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Contributing Writer: Tara Opie

I have always found myself to be a very frugal person, all the way down to travel. The caravan with sandwiches wrapped in foil, sandwich bags of chips and a cooler of juicy drinks for the kiddos was my go-to. I barely traveled from the anxiety of using what I earned for fun. Crazy, right?


The U.S. Travel Organization website mentions, ” …travel spending totaled a mere $679 billion in 2020, an unprecedented 42% annual decline…International travel spending fell 76% (compared to 34% for domestic travel), while business travel spending fell 70% (compared to 27% for leisure travel).” The pandemic took its toll on all of us, and finding new ways to save money for vacations and trips has become a necessity.

How do we begin to find a budget during the pandemic? My son ’ s 16th birthday was coming up, and I wanted to do something special for him. So I started to look at what I needed to do to afford the trip that I had planned. I’d like to share a couple of things that I’ ve learned to make it easier on budgeting for things that you want to do for you and your family.

First things first, know your numbers. Grab all of your monthly and/or outstanding bills. We need to know where the money goes and what needs to change in your spending. Fall in love with coupons. I love my store points to save on groceries and gas. Tidbit: Consider what you save on groceries and on gas, and a percentage of that can go back into your savings.

Next, plan ahead. Tickets and hotel reservations are lower during the week versus weekend rates. There are numerous budget planners online and in stores who can help you create and manage a budget. For my son’s trip, his birthday fell on a Monday. My goal was for him to have a couple of days to himself to relax in a new space, so I decided to lock in the dates from Sunday evening to Tuesday morning. “Sunday night hotel rates are, on average, 30% cheaper than Fridays and Saturdays, so we suggest shifting your weekend from Friday-Sunday to Saturday-Monday. ” “With this strategy, you can also take advantage of fewer crowds and easier access to amenities and restaurants ” (Bologna, 2019). Because I knew that his birthday was coming up, I took my time to save what I needed for the entire trip.

Don’t go it alone. I was grateful enough to have a family friend of mine, who has kids the same age as mine, to put in on the rate. We collaborated on where to stay and decided on a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom beach house less than 10 miles from the coast. We found it on an Airbnb-type site. Everything was readily available for each guest. I went grocery shopping and my friend picked up whatever I forgot. It’s honestly more fun to share a space for a short while.

Know your menu. If you decide to go the Airbnb route, you will see that pots and pans are available to use. For COVID’s sake, each was rewashed and dried prior to use. Night 1: We had tacos for dinner. There were plenty of leftovers. Day 2: Shrimp and grits for breakfast. We used most of the leftovers from the night before. Day 3: I made quesadillas using the last of the leftovers before we left. I found staying in an Airbnb is very enjoyable. It will be much easier to cook and not be forced to eat out. I spent $800 for a three-day, two-night stay for four people.

There is always a way to save. Send me an email to tarak@taraspecializes.com for more information.

Tara K. is a mother of three, a graduate from Independence University with a degree in Accounting with an emphasis of Forensic Accounting, and a minority business owner. Before then, she managed a small business for several years learning the needs and wants of small business owners. She has been practicing accounting and bookkeeping since 2016 with clients all over the world. She started Tara K. Specializes, LLC in 2019 with the goal of helping small business owners achieve financial health. She has published two books entitled How to Monetize Your Niche in 90 Days and Simple Credit Repair. Both are available at taraspecializes.com/products.

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