Autumn is officially here, and many of us are settling into the routine of cooler weather, warmer clothes, and hopefully, beautiful trees turning vibrant colors. In addition to the beauty that engulfs many places, sometimes you can find great deals if you choose to travel this time of year. However, even with the great deals, this isn’t the right time to travel if you can’t afford it. In addition to the fact that there are some really dangerous vacation spots that you want to avoid, you also have to think about your finances.
There are many reasons to go on a vacation, such as the many health benefits (such as improved relationships and reduced stress), but if you spend too much money on your vacation your stress will probably build right back up again when you receive your credit card statement. Before you book a trip, consider these possible reasons you can’t afford it.
1. You’re already making a big purchase
Sometimes you just have to make a choice. If you are already in the process of purchasing a new car or house (or you recently did or will be soon) now is probably not the time to spend money on a vacation. Closing costs can get expensive (be sure you calculate them); also, even if you have enough for the downpayment and the closing costs, you should be saving for maintenance. Cars and homes need maintenance, and your best bet is to put aside money for the issues that will inevitably come up down the road (and possibly much sooner than you anticipate). Running up credit card charges could also affect how risky a lender views you.
2. You don’t have an emergency fund
Vacations usually require a big chunk of money, and if you have been neglecting more important financial needs, then a vacation is not right for you at this moment. According to Bankrate’s Money Pulse survey, only 38% of respondents said they could cover a significant unexpected expense with money they had in savings or a checking account.
An emergency fund is necessary in case your car breaks down, you have a health emergency, you lose your job, or you face some other emergency. There is no way to predict when an emergency will arise, and you don’t want to end up using your credit cards for a large expense you can’t pay back quickly. As far as how much you should save, most people believe that at least six months of expenses is necessary, but more may be better depending on your field of employment.
3. Your debt is suffocating you
When you’re already in debt, it can be tempting to go ahead and keep spending money, especially if you already can’t pay your bills. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, 80% of Americans have debt. While having some debt is normal and may even be beneficial, if you feel completely overwhelmed by your debt, then now is not the time to go on a vacation. If you can’t pay your bills on a regular basis, if you are receiving calls from collectors, or you simply feel like you have too much debt, then choose to find a way to pay your debt down instead of going on a trip.
4. You don’t have enough savings
In most situations, your emergency fund should be your first priority. But you also need to be saving for things you want or need down the line. Ideally, you can save for a vacation over time, and save for other things (such as a car or your kids’ college tuition). You also need to save for retirement. A recent survey by Experian, Get Rich Slowly, and other personal finance blogs, found that 71% of Americans say they are behind on their retirement savings. It’s much easier to think about going on a trip now then it is to consider what will be necessary in the future, but prioritizing retirement savings is a must.
If you really want to take a vacation, but you can’t afford to go all out right now, consider taking a cheap mini-vacation. The next month or so is a great time to go camping (just bring warm clothes) because you can hike during the cooler weather, enjoy campfires at night, watch the stars in the sky, and enjoy the changing of the leaves. If you want to go out of town, there are also several cheap vacations you can take.
Also consider last-minute vacation deals, like the ones offered by Apple Vacations; booking last-minute may allow you to get the vacation you want at a fraction of the cost. Or, if you want to go to a specific destination, but you can’t afford it right now, you can save for the future and enjoy your trip even more after you work hard to save up for it.