Do these things at home to make the most of your vacation dollars

by Katy on May 3, 2017 · 10 comments

This article first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.

When the subject of frugal vacationing comes up, the focus is understandably on the cost of the actual vacation. You know, the airfare, hotel, car rental, meals and entertainment. However, there’s an area that can bring down your vacation cost, and that is to minimize any and all home expenses while you’re away.

Minimize electricity

Walk through each room of your home and turn off or unplug anything that won’t be used. This includes your entertainment devices, clocks, microwave, computer router and anything else that draws vampire power while not in use. Make it easier by plugging like items into a single surge protector.

Needless to say, do not unplug your refrigerator! However, you might want to employ this life hack to ensure that you didn’t had a blackout while away from home.

Adjust your thermostat

No need to maintain your current thermostat settings if your house or apartment is sitting empty. Although people in warm climates might choose to completely turn off their furnaces or air conditioning, those in colder areas should never set the temperature below 55°, which is the industry standard to avoid frozen water pipes and maintain your home insurance coverage.

Suspend subscriptions

Not only does it waste money to continue a newspaper subscription while out of town, it’s a red light to burglars that your house is sitting empty. Call your newspaper’s subscription department and suspend delivery for the days when you’re out of town.

You can also put other paid subscriptions such as Hulu on hold while away. Even though you’ll save just $7.99 per month, it’s worth the effort if you’re confident that your vacation will be blissfully screen-free. Just click HERE for the wikihow instructions.

Hit up your neighbors

Having a close relationship with your neighbors is great when you need to borrow an extra egg for chocolate chip cookies, but it’s freaking amazing when you’re away from home. Not only can you make sure that your plants get watered and your cats get fed, but having someone keep an eye on your house is an important safety precaution. Just make sure to offer to do the same for when those neighbors then take their vacations.

Prepay your bills

Nothing is more of a bummer than to come home from a relaxing vacation to find that you’ve forgotten a bill. Avoid this situation by either prepaying any bills that would come due or by setting up automatic payments.

Fill your prescriptions

If you take daily medications, you might want to fill any prescriptions before leaving town. The headache of contacting your physician and then having to pay for an out of insurance pharmacy is surely not part of your vacation plans.

Avoid burglars

It doesn’t matter how frugal your vacation is if your time away from home becomes an invitation to burglars. Protect yourself and your home by following these tips:

  • Buy a few timers for your lights, and then program them for differing times so your house doesn’t advertise its empty status.
  • Lock all doors, windows, gates and screen doors. You may feel that your house is battened down, but you still need to double and then triple check.
  • Have a neighbor check your porch on a daily basis to make sure there aren’t any packages or flyers that red flag that your home as being unoccupied.
  • Leave a car in the driveway if possible.

Convicted burglar reales nine secrets to keep your home safe

Plan your arrival meal

Anticipate that you’ll be exhausted when you finish traveling home from your vacation, so plan a ready to go meal that requires nothing more than pulling it from the freezer. Avoid the temptation to call for a pricey takeout meal.

Rent out your home

This tip is certainly not for everyone, but it’s becoming increasingly common for people to take advantage of websites such as HomeAway.com, Airbnb.com or VRBO.com to rent out their homes. Yes, you take a risk by renting out your personal residence, but many people have had great success using these short term rental companies. Just make sure to familiarize yourself with your city’s laws and regulations before venturing into this endeavor.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer May 3, 2017 at 9:39 am

If we are going to be gone for an extended amount of time we also turn off our hot water heater.

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Katy May 3, 2017 at 9:44 am

Oops, I meant to put that in the article, but somehow didn’t.

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Jennifer May 3, 2017 at 9:52 am

It one of the the things I frequently forget to do for some reason so I added it to my master vacation to-do list. The only sucky part is when you get home sometimes you forget to turn it back on for a little while and only realize it when you are naked standing in front of your cold shower, ha!

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Susie's Daughter May 3, 2017 at 3:47 pm

I especially like the “plan your arrival meal” idea since I often can’t stand the idea of cooking after we have unpacked the car, etc. Means I can indulge in a freezer meal treat as the last part of vacation!

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Michelle H May 3, 2017 at 5:45 pm

We are planning to be gone most of the summer, and this list is great!

How I’m planning to save $$$:
1. Cancelling newspaper subscription right before summer. Will not only save the usual monthly cost, but will be able to save $12 a month with a “new customer” rate for the first year when I restart delivery in the fall.

2. Cancelling internet service and returning equipment right before we leave town. Will save the usual monthly bill, plus be eligible to take advantage of “new customer” rate for first year when I sign back up in the fall. The new customer rate is $70 less than we’re paying now.

3. Meal planning with what I have to empty my deep freeze so it can be unplugged. I was hoping to be able to unplug both the fridge and freezer this summer, but that may be too ambitious.

4. Setting thermostat to 90 degrees. It’s hotter than Hades here in the summer, so being gone and not running our A/C nonstop will save us at least $100 a month in electricity. (can’t turn it off completely, or it gets too humid in the house)

I’m not renting my house out this time, but years ago I had a good friend who had a lot of family overseas. When her family would fly here to visit they would rent my house for a week so they had more room than in a hotel. I would take vacation from work and fly home to see my own family, or else stay with a friend. Her family paid enough for a week to pay my mortgage for a month, and they always left the house cleaner than when they got it. And much like your mother’s rental cottages, they were always leaving food and booze behind. It was a great deal for both of us.

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auntiali May 3, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Hubby turns off the water and unscrews the water hoses to the washing machine.
I unplug anything that won’t be used while we are gone.
Stop the mail.
Let the police department know we’ll be away. I live in a small town.

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Roberta May 4, 2017 at 5:58 am

I just got home from vacation, and I had left milk in the freezer. When we got home I pulled it out and we had milk for tea and cereal in the morning. It was wonderful to pull something out of the freezer and be able to eat!

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susanna d May 4, 2017 at 6:27 am

We began planning “arrival meals” a number of years ago, and it’s saved us so much money over the years. In the week before leaving, we go through the refrigerator and eat up what we can of the perishable foods. Of course, we don’t buy a lot of perishables in the time leading up to vacation – unless we’re traveling by car to a place with a refrigerator and cooking facilities, that is. Any food that won’t be eaten up prior to leaving (but wouldn’t survive safely until we return) is frozen in its natural state (when possible), or cooked into something that can be frozen.

Ideally, some of those foods we’ve frozen do become the arrival meals, like the fish fillets I’d cooked up and frozen prior to leaving last week. They were the basis for the very yummy fish tacos we had last night after returning from a short vacation.

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Sandy May 4, 2017 at 10:16 am

All great suggestions! Many of them we do when we leave town.
We also shut the water off at the main. We started doing this when friends had a washer hose burst while they were out of town! Lesson learned!
Also, we left keys and contact information with a trusted neighbor.

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Dmarie May 7, 2017 at 5:24 am

great suggestions! especially like the idea to preplan the meal. We love to eat out when in new locales, but it’s no fun paying for fast food on arriving back home just because there’s no time/energy to cook. We’ve had some great picnics at parks and church shelters when on the road, but somehow I never thought to plan home arrival food.

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