Savor that piña colada on the beach while you still can; you’re going to spend the rest of the year paying for it.
A recent survey from LearnVest, an online provider of financial planning services, revealed that Americans take an average of six months to rebuild their finances after a vacation.
The firm polled 1,000 adults between May 17 and May 23.
Two-thirds of the participants said that they spend more on a week-long vacation than they do on a month’s rent or mortgage. Three in four have used their credit cards to get some rest and relaxation, racking up an average of $1,108 in debt to finance a trip.
“When people think about budgets, they think monthly,” said Alexa von Tobel, founder of LearnVest. “People don’t proactively budget for things like vacations, big family events and holidays — those non-monthly events aren’t insignificant.”
Maybe that’s why participants in the survey said they spent an average of 10 percent of their annual income on vacations.
Here’s how to make sure your financial recovery is just the way your summer getaway feels: short and sweet.
Prepare for the cost
Odds are that you’re probably spending at least some of your time at work thinking about how you’d like to use your time off. Put that same effort into planning and budgeting for your vacation — and give yourself time to scrimp each month for it.
“You know at the beginning of the year that you want to go on vacation,” said von Tobel. “The point is that if you know you’re going for a $500 vacation or a $3,000 vacation, proactively save for it.”
You should also anticipate the cost of the vacation as you draw up your budget. It’s part of your “true costs,” said von Tobel — even though it isn’t a monthly outlay, such as your phone bill or your utilities.
Create a plan
Your summer trip isn’t the only thing that requires preparation: You should also draft a financial plan that considers your big picture goals, von Tobel said.
This plan takes into account how much of your after-tax income goes toward monthly essentials and how much money can you direct toward your goals without shortchanging your household.
A solid financial plan accounts for basic needs, including health insurance, homeowner’s or renter’s coverage, and life insurance. Don’t forget to pad your emergency savings, too.
As a guideline for how to use your monthly income, von Tobel suggests the “50/20/30” rule: Half of your pay goes toward your essentials, including rent. At least 20 percent of your income goes toward future goals, such as saving for retirement or paying down debt.
Use no more than the remaining 30 percent your cash for flexible discretionary expenses.
Make it memorable
If you already know where you’re heading, save a few more bucks with these tips.
Book early and shop often: If you bought your flight ticket during the first week of May, you could’ve saved an average of 33 percent on airfare compared to those who wait to book their summer trip, according to travel site Hipmunk. If you’re searching the web for deals, clear your browser’s cache.
Use your credit card points and perks: Some cards offer hotel and airline rewards for savvy travelers. Watch your balance, as allowing the amount to carry over month to month can negate your perks.
Ask for upgrades: “Hotels know by 6 p.m. if rooms are full or not,” said von Tobel. “They will give you a free upgrade the majority of the time.” After all, the worst the receptionist can say is “no.”