Archive for April 2015

5 Guaranteed Ways to Save Money on Your Next Vacation

Save Money

6349188556_c998ba345a_zTaking a?vacation is one of the best parts of the year for many families ? that is, if they can afford one. If you are looking forward to taking a trip but want to make sure you don?t break your budget at the same time, it is helpful to plan ahead and use some simply money-saving strategies.

You want to be able to enjoy your trip as much as possible, and you aren?t going to have very much fun if you are worried about money the whole time you are away.

Here are five simple tips to?save money on your next vacation.

Pack Properly

You can run into unexpected costs during your trip if you fail to pack all of the items you will need along the way. Having to buy something that you already own, but left at home, is a needless cost that will add to the overall expense of your vacation. By taking the time to carefully think about what you need to pack before leaving, you should be able to mostly avoid these unwanted costs later on.

Stay a Little Farther Away

If you are taking a trip to a specific destination such as a national park or an amusement park, the most expensive lodging is likely to be right next to the attraction. If you are willing to stay a short distance away, you could save?hundreds of dollars over the course of your?vacation.

Sure it might take you a little longer each day to get where you want to go, but the savings just might be worth it. This is why I like using travel sites like Priceline so much. You can input your destination and they’ll tell you what each region averages which allows you to find a cheaper alternative.

Travel on the “Edges”

Traveling during peak times will always cost more. For example, while all of summer is a popular time to take vacations, the middle portion between the Fourth of July and the middle of August tends to be the busiest ? and the most expensive.

If your schedule allows, look at planning your trip for late June or the end of August to early September. You probably won?t get huge discounts using this strategy, but you may be able to save a small amount over traveling during the height of the season.

Plan More Downtime

Just because you are on vacation doesn?t mean you have to be going non-stop from activity to activity the whole time. In fact, some of the most enjoyable times can take place when you are simply relaxing with friends and family. Since most vacation activities cost money, planning some downtime into your itinerary can save you money as well.

Consider Driving

Depending on how far you are traveling, it might be feasible to drive to your destination rather than fly. Usually, driving will save you money over the course of the trip since you won?t have to rent a car once you arrive. However, do the math for yourself and decide if driving is actually worth the effort in order to lower the overall cost of the trip. Driving may not save you money if you plan to travel hack for your next vacation.


What are some other ways you like to save money on vacation? Do you budget for vacations, or do you just go when you have the money? What trips do you have planned this year?



Photo courtesy of: Daniel Go

How to Build A Career-Ready Wardrobe for Only $200


9981109144_01f2311d01_zIf you’re getting ready to graduate this spring, chances are you are hunting for your first real job. Okay, it may not be the absolute first job you?ve ever had, but for many of you it is likely your first full-time, career-type job.

Assuming that?s the case you will also be in search of clothing that is appropriate to wear at your new career because we all know the sweatpants and boat shoes you rocked on the college campus will not be appropriate for even a business casual office.

With that in mind, here are some tips about how you can build a basic, career-ready wardrobe for only $200!

Stick to Neutrals and Basics

One of the first and easiest suggestions when you get started hunting down clothes for your new job is to stick primarily to neutrals and basics, at least to begin with. When I got my first job I made the mistake of buying a lot of shirts that were one-hit wonders and couldn?t be mixed or matched very well to create more outfit choices. The other problem with bold shirts is that they can?t be subtlely worn more than once in a week. This is a real problem if you only own 5-6 shirts and some are in the wash.

Therefore when you get ready to start buying your work wardrobe, you should buy more basic button-ups, polos, or blouses and less bright, patterned shirts. Even colored blouses and button-ups can be more often and look different if they are solid instead of printed or patterned.

Go for Mid-Quality

Most wardrobe guides suggest buying well-made, but expensive basic pieces for your work wardrobe. While I don?t disagree that an established employee should follow this advice, a new graduate who hasn?t started working yet shouldn?t spend over about $20-30 for a basic wardrobe piece unless it will be worn almost daily, like a suit if your office is that dressy.

Instead I think you should stick to mid-quality and price for your staples. They will still last longer than items you bought at Walmart, but they won?t cost you an arm and a leg. Then once those wear out in a few years you can replace them with more expensive items as you?ll likely be making more money.

