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Your Money: Save on your next summer vacation

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Vacations can sometimes come with a hefty price tag. Rather than overspending, be proactive and plan ahead. This time around, you can enjoy a real vacation without depleting your funds or creating unnecessary debt. As you begin planning your trip, check your Better Business Bureau to make sure that all deals are legitimate. Avoid being scammed by doing your research and planning carefully.

Here are eight ways you can better manage your budget when preparing for your next excursion:

Put away those credit cards: Avoid the debt trap by saving up ahead of time for your holidays, and use cash whenever possible. When you run out, you run out.

Prepare a budget: Planning is key. Make a little room in your budget by cushioning it for unexpected occurrences and emergencies. The rule of thumb: Set a budget and stick to it.

Be resourceful: Check the Chamber of Commerce Web site where you will be vacationing for suggestions and links to recreational ideas. Or consider a staycation – a budget vacation where you visit nearby attractions but sleep in your own bed at night.

Timing is everything: If you do plan on traveling outside of your immediate area, aim for the off-season. Prices are usually substantially lower, and you won’t have to deal with the crowds. Off-season depends on where you are: summer can be a terrific time to visit a ski resort, where you can get nice rooms and all the non-skiing amenities for a fraction of the cost of a winter trip.

Short and sweet: You don’t have to go on a two-week trip in order to feel refreshed after a vacation. Take a long weekend or two, and maximize your itinerary by planning activities well ahead of time.

Avoid unnecessary costs: Don’t find yourself trapped by additional charges or fees. For example, avoid hotel room phones, which often carry hefty surcharges.

Pack your own meals: When on the road, avoid the urge to stop for snacks by bringing along your own sack of goodies. Also, check your local visitors’ center or Web sites for coupons to local restaurants.

Transport yourself: Choose a location with lots to see and do, and walk from place to place. Also, consider using the local bus or transit service rather than driving and parking.

Vacations don’t have to break the bank. With a little prior planning and saving, you can have a relaxing and refreshing vacation without the stress of paying a mountain of credit card debt afterwards.

Reach Kelvin Collins, the president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia and the CSRA Inc., at (800) 763-4222 or www.bbb.org.


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