Once Christmas is over, the tree is taken down and the last coffee cream-flavoured chocolate has been put out of its misery, it’s time to think about your summer holiday. This might seem like a tall order, especially when you’re looking over your bank and credit card statements, but good financial planning starts early. It also (unfortunately) starts with the boring part – paying off debt!
Spend January working on your Christmas debt
Hopefully, you don’t have too much debt because you used a budget calculator before Christmas last year to avoid overspending. Even if you’re pretty much in the black, you may still have some lingering credit card balances or a small overdraft, so work on reducing or eliminating these hangers-on so that you’re as free as possible.
Have a dry month
Everyone else is doing Dry January, so why not follow the crowds for once? You might find you have no choice anyway if all your mates have sworn themselves off the sauce until February! Think about how much you spend on those cheeky Martinis after work on a Wednesday, as well as how much more you spend on a Saturday, then put these amounts towards debts or savings. Don’t live like a hermit, though, or you’ll end up splurging sometime around January 20 and you’ll ruin all your good work. Organise a cheap pot luck night or have an evening of board games.
Start thinking about next Christmas
Seriously. You can’t start early enough! Scour the sales for anything that you know will come in handy next Christmas. Only buy it if it’s got a steep discount (at least 50% off) and won’t go off or look dated by December. If you’ve already stolen a bit of a march here, then you won’t feel so restricted when you think about summer hols.
Start looking for cheap flights
If you have a destination in mind, or even if you don’t, then start looking for flights and accommodation deals. Depending on the season you plan to travel in, there’s an ideal flight booking window of time. For summer it’s around 45-50 days before the date of travel, so you do have some wiggle room. Of course, you might prefer to hold out for a last-minute deal, but if you don’t know what the going rates for flights and villas are, then you won’t know a good deal when you see one.
Deposit savings into an international card or account
If you know which currency you’ll be using on your holiday, then you can start converting small amounts as you save them. If you turn down a night out, convert the £40 you would have spent into your destination currency. If you decide to buy fewer cakes and coffees at lunchtime at work, then deposit the £2, £3 and so on into your prepaid international card. Watch out for Brexit news, because whatever happens it’ll affect the value of the pound and it might be worth converting your travel money into Sterling and back again if there are big movements.