The Best Ways To Budget As A Canadian Snowbird
Throughout modern day history, Canadian retirement has long since been associated with wintertime snowbird escapes. Getting away from the sun-lacking cold Canadian weather is one of the best ways to make the “golden years” more golden.
A New Wave Of Frugal Snowbirds
The harsh reality today is that many individuals going into retirement are finding themselves less financially stable than originally anticipated, which can turn an otherwise regular snowbird vacation into an ordeal.
Fortunately, booking a snowbird trip that is easy on your wallet is not impossible. We’ve created this guide in order to decrease the snowbird financial burden by listing a few affordability tips and tricks. By staying informed on these techniques you’ll be able to save more money abroad.
TIP #1: PLAN YOUR PERSONAL BUDGET
Any reputable financial advisor will tell you that preparing an accurate personal budget is the first step towards controlling your finances. By highlighting all of your recurring expenses and revenues, you can figure out how much money to put aside for a snowbird vacation. The best way to do this is by listing out and therefore visualizing all of your predictable monthly cash flows. Typically, you’ll notice a few recurring costs and a stable income every month.
Managing Current Expenses
Assuming you currently live within your means (your retirement income/pension is enough to cover your expenses with some money left over) you can determine which costs can be further reduced in order to save money while abroad. There are some Canadian-specific expenses that you may choose to freeze or cancel entirely since you’ll be located south of the border, such as landline phone bills and cable charges. If you’re able to give up driving, you can lower your monthly expenses even more by suspending car insurance payments and avoiding gas-fill ups.
Factoring In The Cost To Snowbird
Once you’re satisfied with your expenses, you can start figuring out the price of snowbirding (rent, medical travel insurance, etc). Of course, budgeting is entirely a personal matter so there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Ideally you should construct a budget that suits your individual needs. *A simple example of your potential snowbird monthly expenses, your subjective expenses may vary.
TIP #2: LIST VACANT PROPERTIES FOR RENT
A reliable method of generating a modest income on the side is to rent out any of your available properties (or available rooms if you plan on living under the same roof as your tenants).
Property At Home
With a little paperwork, elbow grease, and patience for scouting tenants, you can quickly fill up any empty units with Canadians who will supply you with stable monthly income streams. Once you’ve figured out the renting situation, you can put that money to use by paying for your snowbird expenses. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to create a temporary listing if you use services like Air BnB to bring your property to market.
Alternatively, if you own property in the US and have yet to make the trip down south for winter, consider renting the rooms inside your destination home (while you are currently away). This is a great way to make some money when the property otherwise stands uninhabited – as long as you don’t mind other people influencing your property’s condition.
TIP #3: EVALUATE THE TRIP LOCATION AND DURATION
If you haven’t yet decided on a place to stay during your snowbird leisure, you should narrow your search down to the more affordable areas south of the border (if you plan to avoid the US entirely, here are some relatively inexpensive snowbird countries as alternatives).
As a rule of thumb, snowbird destinations in the United States that see fewer travellers per winter are usually cheaper to visit. Naturally, your primary snowbird goal should be to soak up the sun’s rays, but you can still accomplish this while living farther from a shoreline. Generally beachfront property – and similar “in demand” housing landscapes – come at a premium. By renting a unit that’s just a small distance away from an attractive location, you can easily save hundreds of dollars per month.
Shorter Time Period
Once you’ve settled on a prime location that offers snowbird resources at low price, consider reducing your total time spent abroad. While spending 6 months of the year in America’s sunshine state sounds like a dream, it may not be financially feasible at the end of the day. In order to save money, you can reduce your snowbird vacation time to a modest 1-3 months in the same period. This way, you can still avoid the roughest months of the Canadian winter even if you can’t dodge all of it.
TIP #4: DEVELOP ALTERNATIVE INCOME SOURCES
If you desire to live a snowbird lifestyle the way you’ve imagined it, but are limited by a struggling bank account, it’s becoming easier every day to supplement your retirement income. With the technological invention of a “free economy,” you can earn some money on the side by working part time and choosing your own hours – think about using apps like DoorDash or Uber.
Naturally, your skill set should determine the kind of work you choose to take on. If you feel like there’s an opportunity to make a little extra cash during your snowbird vacation, you could take it – just don’t forget to also take pleasure in your getaway.
TIP #5: BUILD COST-EFFICIENT HABITS & PRACTICES
There are so many ways to further save money just by being conscious of your spending and making cost-efficient decisions. Creating habits that generate small savings can lead to a substantial increase in your total amount saved. Here are some minor tips to think about:
- POINTS – Use and collect reward systems that will allow you to get points/cash-back along with other benefits just for making regular purchases.
- DINING – While eating out is generally a great experience, it can certainly put a dent in your wallet. Take some time out of your day to cook hearty meals at home.
- COVERAGE – Having an insurance plan with the right amount of medical coverage is essential for your financial protection; especially given the costs of healthcare in the United States.
- LIFESTYLE – Take advantage of inexpensive attractions and hobbies while you’re abroad! Just because an activity costs more money does not mean you will receive more enjoyment from it.
- US DOLLAR CONVERSIONS – It goes without saying that you’ll need US dollars during your stay in the United States. By siding with professional foreign exchange services, you’ll be getting a better rate than the traditional big banks.
A FINAL WORD ON SNOWBIRD SAVINGS
Most of the advice featured in this guide should be treated subjectively. Every individual has their own personal needs and vacation goals, so we don’t expect you to use each technique on the list. However, as more and more individuals are headed into unfavourable retirement conditions, it helps to be observant of your financial situation.
If you’re thinking about importing your own personal vehicle to the United States from Canada, check out our guide on how to do so here.