With spring break just days away, many of you already have your vacations booked or have a bucket list of in-town activities already mapped out. No matter what fun you have planned, you won't want to break the bank by paying full price for tickets, souvenirs, food or lodging. Here are some tips to keep more money in your pocket:
• Do your research and collect free souvenirs - my son piloted Tom Sawyer's Riverboat and was given a certificate (and I snapped my own picture). Also, many professional photographers will snap a family picture with your cell phone for free.
• Seek out inexpensive souvenirs - on-site gift shops have you as a captive audience. Avoid the tantrum and stash inexpensive souvenirs in your bag as you go. A popular inexpensive souvenir is a pressed penny. Find locations at www.thePennyCollector.com.
• Pack your own food and drinks - eat breakfast before you leave, pack your own snacks and drinks, and have a picnic lunch. Food bought at concession/restaurants can "eat" into budgets quickly.
• Budget your kids - let them know they only have a certain dollar amount to spend on souvenirs and treats. The money is theirs to spend how they choose, but when it's spent they are done buying.
• Find hidden discounts - ask for AAA, AARP or military discounts. Seek out local entertainment books and/or attraction maps with coupons. Have your purchases work for you by using credit cards that offer rewards that can be applied to future purchases.
Lastly, don't feel as though you have to skimp on the fun or experience. Ask each family member what they want to remember doing this vacation. If you are on a tight budget create a reasonable list to choose from. Everyone wins and family memories are made.
Nikki Ducas is a budget-savvy Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons that you can do fun things without accumulating debt.