Finance News

Avoid a nasty case of holiday debt lag

Enjoy a well-earned vacation without bringing home a mountain of high interest debt.

I do love a catchy new phrase, and this one made me laugh. "Debt lag" is a new one for me. It seems that as Chrissy approaches we plan a holiday, but don’t quite get around to saving for it. So some 2 million of us turn to our credit cards on vacation, and cop a nasty case of debt lag!

Among the holidaymakers who return home with a maxed out credit card, half clear the slate within three months. But the remainder can take anywhere from six months to more than a year to pay off their holiday debt.

Vacations see card spending climb by $2,000

Taking a credit card on vacation can make a lot of sense. It’s a lot more secure than carrying wads of foreign currency, and it provides a handy back-up if you run low on the folding stuff. And let’s face it, that’s easily done. Vacations tend to encourage a sense of bonhomie, which can see us splurge on things we wouldn’t even think about buying at home. (A colleague of mine is still questioning the pineapple-shaped slippers she picked up in Hawaii.)

There’s no problem with a bit of overspending – if you can afford it. After all, holidays are meant to be enjoyed. But Australians rack up an average of $2,000 on their credit cards while on vacation, and unless you can pay off the balance immediately the outstanding interest charges won’t just take the shine of a trip’s happy memories, they could leave you cash-strapped well into 2018.

 Plan, pay ahead and avoid tourist rip-offs 

The key to avoid blowing your vacation budget is to plan how much you’ll spend and how you’ll pay for it all. Most holidaymakers set a travel budget but only around one in two stick to it.

Doing plenty of online research can give you an idea of the sorts of costs you’re facing, and from here it’s easier to set daily spending limits.

Where possible, aim to book and pay for accommodation, tours and even entry to attractions before you leave home so you’re not facing inflated tourist prices.

 Bypass the gripe costs 

Surprisingly, the most cited rip-offs mentioned by Australian travellers are not dodgy souvenirs that fall apart before you reach the airport. Rather, credit card and ATM fees plus mobile phone roaming charges are among the biggest gripes. Yet these are easy to control.

Read the fine print of your credit card and/or travel card to understand any fees you may be slugged with. This is an area where I can lend a hand as these documents can be hard to fathom. When it comes to phone charges, either purchase an add-on pack with your local Telco – it’s likely to be far less costly than pay-as-you-go roaming, or ditch your local SIM altogether. Picking up a prepaid SIM at your destination can be a low cost way to stay connected while you’re away.

For tailored advice drafting a holiday budget, please contact us or if you need support managing debt at any time, don’t hesitate to get in touch – the end of the year is always a good time to get on top of money matters.

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ASCK Pty Ltd (ACN 105 450 566), trading as AMEGA Financial Solutions is an Authorised Representative and Credit Representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Limited Australian Financial Services Licensee and Australian Credit Licensee 232 706. General advice warning: This website contains general information only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Please consider the appropriateness of the information in light of your personal circumstances.

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