Tag: Friends

 

6 Tips for Saving Money on Gas for Your Last-Minute Road Trip

What’s better than a last-minute road trip? 

Regardless of whether you plan to drive to the beach or the mountains, a road trip is the perfect way to see some of the country’s finest scenery.

At the same time, the cost of gas can make budget-conscious travelers worry about whether they can afford the trip. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average price per gallon of gas sits at $2.77. So, if you’re taking a long trip, that can easily set you back big bucks. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to write off the idea of a road trip. There are plenty of ways you can still afford that vacation, fuel and all. Take a look at our top 6 tips to save money on gas. 

1. Lighten Your Load

Do you really need an entire tool set, sack of mulch, or hockey equipment for your trip? If there’s anything you can take out of your car before you depart, do it. According to the EPA, an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce your miles per gallon by about one percent. 

Have a heavy car? Not to worry. The EPA says the reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to your vehicle’s weight. So, extra weight actually affects light-weight vehicles more than heavier ones. 

2. Check Your Tire Pressure

When was the last time you checked the tire pressure on your vehicle? 

Ensuring your tires are properly inflated is easy, and it goes a long way to saving on fuel costs. In fact, you can improve your gas mileage by 0.6 percent on average, or about two cents per gallon, by making sure your tires are inflated properly. In some cases, you can improve your gas mileage by as much as three percent! Plus, under-inflated tires are dangerous, so you’ll want to double-check them anyway before you take off.

To inflate your tires, you will need to know what PSI your tires require. To find the proper PSI, you can check the vehicle owner’s manual, or check to see if you have a sticker inside the driver’s door. 

3. Download a Gas Savings App

Inevitably, you will need to fill up on gas while you’re on the road. While you probably have a good idea of which gas stations have the best fuel rates near your house, you may not know where to find cheap gas while you’re traveling. 

Luckily, you can take advantage of mobile apps which will tell you the best gas prices anywhere. GasBuddy, for example, is a free app, which will pull up the prices of gas at gas stations near you. This way, you can choose the most affordable option. 

GasBuddy even offers five cents off per gallon if you pay through their GasBack program on the app. That’s a pretty slick way to save money

4. Set the Cruise Control

Feel lazy using cruise control? Get over it! Setting the cruise control can improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

To that end, Edmunds conducted a study to test how using cruise control improved fuel efficiency. In the test, they drove four different cars around a 55-mile loop. The first time, they set the cruise control to 70 miles per hour. The second time, they turned the cruise control off, and the speed varied between 65 and 75 miles per hour. By setting the cruise control at a moderate speed and avoiding aggressive driving, they saw a savings of up to 14 percent, with the average savings sitting at seven percent. 

There is one instance, however, when Edmunds recommends turning off the cruise control: When you’re driving over a hilly terrain. Why? Cruise control doesn’t allow you to “coast” downhill, and instead, your car will use extra gas as you continue to downshift to lower gears. 

5. Take Your Car for a Tune Up

Generally, it’s a good idea to have your car looked over by a mechanic before you hit the road. This keeps you safe and secure. But a tune-up can also help you save on gas. 

According to Popular Mechanics, it’s a good idea for a mechanic to check the car’s hoses, brakes, fluid levels, filters, coolant, radiator, and tires. Ensuring your vehicle is road ready and safe also means the car will likely be more fuel efficient. 

6. Choose the Car with the Best Gas Mileage

Are you taking your trip with multiple people who own cars? If so, perhaps you and your friends can agree to use the car with the best gas mileage.

While people are often tempted to take the biggest car on a road trip, if you can get by with a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle, this may be a better choice.

For example, an SUV gets about 30 miles per gallon on the highway, compared to a hybrid, which gets more like 50 miles per gallon. Yes, the hybrid may be smaller and less comfortable, but you can save a lot of money. For example, if you drove that SUV 500 miles and paid $2.77 per gallon for gas, that trip would cost you about $46.16 in fuel. Guess how much it would cost to drive the hybrid the same distance? About $27.70. You’d pocket more than $20!

