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Staycation to save money

Spring is here and that means it’s time to start preparing for those summer vacations.

But with rising gas prices, traveling long distances by car or airplane is becoming more expensive. The concept of a staycation – otherwise known as a stay-at-home vacation – isn’t new, but it’s seen resurgence during the past few years. Cutting back and saving money doesn’t have to be a downer. 

staycationSave money by taking a relaxing staycation at home.

Photo credit: Moon Stars and Paper

The funny thing is that some of us know more about our favorite vacation spots than our own back yards. If you really look around, you’ll probably notice there are plenty of fun things for you to do without leaving your own town or region – and most importantly, without spending very much money at all.

Here are some ideas for your staycation itinerary:

  • Get outside and enjoy your local parks. Bring a football, Frisbee, kite, lounge chairs and picnic lunch; you’re set for the day.
  • Take a hike. Explore local trails. You don’t need mountains to enjoy a nice trek.
  • Clean off the old bike, pump up the tires and just go for a ride.
  • Be a tourist: check out local museums and zoos. Some of these even offer free admission. You might be surprised to learn how many museums are in your area.
  • Plan a day trip. Visit a historical site or nearby city.
  • Bring the family or neighborhood together for a barbeque and game night. Think board games, card games, whiffle ball, horseshoes or ultimate Frisbee. The possibilities are endless.
  • If you live by a beach … well, need I say more?
  • Hotel for the night or weekend: spend one or two nights in the nearest city enjoying the relaxation of a nice hotel.
  • Become a foody: dine at one of the best-rated local restaurants you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Become a chef: cook a meal that would be way too time-consuming for your normally hectic life.
  • Movie day! Relax at home with a DVD in the morning then head to a matinee at the theater for a discounted movie afternoon.
  • Spend a day at the dog park with your furry friend(s).
  • Keep up with Groupon, Living Social and similar daily-deal services to find discounted coupons for local spas and golf courses so you can have a guilt-free ‘you’ day.
  • Take in a concert or a game. Check ahead and see what’s going on in your community.
  • Chill at the pool. Visit a community pool or water park for a day of relaxation and water fun.
  • Take a ride! Visit a local amusement park – or plan your staycation to coincide with a state or county fair so you can enjoy the carnival rides.
  • Check out your local library. Take a day to relax with books and magazines.
Now that you’ve saved all that money …

Consider using the money you save on travel expenses to increase your retirement plan contributions. You could also open an IRA or contribute to an existing IRA, build up your emergency savings fund, pay down debt or put extra money toward college savings.

One last word of advice: if you want to make the most out of your staycation, turn off your Blackberry and computer, and plan ahead. With a little exploring, I think you’ll be surprised at the number of fun ideas that surround you right at home.

Andrew Thomas

Smart401k Associate Representative

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About Smart401k

Smart401k is a web-based investment advisory service providing unbiased recommendations to help people invest in employer-sponsored retirement plans. Smart401k provides service to nearly 11,000 clients who collectively have more than $2 billion in assets. Plan participants receive personalized, fund-specific investment recommendations and the support of professional investment advisers available to discuss all investment questions. Based in Overland Park, KS, Smart401k is online at