure fire way to overspend on expensive trinkets. Also- eat before you leave home and pack snacks to munch on through the day. Don’t pay a premium for food in the café at the museum or other attractions.
Is your budget stretched to the max? Paying down your debt will free up cash so you and your family can have debt-free fun. Call one of our trained credit counsellors at or visit our free online debt analysis.