Don?t Buy too Much

I?ve been at my job and out of college for three years this May and one of the biggest mistakes I?ve made is buying too many clothes. I have nearly 30 bottoms, which includes slacks, capris, and skirts, and I easily have over 50 shirts that are work appropriate. With the amount of clothes I have, I should never have to repeat an outfit in a year (or more).

A work week is typically five days, so you shouldn?t need more than 3-4 pairs of slacks as you can usually wear them more than once between washings and 10-12 shirts so you don?t have to repeat them if you don?t desire. This also gives you a couple of back-up pieces in case you spill something on your clothes or get a bit behind on laundry. But this isn?t so many clothes that you can avoid doing laundry for a month and be fine. (Don?t do it, it?s not fun to catch up on that much laundry ? trust me!)

It still might seem hard to build a work wardrobe of this size for only $200, but with other money saving tips, like shopping with coupons, hitting sales, etc. it can be done. I had a budget of $200 for my first work wardrobe and it was enough to get through at least one year at my first office job (I was still in school) without having to spend money on any additional clothing.


Do you think you could build a work wardrobe on $200? If you?ve already built a work wardrobe before, do you have any other tips? What staples are in your work wardrobe?



Photo courtesy of: peddhapati

4 Places You Should Look for Extra Income

Extra Income

4357234437_31d8ff8b55_zEven if you already have a full-time job, being able to make a little bit of extra income from time to time is a great way to pay for some of the extras you desire, like a family vacation. Making a little extra money can also make paying the bills that much easier.

Plus, extra income is a great way to be able to save some money in your emergency fund?for later on down the road. While making extra money on the side might take some effort and hard work on your part, the rewards are almost always worth it.

Here are four places that you can look for extra income to help?boost your savings account.

#1 ? At Your Current Job

The easiest place to find extra money might just be the place where you already work. Since you are already an employee, one of the biggest barriers to making extra money has already been taken care of – in that you have a go-to resource.

You could ask for a raise for the job you already do, or see if there are any opportunities for advancement within your organization. If neither of these options is available,?it might be possible to simply take on a few overtime hours to add to your paycheck instead.

#2 ? Look Online for Extra Income

One of the challenges in making extra income is being able to find the time in the day to work your regular job and also do other work for your side hustle. That is what is so great about working online. You can do a variety of jobs on the internet,?and many of them can be completed from the comfort of your own home.

You do need to beware of employment scams on the web. If the ?job? requires you to pay them money upfront for the opportunity to work, you should move on and find a different option. With that being said, there are plenty of places to find jobs online. If you don’t know where to start, sites like Elance?or relatively good places to start. If you’d rather not work for the extra income you can always use a cash back site to earn some money for your shopping. You can sign up for sites like Swagbucks??- which allow you to get cash back for things like taking surveys or shopping through their portals and both offer $5 new account sign-on bonuses to get you started.

#3 ? Teaching Lessons

Do you have some kind of specialized skill that others would like to learn? It could be something you have learned during your career, like technology skills, or even just a hobby that you are skilled in, like playing the piano. Whatever it is, there may be a market to teach your talent to others.

Giving lessons is something that can often be done on weekends, or in the evenings when you are done with work. Not only is this a great way to earn some extra money, but it also could be very rewarding when you get the chance to teach others something that you are passionate about.

#4 ? Education

At some point, it might become necessary to add to your educational background in order to find ways to make more income during your career. If you are blocked from moving up any higher in your current company because of your level of education, you could consider going back to school to obtain an additional degree.

This will require hard work and dedication to complete while you are still working, but plenty of people have achieved it successfully. Before you get started with further education, make sure you have a clear understanding of the degree that you are going to work towards, and how exactly it will lead you to additional income down the road.


Where would you look to earn extra income? Have you ever earned extra income from one of these sources? Is going back to school a good idea to earn more at your current career?



Photo courtesy of: Robert Fairchild


When Being Frugal is Cool


5170630053_1240954762_zAs a kid whenever my mom would use a coupon?at the grocery store or make me wait until my favorite jeans were on sale, I was mortified. I didn?t want others to think we weren?t able to afford things, even when technically we couldn?t. Luckily for my childhood self, my parents never made us buy used clothing from garage sales or thrift stores, though I did wear a lot of hand-me-downs from my older cousins.

