Four things that can make or break your spring break budget

Personal finance

A spring break vacation that won’t bust your piggy bank takes some creativity.

While many students think Bahamas or Mexico or bust, you can have a less spend-y getaway, especially if one of your friends has a car. Try a road trip for low-cost transportation. Plus, you’ll have wheels to get around when you reach your destination.

If you’re set on something more remote, look around for last-minute travel deals.

Once you choose your destination, it’s time to make a budget.

Keep things flexible, says Megan Luke, senior vice president at PNC Bank. “A budget sounds scary and it can seem like an insurmountable task, but realize that mistakes will be made,” Luke said.

Since making mistakes is something you can practically count on happening, decide in advance not to let that discourage you. Your budget isn’t set in stone, Luke says. The point is to adapt your plan along the way and learn from your mistakes.

“If your spring break trip goes over budget, you’ll have to find places to cut costs when you get back,” Luke said.

Jot down spending in a diary, and try to spot the expenses you might be able to eliminate. While you’re there, try to stay within the budget you’ve set for spending. Make it a goal to pay off your credit card bill as soon as possible so you don’t rack up hefty interest charges from your getaway.

When you figure out where you want to stay, consider a house rental or room-share that has kitchen access. Of course if you’re staying in an Airbnb, often the least expensive option, you’re more than likely to have a working kitchen. Shopping in a local market can be fun in an unfamiliar place.

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When you prep food for the day or eat even one meal at home, you’ll see the savings very quickly.

You’ll still be able to enjoy local bars and restaurants – but trimming here and there makes your money go a lot further.

Your biggest savings may come from slashing your bar tab. To cut back your drinking in bars and restaurants, buy beer or wine from a local shop and have a drink at home before going out. Then, set your limit in advance to one or two umbrella drinks.

Transportation costs can add up quickly, especially if you use private shuttles or taxis. “Instead, consider public transportation,” Luke said. Often you can buy an unlimited pass good for a day or a weekend.

Whenever you can, walk to your destination. In addition to saving on transportation, you’ll likely discover attractions or local hangouts that you may not have known about. Many cities also have free or inexpensive walking tours where tourists can explore with the help of a guide.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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