, ,

12 Tips You Need to Know NOW to Actually Save on Holiday Travel

Are you itching to get away? Me too! And with the holidays coming up in the next few months, now’s the time to get it together. Here’s a quick checklist with helpful hints to get you where you want to go, at the time you choose, without turning over your arm, first born, or both.

Make a plan NOW. Check your travel budget and call your travel agent or start surfing TripAdvisor! Decide what you absolutely MUST have to make the trip meet expectations, such as airfare if you plan to cross the country in a single day, and a hotel if not staying with family or friends. When booking airfare, the customary rule of thumb for “affordable” fares is to purchase them three weeks prior to departure. If you’re travelling during the holidays or peak travel times, one to three months in advance has proven ideal.

If you’re planning on travelling over the holidays, be prepared to buy your airfare now to save a few bucks down the road. Here are some quick tips to keep travel costs as low as possible.

  • Fly over night aka take a Red-Eye. You can win two ways when you take an overnight flight. 1) The fare is usually more affordable. 2) You don’t have to pay for a hotel room that evening. This can work out well for seasoned travelers who roll with the flow and value the money savings. Perhaps the savings afforded by taking a red-eye round trip can enable a rental car or public transportation.
  • Travel on off-peak days. I have found that traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday can save me quite a bit of cash. If your schedule will permit it, preview the fares for the month you’re travelling. You can often save a couple hundred dollars simply by flying midweek.
  • Set alerts so you don’t miss your opportunity to save. Kayak.com is the site I use. It’s great for setting alerts for the fares you’re interested in.
  • Use your frequent flyer miles or reward points. Upgrade or fly for free if you’ve got the points.

What about food? Here’s a few tips on saving money while still enjoying some culinary adventures.

  • Plan to eat breakfast in. This is often easily handled if you choose a hotel with breakfast included. However, consider a room with a kitchenette. The cost of breakfast fixings you prepare yourself compared to dining out each morning, will save you a small bundle.
  • Pack lunches. This is another great way to save a bundle, especially if you can get a small fridge in your room. Keep snacks, water bottles, and lunch items in a backpack so you can easily take a break under a tree or on a park bench and enjoy your meal.
  • Look for deals in the city you’ll be visiting. Google ‘entertainment and dining deals in (your chosen city)’. You can also connect with the Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors’ Bureau. They often will offer coupons and make suggestions for the best and main attractions during the time period of your visit.
  • Look for hotels offering “club level” service. In the past, I’ve paid an extra $25 a day for “access,” but it’s never been a disappointment. The time it make the most sense was when we were staying in NYC. We literally ate 5-star food, in tapas-sized portions, for breakfast, lunch, and “happy hour.” Amazingly, it included beer, wine, and champagne. Then, we’d run around the City and eat dinner out later in the evening. We saved A TON of money by eating in the hotel and planning meals around the “club level” schedule.
  • Bring your food. Don’t laugh. In some countries, a simple breakfast can cost $25 a person. I’ll share about this in just a minute.

Once you’ve determined what type of accommodations you want and where, it’s time to make that reservation. Here’s a couple tips on saving some money on hotel accommodations.

  • Purchase hotel stays on Sunday evenings, and call the hotel of your choice directly. The corporate reservations line will seldom quote the discounts and package deals for the specific location you’re interested in. Do your best to work directly with the reservation desk of the property where you want to stay. Introduce yourself through their social media. Post on their Twitter and Facebook pages to see if there are any deals to be gotten there.
  • Loyalty programs with the hotels can offer great savings, too. Just make sure you give yourself time to sign up and take advantage of any offerings for new members. If you’re a seasoned traveler and already engaged with a loyalty program, you know what to do.
  • Consider bundling your airfare, hotel, and rental car. Online sites such as Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity, and the like.

In closing, I’d like to share a quick story about a trip my hubby and I took in the blink of an eye. It had been too long between vacays, and my hubby needed one desperately. I called my travel agent. The conversation went like this, “Terri, where can I go to unplug for at least a week, for two, including airfare & hotel? I need to leave in eight days and I have a total of $3000.” She paused for maybe 15 seconds and came back with, “Tahiti. Yes, that might work with your budget. I can get you there with hotel for $1000 each, but food will be tough.” She went on to explain that EVERYTHING is imported there except the black pearls and vanilla. She instructed us to bring our own dry foods and buy staples there. We chose to eat granola from home and yogurt and fruit bought there for breakfasts. We packed boiling pouch foods for lunch which we heated up in the tea kettle. Each night we ate dinner out to the tune of $100-$150 for the meal. She wasn’t kidding—it was expensive. But, it was so worth it. We had a ball, enjoyed the exotic islands and culture, and created memories we cherish today because we played the game. We made it an adventure.

You can too.
Now’s the time to get your plan in place. Don’t wait. Do it now!

Remember, it’s your money, your rules, your way!

Money Savvy Woman, Inc. © 2015

, , , , , , ,

Can You See the Forest for the Trees? Unlock Your Fortune!

