Happy grandparents chase laughing children on the beach

5 Easy Ways to Save Money Towards Your Next Vacation

Thinking about your next vacation, but not sure where the money for it will come from? It is never too early to start saving. Here are five easy ways to set funds aside that you may want to consider.

1. Open a dedicated savings account for your vacation funds

Setting up an additional account may seem like extra work initially, but it is an easy way to start saving for vacation. First, placing money in a separate account from the one you use for everyday or emergency expenses ensures it will be there when you’re ready to start booking. Second, watching your vacation savings grow is a great incentive to keep setting money aside.

If this is something you have already done, you’re already in good shape.

2. Set up an auto draft for a specific amount every week/pay period

After opening a dedicated savings account, another great idea for saving money towards your next vacation is an auto draft. Pick a set amount to send to your vacation savings and how often you want to send it ($25 per week is a great place to start), then set up the auto draft. If you only want it to occur during a specific time period, you can set it up to include that information as well.

After that? Sit back and watch your vacation funds grow without lifting a finger.

3. Use cash-back sites and apps for online shopping

These days, most people do at least some of their shopping online. You can earn some cash back on qualifying purchases through cash-back sites and apps like Ebates and ShopAtHome. Some may have browser extensions to make it even easier. Once you reach the specified minimum amount, you’ll receive a check. Just deposit it into your vacation savings for an extra boost beyond what gets auto drafted every week.

4. Cook at home/Bring your lunch to work

Yes, eating dinner out is easy. Yes, grabbing lunch with your coworkers can be a great break from the stress of the office. The problem is that these easy solutions for resolving your hunger also dig deep into your pocket book. Try cooking dinner at home. Or, if that’s something you already do, start bringing leftovers for lunch the next day. It may not be as much fun in the short term, but the extra bucks you save will get you a few steps closer to the vacation you’ve been dreaming about.

Are you more likely to stop off for coffee in the morning than go out for lunch or dinner? Invest in a coffee maker and brew your own cup before you leave in the morning. You can save more than you thought. Maybe you’ll get lucky and come up with a coffee drink that’s better than what you order now.

5.  Clean out your house and sell what you’re not using

Most of us have things lying around the house that we never use and other people are looking for. Sell them online and earn some extra spending money for your vacation. Apps like OfferUp, Letgo, and Close5 make the process quick and easy. If apps do not appeal, websites like eBay still exist, and even Facebook’s Buy and Sell Markets can be put to good use. With this tip, you will be able to kill two birds with one stone – earning money for your vacation and getting rid of what you’re not using.

For a more complete list of apps you can use to sell things you are willing to part with, check out Well Kept Wallet’s 28 Best Apps to Sell Your Stuff Locally and Online.

If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you’re just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a FREE financial analysis.  Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs.  You don’t have to struggle with high-interest credit card debt any longer.  Call (855) 250-8329 or get in touch with us by sending a message through our website https://timberlinefinancial.com.

A couple on vacation in Italy.

Last Minute Strategies to Lower Vacation Costs

When it comes to planning a vacation, typically the highest benefit goes to those who plan. Advanced reservations secure the best spots at the lowest price. You have more time to set aside money for your trip and gain more control over where you go and what you do.

The good news is that those who don’t like to plan in advance, can also score lower prices by taking advantage of last minute deals. Many aspects of travel involve high fixed costs, which encourage companies to lower rates at the last minute to fill empty spots. Hotels, flights, and boats, from dinner cruises to ships, all have nearly the same costs whether they are full or empty.

As a result, companies use promotions to fill empty rooms and seats to increase business when sales run short. You can save money by taking advantage of these steep discounts. Use the following strategies to locate promotions and save money on last minute travel deals. In some cases, you might benefit from altering existing plans to ramp up savings.

Combine Costs Through Package Deals

Travel packages combine two or more aspects of travel at a lower price. In some cases, you might get a flight and a hotel room for less than a standalone flight. You could find a deal for independent travel, which includes both accommodations and a rental car.