Hit the Road!

Now that you and your vehicle are ready to go, it’s time to enjoy your road trip without breaking the bank. 

Another pro tip: Start saving money now and this way you may have some extra spending money to take along with you. Get ready to hit the open road!

 

How to Throw an Epic Fourth of July Party for $100

There is nothing more ubiquitous in American culture than a big July 4th party.

In fact, 86% of Americans plan to celebrate Independence Day this year. They also plan to spend a total of $6.7 billion on food items, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The most popular July 4th activity for 61% of those surveyed? Cookouts, barbecues and picnics. And, according to the NRF, the average cost per person for a July 4th BBQ is expected to hit $73.33 in 2019.

What does this mean for you? It means that a typical July 4th celebration can quickly bust your budget if you’re not careful. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep your quintessential red, white and blue celebration affordable. In fact, you can actually save money and throw an awesome bash for $100. Take a look at 6 ways to do this.

1. Be Selective with Your Guest List

Keep your holiday cookout cozy by inviting a small number of people. This immediately lowers the overall expenses for your event.

Here’s a tip to help keep your party guest list from getting out of hand: Send out same day invitations to some extra folks. Many of your friends may have already said “yes” to another party invitation so if they say “no” to yours, they’ll never know that your goal is to keep your number of attendees low.

2. Host a Potluck

Hold a potluck and ask your party guests to pitch in and bring a dish. This keeps your food expenses low while allowing your friends to do their part.

A couple of tips to make your next holiday potluck fabulous:

·      Create a Google doc and have attendees share what they’re bringing. This way you won’t end up with duplicate dishes.

·      Run a contest to see who brings the most tasty dish. The winner gets bragging rights for the next year.

·      Be clear with your guests about what you’re providing as the host. If you’re providing all of the alcoholic drinks, for example, you can ask your guests to bring seltzer water or lemonade instead.

If you’re still a little nervous about hosting your first potluck party, check out Apartment Guide’s tips.

3. Use a Savings App

Couponing sometimes feels like a hassle. Instead, strategize your savings with your favorite savings apps such as Ibotta or Checkout 51. Then, double up with savings from your favorite grocer’s discounts.

Here’s how this works:

·      Create a list of items that you will provide for your July 4th holiday event.

·      Quickly check each app to see if you can save on that item.

If you’ve earned cash back from your savings app, use that cash towards your party expenses.

4. Borrow a Grill and Other Supplies

No grill? No blender? No worries. Fight the urge to buy new appliances in order to make your event happen.

Instead, ask your neighbors or friends if you can borrow a grill, a blender or BBQ supplies. If you think you’ll continue using these appliances or items, perhaps you can compare costs and purchase them on sale. This way you’ll also have them on hand for future parties.

5. Grocery Shop Your Pantry

Before heading to the grocery store, shop your pantry. Spend some time looking at the ingredients that are already in your home. Make simple dishes with those ingredients. If you’re short on inspiration head over to Pinterest to search for ideas.

6. Watch Fireworks as a Group

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, Americans spent $885 Billion on fireworks in 2017.

Instead of purchasing fireworks, you can instead spend nothing on pyrotechnics and instead head out as a group to see a local fireworks show. Check the following places for more information on fireworks displays in your area.

·      Your city’s website

·      Professional sports teams websites. An example of this is the Colorado Rockies in Denver, Colorado. The Colorado Rockies typically have a fireworks show if they’re playing in town July 3rd or July 4th. The great thing about this display is that you don’t have to attend the game in order to enjoy it.

Start Saving Now for Next July 4th!

Now that you’re set for this year, it’s time to start saving up for your next July 4th party.

By following the tips above, you now know that you can host a fabulous party on an affordable budget – year after year. Happy 4th of July!

 

 

How to Fight Summer FOMO and Fatten Up Your Savings Account

Summertime brings warm weather — and a major temptation to spend money. From hitting the concert circuit to shopping for new clothes to taking a dream group vacation, the opportunities to spend money are endless.

