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It’s been two and a half years since I moved away from my hometown and settled in Halifax. It now takes about two and a half hours to get home by car, a trip I make about once a month or every other month. I love my family, so I always prioritize trips home, even though it costs me money.
In the Fall, Winter and Spring, the only big cost involved in a weekend trip home is an extra tank of gas, and maybe a meal out on the way there or back. After some trial and error I’ve built these extra expenses into my gas budget and my weekly grocery allowance, but when summer rolls around, visiting family gets a little more expensive.
Typically, a visit home in the summer entails more than a tank of gas and an extra case of beer. Instead of a quiet weekend home, we’re going on camping trips, spending a weekend at a cottage, taking a day trip that involves either a canoe, an ATV, or my husband’s father’s boat. These trips are inherently more expensive, and it’s important to budget for them. Otherwise, those extra charges end up on my credit card.
That’s what happened the first summer after I moved away. I didn’t budget extra money for those summer activities. I assumed we could simply be extra frugal with our weekly spending money (my husband and I withdraw a set amount of cash every week for groceries and entertainment) and use that to fund these little mini outings. Boy was I wrong. I didn’t anticipate the fact that there was also a ton of cool stuff happening in Halifax that would compete for my dollars. Things like food truck parties, outdoor movies, and Canada Day celebrations all cost money, and I didn’t want to miss out on any of that, either.
Because of these conflicting priorities, I ended that first summer with about $200 in unplanned spending. I was able to scrimp and save most of the money we needed, but I was forever weighing the various pros and cons. I’d have to decide if we wanted to spend a weekend camping with family or if we’d miss out on the outdoor concert near our house. It was poor planning, and it was no one’s fault but my own.
After that first summer, I made sure to budget extra money for long distance family events. Usually, those special trips that involve camping or a cottage will run an extra $200. Once you factor in the extra food, alcohol, gas (because the camp sites were usually further than our hometown), campsite fees or cottage rental fees, and odds and ends, an extra $200 is a good guess. These trips happen a few times a year, so overall, I expect to spend between $200 – $600 per year on long distance family events.
So where do I get this money? Typically, my travel fund. I budget $4,000 per year for travel, saving about $333 per month into a savings account. I consider this to be a valid use of my travel fund. After all, I am traveling. I’m getting in the car and travelling somewhere to do something unusual (camping/cottaging) outside of Halifax. Every week I transfer $83.25 into my travel savings account, and that ensures I always have the money on hand to spend time with my family. I no longer let money dictate whether I can spend time with my family, because that money is already sitting in a savings account, earning interest and waiting for me to spend it.
Speaking of savings accounts and earning interest, lately (up until my trip to New York, that is), my travel fund was pretty large. In fact, I had several thousand dollars sitting in a savings account earning a pathetic interest rate (0.8%). That’s why I’ve been looking around for a better savings account, and the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is top of my mind right now. EQ Bank’s savings account offers far and away the best interest rate on the market, currently at 2.30%
I’ve talked about EQ Bank in the past when they first launched, and at the time I was considering moving my emergency fund over to them but decided against it because they didn’t yet have Tax-Free Savings Accounts, which is what my emergency fund is housed in right now.
EQ Bank also has a cool goal feature that allows me to set a savings goal and see at a glance where I stand with it. This would be perfect for my summer travel fund since I try to save that $600 before the summer even starts. By setting a goal it’s easy to see whether I can achieve it at my current savings rate.
The timing couldn’t be better to make the switch because as a special treat for my readers to get your summer savings started, new accounts opened have the chance to win one of 10 $150 deposits into your new savings account! That’s almost one whole extra family vacation!
Have you used EQ Bank in the past? What are your thoughts on this banking product? I want to know!