Archive for March 2016

4 Ways to Save Money on Your Summer Vacation

summer vacation

summer vacationA summer vacation can be a lot of fun ? and it can also be really expensive. Vacations are rarely?cheap, and traveling during the busy summer season when everyone else is also trying to take their trips can only add to the cost.

A summer vacation for a family of four or five can easily run thousands of dollars, so saving even small amounts of money here or there will go a long way in the end. Before planning your next big trip, consider the following four tips on how to save money on your?summer vacation this year.

Avoid the Traps

There are certain locations which can be considered tourist traps, meaning everything they offer is expensive (read: overpriced).

Pick a destination for your family that is more reasonably priced, while still offering plenty to do and see. Do a little bit of online research prior to booking your trip so you can find out about the prices in any areas you are thinking of visiting. Specifically, check food and lodging prices, as these will be two of your largest expenses. A great way to save money on many of these areas is using Expedia?as you can search by price, area and reviews.

Miss the High Season

Can you take a summer vacation when it isn?t actually summer? Everything is more expensive in terms of travel in the summer months, including gas prices.

So, if your schedule allows you to take a trip when it isn?t actually summer, you should be able to avoid some of these price increases. This might be difficult (or impossible) if you have kids who are in school, but those without school-aged children could take advantage of the lower off-season prices. Even waiting until the last minutes of summer can sometimes result in saving money on your vacation.

Free (or Cheap) Activities

Taking part in activities is a great part of vacationing, but many of those activities can get rather expensive. Before you plan your trip, think about what you want to do while you are gone, and tailor your choices to make sure you can afford the trip as a whole.

For example, going to a theme park will require that you pay high prices for tickets, where as visiting a National Park will only require that you pay a modest entry fee to get into the park. Carefully plan an itinerary before you leave so that you know exactly how much you are going to be spending before the vacation actually arrives.

Stay Closer to Home

You don?t have to travel thousands of miles away from your home in order to have fun on vacation. Sometimes even a weekend away will do.

Traveling in any form costs money, whether you are purchasing gas to put in your car or tickets to ride on an airplane. Reducing the total number of miles travelled is a sure way to reduce the overall cost of the trip, so take a good look at a map and try to pick out a destination that is relatively close to home.

A good vacation is about spending time with family and friends, in addition to getting away from work, so it shouldn?t matter how far you have physically travelled. You might even consider a staycation instead.

 

Are you going on a summer vacation this year? How are you going to?save money on your summer vacation?

 

Photo courtesy of: Stevebidmead

7 Free Ways to Exercise Without a Gym

exercise

stretching-498256_640If you love to exercise, or even if you simply tolerate it to better your health, you probably already know it can get quite costly to join a gym or exercise club. Prices for a single membership can range anywhere from $40.00 per month to as much as $125.00 per month.

In large cities where real estate is at a premium, some gyms charge over $200.00 per month. Your monthly budget can take quite a hit at those prices. But there are ways to get your daily exercise quota without it costing you an arm and a leg. Here are seven free ways to exercise without a gym.

Take it Outside

If the weather permits and you own a bike, go for a ride. If you don?t, take a jog or a walk around your neighborhood or a nearby park. Another idea is to partner up with a friend or spouse for some Frisbee. Or, add some wheels by sliding into some roller skates or roller blades.

Exercise Indoors at Home

You could do body weight exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts, squats, tri-cep curls and any number of other activities while moving around your house. As you move from one room to another, do walking lunges. Arm curls could be combined with putting your canned goods away after grocery shopping.

Watch Television

Yes, you read this correctly. Do you have a favorite television show? If you do, add some jumping jacks while you watch. Or, pick out one of the many exercise programs you usually skip over and watch it while following along. If they aren?t shown at a convenient time, record them so you can watch and sweat when it works for your schedule. Just don’t get sucked in and end up wasting too much time watching TV.

Can?t find one you like? Pick something out on the internet instead. There are plenty to choose from on YouTube. Or, borrow an exercise DVD from a friend or the library.

Take the Long Way

Whenever you can, park as far away from your as possible so can you walk further. If you have quite a few errands to run, these steps can really add up. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can. Look for opportunities to take the long way whenever you can. Just make sure you build a little extra time into your schedule so you aren’t late to your destination.