Blowing through your cash may be fun but it can also put a major dent in your bank account.

The good news is: You don’t have to shut down your social calendar when the lazy days of summer set in. By following these five tips, you can keep the summer FOMO at bay – and potentially boost your savings by fall.

1. Unplug from social media

Imposing a ban on checking your social feeds can be one of your best defenses against FOMO spending.

“It’s very easy to feel like you’re missing out when scrolling through countless summer posts showing your friends enjoying themselves,” says Matt Edstrom, CMO of GoodLife Home Loans.

He says the pressure to spend only gets worse if you’re receiving invites to go out via social. The solution? Take a time out from Insta, Facebook and all the rest. If you can’t do that, be ready to make a frugal counter-offer if a friend suggests some pricey fun.

“If someone is posting about wanting to go to a particularly swanky place for happy hour, you could propose an alternate location that’s still trendy but also affordable,” says Edstrom.

Or even better, suggest a BYOB get-together at home. You could even make it a regular thing, with a different member of your circle playing host each week.

And, let your friends know from the start that you’re trying to curb your spending for summer and step up your savings. That way, if you have to say no to an outing, they’ll understand why.

2. Set up a “just for summer” savings fund

The next best thing you can do to avoid summer FOMO is to be prepared for it. That means having a special savings account just for summer fun, says Rebecca Gramuglia, personal finance expert at cash back site TopCashback.com.

“Summertime means longer days and more time for activities and sometimes those summer adventures come with a price-tag, which is why starting a summer fund is so important,” Gramuglia says.

The simplest way to create a summer fund? Set up a direct deposit from your paycheck into a separate savings account each payday. Pick a target amount you want to budget for your summer spending each month, then break that down by the number of paychecks you receive monthly. Commit to having that amount sent straight to savings, then transfer it to your checking to use as activities with friends come up.

Gramuglia says that ideally, if you start building this fund a few months before summer kicks off, you’ll have a cushion ready to go. But if you’re getting a late start, take advantage of small windfalls to build it up.

“Any time you have leftover change, bonuses or (get) cash back, add it into your summer fund,” she says.

3. Don’t spend without looking for deals and discounts first

With so many coupon apps, deal sites and money-saving apps to choose from, there’s no reason to pay full price for summer spending, whether it involves travel, dining, shopping or entertainment.

If you’re planning a trip with friends, for example, try doing it backwards, says Meghan Fox, a money-saving expert at gift card marketplace Raise.

“Find the best deals on sites like Kayak, Travelocity and Expedia, then pick a destination where you’ll get more bang for your buck.”

Sites like Skyscanner and Hopper are also good for comparing prices on airfare. Purchasing discounted gift cards is another option for saving on flights, hotels and other purchases. At Raise, for instance, you can find discounted gift cards from Hotels.com, Airbnb and Southwest Airlines.

For summer spending other than travel, visit deal and coupon sites like Groupon, LivingSocial or RetailMeNot to see what’s on tap for promo codes and coupons. You can find discounts on spa packages, restaurants, and movie tickets.

4. Plan some solo activities

If you’re worried that hanging out with friends over the summer will push your budget to the limit, schedule in some alone time. Then, fill that time with things that don’t cost a dime.

That’s something Julia Askin, a marketing coordinator with mobile app development firm Fueled does. After moving to New York City six months ago, she’s feeling the pressure on her budget to “do it all”.

“To combat FOMO and protect my budget, I commit much less to social engagements and focus instead on growing my areas of interest and passion,” Askin says.

In the summer months, this includes spending time outdoors and taking free online classes to learn new skills, both of which leave her bank account intact.

If you’re looking for free or low-cost things to do, check your local recreation center. Or, head to your library or a museum for an afternoon. Volunteer your time for a good cause. Challenge yourself to come up with as many free ideas as you can. To make it really interesting, consider doing a no-spend week over the summer to see how much you can save.

5. Create money goals to keep you motivated

It’s tough not spending money, especially if you feel a little left out of the fun. Giving yourself some clear goals can help you maintain a positive mindset.