Other common areas to find last-minute savings are through bundled attractions. City passes, tourist cards and combination attraction tickets can save both money and time. You do not have to stand in line for tickets, and you pay less through the advanced purchase. Online ticket purchases to individual venues can save an average of 10%, whereas combo passes or tourism cards can ramp the savings up to 60% of the cost of individual tickets.

Compare Transportations Costs

The two largest costs of travel are getting to the destination and the accommodations used upon your arrival. To save money on transportation, compare the cost of flying, train or bus fares, and driving. The total cost of travel will vary based on the number of people in your party and the distance between home and your destination. During the summer months, everything costs more, from airfares to gas prices. You can save money when you compare prices across modes of transportation, as well as comparing different travel dates.

Find Last-Minute Savings on Accommodations

With the average hotel costing $131 per night, a week stay can account for a large portion of your vacation budget. You can save money by adjusting the week of vacation, searching for rental homes by individual owners rather than hotel rooms, or camping. For example, VRBO lists homes for rent by individual owners. They have the power to offer steep last-minute discounts to fill their calendar. Airbnb is another website that caters to individuals renting rooms. By speaking to the owner directly, you can receive discounts up to 50% for last minute bookings. Another benefit of rental homes is the access to a kitchen and sometimes laundry facilities, which can increase the amount you can save.

Last-Minute Cruise Deals

Cruise ships are floating cities with high fixed costs. In most cases, the company would rather lower the price of a cruise to increase the number of guests. While they promote an all-inclusive vacation, cruises increase profits through on-board services, premium restaurants, and shore excursions. When you book within six weeks of the departure date, you can find major savings even to popular destinations. A flexible vacation schedule can lead you to significant savings on a last-minute cruise.

Loyalty Pays

Individual companies, as well as aggregator sites, offer flash sales, promo codes, and eleventh-hour discounts. They notify customers through social media, email promotions, and the company newsletter. You can also find specials through the tourist bureau at your chosen destination.

Skip Vacation Hot Spots

Popular destinations cost more because of the increase in demand, which can change from year to year. When a destination receives coverage in major magazines, celebrates a benchmark year, or hosts a major event, demand rises and more people want to visit. With the higher exposure, the location will raise prices on everything, from flights and accommodations to local activities.

Rather than choosing your destination first, begin with what you want to do. Then select a destination that offers the same activities, without the heavy promotion to drive demand and prices up. You will not only save money on travel, but will face fewer crowds, even during the peak season. For instance, you might choose to visit Savannah, Ga., rather than the more popular counterpart, Charleston. Both feature a quaint historic district, beaches, and a lively food scene. Hotels in the Charleston historic district trend between $200 and $400 per night, whereas a comparable room in Savannah will cost between $150 and $250.

Use Rewards

Cashing in points or miles to pay for rooms and flights is an effective way to lower vacation costs. Most reward programs allow you to accumulate points with everyday purchases, which you can then convert to free travel. Be aware, when you use reward points for last minute travel, some companies will charge last-minute booking fees, which could reduce the value of the reward.

Another way to convert reward points into travel savings is to use points from your credit card reward program. You can obtain gift cards at no cost for gas stations or restaurants. Gift cards are considered a form of payment, allowing you to double up on savings by combining them with other specials, promotions, or discounts. If you don’t have enough points for a free gift card, you can buy discounted cards at membership clubs like Costco, or websites such as Gift Card Granny.

If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you’re just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a FREE financial analysis.  Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs.  You don’t have to struggle with high-interest credit card debt any longer.  Call (855) 250-8329 or get in touch with us by sending a message through our website.

A family that got travel advice from Timberline Financial.

10 Websites That Will Save You Money on Travel

The internet gives consumers wide access to information, which makes it easier to compare prices across companies and save money. Vacations can be a major summer expense. Between transportation, lodging, food, and activities, the average family will spend just under $2,000 for their summer holiday. Finding savings can be the difference between adding to current debt balances or living within your existing budget. To save money, check out the following websites, which can reduce costs on everything from flights to meals while you are on the road.

