Save Money on Your Next Vacation – 7 Tips

Have you seen some of the travel options advertised on the major websites? The so-called deals aren usually anything but… Today I’m going to break it out to seven real world things you can do to save money on your next vacation.

The travel options most of us are exposed to are expensive. It’s unlikely that you’ll see many advertisements for budget vacations. The travel destinations you see in colorful brochures, high-end magazines, and on television are run by high-profit travel companies. While those vacations are a possibility, there are more economical options to consider.

Many people manage to travel the world on a budget of $50 or less per day!

Take advantage of these strategies and save money on your next vacation:

1.Try the shoulder season. Hitting Europe in the summer and Aruba in the winter might be ideal. However, you can save a lot of money by traveling just before or after peak seasons. The costs are lower and the weather is still good. It’s also less crowded and more peaceful.

2.Bid for your hotel room. Most travelers are aware of websites like Priceline.com and Hotwire.com. But, it’s challenging to know if you’re getting the best deal.

Betterbidding.com can provide actual bidding information and advice for the popular bidding websites. You can find out the average room rate and compare. Then, you’ll know with certainty if you’re bidding too little or too much.

3.Wait until the last minute. While airfares go through the roof close to the travel date, many other travel-related services, like cruises and tours, tend to drop in price.

Why is that? Who flies at the last minute? Typically people on business-related travel. This group of travelers isn’t as price conscious.

Cruises and tours mostly have fixed costs, so they get all the money upfront. There’s little reason to send out a cruise ship with empty rooms. Leaving those rooms vacant gets them zero dollars, so they’d rather sell trips at a discount to bring in more income.

4.Plan your meals. It’s easy to spend a lot of money on food, especially if you have a large family. Find discount coupons and deals ahead of time. Decide where you’re going to eat before starting on your journey.

Remember that you can cook for yourself, too, even on vacation, with some advance planning. An electric skillet can save you a lot when you’re on vacation!

5.Travel light. Airlines like to give the impression of lower fares, but by now you likely know the truth. They charge for everything else that used to be free. And bags cost a fortune. Some airlines charge for any checked luggage. Plus, overweight bags can cost you literally hundreds of extra dollars before you even board the plane for your trip!

6.If you’re taking a road trip, consider your gas consumption. There are many rewards programs that can help you save money on gas. If you have a smart phone, you can find apps to assist you with finding the best gas prices on your route. Many gift cards give additional discounts on gasoline, as well.

7.Find free entertainment. Most cities have some sort of free entertainment just about every day of the week. Many museums offer free admission one day a week. Get online and see what’s happening where you’re vacationing.

A budget vacation doesn’t have to feel like you’re skimping. It simply requires some creative planning. With a concerted effort, you can have your greatest vacation ever, without breaking the bank.

Use these tips and your own ideas to save money while giving your family a vacation to remember.

Finding the Cheapest Hotel Rates on the Internet

The internet is one of the greatest tools for finding economical hotel rates. This is important because lodging is one of the most expensive parts of a vacation.

 

Searching for the best hotel rates online is time well spent. However, there are numerous websites and so much information that the task can be daunting.

 

Use these strategies to locate the best rate for a hotel that meets your needs:

 

  1. Decide your requirements before you start looking for a hotel. Do you want to be near the beach? Is a swimming pool essential? How many beds do you need? Are continental breakfasts or early check-in necessary?

 

    • The odds of getting exactly what you want are slim if you fail to define your needs.

 

  1. Compare dates. The internet makes it easy to compare the cost of a room across several dates. You might find that by adjusting your vacation timeline by a few days or weeks you can save a significant amount of money.

 

 

    • Remember to check how the new date will affect the other aspects of your trip.
  1. Visit the auction sites. Websites like Priceline.com and Hotwire.com are great for bidding on hotel rooms within your target city. There are a variety of parameters to help you narrow your search.

 

  • If you’re unsure about bidding, check out www.betterbidding.com for up-to-date information about successful bids.

 

    • Priceline and Hotwire have different models, so check out both. Before you bid or “name your own price” familiarize yourself with the current hotel rates in your target area. Expedia, Orbitz, Yahoo Travel, or similar sites can provide you with prices for each star level.
    • You can typically find a hotel for approximately 15-25% less on auction sites than on standard travel sites. It’s a good idea to get your significant other to bid first and bid low. Then, you can make a higher bid if their bid is rejected.