Go Shopping

If you live near a mall, walk around in the mall at a fairly fast pace. But watch out! Leave your checkbook at home so you aren?t tempted to stop and shop. Some malls keep the main doors open even after stores are closed for the day so local walkers can come and get their exercise without the temptation to shop or the slow day time traffic of shoppers.

Go Back to School

If you don?t live near a mall, maybe you live near a college campus. Don some sneakers and take a fast paced walk around it. If there is a track and you aren?t interfering with any sporting events or practices, maybe you could walk or jog there. Remember, if there are no college?s where you live, there might be a high school that would be willing to accommodate you.

Check With Your Local Recreation Department

Not all cities have recreation departments, and some do charge fees for all or part of their activities. However, this is not the case everywhere, and it could be worth checking into. You may be able to join a sports team, an exercise challenge, or a walking club.

The options suggested above are only a few of the ways you could exercise without a gym and add some physical activity to your life without it hitting you hard in the wallet. The point is to think about ways you can add more movement to your day without adding any extra expenses to your budget. What are you waiting for? Get a move on!

 

Have you used any of these ideas to exercise without a gym? How else might you be able to exercise without a gym?

 

Photo courtesy of: RyanMcGuire

5 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

tax refund

tax refundGetting a tax refund is one of the most exciting times of the financial year. Many people dread the April 15th tax deadline because it comes along with a large bill, but countless others look forward to filing their taxes and receiving the refund that they have coming their way.

If you are in line for a refund this tax year, you will probably find yourself filing early to get your hands on that money as soon as possible. But what are you going to do with it when it arrives? There are lots of ways to use a tax refund. Here are five ideas.

Save It!

This is the most obvious, and most practical path to take when you receive a check from the IRS.

The money that you get back as a refund is income that you likely weren?t planning on, meaning it shouldn?t be needed to make your budget for the month. Therefore, you can quickly put it away in your savings account and plan on using it sometime at a later date. Rates are in the dumps, but online banks, like Discover Bank, offer decent rates on your savings so you can earn a little something on the tax refund.

This might not sound like an exciting path to take, but it certainly will be rewarding when you can look back years from now and see that the money is still waiting to be used.

Improve Your Home

A home improvement project around your house is another wise investment and a good way to use your tax refund. Not only will making improvements to your home improve your quality of living for the time being, it should also make your house more valuable when it comes time to sell.

This is a good middle ground option for tax refund money, because you will be able to enjoy it while also doing something that is beneficial for your future.

Go On Vacation

Getting off of the practical path, you could choose to use this money to go on a family vacation. The nice thing about using a tax refund for a vacation is that you won?t need to alter your normal budget in order to have a great trip.

Use the refund to pay for the vacation expenses, and keep your monthly budget on track as usual ? it?s a win-win situation.

Attack Your Debt

If you are currently carrying any kind of high-interest debt such as large credit card balances, attacking that debt by applying your tax refund to it is a great idea.

Take your refund and put it toward your highest interest balances first, so that you can reduce the total amount of interest you have to pay each month. You can make your refund go even further by refinancing the debt, through Avant or Lending Club, to lower the rates and save even more money.

Wait and See

You don?t have to do anything with your tax refund right when you receive it.

If you don?t have any specific ideas as to what you would like to do with the money, the best course of action may be to simply put it into your bank account and see what comes up over the months ahead. You can be sure that more expenses will come up as life goes on, so having this money available to respond when needs arise is a great feeling.

 

Are you expecting a tax refund this year? If so, how do you plan to use it? Do you prefer to get a large refund or do you prefer to earn a little extra each month?

 

Photo courtesy of: Brett_Hondow

Top 5 Uses for a Guarantor Loan

contract-945619_640Guarantor loans are designed to help out anyone needing to borrow money for essential purchases who can?t get an unsecured loan themselves for various reasons. Nearly anyone can act as a guarantor for a loan, as long as they are over 25 and have a good credit history. There are many reasons to take out such a loan and they can be used towards all manner of different things. Here are five of the top uses for a guarantor loan.

