Holidays and your Money Part 1

By Tolu Dima-Okojie

I love holidays. Don’t you?

It is sometimes, unbelievable the energy, the strength, the motivation I get while on a holiday and when I return. It is even better then I go on a holiday by myself, by choice! No spouse, no children and sometimes, no relatives or friends! I get to be me. No pressure.

A holiday is a time when we get to recharge our batteries, to refresh our mind, to think deep thoughts. Sometimes, it is a time to strategize, to plan, to think ahead, to assess, and to prepare to implement. Some of the best decisions I have made have been while on holiday. Away from the pressure of work and family, society and cultural obligations.

But what makes for a holiday? And how much should we spend on a holiday? People go on holiday for several reasons and sometimes, the reason determines the location for the holiday. That as it may be, what would you say is your money habit when it comes to funding a holiday? Spur of the moment? Borrowing from someone? Using your leave allowance? “Borrowing” from your business? Savings? Sponsored by spouse or parent or friend?

For some, going on a holiday at certain periods of the year is a ‘must-have’. For others, it’s an important part of their life, to keep the sanity. Whatever the reason, it is safe to assume that a holiday needs some type of funding. Share with us, let’s all learn. How important is a holiday to you? What do you do for a holiday? How do you usually fund your holiday?

What you do for a holiday will depend on the reason you decided to go on holiday and we all have our ideas on what makes for a good holiday. There is no wrong answer, keep that in mind when you feel under pressure to go for ‘summer holiday’. There are people who make their home their holiday. Yes, that’s right. They maximize an opportunity where the kids or/and spouse are away with family or on business as they case may be, and use that time to stay home and relax. Some people actually stay home WITH the children to bond with them, especially for busy people who work odd/late hours. One can always take a few visits to local attractions or have a Spar day or Movie day. The point here is, you do not necessarily have to ‘travel’ to have a holiday. The cost of such a holiday in these examples is anybody’s guess but we can imagine this is not likely to get your bank statement in the red.

Again, there are some of us who like to go to a different (local or international) environment to enjoy a holiday. The choice is entirely dependent on the initiator. For us in Nigeria (apologies to members of this group that do not reside here but please follow our line of thought), visiting another state/town, going to our local tourist attraction, even visiting our home town to see parents or grandparents can be a great way to de-stress. It is interesting that many of us have not visited many parts of our country; there is such a rich culture and history to explore but let’s not digress. So whether you are staying home, visiting another state or country, you idea of a holiday is valid and entirely up to you.

Now, the purpose of this topic is to expound on the importance of preparing our finances for a holiday, so we can return from the holiday happy, with little or no money worries.

In an ideal world, we would plan for our holidays right? In the corporate environment, it is common for teams, departments and ultimately the entire company, to have a plan or schedule for the holiday or ‘leave of absence’ for each staff for the YEAR. Some business owners may struggle with creating a holiday plan for their staff, owing to the nature of their business or the need for owners to be directly involved in the business. This, by the way, could be pointing to a problem in the business structure, especially if it is not a relatively new business, but that is outside of the scope of today’s topic. Whatever the case, having a set time for the holiday and making adequate financial preparations for it, has its gains and consequences.

The ideal thing about planning and ‘saving’ towards a holiday is, it allows you time to look for options, to explore deals that can save you money and possible give for a better and more fulfilled experience. I hope it is no longer a secret for instance, that buying a ticket during ‘off peak’ periods, or many months ahead of the day of flight, often saves a lot of money. Also, booking of hotels and tourist attractions way ahead, can also offer more discounts. Are you aware that some hotels, airlines, taxi services offer discount alerts to their subscribers so they can take advantage of unique discounts when they become available? Some people wait for such opportunities and then ‘lock in’ their holiday for that period. For some who fly business or upper class, there can be even more savings from booking ahead. In foreign countries, booking local flights, coaches and trains between states also throws up savings for you.

I acknowledge that these options are not always obtainable here in Nigeria. However, the same principle still applies. Booking a hotel a long time ahead can give you the leverage to ask for discount, especially if you pay the discounted amount in full or make part payment. Some hotels also offer group discounts, or budget friendly ‘packages’ for couples or families. Many corporates make use of this for their company retreat. You can do this too with some airlines, requesting group discount. Some travel agents are able to get discounts for you too. I must mention here though, that the lack of dependability of some airlines, makes this a difficult issue. You may find that making advance enquiries about the holiday destination, say for a reliable cab-man to take you around major attractions, can also prove to generate savings.

Another strategy for holidays is having a plan of who to visit and who not to visit during a holiday, and what ‘gift offering’ you will go with. Preparing to take a certain amount and not anymore than allocated, can stop you from the ‘pressure’ to give your hard earned money to people who come needing more help than you can offer at a time, some of who do this sometimes to fan our egos and make us feel the need to ‘justify we are successful’ by giving out large sums of money.

Now the down side of preparing for your holiday is, some people might feel it does not allow for flexibility. You can change your mind but you may have to pay a penalty fee for change of dates, you could also forfeit part of OR the whole amount paid upfront in some cases for outright cancellations, depending on the Terms and Conditions of the service provider. The onus is therefore on you to have thought through the options before taking a decision. Having the flexibility desired also comes at a cost. Especially for those travelling abroad or during peak periods, you may find that you pay a very high prices for deciding on a holiday a few days or weeks to the desired day of travel, hotels also cost more, you may also find that you preferred hotels or room types are booked and therefore ‘not available’. Again, for those of us who will need to purchase foreign currencies, you may find that you will buy these currencies at a high exchange rate than if you made provision for same many months ahead.

Many times though, where there is less likelihood of changing the holiday period and you can plan for certain dates, the savings made for preparing for your holiday can be huge. Those in the know, many times have a holiday like royalty but for a fraction of the cost, just because they made preparations for it. It really is about the effort put into it.

And so in summary, depending on the purpose of the holiday and your preferences, a holiday can be expensive, but it does not have to be expensive. Preparing ahead and thus, preparing financially for a holiday, can offer a lot of savings. It would be wise to prepare ahead, so you can enjoy the holiday and RETURN home not ONLY happy but without the worry of money spent above what you had planned or with the joy that the holiday you had should have cost you much more. On this note, I say Aloha!

I remain,

Tolu Dima-Okojie, your personal finance guide.



Tolu is a personal finance consultant who helps her clients understand and manage their personal finances. She does this by teaching you how to organise your money, how to manage spending, how to save, to stop borrowing, to manage or/and eliminate your debt and how to invest and build sustainable wealth, so you can live well now and in
the future.

For Tolu, it is not just a transaction; it’s a journey to financial freedom.

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