If you’re like me, it didn’t take long for your social media timeline to start bursting at the seams with summer vacation pics. Some folks are on routine romps in the great outdoors. Others have taken on international extravaganzas, bubbling with old world charm and epic adventure.
According to Nikki Graham, Bank of America’s Austin market president, regardless of your summer plans, it’s important to have a financial strategy. Let’s start with suggestions for stateside fun in the sun.
If you’re flying, Graham says save up to 40 percent by heading out on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, instead of Friday or Sunday. And once you book that money-saving flight, continue to be fiscally wise by setting up mobile banking before you leave your local stomping grounds. Graham notes that being able to manage your account from almost anywhere is important for all of us, but especially for the frequent traveler.
In addition, if you’re going to be away for an extended time, set up automated billing. You want to let your mind be free of worry while you’re off to your dream land. And you’ll want to make sure you notify your bank and credit card companies of your travels. This way your accounts will be free of freezes while you’re soaking up rays on the beach or breathing the fresh air of your mountain getaway.
Also, Graham wisely reminds us to not forget to check the expiration dates on our cards. You don’t want to hassle with logistics while you’re supposed to be enjoying time off the grid. Many of us don’t carry cash anymore, but Graham insists that a good travel plan includes good ole green for contingencies and emergencies.
We all want to get to our happy place as soon as we can, but don’t forget to prepare your home here for your trip to your home-away-from-home. Turn off lights and electronics. If you leave any lights on for safety, try to use a timer or very high efficiency bulbs to cut down on waste and expense.
Once you make it to destination ahhh, you can gain a fiscal foothold by using the 1-2 rule. Graham says this simple rule can save you money and empower your enjoyment. For every one fine dining experience, make sure that two other meals are economical. You can even save additional dollars by searching for hotels with amenities like complimentary breakfasts.
Okay, now let’s go big.
Graham has some even more specific suggestions for those of you who are travelling internationally. She notes that you can save about 5 percent on airfare by staying away from the more expensive Friday through Sunday flights.
And as you prepare for your adventures in lands afar, be sure that you speak the international language of exchange rates. She argues that the best deals can often come by using your bank to order the currency ahead of time. Some banks let you do this through online banking as well. Interestingly, according to Graham, you may also get a better exchange rate using your credit card. Don’t assume that. Plan ahead. Your bank can help you decide what will be best for your context.
And, speaking of cards, Graham says you need to be careful of using international ATMs. Fees, fees and more fees could be more surprising than a French Riviera sunset or a New Zealand mountain range. If you do happen to need an ATM, however, you’ll need to get your PIN into shape before you leave. Graham alerts us to the need to not use zero as the first digit and to remember that some international ATMs only allow four numbers.
Graham wisely reminds us that we should have a plan for excess foreign currency. One smart way to use up excess currency is to pay in cash for room balances. Or, if your international getaway has left you feeling compellingly generous, you can be the amazing friend who shares your excess cash with others traveling later in the year.
And with that, we end our suggestions for fiscal responsibility. Now, let’s run towards the fun!
A very special thanks to Graham and her very accommodating staff for sharing these tips with AFM this month. You can find more of their insights at bettermoneyhabits.com.
Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the executive director at STARRY in Round Rock.