Deakin financial planning expert shows how to convert savings into dream holidaysMedia release
With last weekend's blast of cold weather reminding us that winter is on its way, Deakin University financial planning expert Adrian Raftery has put together a list of money-saving ideas to make it easier to enjoy a mid-year trip away from the cold.
Dr Adrian Raftery, senior lecturer in Financial Planning and Superannuation, has put together the following tips to make your trip more affordable, or last even longer:
Book a domestic holiday
Australia may not have some of the lure of Europe and Asia, but it still is mighty impressive and a lot cheaper to go visit. By going domestic, rather than overseas on your holiday, your spending will also help local tourism.
Travel outside of the peak periods
If you're travelling around school holidays, pull the kids out of school early - travel is educational, after all - and you should get a much cheaper flight. For locations that hit their peak based on the weather (eg snow), consider travelling in their off-seasons for some amazing deals and take in other attractions in that region. Sometimes a day can make a difference. When booking flights, just check the day before or after to see if there is much variation in price.
Be picky on price rather than location
It pays to be flexible with locations, choosing a type of holiday (sun or snow) rather than an exact destination and hunt around for good deals, especially last minute. Dr Raftery says that people who get fixated with a location could be missing out on a deal half the price just down the road which replicates the same experience.
Just ask for a deal
At time of booking accommodation, do a gentle haggle with the manager or travel agent and ask for discounts, package deals, airport transfers and breakfasts. If you don't ask, you simply don't get. Under no circumstances should you use this as a reason to be arrogant or obnoxious with the person on the other side of the conversation. Treat others how you would like to be treated in a similar situation.
Can you combine a trip overseas with a conference that you can be either a presenter or a participant? If so, then you might be able to claim a tax deduction for some of your travel, including the expensive airfare across and the accommodation for the days of your conference. But be careful, says Dr Raftery, because the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) may only allow a portion of your airfare as a deduction if the conference attendance is not the predominant purpose of your trip. For example if you go away for two weeks, of which just one week is attending a conference, then expect to be only able to claim 50% of your airfare cost in conjunction with 100% of the accommodation cost for just one week. You will not be able to claim the travel of any accompany spouse nor children.
When on the road, we tend to eat out three times a day with copious amounts of food that could feed an army at times. Stay in self-contained apartments so that you can purchase your groceries and save on breakfast (cereal) and lunch (sandwiches). You probably won't stack on as many kilos either!
Keep an eye on exchange rates
A few years ago the Barmy Army taunted Australian spectators at the MCG & SCG with a "we get three dollars to our pound" chant. If you are thinking about an overseas trip well in advance, there is a great likelihood that the Australian dollar will fluctuate a fair bit with the local currency. Try to time your foreign trip with times that the Aussie is stronger. If you are not going to later in the year, consider hedging currency in advance.
Share with other families/couples
Consider hiring a house with other families or couples and share the costs.
Dr Raftery suggests that holiday-makers should drop into the local tourist office in the city on the first day that you are visiting as they generally have some great package deals for attractions and transport.
Use excel to do your budget
Doing a budget is not easy for the best of us. But it can do a whole lot easier by using one of the budget templates that Excel has created for its users. Dr Raftery likes the 'Vacation planner' spreadsheet template which was created specifically for holiday-makers.
Set-up 4 new savings accounts
Dr Raftery recommends holiday-planners to set up four savings accounts – one each for education, holidays, Christmas and emergencies - andput a regular amount from every pay packet into each account. The key is to be disciplined and don't access these funds except for their specific purpose. Open a high-interest savings account and build up a holiday fund with the help of compounding interest rather than coming home with a huge credit card bill that will cost you a fortune in interest.
Dr Raftery suggests that families should consider having cheaper holidays by driving and camping rather than flying and staying in flashy 5-star hotels. Some of the best childhood holiday memories are outdoor expeditions. But beware, says Dr Raftery, as camping can be expensive exercise, particularly if you try to out-do your neighbours with the latest and greatest gizmos. Long road trips can provide great opportunities for stopovers at old friends and families in other locations but expect that you will need to reciprocate the favour when they travel to your neck of the woods.
Use public transport
In a foreign city there is a temptation to hop into a taxi as a security blanket as much as anything but public transport is not only the cheaper option, it generally is a lot better and quicker than what we have in Australia.