Travel

Bringing your car with you on holidays?

Taking your car on holiday can seem like the obvious answer when planning how to get around. No flights and no hours wasted in airport car parks or queuing at check-in. No need to rent an expensive car for the couple of weeks that you get there. Just take your trusty vehicle on the ferry or the Eurostar and you can be gliding around the serene roads of Belgium and France in no time at all. 

However, any road trip outside of your home country requires a few serious considerations. AA Cars have some handy tips and things to think about before you take your car over onto the continent. 

1. Plan your trip before you depart 

If you’re a relatively experienced driver, you probably don’t need to consult roadmaps before setting off for a trip to Norwich or Sheffield. You know which motorway to hop on, which junction to get off at and the necessary rights and lefts to take. Unless you are a very regular visitor to the Ruhr Valley or Brittany, it could be a sensible idea to dust off a map of Europe’s roads and do a bit of prep. 

2. Bring the right paperwork 

Paperwork can feel like an absolute pain at times but you need to make sure that you have all the right documents with you before you travel. That could mean your motor insurance certificate or a green card, the paper bit of your driving licence and the car’s registration documents. 

Don’t be forced to cut your trip short because you forgot to take a piece of paper with you. 

3. Be aware of local rules 

Each country will have its own speed limits and local customs when it comes to motoring. Flashing lights in Italy may mean something very different to those in Austria so do a bit of reading beforehand and try to make sure you understand local customs and regulations. 

4. Have regular rest stops 

Europe might not be quite as large as Asia or Africa but it still covers a vast expanse of land, and a trip that may look relatively small on a map could well take you a much longer amount of time than previously anticipated. 

Book yourself into a hotel for an overnight rest stop if you’ve got a serious journey on your hands and most importantly: have a happy holiday!

Frugality

Save Money On Your Cellphone Bill

student rate

Sometimes all you have to do for a deal is ask. But a lot of companies are cutting back on deals and sprint is no exception. I called them up several different times a just asked “Is there any deal I can get on my plan” and they always told me no.

So what I did is look around the net for any site that could get me a percentage of my bill cut off. I then stumbled onto Student Rate. They can get you a bunch of discounts at different places. For instance, with sprint it will give you 15% off your monthly bill, for AT&T and T-mobile it’s 10%. They have many other discounts available.

The only catch is you must have an email address from a school. You don’t actually have to be going to the school but you have to be able to access the account.

I use it to save the 15% off my sprint bill and it adds up. Try it today.

What site do you use to get discounts?

 

Home Ownership

Savvy Ways to Manage Your Mortgage

A mortgage is an excellent way to invest for your retirement. But, up until the point that the term ends and you have paid off what you owe, there are times where it can be an economic struggle. You need to make sure that you are managing your debt in a more robust way. This ensures that you don’t face financial hardship during the term of your mortgage.

For many, getting to grips with their mortgage can be a positive thing. It allows a greater degree of financial control. For others, just having a basic grasp on their monthly outgoings can restore peace of mind.

Here are some savvy ways that you can ensure that you are managing your mortgage.

Mortgage

Image has been provided by 401 (K) via Flickr

Planning Your Income and Expenditure

There are some great ways that you can take the helm of your finances once again. One of the best ways to keep on top of your cash is to make sure that you compile an effective monthly budget. Planning is important when it comes to financial matters. This means that you can have a tighter control over your incomings and outgoings.

Plan for all eventualities as well as what you actually spend on your day to day living expenses. Include bills, utilities and petrol. Council tax can be subject to increases too, so doing be aware of this when you are budgeting.

Try to keep a list of what you spend and where it goes each month. An easy way to do this is in the form of a spreadsheet. This way you can quickly retrieve the data and add up the information as you go along. Use an online budget calculator to help you if you get stuck.

If your mortgage is likely to go up soon as a result of the end of a fixed term, you may want to assess your income and expenditure to ensure that you are not faced with monetary problems.