091715_1441_CanYouSeeth1.jpg“I can’t see the forest for the trees!” she yelped at me, “but sometimes I just don’t care, because the forest isn’t that bad.”

“That bad?” Really?

Can you relate? Are you creating a financial forest that you can’t find your way through? Are you tolerating fear and confusion? If so, here are three simple steps to help you see your path more clearly.

  1. Figure out where you’re at right now. Track your spending so you know where you’re spending your money. Do it for a full month. (Dollarbird.co is a great resource for this.)
  2. Divide your expenditures into three categories: Needs, Wants, and Wishes, once you know what you’re spending your money on.. This makes it easy to prioritize in the future.
  3. Create a budget using a simple spreadsheet or using an app like YNAB or Mint.com. I like YNAB because of their philosophies on money management and how easy it is to get out of the month-to-month, paycheck-to-paycheck cycle when you commit yourself. Mint.com is wonderful in that you can see your full, financial picture if you enter all the data. Both go from desktop to mobile.

One of the things I love about YNAB, is that they get you thinking about how you WANT to make your financial goals happen, getting you to discipline yourself for all the right reasons. “Have to” is seldom fun. So change it to, “get to.” Try it out …repeat after me:

“I have to save for a rainy day.” How did that feel? I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I can bet you don’t feel like running out and saving for anything, haha.

Now say, “I get to save for a rainy day.” How did that feel? A bit better, huh?

PonderWhen we have to do something, for me, the “have to” takes the joy out of it. But when I change one word, the “get to,” again for me, feels empowering, more hopeful, and more of a challenge I want to take on.

Use the “I get to save for…” phrase when taking aim at your goals. A positive, motivated mindset will help keep you on the path towards financial success while still enjoying the journey.

Seeing the forest and the trees is what I want for you. Imagine if you could see your clearly defined path amidst the beauty of the forest? Now you know where you’re going. The safety of the path enables you to enjoy the forest. The fear of making a misstep fades as you remain on the path. And the speed at which you travel is simply a decision you get to make; you can take your time or you can hustle.

Money is much the same way. Once you’ve taken the time to carve your path toward financial independence, fear, anxiety, and confusion fade away, and confidence, commitment, and success soon take their place.

HarMoney™ doesn’t have to be hard. I can help you make it simple.

Remember, it’s your money, your rules, your way!

, , , ,

4 Steps to Save Money Now With Container Gardening

I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun as I’m having now! Saving money can be fun AND yummy! We’re having a blast, and so should you.

It’s September …a perfect time to plant veggies and herbs, and there’s no reason not start your own. We’ve been using garden-fresh herbs now for over a year and we just planted a lettuce pot. It’s a fun experience and great treat to season meals with fixings from your own yard.

So, I felt I just had to share how easy it is. With it, you’re on your way to saving more money than you probably realize. Here’s a short list:

  • Buying a seedling plant costs about the same as purchasing a bunch of cut herbs at the grocery store. You only pay once with a plant that keeps producing.
  • The fresh flavors enhance your meals, creating full flavor without any chemical preservatives.
  • We found ourselves opting for fresh herbs in all our dishes and reducing the dressings, sauces, and salt. Believe me, A-mazing!

Here are four basic steps to starting your own herbal, container garden.

  1. Pick a container. There are so many to choose from. And might I suggest, use what you have lying around if you’ve got something that will fit the bill. There are many different types, from plastic to terracotta to ceramic, plastic being the least costly and ceramic being a bit pricey. Make sure there’s good drainage so you don’t wind up with root rot, and choose a variety of shapes and sizes to keep things interesting. Sometimes you can find great deals at Saturday yard sales and the sale rack at your local garden center.
  2. Find a spot with great sunlight. We have ours in a spot that gets early and late sun, about, six to eight hours of sun a day which is optimal. Set up your pots where you want them to be permanently. Honestly, the larger ones are so heavy, you might not be able to move them once they’re filled with soil, plants, and water.
  3. Add the potting soil. We use bags of potting mix that are specific to what we’re planting. In this case, get a mix that feeds edible flowers, herbs, and veggies. Make sure you cover the drainage hole with some broken pottery pieces or cloth so the excess water can escape.
  4. Start planting! We spent a few minutes with the garden technician. He gave us specific directions for how to plant the various herbs and veggies we chose …you’ll want to do the same. For example, the beets are close together and a bit raised, the peppers are by themselves, and we bunched up a few of the different types of herbs.

Try using seedlings and baby herbs to get you started quickly. If you want to start snipping and eating them sooner than later, don’t start from seeds.

Good combos of herbs are:

  • Parsley & Basil—they like sharing space with cherry tomatoes, chili peppers, and chives
  • Rosemary & Sage—these guys like a little more sun than most other herbs
  • Oregano & Thyme—these will stop growing once the warm weather stops and start back up in the Spring.
  • Mint & Mint—mint will grow like a weed, and there are many different types, so make sure you give it enough space so the different flavors and aromatics don’t meld together.

