Archive for May 2016

3 Ways You Can Go on Vacation While Paying Off Debt


pier-569314_640If you are focused on paying off the debt that you have accrued in years gone by, it is easy to think that you can?t spend even a single dollar on everything else. While getting out of debt is a great goal, you have to continue living at the same time. That means striking a nice balance between paying off your debt and saving up money for fun times with family and friends. Of course, one of the best ways to have some fun is to take a hard-earned vacation.

At this point, you are probably thinking that a vacation is a luxury you can?t afford at this time. You have been working hard to pay down debt, and a vacation would only serve to reverse the progress. However, there is a way to accomplish both goals at the same time. If you are smart in your planning, you can keep paying off debt while simultaneously going on a fun vacation. In fact, you might even be able to use travel as motivation to be careful with your money.

Stay Close to Home

It is the travel expense that leads to many vacations costing thousands of dollars. If you decide to vacation several states away from home, you will likely need to purchase costly airline tickets ? or at least put many gallons of gas into your car. By staying closer to home, you can greatly reduce that travel cost while still getting away from the daily grind.

Fortunately, there is a great chance that you will be able to find a suitable destination for a vacation within just a short drive of your house. You can check out Expedia for great rates?for places close to home that will save you money on your trip.

Mid-Week Travel

The lodging rates that you will find at hotels and other resorts tend to be dramatically lower during the week than they are on the weekends. If it is possible with your schedule, try to plan your trip during the middle of the week to cut down your overall cost for the trip. Another way to achieve the same effect is to travel during off times of year.

If you are willing to go when the weather might not be as nice, for example, you could get a great deal while still having fun. Again, you can use Expedia?to find hotels that have lower mid-week rates.

Affordable Activities

One of the most important elements of planning a vacation from a budget standpoint is making sure that your activities are going to be affordable. Taking a trip to a theme park, for instance, is not a good idea as the tickets alone will take a huge bite out of your budget.

On the other hand, going to ?natural? destinations like parks, beaches, trails, and more, will keep things under control financially. In the end, you might decide to have a blend of natural activities and more ?touristy? experiences to wind up with a well-rounded vacation that is fun for everyone. You would hate to get out on a vacation only to find that you can?t really afford to take part in many of the activities that are being offered in the area, so do your research in advance and come up with a detailed itinerary that is both enjoyable and budget-friendly.


Are you planning to travel while still paying off debt? How will you save on your vacation?


Photo courtesy of: Unsplash

3 Things to Consider Before Buying a New Car

buying a new car

buying a new carIf you are spending more on car repairs than you budgeted for and have an older model car, it could be time to upgrade to a new model. But with so many different makes, models and price points, where do you start when you are thinking about buying a new car?

Before you rush right out and buy the first car you see on the lot, there are at least three things you should consider before buying a?new car.

Your Budget

If you have money set aside for a down payment, you have a good start already. Of course, it’s best to pay for cars in cash since they are a depreciating asset, but that may not always be possible. Talk to your banker before you start your vehicle search if you are going to need to finance the balance of your purchase.

They can help you determine how much of a loan payment you can reasonably absorb into your budget. Although, you should also have done your own calculation first because sometimes bankers will try to talk you into spending, and financing, more than necessary when you are buying a new car.


How long you plan to keep your new car should be a consideration when you first start looking for one. As mentioned, a car is a depreciating asset. The value of a car depreciates around 20 percent each year on average, with some models depreciating faster or slower than others than others.

For example, if you purchase a car for $40,000, at the end of one year it?s worth approximately $32,000, and at the end of year two, only $25,600.

This rate of depreciation continues for the first four years after you buy a new car, partly due to the auto industry’s tendency to redesign each model every four to five years. In fact, a new car?s price drops approximately 10% the moment you drive it off the lot. This is because the dealer would not be willing to pay the same amount for your car if you had to sell it back to them right after you bought it.

So, what drives the rate of depreciation? It?s partly driven by the number of miles you put on your car. Other factors are the color of your car and the customizations is has, because the more unique a car is the more likely it won?t appeal to just any buyer.

If resale values are of any concern to you, you will get the most out of your car if you keep it longer. Check the Kelly Blue Book value before you think about buying a new car to find out which models depreciate at a slower rate.


Obviously certain features in a car will cost you more than others, so if you know ahead of time which features are more important than others for your needs, you can avoid wasting time looking at cars?that don?t fit the bill. For instance, a big, shiny, 4-wheel drive pick-up with a long box looks cool, but if you don?t need 4-wheel drive or an oversized truck bed for hauling things,?why pay for those more expensive features when you could opt for a 2-wheel drive with a short box or an entirely different type of vehicle instead.

