Schools out and Summer is here! Many of my clients are planning their vacations. Concerns about how they’ll manage their bills and overall money management concerns often arise. Before you pack that suitcase, here are a few things you can do to make your next vacation a financial-worry-free zone.
Money Management On the Go
If you’re like a lot of my clients, you’re a fan of electronic bill payment and online banking. Setting up your bills in advance will make it easier when you’re traveling… especially if you’re taking an extended vacation. Most utility companies, banks and other vendors can send an e-bill or alert to your online banking provider. That way you can pay your bills on time whether you’re in town or out.
Want to travel light and leave the laptop at home? Be sure to download your bank’s mobile app to your smartphone or tablet. Doing so makes it easier to keep tabs on your account balances and pay bills while on the road. Just be sure to set up the app and test it.
Of course, you can also hire a Daily Money Manager 😉 My staff and I can keep your financial life running smoothly for you. And, should something come up, we’re on hand to take care of it.
Save Your Receipts!
Reconciling your bank accounts after traveling can be a real challenge, especially if you’re missing receipts or don’t recall transactions. You’ll thank yourself later by saving and organizing receipts along the way. Designate a spot (e.g., envelope or suitcase compartment) to store receipts. If you have to dispute a charge, you’ll have documentation at the ready. For those electronically minded, you can take pictures and organize paper receipts with a mobile app like NeatReceipts or Shoeboxed.
Stick To Your Budget
You’ve probably been planning your vacation for a while. You’ve saved and paid major expenses (like airline tickets and accommodations) in advance. Yet it’s easy to bust your budget with thoughts like “I’ve worked hard! I deserve this.” By all means have fun — that’s the whole point of a vacation. So before you’ve packed the SPF and pulled cash out from the ATM on your way to the airport, calculate a reasonable estimate of what you’ll spend per day as well as a total vacation budget (including souvenirs). Then once you’re home and those bank statements arrive, you’ll avoid the guilt from going overboard or the struggle of paying off credit card balances before your next vacation.
Don’t Let Mail Pile Up
Nothing says “I’m out of town” than a mailbox filled to the brim. If you’ve hired a home or pet sitter, this probably isn’t an issue. If your home will sit empty while you’re away, stop mail delivery. The post office has an online Hold Mail Service form; if your vacation is longer than 30 days, the Premium Forward Service can forward your mail to you at a temporary address.
Identify Theft on Vacation
According to the theft prevention unit of Experian, 20% of consumers have had a driver’s license, passport, credit card, or other document lost or stolen while traveling. You’ll want to be particularly diligent of your wallet and purse as you travel. We tend to be creatures of habit and traveling can disrupt our usual routines.
It’s also a good idea to have copies of your travel documents and credit cards numbers available online (e.g., DropBox, Google Drive) or with a trusted friend; in the event your credit cards or ID are lost or stolen, you can quickly access bank phone numbers and other important information to report the problem with your financial institutions.
How else do you stay financially organized while on vacation?
Photo Credit: Steven Depolo, Juan Cabanillas