The older I got, the more I cared about people?s opinions about me, my clothes, and my belongings. I didn?t know then that what I really cared about was what people thought my family could afford. Wearing name-brand clothing was definitely a symbol of wealth, although I didn?t fully understand that at the time.

Now that I?m an adult and I?m working hard to pay off my?debt, much of it from still caring too much what people think I could afford vs. what I could actually afford, I actually like using coupons at the grocery store and shopping sales whenever I need new clothes. In a way, frugal has become cool to me.

Promotion of Sales

One of the ways you can tell that frugal has become cool is how often stores promote having sales. In my opinion, there are more sales fliers, radio ads, and tv commercials than there ever were when I was growing up.

Shopping sales has become a hobby for some and they even like to brag about how much money they saved by buying things on sale. You just have to be careful to avoid sales?if they cause you to spend money you don’t actually have. 🙂


I kind of mentioned this one already, but couponing has also changed a lot from when I was a kid. Back then hardly anyone used coupons, or so it seemed anyway. In reality, most people were using coupons when they were easily accessible to them, they just never talked about it.

These days couponing has become a pretty hot topic. There are lots of blogs and websites dedicated to teaching people how to use coupons to get the best deals, and there?s even a TLC show ?Extreme Couponers? about how people are able to feed and provide personal care products for their families for little to nothing.


Thanks to sites like Pinterest and YouTube, DIY has exploded as a trend. These days people DIY everything from home repairs to craft projects for events, making their own laundry soap, and more. People usually decide to DIY things for one of two reasons. Either they want something unique and can?t find it in a store so they decide to make it themselves, or they want to cut down on the cost of buying something or hiring a professional. Personally, I love DIY-ing as many things as possible as it gives me a reason to learn new skills and it usually saves me money too.

I?m so happy that frugal has become cool in a lot of ways. It sure makes it easier to want to be frugal and to not care as much about what people think.


How else do you think frugal has become cool? What is something that mortified your younger self that you do now to save money??



Photo courtesy of: Justin Jensen

How to Budget with Little Income


BudgetOne of the most common financial mistakes?that individuals make is failing to budget because they don?t feel like they make enough money to make it worthwhile. In reality, it doesn?t matter how little income you make ? it is always a good idea to have a basic budget in place that outlines your spending.

By using a logical budget to control your spending, you might find that you can make your money go farther than you once thought. It doesn?t need to take very long to put together a basic budget outline, but that plan can go a long way toward improving your financial future.

Start with the Basics

No matter how small your budget might be, it will need to include the basics such as housing and food on a monthly basis. Whether you own your home or rent a place to live, that expense and everything that goes with it (utilities, etc.) should be at the top of your list.

A monthly food budget should also be established to give you a goal to shoot for when you are doing your grocery shopping. Other basics include a cell phone, gas and maintenance for your vehicle, and so forth. The key here is to be reasonable about what you’re spending and then you can find ways to save or cut back on those expenses.

Specifically Define Entertainment Spending in Your Budget

One place that many people go wrong when it comes to controlling their budget is the amount of money they spend on entertainment each month. This should be an important part of your budget that you do your best to stick to.

While your budgeted amount might seem limiting at first, look at it as an opportunity to find more affordable activities to enjoy on weekends or whenever you aren?t at work. Remember, you don?t have to necessarily spend a lot of money to have a good time.

Make Sure to Save

Regardless of how little income you make?setting aside some money for savings each month is something that you should not ignore. Even a very small amount of money going into your savings account on a regular basis will add up over time and help you make more expensive purchases down the line.

As part of your budget, set a monthly saving goal that you do your best to reach. Over time, try to gradually increase that amount so you can start to see a significant amount of money available to you in the bank. In fact, you should even try to automate your savings if you can. We do that with our Discover online savings account?so we don’t even feel the money coming out.

Don?t Be Trendy

Chasing the latest trendy brands and other items that you don?t need is a quick way to create some serious budget leaks. Following trends will only lead you to spending more money than you can afford on products that could have either been purchased for less ? or not purchased at all.

Don?t allow others to influence your buying decisions, because it is your money. Stick with your budget, and only make purchases when you are sure they are the right decision for you and your financial situation. Over time, this strategy will make a big difference in your financial outlook on a monthly basis.


What tips do you have for budgeting on little income? What challenges did you face when you first started budgeting? What’s one area of your budget that needs help?



Photo courtesy of: MoneyBlogNewz