Plus, the bigger the car the more gas it’ll use too, so it’ll cost you more up-front and in the long-run.

The bottom line is that buying a new car is going to cost you a bundle. In order to get the most for your money, it pays to remember these things before looking at or buying a new car.


Are you considering buying a new car? What things do you consider when shopping for a new car?


Photo courtesy of: aKs_phOtOs

5 Money Saving Myths Not to Follow All the Time

money saving myths

register-810546_640Everyone likes to save money. That isn’t a secret, and I’m sure you count yourself among those who loves to find various ways to save money as you go through life. Since so many people are focused on saving money, there have been a variety of money saving ideas that have popped up over the years.

Some of them are good advice, while others have been misinterpreted. Below you will find five of these money saving myths, along with some commentary as to whether or not they are really a good idea.

Never Use Credit Cards

This is simply wrong. Using credit cards can be a great way to build your credit history, as they give you a chance to demonstrate that you are able to use credit responsibly. If this tip were more accurate, it would say that you should never abuse credit cards. You certainly don’t want to use credit to buy things you can’t afford, but using it to buy things you would purchase anyway is a great way to build a solid financial future.

Always Shop Sales

You can find some great deals when shopping sales to be sure, but you can also wind up buying a bunch of junk that you don’t really need. Think about it ? have you ever bought something just ‘because it was on sale’? Probably. It is easy to get sucked into the idea of buying something because of the great deal that you are getting, while forgetting that you might not even need to make the purchase at all.

Live By Your Budget

There are some situations that can benefit from the use of a budget, but often the only thing a budget will do is lead you to spending money that could have been saved. If you allocate money in your budget for certain items, you will probably buy them even if you don’t need them. As a better idea, just spend your money on an as-needed basis, without taking the time to create a formal budget.

Buying a Home is an Outdated Concept

This is another thought that is simply incorrect. While the benefits of buying a home rather than renting your housing might not be as profound as they once were, it is still preferable to own rather than rent most of the time. Even if your home only appreciates a small amount in the time that you own it, you should still come out significantly better off than if you had rented the whole time. In addition to the potential financial benefits, you also get to enjoy the freedom and security that comes with being your own landlord.

Save Money on Car Maintenance

Many people think that things like 60K mile service visits to the dealership are a waste of time and money. Those are people who don’t know very much about cars. Your car needs regular maintenance and service if it is going to keep running properly for years to come. While you might be able to save a few hundred bucks by skipping out on a service visit for the time being, you are almost certain to spend more than that later when you have a breakdown.


Can you think of any other money saving myths? Have you ever fallen for one of these money saving myths?


Photo courtesy of: Skitterphoto

How to Throw a Fabulous Party without Breaking the Bank

fabulous party

throw a fabulous partyFrom Christmas parties to Birthdays parties, to backyard BBQ gatherings and more, people love going to parties. But if you like to be the one hosting the parties, like I do, you probably already know it can get expensive pretty quickly if you don?t keep your spending in check.

So, how do you throw a party and keep your spending down? Below are some ideas on how you can throw a fabulous party without breaking the bank.


Invitations don?t have to be sent through the mail if it isn?t a formal party, that’s the old-school way of doing things. Today you can try one of the many free Internet invitation sites and save a bundle on postage costs. In order to reach more of the guests on your list, you could pair e-invitations with invitations through Facebook, and you can even send some invitations by text message.

Once you have used these methods, mail the last few if there are any left, but make them into postcards for further savings on postage.


Summer is a great time to have a party in the park if you don’t have a large enough outdoor space of your own. Check with your City Clerk to find out if whether fees are charged and if reservations need to be made. If it?s winter, an oversized garage might work if your party is not too large.

Use [easyazon_link keywords=”space heaters” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”wisedollar-20″]space heaters[/easyazon_link] to warm up the area ahead of time, turn them off just before the party and move them out of the way so they don’t get knocked over. You don’t have to shell out for a party space, you just need to get creative to make use of places you already have access to for free.


How and if you choose to decorate depends somewhat on the purpose of the party.

  • Child?s Birthday: Make streamers or paper chains from tissue paper or construction paper. Balloons are fairly inexpensive if you buy and blow them up yourself. You can use your own hot air, or buy a helium tank at a party store. Even buying a helium tank is cheaper than paying to have the balloons filled up by someone else.
  • Holiday Party: Use holiday d?cor you already have if possible. If you need to add more, holiday themed or colored scrapbook paper is a great resource you can use in many different ways such as place cards, paper flowers, tags, doilies and more.
  • Other Gatherings: Look around at what you have. If you have ribbon or lace scraps, tie some around a sparkly votive holder or two for a fancier flair.

