Traveling Tips: keep the costs low and the fun level high

by Renee' Anderson 21. May 2012

Piggy Bank on Beach

Coming from a large family, vacation budgeting is something I learned young. Vacationing is about spending time with the people we appreciate, not about blowing all your cash in just a few short days. There’s no reason to break the bank over your summer vacation. If you’re traveling with people you enjoy, there’s a cost saver right there. A lot of your entertainment will simply involve playing games, laughing, and unwinding with good company…that’s all FREE! For example, instead of going to an amusement/water park for the day or going out on the town for the night, make up your own activities.

Here are a couple ideas to get your started:

Olympic Games

Set up teams before the trip to give everyone time to prepare with team names, uniforms, strategies, etc. There are plenty of games that can include everyone in a large group (relay-style events, timed puzzles, team sports). Be creative and prepared with a master score board (a big piece of poster board works well) and all of the props you will need.

Murder Mystery Night

Playing a murder mystery game is a great form of free entertainment. You can find guides online that are good for groups of various ages and sizes. Check out http://www.host-party.com/Home/Default.

And a few more things to think about...

1) Set a realistic budget and don’t go over it!

2) If you’re traveling with a group, share a room or house. It’s generally cheaper to get one big house that shares common space but has enough bedrooms for everyone. This way, you can afford a nice house for less money; just make sure you have your own personal space to escape to if necessary (like when you’ve had enough of crazy Aunt Susie for the day)!

3) Eat in! Bring as many non-perishable food items that you can pack, and then hit the grocery store when you arrive at your destination. If you are traveling with a group, take turns cooking, and have each person cook their “specialty” so you’ll get a unique, delicious meal each night. If there is a nice restaurant that you just HAVE to check out, go for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch will be less expensive, but you still get to experience the restaurant.

4) Look for coupons, either in an Entertainment book or online. Try doing Google searches and see what comes up for your destination. Following that same train of thought, if you’re staying in a hotel, ask for promotions and/or a room upgrade!

5) If you are flying somewhere, travel during low season and book early. This could save you hundreds of dollars.

Last but not least, don’t be uptight about your money while you’re on vacation. Stick to your plan, but enjoy yourself! It’s a VACATION!

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To Buy Facebook or Not to Buy Facebook? That is the question...

by Marylove Moy 18. May 2012

Facebook IconHistory was made today with the roughly $16 billion dollar IPO of Facebook (FB).

Is it another Apple? Microsoft? Google? Absolutely…..

So, should I buy it today?

I think only the gutsiest of individuals should buy it today, just because there is so much hype in the stock that it may well skyrocket initially and then trend down over the coming weeks.  I may be very well wrong (I frequently am). However brilliant Zuckerberg is, he is now at the helm of a publicly traded company; he is going to face shareholders and analysts who will question and criticize his decisions. They can be a tough bunch. Zuckerberg is no longer operating in a black box.

A safer bet would be to buy either a mutual fund, which focuses on social networking, or a broader based technology fund that in all likelihood will buy it. Mutual funds offer the diversification that can absorb more efficiently erratic stock price swings than holding a stock outright.

Remember Enron? MCI Communications? Woe betide to the poor individual who held these stocks outright; their personal wealth would have been more protected if they had held these shares indirectly in a mutual fund.

Don’t get me wrong…if anyone can chart the future and shape it, I believe it is Mark Zuckerberg and FB; I just think he will need some time first.

True or False? Five Myths About Credit Scores Unveiled

by Jim Brennan 14. May 2012

Credit scoreThere's a lot of information – and misinformation – circulating about credit scores. Your credit score is important because a low score can cost you a lot of money in terms of higher interest rates or even prevent you from getting credit for things you need, like a new car. So it’s good to protect your credit rating, but make sure you do it the right way. Sometimes you can inadvertently hurt your score even when you’re trying to do the right thing.

How educated about maintaining a good credit score are you? Here are five myths about your credit score unveiled:

1) True or False? Open as many accounts as you can early on.

False. New accounts lower your average account age which could lower your overall score.

2) True or False? Close old, unused credit card accounts.

False. A card that you’ve held for years is better for your score than a new card. Just don’t use the old cards, and gradually close them out over time.

3) True or False? Don't sign up for too many retail incentive cards.

True. Your score is affected by the number of times credit card companies request your credit report because it may look like you’re desperate for credit.

4) True or False? Don't open too many credit card accounts.

True. Opening a lot of credit card accounts probably won’t raise your score. Your best bet is a mix between secured loans, like home and car loans, and unsecured loans, like credit cards.

5) True or False? Don't check your credit score too often.

False. While allowing banks or other lenders to check your score often can have a negative impact on your score, checking your own credit score yourself has no impact on your score – so check it as often as you’d like.

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