Paying Off Summer Vacation Debt

Here’s how to get out of the financial hole

Summer vacation season is in full swing. So, whether you’re journeying to the beach or jetting across the globe, here’s a question: How long is it going to take you to pay for your adventure?

According to a recent survey from, the average American will spend nearly $3,000 on this summer’s respite — and one in five will go into debt to fund it. Worse, those people who say they’re planning on using debt to fund their vacation will spend significantly more than the rest — $4,351, on average. Of that total, a whopping average 38 percent — more than $1,600 — will be paid for with debt.

If you’re looking at sinking yourself into a financial hole for your summer enjoyment, what’s the best way to deal yourself out quickly and as inexpensively as possible? We’re fans of the avalanche school of debt repayment. By that method, you organize your debts highest interest rate first and use all your money muscle to pay off as much of the highest rate debt as possible while making minimum payments on the rest. Once the highest rate debt is retired, you move onto the next highest on the list. But there are other tactics that can move your process along faster.

Call your creditors and ask for a lower rate.

According to a 2017 survey from, eight in 10 credit card holders who called their issuer and asked for a lower interest rate, waived annual or late fee or a hike in their credit limits had their request granted. The hitch: No more than one in four cardholders ever calls! You have very little to lose in picking up the phone and asking for what you want. And note: If you have been receiving offers for lower-rate cards and you want your current card company to match those rates, don’t hesitate to get specific.

Find extra money to throw against your debts.

If it’s been a while since you cleaned your closets and drawers looking for quality items you’re no longer using, it’s time. It’s more possible than ever to sell your used goods on sites like Poshmark (clothing), Gazelle (electronics), Decluttr (furniture) and Facebook (which has marketplaces for everything). A few rules to keep in mind: Good pictures of your items are paramount, honesty is key (if there are flaws, say so upfront), and price your item right. Consignment stores usually start at about one-third the retail price. Let that be your guide.

To thine own self be true.

Finally, if you have yet to take off on your summer soiree, ask yourself if you would feel better — financially — if you scaled it back a bit. The MagnifyMoney research found that nearly one-third of people with debt say they feel pressure to go on vacation anyway. And more than half of people planning to fund their vacations with debt say they’d be willing to skip the vacation to pay off debt instead. What’s getting in the way? Pressure. FOMO. Talk with your family about what your priorities really are. You may find you’re more on the same page than you suspected. A staycation may satisfy you all.

Jean Chatzky

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