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Before leaving for vacation, most people have a mental checklist of things they need to do.  It usually includes stuff like packing, picking up a few last-minute items and getting your hair and nails done so you look good in your Instagram photos.  But don’t forget your finances.  Making these money moves before you travel will prevent stress and money matters from ruining your trip.

Make a travel budget

Creating a travel budget will allow you to have a great time without constantly worrying about money.  Think about everything you want to do on your vacation and get an estimate of how much it will cost.  Generally, you want to budget for transportation, lodging, food, activities, and souvenirs.  Once you have a figure in mind, go to the bank and withdraw enough cash to cover your estimated expenses.  Carrying cash will make it easier to stay on budget.  However, it’s still a good idea to carry your credit card in case of an emergency.

Check your available credit

Some people rather rely on their credit cards than carry a bunch of cash.  If that’s the route you plan to take, check your available credit card limit to see how much wiggle room you have.  Hotels and rental car services usually put a hold on your card for the duration of the trip.  Plus, you may have other pending charges to consider.  If you have a low credit limit, you may not have as much money available to spend as you think you do. 

Set up travel notices for your debit and credit cards

Be sure to notify your bank about your travel plans.  Typically, when they notice suspicious activity on your account such as making a purchase in an unusual location, they’ll reject the transaction.  Having your card declined, especially in front of people can be extremely embarrassing.  The best way to avoid headaches is to go online or login to your mobile banking app and set up a travel notice.  Just select the card you plan to use, enter your trip details and you’re all set.

Exchange currency at your local bank

If you plan to travel abroad, consider exchanging U.S. dollars for foreign currency at your local bank.  They usually have better rates and lower fees than the airport.  You can order your currency online or at the branch and pick it up within a few days.

Pay your bills

The last thing you want to do is come home to a missed bill or late fee.  Look at your upcoming bills and decide how you’ll pay them while you’re away.  You can either put a check in the mail before you leave, pay your bills online or set up automatic payments.  Make sure your checking account or credit card has enough money available to cover your expenses until you get back.

Have someone collect your mail

Having a pile of mail sitting in front of your home lets people know that it’s unoccupied.  This can make you an easy target for criminals who want to steal your identity or other valuables.  Ask a trusted neighbor or family member to collect your mail while you’re gone.  Alternatively, you can request the USPS to hold your mail until you return.

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