For example, your goals might include:

  • Paying an extra $2,000 off your student loans by the end of August
  • Saving $1,500 in a baby emergency fund in a month
  • Starting your savings cushion for a down payment on a first home
  • Finally getting around to opening up an IRA to save for retirement

Your goals can be big or small, but make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Any time your friends are tempting you to spend, remind yourself of your goals. This could be all you need to dodge the FOMO bullet.

Summer FOMO doesn’t have to wreck your budget

The fear of missing out on fun with friends can only sabotage your spending if you let it. Planning ahead and setting some ground rules for spending over the summer can make it easier to avoid giving into temptation.

As a bonus, you may end up with a padded savings account!

 

10 Summer BBQ Hacks

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With summer just around the corner, grilling outdoors is about to become a weekly staple. And, if you plan to invite folks over for a BBQ on the regular, you may be worried about blowing your budget and dipping into your savings account.

The good news is: With a little advanced planning, you can enjoy the wonderful weather, good company and delicious food without sweating bullets. Just heed these 10 summer BBQ hacks and you’ll be on your way to saving money.

  1. Choose Cheaper Cuts of Meat

    Merilee Speigner, Founder of the Debt Snowball Calculator says that, “chicken drumsticks are one of the best options for BBQing because they are not only inexpensive but they also stay moist because it’s dark meat.” Plus, according to Speigner, “drumsticks are also perfectly casual…people are already expecting ‘messy’ for BBQs!”

  2. Grill More Veggies

    Adding more veggies to the mix can help keep costs low. Vegetables are generally much cheaper during the summer and there’s no shortage of delicious veggie recipes these days. You can add more veggies (or fruit if you prefer) to seafood or meat kebabs and other recipes to make meals stretch further.

  3. Keep the Decor Simple

    Look no further than your local dollar store for affordable party decorations. Of course, if you happen to be good at crafting, Pinterest has no shortage of ideas for creating a festive theme without breaking the bank. If you plan to host a few BBQs this summer, then be sure to recycle or repurpose your decorations for each one.

  4. Stock up on meat during summer sales

    If you already have a membership at a warehouse store such as BJ’s or Costco, then this is a great place to buy meat in bulk at any time of the year. Outside of this, most grocery stores often run promos on BBQ food items throughout the summer, and especially around major holidays. For example, hotdogs, hamburgers and pork ribs are often cheapest during the Fourth of July weekend. You may also consider investing in a chest freezer in order to stock up on meat when prices are more affordable.

  5. Make it BYOB…

    This is not to say that you should have zero alcohol on hand but rather, it indicates that you don’t plan to spend hundreds of dollars on drinks. Plus, your guests can bring their beverage of choice. Creating a signature cocktail, serving homemade iced tea and fruit-infused water are also excellent thirst-quenchers that you can provide that won’t break the budget.

  6. …And/or Potluck Style

    Diana Farmen, a middle school teacher and founder of Diana on a Dime, says that when it comes to budget hacks for summer BBQs, “I always recommend a potluck.” After all, as the saying goes, food always tastes better with company. And, as Farmen says, (a potluck) “cuts down the cost for everyone and allows for a wide variety of dishes.” Another good rule of thumb: Create a group chat so that everyone doesn’t bring the same side dishes.

  7. Ditch the Pre-Made Extras

    “It can be very easy to get sucked into the grocery stores’ BBQ prepped food, but by making it yourself, (you can save a considerable amount of money). For example, “a fruit salad can be made from fruit in season or on sale.” says Farmen. “Take a few minutes to cut them up yourself instead of paying for the convenience of a store prepping it.” The same principle can be applied to pretty much any side such as guacamole!

  8. Take Care of Your Grill

    By properly maintaining your grill, it can last you for many years to come. The good news is that you don’t need to invest a lot to keep your grill in tip top shape, according to Cecilia Paola, a young wife and mother in New Jersey. She says that when it comes to cleaning your grill, “a grill brush with soap and water works perfectly.”

