7 Ways to Control Spending when You Have Out-of-Town Guests
By Yolander Prinzel
When you live in a fun state to visit, like I do, you are frequently barraged with incoming guests. It starts with a simple phone call, “Hey, we’re on vacation in March and we are coming down to visit you . Mind if we bunk in the guest room?” Not wishing to ruin anyone’s great vacation or saddle them with the unnecessary expense of a hotel room you agree, but how can you make sure that playing host doesn’t cost you money? Luckily, I went through this very experience last week when my sister and her husband stayed in my home. Since we ended the trip all still speaking to each other and getting along, I figure I must have some good advice to share.
1. You know, you don’t actually have to be part of the vacation. Just because your out-of-town guests are on vacation doesn’t mean you have to be. If you are unable or unwilling to take time off of work or set aside gobs of cash for vacation-type expenses, then just make sure you make that clear to your visitors before they arrive.
2. Outline what they can expect from you while staying in your home. If you are not planning on providing food or drink to your guests, try to clean out a little room in your refrigerator and one of your cupboards and let them know that you will make room for their groceries. I tend to have some drinks and inexpensive snacks on hands but I leave them to provide their own meals.
3. Make specific plans with them. Chances are you don’t want to treat your guests like strange borders and you will want to spend some time with them. So find out what their itinerary for the trip looks like and choose one event or dinner that you can afford to go to with them. That way, they get to spend some time with you and you can control how much money you are spending.
4. Be careful what you loan them. Letting out-of-town house guests use your toothpaste is one thing, but letting them use your car is another. Your car could be damaged by your well-meaning visitor adding awkwardness and potential car insurance rate hikes to your budget.
5. If you want to spend more time with your guests, look for free entertainment. There are many tourist spots that do not cost any money to visit. Beaches, historic downtown areas, local merchandise makers — be creative and look for free activities.
6. Leave your spouse out of it. If it’s your family coming into town and you want to spend time with them without blowing your normal budget, leave your spouse at home. It is less expensive to pay only for your admission to a park or your meals and your spouse might appreciate the opportunity for some alone time.
7. Utilize your local library. If you want some entertainment at home for your visitors to keep them from getting bored, you can use your local library or thrift store as a resource. You can borrow books, DVDs, audio books and sometimes even puzzles from your local library. Just have them around the house for your family to use as they please. You can also get board games as well as DVDs, books and puzzles at your local thrift shop, often for next to nothing.
Photo credit: Somewhat Frank
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