 

  1. Hit the forums. A great source of information is Bidding For Travel. This wonderful website is similar to Better Bidding. You can get the latest gossip on successful and unsuccessful bids on Priceline. Simply find your target city and see what’s going on. You’re also able to see where you’re likely to stay if you bid on Priceline.
  2. Search for package deals. Most of the travel websites will quote a package price if you want more than just a hotel room. Purchasing your plane tickets or rental car along with your hotel room can sometimes save you money. Cruises are also frequently bundled.
  3. Check out the amenities. Many hotels include free or discounted tickets to shows and local attractions, such as amusement parks. Other hotels might have a free breakfast or dinner buffet.

 

  • Hotels in Las Vegas and Orlando are well-known for offering all sorts of enticements to get your business.

 

  • Avoid being lured in by extras that aren’t important to you.

 

The internet is probably the greatest tool available for finding the best hotel rates. If you can save money on your hotel room, that’s extra money you’ll be able to spend on other things. You might be able to eat at nicer restaurants or do some extra souvenir shopping. Spend time finding the best rate for a hotel room that fits your needs. Why pay more when you don’t have to?

Too Good to Be True? A Vacation With No Bills

Do the sweet memories of your vacation tarnish a bit when you start getting the credit card bills for it the month after you return home, or as you spend a year paying off your trip from last year? Imagine how differently you would feel if there were no bills to come home to!

 

The best way to steer clear of anxiety and guilt is to save for your trip before ever heading out the door. This will result in a more enjoyable vacation because you’ll already have the money set aside and won’t have to worry.

 

It’s easy to save for a vacation if you set a goal, cut back on your spending, and save money on a regular basis.

 

Follow these tips to budget and save for your next vacation:

 

  1. Agree on a goal. Get together with the family and agree on a vacation destination. Saving is rarely exciting, but once it’s attached to an objective, it becomes tolerable.
  2. Develop a vacation budget. If you want to save painlessly, a budget helps. Based on your destination, create a reasonable budget. Be certain to include everything. If someone needs to care for your dog and cut your grass, include it. Take the time to be accurate.
  3. Calculate a weekly goal. Divide your budget by the number of weeks until your vacation. That’s how much you need to save each week. Saving weekly makes it easier to get back on track if you miss a target. If you’re an entire month behind, it’s more challenging to get caught up.
  4. Find ways to “create” some excess money. Make a detailed list of your monthly expenses and see where you can cut back. Everyone buys things that are “wants” rather than needs.

 

    • Food is one area where most families spend too much. Avoid eating out more than necessary and make an effort to shop more economically. Packaged foods tend to be more expensive than the healthier alternatives.
    • Consider ditching your landline or any other service you don’t really use. You, your spouse, and maybe even your children have cell phones. Do you need a landline, too? What about that gym membership? Are you using it regularly?
    • Look at the loans you’re carrying. If you haven’t checked the interest rates lately, you might be able to save a significant amount by refinancing.

 

  1. Put away the money you save on cutting back. It’s one thing to cut your cell phone bill or loan payment down. It’s another to actually take that $50 and set it aside so it won’t be spent. Create a savings account and simply transfer the money you’ve saved into it each week.

    • Consider having some money automatically transferred into a “vacation savings account” each month.
    • Try throwing all your change into a jar at the end of each day and deposit it into your vacation account whenever it gets full.
  1. Assess your progress. Regularly check on the status of your savings. Look at the calendar and see how you’re doing in regards to your savings target. Then, make any necessary changes.

 

Saving for a vacation can be easy and painless. It all starts with a goal and a budget. With those two items in place, you can determine how much you need to save and implement your plan. Have the best vacation ever without having to worry about spending outside your means!

Moving? Relocate For Less with These Money-Saving Strategies

Moving into a new home can be both exciting and stressful. A major move can also be very stressful financially. Hiring professional movers to do all the work can cost $13,000 or more. That’s a substantial amount of money!

 

There are many things you can do to help reduce the cost of using professional movers:

 

  1. Secure a tax break. If you’re moving for a job, you can deduct nearly everything associated with the move. That includes the moving fees, lodging, and other travel expenses.
  2. Obtain several quotes. Shop around for the best rates. It’s a good idea to get an in-home estimate from at least three different moving companies. Ask questions about how you can reduce the cost.
  3. Dispose of any unwanted or unnecessary items. The more items you’re taking, the higher your moving costs. Donate, recycle, sell, or give away anything you can before moving.

 

  • Most people find they can get rid of almost 50% of their things without too much trouble.
  1. Start finding and saving boxes. It’s cheaper to purchase your own boxes rather than using the ones the movers provide. Better yet, many stores are happy to give you their boxes after they’re done unpacking merchandise. Just ask.

