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With summer coming to an end, many people are vacationing or planning trips and places to go. While traveling can be expensive, if you do your homework and shop around, you can easily save hundreds while relaxing and enjoying the time off. These are some things to keep in mind:

Save money: If you could go back in time, I would say to open up a separate savings account strictly for vacation. Without that super power, we will have to make due with what we have. Go over your budget, take a look at everything and make sure you can actually afford to go away. Don’t take bill money and spend it on a vacation. You will end up spending the next few months stressed out and playing catch up. All the time you spent relaxing won’t be worth it in the end.

Starting now, you know you should save money prior to vacation time. Things you can do to make this happen would be sell items you no longer need, pick up a side job a few hours a week, stop eating out as often as you do and cut back on your grocery bill. All these small steps could end up with a lot in the savings account a year from now.

If you do have the money to comfortably go away, keep these things in mind to stretch your money even further.

Free activities: Check the area where you are staying for free activities. It could be a walk on the beach, a trip to a museum or a children’s activity. Any chamber of commerce in the area would have information about this.

Eating: One of the biggest expenses while traveling is dining out. Keep in mind the money you can save if you get a room with a small kitchen area. You can easily make breakfast and lunch, and eat dinner out as a treat. You could save hundreds of dollars just by doing this.

Credit cards: Please, don’t put your vacation on a credit card. However, if you have a card that you receive points on, then use it throughout the year to obtain points to use for your vacation.

If you have done the math and really can’t afford to travel, stay home and enjoy our beautiful area. There are many things to do here. And if you do some research, you will find free and reasonably priced activities and many places to hike, swim, camp and relax. The biggest part of having time off is to enjoy your time with your family. Make that a priority and you will have the best vacation ever.

In my monthly class at The Post-Star, I go into detail about using coupons, saving money, finding monthly deals and how they will benefit your family and your pocketbook. There are free giveaways during the class as well. I would really like you to join me for my next class at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20. Feel free to call 518-742-3309, or go to poststar.com/couponclass.

Head over to my blog at Making Cent$ About Extreme Couponing to find some great deals around the region this week. These will point you in the right direction to saving more money. Post your questions, comments and deals in the comments section. Let’s start saving money together.

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Kimberly Butler is a mom, wife and child care provider located in Queensbury and writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at kimberlybutlerthepoststar@gmail.com or visit her Making Cent$ About Extreme Couponing Blog at www.poststar.com/blogs/making_cents.

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