For total success, find out how to feed and water your plants properly so they grow prolifically. We learned that lettuce and herbs require different fertilizers; your selections may require different treatments, too. Watering schedules will make a difference depending on the plant and the temperate zone you live in.

Saving money can be fun when the enjoyment spans the growth, harvesting, and eating these yummy additions to eggs, soups, salads, main dishes, and …well, anything.

My favorite right now is mint tea boiled with a few stevia leaves—makes it naturally sweet without sugar, and tarragon chicken salad with pecans. Oh. My. Word. Delicious!

Hope you enjoy making use of containers you’ve got laying around and have a grand adventure creating your savory container herb garden.

You can do it! I believe in YOU!

God bless! Have fun and remember… it’s your money, your rules, your way!

Money Savvy Woman, Inc. © 2015

9 Super, Simple Ways to Heal a Broken Heart

The rollercoaster of life, at times, lives up to its “E-ticket” reputation, whipping, swooping, and tossing us about. If we were standing in line for it voluntarily, it can deliver a quick few minutes of thrills, chills, and roars of laughter.

However, it’s not all thrills, chills, and roars of laughter. Sometimes the rollercoaster pulls into the station and it’s broken us.

This past week, the challenge of the “E-ticket ride of life” has some in the Money Savvy community, on their knees. Please pray for:

  • The person who’s always cared for their beloved parent, and now that job has been taken away by professional staff. The house feels empty and they feel useless as they watch their parent fade. Feelings of loneliness have arrived, magnifying the sorrow.
  • The person who’s working so hard at saving their money only to have the rollercoaster deal them an unplanned expense that wipes out their savings and then some. As they reflect on all they’ve done to save, and the blow that swiped their savings, feelings of hopelessness set in. “Will things ever change? Why is it always me and my family that gets hit with money mayhem?” they ask.
  • The person who’s laying their only child to rest amidst controversy, confusion, and an abyss of anguishing grief. Again, questions swirl around their head, cruelly badgering them like cruel birds a la Hitchcock.

My go-to will always be my faith in God, the love of Jesus, and the filling of the Holy Spirit. But, do I dare ask, “Is that enough?” Have you ever been in a dark corner of life, so dark it left you feeling helpless, hopeless, or even worthless?

These feelings, unfortunately, are a part of life. I can hear my mom’s voice, “Sweetheart, the pendulum swings both ways! You can’t have the joy and bliss without the grief and sadness.” She’d go on to explain that I could never feel joy and bliss without feeling the contrasting pain of grief and sadness. But that did little to make me feel better.

As you read the descriptions of the folks above, what were your thoughts? How did their plights make you feel?

I know that dark corner, and it’s very dark, very scary, and very lonely. I can honestly say, there were times I was clearly depressed. I prayed without ceasing. I went to church six times a week—and cried all the way through. I hid from my friends and family because I didn’t want to burden them with my grief and pain.

But after a too long period of time, I realized that I was in a self-imposed isolation, put there by my own thoughts, fears, and inaction. Again, very depressing.

So, what?

Why does it matter? Why are you telling me this, Renée?

Because the solution to these problems is a lot easier than we might think. But it takes a little action.

See, what saved me from my pain, suffering, and let’s be honest, self-pity, was the action of my friends. One day, they just told me, “We’re not listening to this ‘I’m broken’ crap anymore!” Sorry for the language, but that IS exactly what they said! They were tired of me wallowing in my story for too long and called me on it.

So what I’m going to ask you today is to take some action. Action is a healer in times like this.

If you are the one suffering, find something TO DO, STAY ACTIVE:

  • Go to a hospital and volunteer to hold babies in the NIC unit.
  • Read to children at the library or in their school.
  • Get involved with a non-profit like Meals on Wheels
  • Use your talent—playing music, dancing, crafting, or giving manicures—at the nearest Senior Center.
  • Volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen.

If you’re the one watching your loved one suffer:

  • Go spend time with them.
  • Take them somewhere where they can see life happening: a park, sidewalk café, or museum.
  • Get them talking
  • Let them know they’re not alone and that you ENJOY spending time with them.

Hearing someone say, “I’ll pray for you,” while juggling a nightmare can deliver a sense of relief, but it can also fall flat. It’s almost as rote as the congenial conversation, “How are you?” …”I’m fine.” We all know that “fine” in this sense usually means some else.

Prayer is an incredible force for peace and healing, and it isn’t to be diminished or cast aside. All to the contrary …at times like this, we need to be talking with God continually.

But my point is, maybe God is in the actions, the actions of reaching out to help someone. The action of helping someone else in the midst of your grief. Or the actions of spending time with someone who’s hurting to lift them up.

Pain and suffering are all around us—they are a part of life. I pray a very small part of life. But when those times hit, I challenge you to find comfort not only in God’s word and promises, but in the action of giving (and receiving) the gift of friendship. God is in you when give of yourself.

Let your light shine! You never know who really needs to see it.

Money Savvy Woman, Inc. © 2015