  9. Don’t Go Crazy on Grilling Accessories

    Many of us are guilty of purchasing kitchen gadgets that we never end up using. Avoid going down this same route by investing in three key items to start: a sturdy set of tongs, a good meat thermometer and a grill brush. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find the other accessories you need by taking a quick look through your cupboards.

  10. Make Enough For Weekly Meal Prep

    One great way to reduce your per-meal fuel cost is to cook enough leftovers that will last a couple of days. This will also save you time during the week and help you avoid the need to order takeout.

Summer-Proof Your Budget

It’s important to budget for every season since our spending habits change just like the weather. Summer happens to be the second most expensive season – a time when people tend to overspend during longer, warmer days. Creating a separate “summer fun money stash” is a great move if you want to avoid slipping into credit card debt.

And one of the easiest ways to save money for BBQ season is by automating your savings. Chime makes it easy for you to do this by helping you to save as soon as you get paid. If you open a Chime bank account and select Automatic Savings, Chime will automatically transfer a percentage of every paycheck directly into your savings account.

It’s also important to create a budget for non-fun items that can easily derail your budget during this time of year. Last summer, for example, the AC in my car suddenly stopped working. However, because I had been funding my miscellaneous spending account during the prior few months, handling an unexpected $600 expense was no sweat off my back.

Now that you’ve learned how to take the heat off your summer budget, it’s time to fire up the grill and make the most out of the next few months!

 

How to Ball on a Budget When You Go Out

Links to external websites are not managed by Chime or The Bancorp Bank.


Let’s say you get a call from a close friend. She just got a promotion at work, and she’s inviting you to a trendy Thai restaurant to celebrate. You love Thai food and want to go, but there’s one problem: Your budget’s looking pretty tight this month.

Thankfully, you can still go out without compromising your savings. For example, you can decide how much you can spend and then adjust your budget accordingly.

“If you know that in the summer, you tend to go out more and spend more money, then make room for that in your budget and cut back in other areas to accommodate that,” says Jamila Souffrant, certified financial education instructor and founder of the blog and podcast Journey to Launch.

For instance, you can cut the cable cord and ditch your meal box subscription, leaving more wiggle room for nights out, concerts and movies. To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some tips for saving money on just about any outing. Take a look.

At a Sporting Event

If you’re dying to see the Chicago Bulls (or your own favorite team), you can make it happen without breaking the bank. Souffrant recommends buying your tickets in-person from the box office to avoid service fees from online ticketers.

You can also pick games that aren’t super expensive. For example, maybe go on a work night when it’s less crowded and you can more easily score cheaper tickets. Typically, games during the week are less costly than Friday, Saturday, or Sunday games.

On the day of the big game, be sure to eat before you leave home to avoid paying the markup at the snack counter. Your belly and your bank account will feel fuller.

At a Movie

Sometimes, it’s good to catch a summer blockbuster on the big screen and swoon over your favorite actors. Just be sure to steer clear of the overpriced movie theater concession stand.

“Definitely do not buy any of the snacks or drinks in the movie theater. I know it’s tempting, but eat before you go and/or bring your own snacks,” says Souffrant.

Souffrant also recommends looking for discounted tickets or deals on sites like Groupon or the theaters’ own website. You can also go to a weekend matinee and head out to dinner afterwards – instead of the other way around.

By planning in advance, you can enjoy buzzworthy movies and save money at the same time.

At a Concert

Hanging out with friends at concerts is part of summer fun. But to save money, it’s important that you try to buy tickets at the box office in advance, says Souffrant.

Why? You’ll typically get the lowest price, she says.

Even if you can’t manage to score inexpensive tickets (some of us are Beyoncé fans), you can find other ways to save when you consider the costs of the whole night. Souffrant suggests carpooling or even taking public transportation to the event.

If your concert-going night involves multiple destinations, you may want to turn on push notifications from your bank. You’ll get an alert each time you use your debit card, which may be the reality check you need to curb your spending.