  1. Hotel Tonight saves money on last minute hotel rooms. You can reserve your room up to two weeks in advance, with a higher level of savings the closer you are to your travel dates. If you don’t mind booking accommodations at the last minute, you can save 50% or more off standard room rates.Other websites that specialize in saving you money on lodging include Airbnb and Hostelz. Airbnb offers rooms, condos and houses for rent by personal owners, which can reduce the cost of accommodations. Hostelz serves as an aggregator website for hostels, allowing you to locate and book rooms around the country. Updated hostels offer both dorm style rooms with shared bathrooms and private rooms with private bathrooms at a lower price than a traditional hotel.
  2. Secret Flying focuses on finding the lowest price on airfares. The website includes educational tools and little-known strategies on how to find discounted flights. It also includes last minute fares and “error fares,” that capture fare mistakes, which only last until the airline corrects the mistake. This can result in significantly reduced prices. The website covers both US and international flights. You can sign up for the newsletter if you want to receive notifications.Other websites that can save you money on flights include Airfare Watchdog and Hopper.  Airfare Watchdog allows you to sign up for notices on certain routes, whereas Hopper recommends when to buy tickets based on the destination.
  3. Yapta provides a tracking service for both individuals and corporations. They will track pricing on booked flights and hotel rooms and notify you if the price falls after booking. The website also posts the refund policies from third-party airlines, as well as and information on how to obtain a refund if the site finds a better price.
  4. Save money on car rentals through Auto Slash. This site compares not only rental rates across multiple companies, but also tracks online and membership discounts to apply to your rental. What makes them unique is that after you book your rental on the website, it will track any rate changes across companies, up until the day you pick up the car. It will then automatically rebook your rental at the lowest rate.Other websites that can save you money on car rentals include Transfer Car and Blabla Car. Transfer Car offers one-way rentals in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. You can rent a one-way car or campervan for as little as $1 per trip. The company partners with rental agencies that need to move a vehicle from one location to another. The site will list the maximum number of days for the transfer, and in some cases, you can pay extra for additional days. Blabla Car is a carpool service operating in Mexico and European countries. You can catch a ride with someone headed to the same destination at a very reduced rate.
  5. Cut down city transportation costs by using companies such as Uber and Lyft instead of calling a cab. Ride-sharing companies operate in major cities around the world and can save you up to 50% compared to the cost of a traditional taxi ride. Cost estimators, found on the websites, allow you to compare prices before you book.
  6. Compare transportation costs to any destination worldwide at Rome2Rio. Enter any two cities and the website produces a list of transportation options, along with estimated costs and time frames to help you choose the best method of travel for your trip.
  7. Find the lowest prices on gasoline along your route and at your destination with the Gas Buddy It is hard to know where to fill your tank when you are traveling or in an unfamiliar place. The website provides real-time gas prices around the country by relying on users to input current local prices for thousands of gas stations and convenience stores. After entering your location, the app will generate a list of nearby gas stations along with the most recent input time from a Gas Buddy user.
  8. Cruise Compete can save you hundreds on your next cruise by comparing prices across multiple cruise lines. Unlike most cruise aggregate sites, Cruise Compete is not a travel agent and you cannot book directly with the company. Instead, they partner with multiple travel agents. Once you enter your information and cruise preferences, travel agents compete for your business and email you available cruises based on your interest. Think of them as the Lending Tree for cruises.Another website that can save you money on a cruise is Last Minute Cruises, which specializes in low priced deals for sailing up to six weeks from the date of booking.
  9. Slick Deals tracks promotions from travel companies. They promote discounts on airfare, bus passes, and attraction tickets. You can save on travel costs by choosing your destination based on specials offered by companies. For example, if an airline runs a last-minute fare special, you can find it on Slick Deals.
  10. Save money on vacation packages through Costco, Groupon Getaways, or Living Social Escapes. Each company offers discounts on vacation packages, as well as savings on other aspects of travel such as hotel rooms, attractions, and restaurants. You can save up to 80% depending on the service.

If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you’re just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a FREE financial analysis.  Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs.  You don’t have to struggle with high-interest credit card debt any longer.  Call (855) 250-8329 or get in touch with us by sending a message through our website.