 

  • Use those boxes to pack up small stuff on your own. The less time the movers spend packing your things, the more money you save.
  1. Pack as much as you can yourself. This gives you one more chance to decide if you can eliminate any additional items. You can also take special care in packing your important items. Ideally, the movers will just be doing the heavy lifting, rather than packing your socks.
  2. Label everything. If the movers know where to put the boxes in your new home, it will save them time. Clearly label your boxes to make it easier for the movers.
  3. Move at a good time. Movers are busy at the beginning and the end of the month when leases start or end. The middle of the month is slower, so you’re more likely to get a better deal.

 

  • If possible, avoid moving in the summer, which is the busiest time of the year.
  1. Check on insurance. Most moving companies offer insurance to protect your items, especially the expensive ones. However, you might find that your homeowners insurance will also cover your move. Find out the details. For example, the insurance rate could be less expensive if you pack the boxes versus having the movers pack them.
  2. Do some research. Get online and ensure that the company you’re considering is a professional mover. Anyone can lease a truck and claim to be a pro. Look for reviews. The internet makes it more difficult to be deceptive nowadays.

 

If hiring movers is simply too expensive, you could rent a moving truck. The daily fee is minimal, but be aware of the mileage fees. Putting gas in a large vehicle is also expensive. If you can handle the heavy lifting, renting a truck is definitely an option to consider.

 

Moving is exciting, but it can also be expensive. With some effort and proper planning, it will be smooth sailing. Use these tips to minimize the cost and stress of your next move.

The Lure of a Fuel Efficient Car – Is It Worth It?

With the high price of gas these days, you may have considered selling your car and purchasing one that’s more fuel efficient. If your current car is only delivering 17 miles per gallon, one of those hybrids that get 50+ miles per gallon might look pretty good!

 

If you start doing some quick calculations, it doesn’t take long to get excited about all the money you could be saving. Think about all the wonderful things you could purchase with that extra cash. Maybe you could take that vacation you’ve been dreaming of!

 

But hold on a minute. It isn’t that simple!

If you’re currently driving an inexpensive model that you’ve already paid off, you might not be able to justify getting a new car, regardless of the great gas mileage.

 

Consider the car payments, insurance, taxes, and yearly registration fees if you’re thinking about buying a more fuel efficient car. Will the increase in those costs validate your decision to go from 20 mpg to 45 mpg? At $3.50 per gallon and 1,000 miles per month, you’d be saving less than $100 per month in fuel costs. As long as your car is in good condition, it doesn’t seem worth all the extra expenses.

 

Complete these calculations to see if purchasing a fuel-efficient car is a smart financial move in your situation:

 

  1. How much are you going to spend on a more fuel-efficient car? It’s important to know how much the new car will cost you. That increase in mileage isn’t free.

 

  • For example, let’s suppose you’re interested in a 2011 Toyota Prius that costs $15,000.
  1. How much is your current car worth? Assuming you’re planning to sell it, that money can go towards the “new-to-you” car.

 

  • Continuing with our previous example, perhaps you’re selling your 2003 Ford F-150 that’s paid in full and worth $5,000. That means your new car would cost about $10,000.
  1. What are the other costs associated with owning that new car that are above and beyond the old car? It’s important to consider all those “hidden” new car costs you might forget about.

 

    • Sales tax: $600 at time of purchase

 

    • Insurance: An increase of $50 per month

 

    • Registration Fee: Depending on your state, it might stay the same, but it could also increase by $200 per year. We’ll use $100 per year for our calculations.
    • Payments: A 4-year loan at 7% for $10,000 would come to $240 per month.
    • If you’re paying cash for your car, you’ll have to consider how much money you’d be losing by your inability to invest that money. This is called the opportunity cost. Ten percent per year on $10,600 (car + tax) is $1060 per year or $88 per month.
    • Look at our total on a monthly basis (assuming a loan): $50 (insurance) + $100/12 (registration) + $240 (payment) = $298 per month beyond the cost of your current car.
  1. What is the change in mileage per gallon? Let’s be optimistic and claim 50 mpg for the Prius and 15 mpg for the F-150.
  2. How many miles per month do you drive? The average driver puts about 1,000 miles per month on their car.
  3. How much are you saving?

 

  • Prius = 1,000 miles/50 mpg X $3.50/gallon = $70 per month for fuel costs.
  • F-150 = 1,000 miles/20 mpg X $3.50/gallon = $233 per month of fuel costs.
  • You would be saving $163 per month on gas.

 

  1. Is it worth it? In our example, it wouldn’t be worth it from a financial perspective. You’d be spending $298 per month to save $163.

 

It’s important to do all the calculations before making a decision. But in most cases, the old car will win if you’re making a financially responsible decision. So, before you run out and get that newer, more fuel efficient car, do the math. The answer might be different than you think.

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