Spring Break on a Budget: Being Smart about Saving and Spending

Spring break is swiftly approaching. Tropical beaches, foreign cities and unexplored lands are at the front of everyone’s mind. And while scouring through blogs and articles about the best things to do at you intended destination is the fun part of travel, budgeting is the part a lot of us tend to overlook. It’s easy to make a list of all the best attractions in your destination. What’s not easy is knowing how much you are going to spend. 

Rachel Fox, a senior P-3 elementary education major with an endorsement in special education, is going to Cancun this spring break. She said, “I don’t know the first thing about how to budget for spring break. Where do I even begin?!” 

Luckily budgeting for a week is not as hard as it seems. With a few simple tips and tricks you will be able to know exactly how to not be penniless by day two. 

Before embarking on vacation, the weeks leading up to break is a good time to save and earn some extra cash while you can. Picking up a few extra shifts at work may be killing you right now, but when you have the extra money to buy a few more souvenirs, you will be that much happier you did. 

If you don’t have a job, look for people hiring for a day, ask friends and family if they need any jobs done and want to throw a few dollars your way. Your mom has been meaning to clean the garage for months now; ask her if it’d be ok for you to do it if she gives you a couple bucks. Or ask the young parents up the street if they need a babysitter one weekend. Being able to buy that fancy dinner one night will be worth it. 

The next line of order is to plan, plan plan! You don’t want to go on a trip thinking you’ll only spend $200 and wind up spending $1000. Before leaving you want to get a rough estimate of how much you are going to need your week away, and how much you have to spend. 

Map out everything you want to do, how much is that snorkeling excursion? Is there a fee for that museum? How many nights will you go out and will you need to account for drink prices?

Brian Boyle , an adjuct finance professor said, “I never go into a vacation without knowing exactly how much I might wind up spending. This not only helps me be ready for the vacation, but ready to be financially stable after.” 

After laying out the activities you want to do, and subtracting that from your budget, the rest of your money is free to spend as you wish. A good rule of thumb is to divide the remainder of your budget and give yourself a daily allowance. If you have $100 after budgeting in tours, excursions and other fees, and you will be on your trip for four days, this means you have $25 everyday to spend on food, souvenirs, drinks and whatever your heart desires.

If you don’t spend your daily allowance in one day, then roll it over to the next day. Or if you need to spend more than your allowance one day, just keep in mind the next day you should aim to spend a little less. 

Another tip to help you stick to your daily budget is to take out only as much cash as you are allowing yourself for the day plus the money for excursions. This will force you to visually see how much you have for the day and plan accordingly. If that method is too old school for you, there are plenty of apps out there that do all the hard work for you. 

The app “Mint Personal Finance” is a free app that connects to your bank accounts and credit cards. You can set weekly, daily, even hourly budgets that the mint app will keep track of for you. It sends you alerts if you go over your budget, as well as tips on how to save money. 

A sure fire way a lot of people spend too much on vacation is because of souvenirs. Always remember, a souvenir may remind you of your time there, but souvenirs break and can be lost or forgotten. The memories you make while away far outweigh the value of any mug or overpriced key chain you will buy. 

Of course, you want to buy a few things, maybe a few souvenirs for mom or dad, but going overboard is unnecessary and will use up money that could be spent better on memories. Try to refrain as much as possible, you will thank yourself in the long run. 

Another way to save money is with street food. Never knock the hole in the wall, or the grab-and-go places nestled in your destination. Some of those closet sized eateries hold five star ratings and will give you a real bang for your buck. Antonia Popo, a senior social work student said, “I have been on vacations where I spend $40 on a meal, and vacations where I spend $5. The $5 meals always, always win!”

Whether you are going two hours away this spring break, or 24 hours away, you can rest easy knowing that money should be the least of your worries. Plan accordingly and you will be fine. After all, it is hard to put a price or budget on the incredible memories that will be made this March.