Getting the Best Deal on Your Mortgage

Many people believe that they don’t have to check their mortgage rates during the loan term. But, it’s vital that you do if you want to become the master of money management. Always check what you are paying. Do you need to reassess your finances? If your current mortgage deal is coming to an end, it’s time to start finding out what your options are. If you are concerned about the value of your property and your mortgage deal find out more about an instant quote for surveyor services. Many people fall into the trap of going for the lowest possible interest rates. This can be dangerous territory for many. You need to make sure that you consider the ongoing costs and whether you will pay your mortgage off in time. What is more, you should always aim to pay your mortgage off early. This can ensure that you are paying less interest overall, which can see a significant saving in the long term.

Before you commit to any major decisions, you should always check out the competition too. But, do ensure that they don’t charge ‘swap over’ fees. These costs can be rather high and can see you with something of a substantial shortfall.

Money Management

Are You Eating Away At Your Budget?

Managing a budget can be difficult.  Little expenses can quickly get in the way of meeting your financial goals.  One of the biggest and easiest ways to eat away at your budget is by eating out.  It can be difficult to find motivation to cook dinner after a long day at work, but if you really want financial freedom, reduce your spending on this expensive non essential.

Let’s See How it Adds Up

A thousand dollars is simply one hundred $10 purchases.  That sounds like a lot.  However, if you eat out three meals a day at $10 each, you will have spent almost a thousand dollars in just one month.  If you eat at more expensive restaurants or are trying to feed a family, this expensive habit can add up even more quickly.

It’s surprising to see just how quickly it all adds up.  By eating out, you could easily destroy your savings goals and your financial security in just a matter of months.  On the other hand, if you change your eating out habits and start spending less, you could end up with a substantial amount of extra money each month.

Look At Other Options

Everyone needs to eat.  This doesn’t mean that you should stop spending money on food or never enjoy your favorite restaurant.  There are other solutions.  Look at your budget at determine how much you are willing to spend eating out each month.  Set a goal and then stick to it.  This can mean that you will need to make other plans for your meals.

If you know that you will be tried after a long day at work, plan ahead.  This will help you to avoid impulsive trips to the local fast food joint.  Prepare easy to reheat meals on the weekend so that you won’t need to spend hours cooking after work.  Pack your lunch several days a week.  It can work well to get it ready the night before just in case you are running late in the morning.  Stock your cupboards with easy meal options so that you can always find a snack in a hurry.  If you need to go out, find some inexpensive choices at your favorite restaurant.

While there are many ways to find extra money and save, eating at home more often is one of the easiest.  With a few simple changes, you can have several hundred dollars extra each month to devote to your financial goals.

Money Management

Five Money Saving Tips for the 21st Century

We’ve all heard how important it is to build up personal savings, but so few people actually have any type of substantial savings.  If saving money is as easy as most financial experts purport it be, why aren’t more people successful at doing so?  Quite simply, it’s because saving money requires personal discipline.  Practicing personal discipline in the 21st century is incredibly difficult due to our commercialized culture.

Everywhere you look there is an invitation to spend money.  Turn on the television and what do you see?  Commercials galore.  Go to a movie and before the previews start there are commercials.  Some restaurants have even started selling advertising space in their menus.  Our current multimedia and digital age gives the average advertiser far more exposure to the consumer than in decades past.  As consumers we are flooded with marketing, selling us the idea that we need extra things to make us happy – even if we cannot truly afford such things.

The following are five tips that can help anyone break the cycle of spending and begin the habit of saving.

1. Pay yourself first

If you’ve heard this tip before but ignored it, it’s time to start paying attention.  We’ve all seen what happens on payday.  When payday rolls around the first thing most people do is immediately spend.

Bills need to be paid, grocery shopping needs to be done, and recreation needs to be had.  When the paycheck is almost all used up, whatever pathetic amount is left over is sometimes allocated towards savings but there are no guarantees.  More often than not some other unforeseen expense creeps up and drains the leftovers.

