Four Ways to Repel Debt This Summer

Bills.com Offers 4 Ways to Repel Debt This Summer

San Mateo, Calif. – Consumers don’t need a calendar to tell them it’s summer – they can tell by the loan offers that swamp mailboxes, enticing borrowers to charge a vacation to a credit card or take out a home equity loan for a new boat. But the season’s good times can have a not-so-pleasant impact on future financial security, particularly in light of this year’s double hit on debt: the doubling of minimum credit-card payments and the new bankruptcy reform law that took effect last fall. This year, the Travel Industry Association of America says consumers are already ahead in planning their summer travel, with 81 percent of those who are planning to travel this summer already in the throes of planning their longest summer trip. Not only is this earlier than many travelers typically think about their summer plans, but many have already committed to their plans for their longest summer trip. Travel doesn’t come free, however, Last year, travelers spent an average of $1,109 per person on their longest trip. Taking a family of four to a ballgame now costs around $150. Even barbecue grills add up, moving into the thousands of dollars for the deluxe models made popular on today’s home TV shows. “Debt is like a swimming pool: Getting in over your head can be dangerous,” warns Brad Stroh, Founder of Bills.com. “With vacation travel, outdoor entertainment and expensive toys like RVs and hot tubs, summer can be a financial minefield.” To avoid breaking the bank for summer fun, Stroh suggests the following:

  1. A budget knows no season. Just because the boss is in Hawaii doesn’t mean your budget is on vacation. Post your budget somewhere visible, like the fridge door, so summer can’t burn it out of your mind. For those toys you really want, make a plan to save a certain amount every month so you can afford them – next year.
  2. Stay old-fashioned. How did you spend summer days and nights as a child? Revisit old favorites: star-gazing, basketball in the driveway, frozen fruit pops, a cookout with friends, a trip to the local pool. Challenge your family to have fun on a dime.
  3. Scrimp on vacation. If you haven’t yet escaped home, you might have a bad case of wanderlust. Try a camping vacation or a road trip. One study found that a family of four can take a weeklong RV trip for $483, compared to $1,169 for a car trip (staying in motels) or a painful $2,918 for a vacation by plane (source: PKF Consulting). For a getaway on the (dirt) cheap, pitch a tent in your backyard – and borrow your indoor plumbing.
  4. Think cold. Think “Christmas in July” and plan now for holiday purchases. Make sure you have a budget in place for seasonal gifts. Then, take advantage of summer sales to get great deals.

Based in San Mateo, Calif., Bills.com is a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about complex personal finance issues and save money by choosing the best-value products from a network of qualified service providers. Since 2002, Bills.com’s partner company, Freedom Financial Network, has provided consumer debt resolu¬tion ser¬vices, serving more than 7,500 customers nationwide and managing more than $250 million in consumer debt. The company’s co-foun¬ders and CEOs, Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh, were recently named Northern California finalists in Ernst & Young’s 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.