Keeping party decor simple and skipping the fuss will make for a comfortable atmosphere for your guests to relax in. As a bonus, you’ll have less to clean up after the party is over.

Food & Drink

Make several appetizers instead of a huge meal if you have to feed a large number of quests but have only a limited budget. Appetizers and dips tend to be cheaper because you don’t have to provide a main dish full of meat, which is often the most expensive part of a meal. You also whip up a couple of easy desserts to go with your appetizers for guests with a sweet tooth.

You don’t have to have lots of alcohol to throw a fabulous party. Skip the alcohol altogether if you can get away with it. If not, pick some up basics yourself from a warehouse club like Costco to save the most money. If guests want specific drinks, you can make sure to include “BYOB” on the invitations.


Pick out a couple of games for the party guests to play if they are school-aged. If instead they are a mix of ages, or mostly adults, soft music could set the party mood just right, so grab your phone or ipod and turn on Pandora. You might consider upgrading to the ad-free version if you throw parties and use Pandora often.

Parties don?t have to make you break?your budget. So if you are trying to figure out how to throw a fabulous party without breaking the bank, remember to keep it simple, make sure you have plenty of cheap food and drinks, and relax. If you?re relaxed, your guests are sure to have a great time too.


How often do you throw parties? What other tips can you think of to throw a fabulous party without breaking the bank?


Photo courtesy of: andreaegger

6 Alternative Cell Phone Companies to Consider

Alternative Cell Phone CompaniesAre you considering switching from your current cell phone company to one of the many alternative cell phone companies out there these days? Perhaps it?s because you?re tired of paying astronomical fees for your cell service. If so, you?re not alone.

Data from spring 2015 showed that 26.22 million Americans planned on switching their cell carrier within the year.

Conclusions drawn from this information leads us to believe that many people are unsatisfied with some aspect of their current service.

But what can you do about it if you are unsatisfied with your current cell phone company?

One solution is to consider alternative cell phone companies with better rates and better service.

Here are some alternative cell phone companies to consider if you are unhappy with your current provider.

Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless customers enjoy an extra perk on top of their already low prices. The company will refund your account for data not used each month. They also boast of average bills being under $14.00/month. Some of their popular features include:

  • Network – WiFi and Sprint
  • No contracts
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Plans start at $10.00/month
  • No hidden fees
  • Nationwide coverage
  • Drawback – You must purchase one of their phones



Tello ?is a unique company because they allow you to create your own plan. This way you can use only the services you need. If you only need talk and text, you don?t have to pay for data, etc. Or you can choose one of the predefined plans they offer. Plus, unlike Republic Wireless, with Tello you can use a phone you already have. Some of their features include:

  • Network – Sprint
  • No contracts
  • Unlimited talk and text plans available
  • Plans start at $5.00/month
  • No hidden fees
  • Nationwide coverage
  • Use your own phone

Straight Talk

Straight Talk offers a 30 day guarantee if you switch to them and are unsatisfied with your service. Some? features include:

  • Network – Uses AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, & Sprint
  • No contracts
  • Unlimited talk, text and data plans available
  • Plans start at $30.00/month
  • Nationwide coverage
  • Use your own phone and keep your number

Scratch Wireless

If you buy a phone through Scratch Wireless, you can enjoy free service for 3 months. After that, you?ll pay only $7.99 each month. Some of Scratch Wireless? features include:

  • Network – Sprint
  • No contracts
  • Unlimited text and data on WiFi
  • Unlimited talk plans available
  • Drawback – Outside of WiFi, you have to pay for voice minutes.
  • Drawback – Only one phone to choose from.

Go Smart

If you choose Go Smart Mobile as your provider you will not rack up roaming charges. Features:

  • Network – T-Mobile
  • No contracts
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Plans start at $25.00/month
  • No hidden fees
  • Nationwide coverage
  • Bring your own phone
  • Unlimited International Texting to over 200 countries

Ultra Mobile

With Ultra Mobile it is possible to customize your plan. Features:

  • Network – T-Mobile
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Plans start at $19.00/month
  • Nationwide coverage
  • Bring your own phone
  • International talk and text offered

It?s true that cell phone bills can account for a pretty large chunk of your budget these days, and with some carriers the service is lacking as well. But with all of the alternative cell phone companies out there, you should be able to compare plan features and prices to find one that suits your needs and your budget.


Photo courtesy of: helloolly