It’s time to face an important reality: If you don’t pay yourself first, chances are you won’t do it later.

 

It’s recommended that you put away ten percent of every paycheck.  That might sound like a lot at first but the sooner you start doing it the less impact your budget will feel.  Look for places in your monthly budget/expenses where you can trim some fat to make up the difference of what you’ll lose by allocating ten percent to savings.

If ten percent sounds like a wildly unreasonable amount, start with five percent and work your way up to ten.  If you want to walk on the wild side, try 15 or 20 percent!

2. Put your savings out of sight

Ever heard the saying “Out of sight, out of mind?”  Well that rings especially true with money.  A $20 bill sitting on the kitchen table isn’t going to last very long in any house.  Twenty dollars sitting in an interest bearing savings account could likely survive a whole year if you forgot about it.

One of the tricks to saving money is to stash your savings in a place that makes it difficult to make a withdrawal.  Here are a few ideas for making your savings more elusive:

  • Don’t use your regular bank for a savings account.  If at all possible, use another bank – one out of the way, or even out of state.
  • Set up reoccurring automatic withdrawals from your regular checking account into your savings account.  For example, ask your bank to withdrawal $25 every Friday and deposit it into your savings account.
  • Check with your employer to see if they will allow you to split your direct deposit.  Many employers can take a percentage of your paycheck and deposit it into a different account than your normal checking account.
  • Don’t use a checking account.  You want to make it difficult for yourself to make withdrawals from your savings so it’s important not to have a debit card or paper checks connected to the account.

3. Use less plastic and more paper

Debit and credit cards are ultra convenient.  They make transactions so much easier.  However, sometimes they can cause us to lose track of how much we’ve been spending.  In this era it’s pretty difficult to not use any type of debit or credit card, but there are some expenses where it’s not necessary.

As an experiment, try putting yourself on a cash budget for certain line items in your budget where you’d like to cut back.  One example is food.  It’s very easy to spend a lot of money eating out or grocery shopping.  Set your monthly food budget and at the beginning of the month withdrawal the full amount in cash.

Put the cash in an envelope and put it in a safe place in your house.  For the entire month, only use money from the envelope for food-related purchases.  When the money runs out, that’s it.  No pulling money from elsewhere.  You’ll be amazed at how clever you can be when you absolutely must stick to a budget.

4. Keep the change

Have you ever gone on a change hunt in your home?  Change is lurking in all sorts of interesting places.  That change may seem insignificant, but it quickly adds up.  Make it a practice to regularly spend an hour or so gathering the spare change around the house.  Check under sofa cushions, in the laundry room, in pants pockets and all around.

There are many services that will cash in your change for dollar bills.  Coinstar.com is one of them.  Coinstar has kiosks in many grocery stores where you can simply dump all your change while the machine counts it and spits out a receipt you then redeem at the checkout stand for cash.  Doesn’t get much easier than that.  Take that cash and immediately deposit it into your savings account!

Another tip for saving change is to establish a change/money jar somewhere in your home.  Every time you find spare change or dollar bills, drop them in the jar.  Empty your pockets at the end of every day.  Whatever you do, don’t take money out of the jar and spend it!

5. Ignore unexpected income

We’ve all been blessed with some unexpected income.  It might be some birthday money.  It might be a bonus from work.  It might be a lonely $100 bill you found on your morning jog.  The reality is our first inclination when we come across extra money is to spend it.

Start a new habit and put any new and unexpected income directly into savings.  If you really think about it, it’s money you didn’t expect in the first place so you’ll never miss it when it’s gone!

These are just a few easy (and not so easy) tips to get you started down the path of true financial freedom.  Stop living paycheck to paycheck and embrace the lifestyle of saving.  The peace of mind you get by stacking up savings is worth the temporary sacrifice.

What ways do you use to save money?

photo credit: paul (dex)