There’s no way around it — March Break is expensive. Caught between an underperforming loonie, your strained finances, and the immense cost of travel, you can feel like the universe is conspiring against you, and you’re stuck footing the bill. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money to get the most out of your vacation. Far from it! You can keep your expenses low and have fun with your family. The secret to an affordable March Break is the staycation.
It’s not as glamorous as an all-inclusive vacation in a tropical setting, but it’s an easy way to enjoy the vacation on a budget. Most people, when they say they’re staycationing, mean they’re staying home, either to lounge on the couch to binge watch Netflix or to explore their city as if they were tourists.
But the staycation can be whatever you want it to be. You don’t have to stay in Ottawa. Depending on your budget, you could leave your hometown and explore the capital region — or even head to Gatineau.
A budget is the magic word — and the magic financial tool
You won’t know what kind of staycation you can afford unless you have a budget. This financial document lets you see where your money is going. It should track each of your expenses (even tiny ones, like $2 coffees), so you can see how much you spend compared to how much you make.
While some just hope to break even, the ideal goal is to make more than you spend. That way you can funnel a large portion of your income towards a vacation. More importantly, you can contribute towards a savings account, investments, and a retirement fund.
Don’t be scared if you’ve never made a budget before. You can find helpful guides online to simplify your task. But why do it by hand when you can get an app to do it for you? Check out this guide to the top money management apps, and figure out which one would work best for your situation.
Be cautious of using an emergency fund as a vacation fund
You might not think much of taking a few dollars from your nest egg to cover your local travel plans, but it could have a disastrous effect on your finances. Skimming off the top of a dedicated emergency fund leaves you unprepared when that emergency actually happens.
If you’re lucky, a financial hiccough won’t happen until you’ve recouped the costs of your trip, but you can’t always rely on luck when it comes to your money. If your emergency happens during or just after the March Break, you won’t be able to cover a surprise vet visit or a necessary household repair.
You’ll need to figure out a way to pay these bills when your emergency fund falls short. In Ottawa payday loans are a fast-acting kind of personal loan that helps bridge the gap left by your vacation. They’re perfect for when your responsibilities have a looming deadline that you need to pay immediately. Speak with a representative from GoDay when you want a fast, local source for payday loans. With offices all over Canada and a booming online service, they can provide the best payday loans Ottawa has to offer in as little as one hour.
Choosing a fast and practical loan means you won’t be left waiting for approval while your deadline comes and goes. It lets you pay off your debts without late penalties or interest.
See your hometown with fresh eyes
The secret to a successful staycation is convincing yourself you’re a tourist, even if you’ve lived in your city for decades. Every city has some hidden gem waiting to be discovered. A city like Ottawa is constantly hosting events and activities, and there are a bunch of new restaurants and businesses opening downtown.
Check in with the Ottawa Tourism site to see what special events are happening during the break. Or take a chance at one of the many cultural institutions. You can catch a show at the National Arts Centre, explore an exhibit at the Gallery of Canada, or look at dinosaurs at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
Just be responsible
This March Break, you can hop on a flight, explore your neighbourhood, or roll yourself into a burrito and binge watch Black Mirror. It doesn’t matter what you do this March Break, as long as it’s responsible. Take stock of your finances to find out what responsibility looks like this year, and make sure you plan your break around your limits. It’s the only way to enjoy the March Break without going over budget.