Summer on a budget

A great summer on a budget

How to have a great summer without blowing the bank

There are ways to make your hard-earned dollars go further while you have a great summer break, here are eight tips to have a great summer without blowing the bank.

1. Don’t confuse expenses with happiness – the best experiences are often free

Have you ever seen a child discard an expensive new present to play with the box it came in instead? The same principle applies to grown-ups – some of life’s most enjoyable experiences cost very little, or nothing at all. Consider:

  • Picnic
  • A day at a lake
  • Camping
  • A country or bush walk, or one of NZ’s great walks (or on a mountain bike!)
  • Going somewhere new
  • BBQ
  • Picking fruit
  • Free outdoor activities or attractions such as pools and gardens
  • Free or heavily discounted activities such as libraries and museums
  • Time at the beach
  • And so-on

A part of this is basic economics: the higher the demand, the higher the price. One solution? Get off the beaten track.

Avoid tourist hotspots and opt instead for somewhere less trendy. With a little research, you might soon find more fun things to do and enjoy the luxury of not having to battle through masses of other people to get an ice cream or a family selfie.

2. Pay up front

A study in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that we are happier with purchases that we make up front, and then experience later. If you can, pay for your travel arrangements such as a hotel or motel in advance (from your savings, not on credit!) and then go happily on your trip. You’ll certainly have expenses while there but having paid for the trip in advance keeps your account balances from taking a big hit all at once.

3. Decide what is important, spend on that

No holiday budget is unlimited, so how can we make the most of our money? Spend on what is most important to you. If you are a foodie, spend on dinners out and save on your hotel. If walking around and taking pictures is important, spend on a hotel in a great neighborhood (and a great camera too), and save on meals out by going to the local grocery store and making sandwiches in your room.

4. Don’t skip the extras

It is easy to think of what you have spent all summer and stop yourself from spending another $10 or $20 on an experience. You will get more bang for your happiness buck if you make those small extra purchases. Plan and save for them in advance so there’s no need to skip those extras.

And when you get home:

5. Pay your travel bills off in full

Just like paying for experiences in advance, then enjoying them later boosts our happiness, having experiences and having to pay for them on our credit cards afterwards decreases our enjoyment. No matter how much fun that trip will be, you’ll beat yourself up about it if you’re stuck paying the bills for months afterwards. Don’t let your summer impact you through 2021, pay for it now.

Happy summer without big spending

6. Manage your expectations

If an all-inclusive luxury resort or down-country trip is beyond your bank balance, then it’s time to rethink what you really need to have an incredible experience when you travel. Could you swap a pricey villa with infinity pool for something simpler?

7. Timing is everything

Last-minute deals do not tend to exist during school holiday periods, and those that do are usually to undesirable places. Even if you do not have kids, a quick search on Google will tell you school term dates well in advance; use this information to book far ahead – even a year ahead. You can lock in great deals when prices are still relatively low due to the lack of demand, and you might find yourself looking forward to the experience even more too.

If your kids aren’t in school yet, have left home already, or if you never had kids at all, then make the most of travelling outside the peak periods, when costs are low, and all the best spots are less crowded.

8. Take care booking flights

Flights and hotels are much more expensive on the weekend because that’s when people are off work. That means that some of the best flight deals are during the week, especially during the middle of the day.

When booking flights, look carefully at the baggage too. For most trips, a carry-on bag of seven kilograms is included, so you might not need any check-in luggage. This saves time at the airport too!

The bottom line – having a great summer that doesn’t cost the world

Here’s a recap of the top eight for you to enjoy a great summer without pressure on your dollars:

1. Don’t confuse expenses with happiness – the best experiences are often free

2. Pay up front

3. Decide what is important, spend on that

4. Don’t skip the extras

5. Pay your travel bills off in full

6. Manage your expectations

7. Timing is everything

8. Take care booking flights