Watch those savings fly away

There’s been a lot of doom and gloom lately about the amount of household debt carried by the average Canadian. Maybe that’s why more and more Canadians are choosing to escape the negativity by taking a vacation. But, in the face of record high debt levels, is this really the wisest course of action?

Two new reports paint a picture of Canadians darting off to other cities and countries without a care in the world. Statistics Canada’s report on tourism spending for the second quarter of 2014 found that tourism spending by Canadians domestically has increased for the fifth straight quarter. And this trend seems bound to continue with 36 percent of respondents of a Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada survey indicating that they are more likely to travel this winter after last winter’s extreme weather.

The urge to travel is something that Jeff Schwartz , executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada can sympathize with, but he warns against choosing travelling over paying off debt –

“An exciting trip can make for a great weekend, but a debilitating debt can create a lifetime of worry,” says Schwartz. “You’ll be able to have a more enjoyable and responsible vacation if you succeed in getting out of debt before planning your itinerary.”

With that in mind, Consolidated Credit has some tips on how a trip or two can fit into a goal of living debt free –

Short trip, small cost – How much of your vacation budget goes to just finding a place to lay your head for the night? Hotel costs can leave you needing credit card debt relief if you aren’t careful. The easiest way to avoid such an expense is to choose short day trips over extended stays at The Ritz. Look for travel outings in the surrounding area where you live. You might just find a diamond in the rough.

Spontaneity is not your friend – The key to staying out of debt is to have a spending and savings plan. This blueprint will keep your finances in line and will show you how to save money. But, when you throw that plan out the window and spontaneously take on a huge expense like an extravagant trip, you’ll soon be dealing with debt that you didn’t expect. Sticking to a plan will help you avoid a financial crisis.

Travel on the cheap – There are many ways you can cut costs on an excursion. If you must stay overnight, use a site like Hotwire or Priceline to get discounted hotel costs. If you are using Greyhound or Via Rail, book your tickets in advance to get a cheaper rate. Don’t waste your money at fancy restaurants. Instead, visit a local grocery store and buy ingredients to make sandwiches for your meals. You’ll still get to see all the sights; you just won’t have to acquire more credit card debt to make it happen.

If you want to learn more about making responsible financial decisions, check out Consolidated Credit’s free Personal Finance educational section. If you’re struggling with debt, call one of our trained counsellors today at for a free debt analysis.

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