Emergency Bills

Even though it is advisable to save up an emergency fund?for a rainy day, there can often be vital yet expensive bills that come out of nowhere. If you don’t have an emergency fund saved up, you may be forced to resort to other sources to pay for these unexpected expenses. From unexpected vet fees to private medical bills, a loan may be the only option if you?re not financially prepared. These are essential costs which often need to be covered immediately and when it can be hard to find the funding a guarantor loan will help out.

Car Repairs

In some cases using a loan to purchase a new car or getting your car repaired may be required, such as if you have a long commute and need it to get to work so you can keep earning a living. Car repairs are one of the most common emergencies that require imminent funding though, and it is better to save up in advance when you know a new car will be on the cards. Car repairs can appear out of the blue though, whether after an accident or due to unlucky circumstances, either way they will need to be made and paid for.

Home Improvements

All homeowners should be able to take out a secured loan if they need to make expensive home improvements, such as purchasing new appliances. However, if you rent a property and have permission to make smaller improvements then a guarantor loan can help. New curtains to crockery and more can all be covered.

Consolidation

Anyone who has a range of debt repayments to keep on top of can make the most of a guarantor loan for consolidation. From credit and store cards along with other short term loans, consolidating these repayments together can make it easier to budget on a monthly basis. Consolidation is one thing many people forget to consider when they are working to get out of debt, but it can be a good option to lower your monthly payment and save money on interest.

Engagement Rings

Borrowing for purchases should only really be done for expensive items or absolutely vital ones. An engagement ring fits under both these categories and when you?ve got the perfect proposal set up it would be a shame to miss it because you lack a ring. This is why people sometimes choose to finance an engagement ring. Always think carefully before taking out a loan for a large purchase like an engagement ring.

 

Would you ever consider a guarantor loan? What might you use a guarantor loan for?

 

Photo courtesy of: Picsues

7 Ways to Save Money on Your Prescriptions

Prescriptions

medications-342462_640If you are one of the millions of Americans taking prescription medications, you are probably already aware that prescription and health care costs can be very high. Some people are lucky enough to have prescription plans to help cover these costs, but some are not.

Even if you do have a prescription card, high deductibles and co-pays can still wreak havoc on your monthly budget. But there are ways to help reduce those costs. Here are seven ways to save money on your prescriptions.

Buy Generic

Ask your pharmacist if you can replace an expensive prescription medication with a generic medication. This is not always an option, but rest assured that in order to be an FDA approved drug, standards have to be met including drug effectiveness and strength.

Speak with Your Provider

Sometimes your health care provider can give you a sample of the medication they are prescribing because a drug company representative has provided samples for them to distribute for their patients to try. It is also possible that your physician knows of a charity care or hardship program to help defer part or all of the costs of your medication. You have nothing to lose by asking.

Compare Prices

If you have access to more than one pharmacy where you live, check the price of the medications you are taking with each of them. You might find that your pharmacy of choice is higher in price than others in the area. Of course, convenience is also a consideration. If you have to go far out of your way to save only a dollar or two, it might not be worth it.

Delivery

Does your pharmacy deliver your pills to you at your home or office? They might be charging you a fee for this service. Maybe you could pick them up yourself and save a few extra dollars. If you get refills often, even a few dollars for each delivery can add up in a hurry.

Split Your Pills

Could your doctor order your pills at double strength? Some medications are not meant to be split, but some can be safely cut using a pill splitter and save you a little money. Ask your provider or pharmacist about this option and whether or not it could save you a little dough.

Quantity

Did you know some drugs can be prescribed in 90 day quantities instead of 30 day quantities and not cost three times as much? Check with your doctor to find out if this option is available for your prescriptions so you can save money.

Over the Counter vs Prescriptions

Check to see if there is a less expensive over the counter medication you can use instead of a more expensive prescription whenever possible. However, if you have prescription coverage on your medical plan, it might actually be less expensive out of pocket to fill the prescription. You can even check out over the counter drugs on Amazon to see if there are any potential savings.

As much as you want to save money on your prescriptions and health care costs, you should always consider your health first. Saving money is not worth risking your life or your health.

 

Have you done any of these things to save money on your prescription costs? How else might you save on prescriptions?

 

Photo courtesy of: frolicsomepl