While it may feel like the calendar just turned from 2016 to 2017, one quick glance will tell you that kids will be getting ready for spring break before you know it. For parents, that can mean looking ahead at getting time off from work and considering what to do with that week off. Of course, in order to go anywhere, you’ll need a budget — and while money tends to be one of the things that cause the most strife in families, technology has evolved to a point where it can be one of the best tools for creating a spring break budget. Here are some favorite go-to types of apps when looking ahead to spring break.
You can’t go on a trip if you don’t have a budget, plain and simple. If you can save in advance for the trip, even better! Fortunately, a number of apps are available for calculating budgets, from simple input/output features to robust and powerful apps that even connect to your bank for real-time assessment. For example, YouNeedABudget is a premium budgeting app that helps you organize and itemize just about every dollar you spend. For apps that include banking features, PocketGuard and Mint offer secure connections to banks, giving you at-a-glance views of your finances while also offering spending tips to minimize your bills. From there, you can plan out your budget for specific needs. Mint also acts as a general banking dashboard, notifying you of unusual charges and even offering bill-pay connectivity.
Travel Planning Apps
Once you figure out what your budget’s going to be, the next step is to take care of your budget for your most costly items. When it comes to planning a spring break getaway, that usually means hotel and airfare. Apps such as Booking.com, Scoretrip, Skyscanner and Trip Advisor offer all-in-one travel planning solutions, but in addition to general searching and booking capabilities (which help you save money by shopping and comparing), apps like these offer extended features such as price alerts and last-minute deals. While most travel apps are tied into a web service of the same name, the apps can be invaluable due to their real-time notifications.
Local Guide Apps
Once you get to your destination, you’ll need to eat, drink, shop, and relax. Local guide apps such as Yelp and Local Eats give you a dining guide based on geo-location or search. These results can be drilled down based on user score, price range, and type, perfect for planning a day in advance. If you’re going to one of their supported cities, Spotted by Locals is a unique app that offers insider tips from residents to help visitors truly enjoy their city. Many local guide apps are also tied into coupons or discounts, so be sure to check for any special deals prior to making reservations.
Years ago, people went to the bank to get paper traveler’s checks and small cash when they went on vacation. These days, it’s much easier to use a payment app. In addition to the popular PayPal, Google, Apple and Samsung have their own payment apps tied into many local merchants. Depending on what you need, different apps will suit your different needs. For example, if you’re meeting up with friends and extended family, PayPal and other direct P2P payment apps can help you split bills and share expenses. More robust merchant-driven apps like Google Wallet are more about security and efficiency, letting you check out without having to worry about paper currency or losing a credit card.
Most banks and credit unions offer their own apps these days. While functionality varies based on what each bank’s developers created, the bottom line is that you’ll be able to access account balances and charges — the most basic things needed for creating a budget. Other banking apps offer some advanced features, such as instant charge notifications, geo-locking of purchase capabilities, bill pay, and more.
The above apps will give you the foundation to plan your spring break family trip in a smart, sensible, and cost-effective way. Of course, in the end, all of the technology in the world won’t beat out common sense, so regardless of which apps you use or where you choose to go, remember to stay within your means and plan ahead. By doing so, you stand to have a memorable and fun spring break that doesn’t break (no pun intended) the bank.