Start saving for summer

So Christmas is now paid for (just) and summer is nearly upon us. Many people are now booking up their summer holidays or have already done so and are beginning to worry about how they are going to pay for those two weeks on the beach.

You could well have maxed out the credit cards or the overdraft just to pay for the package deal while it’s still cheap – or you’re now contemplating how best to finance the outlay with summer approaching.

Either way, you’ll need some hints and tips on keeping your finances under control while you fork out for the holiday of a lifetime. MoneyExpert is here to help…

Social networking tips

The internet has essentially changed the travel industry. Prices are cheaper online and booking can be simpler. But the real bonus is the huge amount of websites and forums offering good hints and tips for bargain hunters. Have a surf and you’ll find websites that rate hotels, score airlines and offer tips on how to holiday on a budget. So stick to the internet and you’re bound to save.

Count the reward points

The credit crunch might be squeezing people’s finances but some 83 per cent of customers have still failed to cash in on some £4.25 billion worth of gift vouchers, credit notes, loyalty points and air miles, according to research from MoneyExpert.com

That’s quite a lump sum. Did you know you could be stocking up on airmiles through your Nectar card? Or by using a reward credit card? Just make sure you use the same card when you shop – and repay it each month if it’s on a credit card, of course – and you could save enough for return flight to Europe.

Go regional

Have you ever wondered why Heathrow and Gatwick are such a mess during the summer holidays? There’s stress, parking fees, traffic jams and much more to contend with, so why bother? A local airport may well fly to your destination of choice and the flight could cost less too – so don’t just assume that "London – all airports" is the only option.

Smart finance

The smartest move of all is to only spend what you can afford. If you’ve got time to save, set aside some cash regularly and set yourself a fund target. To compare the best savings accounts, click here.

If however you’re one of many who will have to put at least some of the holiday’s expense on a credit card – or you may even be considering taking out a loan – then there are some things to consider.

For a start buying a holiday or foreign currency on a credit card can come with benefits. Some card providers will offer you free travel insurance or will protect your cash abroad in case it is lost. But whatever you do, don’t put a major purchase on a card if you’re no longer benefiting from a zero per cent deal. Average standard interest rates on credit cards are around 16 per cent, meaning a purchase of around £2,500 could cost you £400 a year in interest alone.

To consider the various options open to you on credit cards, click here.

Consolidate

If you’re already in debt and struggling to afford a holiday, one option might be to consolidate your debts into one loan. This is called debt consolidation and it can free up some wealth for you.

Basically you put all your debts – from credit cards, overdrafts, store cards, etc. – into one loan and repay the balance in full over an agreed period of time. Typically you’ll reduce your monthly outgoings as all the repayments will be controlled on one level of interest.

During this process there’s nothing to stop you from borrowing a bit more than you need to pay for some of your holiday. But bear in mind you’ll eventually repay more than the cost of the holiday as it will accrue interest.

For the best loan deals, click here

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