Here’s how to take the sting out of summer spending

When is the last time you remember taking a vacation and not going over your spending budget?

If the answer is, “Gee, I really can’t remember,” you are not alone.

A 2015 study conducted by Experian reported that 68% of people spend more than expected on vacation.

Millennials, especially, rely heavily on the use of credit to fund their vacations. According to the same study, millennial respondents indicated their intent to charge an average of 60% of their summer vacation expenses to their credit cards.

Financial Information and Service Center, a program of Goodwill, offers free Power of Money workshops. Participants can discover proven ways to build a budget that works, spend less and save more, reduce debt, prepare for unexpected expenses and have financial peace of mind. These three-week classes are held on consecutive Tuesdays from 6 to 8:15 p.m. at the Goodwill Community Campus, 1800 Appleton Road, Menasha. To register, call 920-886-1000 or go online to

Here are FISC’s tips on how to take the sting out of summer spending.

When making summer vacation plans, include a vacation spending plan. We all want that time away from it all and, let’s face it, once we’re on the road or on the plane, we start to indulge. A spending plan doesn’t limit your fun but instead gives permission to spend without worry or guilt. “Ice cream every day!” might be your vacation motto so it should be in the spending plan.

Get detailed. Think beyond the cost of airline tickets and lodging. Factor in costs associated with transportation — car rental, tolls or just gas; food — meals, groceries and ice cream; lodging and camping fees; tickets for tours and activities; special gear and clothing. Calculate the total cost and then add a 10% cushion for incidentals.

Decide an allowance amount for each person in the family. This is a teachable moment for kids. Do they choose the cute inflatable turtle or the coolest kite they’ve ever seen?

Determine what costs associated with the trip you will pay for with credit and which ones you will pay for with cash. The benefits of paying with cash are you can save now and plan your summer fun around what you can afford. Hold a garage sale or sell items online with a specific plan for the profits, such as the family camping trip.

It’s fine to use the credit card within the boundaries of your vacation spending plan, and it is the obvious choice for reservations or online tickets. Think about what purchases will be with cash and what will go on the card. Cash for the small stuff, swipe for the big stuff. Ideally, you’ll have money available in a dedicated vacation savings account to pay the credit card bill when it arrives.

“People want to come home from vacation with happy memories, not unmanageable credit card bills,” said Guy Abramo, president of consumer business at Experian Consumer Services. “Racking up excessive credit card debt without a plan to pay it off can put people in a bind that could affect their financial health and credit status for years to come.”

It’s also a smart idea to get a handle on all your summer fun by making a list of the activities and events you want to take in, such as day trips, music festivals, camps, concerts and family reunions. Prioritize and plan a summer budget accordingly.

Remember, you don’t have to spend money to have fun. Look for low-cost entertainment ideas through your credit union or bank, public library, tourism office and your social media network.

By planning ahead and sticking to the plan, you can take the sting out of summer spending. You’ll feel happier, relaxed, rejuvenated and less stressed. And isn’t that really what vacation is all about?

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a not-for-profit human services organization that believes in Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. Goodwill NCW is one of four companies in the nation to be honored with a Platinum Well Workplace Award from the Wellness Council of America, which recognizes our commitment to wellness in the workplace. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, a unique shopping experience at its Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at, a women’s apparel website, and It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit






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