Lastly, look for free concerts in your city. While you might not be able to attend a Beyonce concert for free, there are plenty of other bands and music festivals that offer free concerts.

At a Restaurant

Back to the friends-at-a-Thai-restaurant example: When you’re going out to eat, it can help to speak up about your financial goals.

“If you’re on a budget or you’re trying to save money, don’t keep it to yourself,” says Souffrant.

When you explain your intentions at the start of a night out or before you arrive at the restaurant, your friends will be more likely to understand when you choose to pay only for what you ate and drank.

“I would avoid splitting (the check) equally. That can get expensive if you’re trying to be conscious but they’re not,” says Souffrant.

If you do decide to split the bill, try using Chime’s Pay Friends feature.

At a Bar or Nightclub

If you can avoid a cover charge by getting to your favorite spot before a certain time, then do it, Souffrant says.

You and your friends can also do research in advance to see which local watering holes have special offers or discount nights. Lastly, consider nursing one drink or sticking to water to save money on the bar tab. This way you can still enjoy a night out with friends without overspending.

At an Exercise Class

If your friends are veteran yogis or distance runners, they may have guest passes to a gym or fitness studio that they can share with you, Souffrant suggests.

“You can also just try out the good old park,” she says.

Besides being healthy, workouts at the park are totally free.

“Go together, take a run, take a walk. Use the environment for your own workouts and outside activities.”

Save Money and Have Fun

The tips above make one thing clear: You can meet your savings goals without becoming a hermit.

One final pro tip: Try automating your savings. If you use a Chime Visa Debit Card, for example, every time you use it to purchase concert or movie tickets, or pay your restaurant bill, your transaction will be rounded up to the nearest dollar. And, that round up amount will be automatically deposited into your Chime Savings Account. This way, you’ll save money while you’re out enjoying yourself!

 

6 Summer Staycation Ideas

With summer right around the corner, this can mean only one thing: Time to plan your next vacation!

Unfortunately, vacations cost money and Americans often spend more than they have. In fact, surveys show that nearly three-quarters of Americans have, at some point, gone into debt financing their annual vacation – by spending more than $1,100 on airfare, motels and admission fees.

Maybe it’s time to consider a ‘staycation’ in your own backyard. This way you can still take time off work, have fun and save money. Take a look at six of our top staycation ideas.

1. Go camping in the backyard

Turn that backyard barbecue you were planning into a camping trip under the stars!

Start the afternoon (or evening) by grilling up some grub either on your grill or in a firepit placed on the lawn. Then, borrow or buy a tent and set it up. As the sun sets, sit around the campfire, swap some scary stories, and roast some marshmallows. You can even turn this backyard adventure into an educational experience.

“Take time to identify the insects and plants in the backyard. Late at night, use a telescope to look at the stars to learn more about constellations,” says travel blogger Jenny Smith.

The best part? You can have as many backyard cookout/camping trips as you like during the summer.

2. Rediscover your town

When was the last time you checked out some of the local attractions right in your own town?

Spend your summer staycation doing something different in your downtown, like visiting museums, art galleries or the zoo. You can also check out live concerts, plays in the park, cultural festivals and farmers markets. The possibilities are endless.

Chances are, by becoming a tourist in your own town, you’ll reconnect with an activity you’ve lost touch with, or even discover something new you love.

3. Take a day trip somewhere local

Taking a short drive out of town also counts as a staycation.

Do you live in a coastal state, near a beach? Or somewhere close to a national or state park, hiking trail, historic place or major city? If you live near wine country, what about a tasting tour of some wineries? Living within driving distance of one of these activities — and not having to break your budget on airfare and hotel costs — makes them all the more special.

With that, when taking a weekend getaway, remember that the point of a staycation is to keep costs to a minimum. Apart from budgeting for gas and food, try to save money on admission by looking for discounts and using Groupon deals.

4. Host a movie day/night

With Netflix binge-watching the new norm, more people prefer to stay in and watch movies at home instead of spending money on inflated ticket and concession prices at the movie theater.

So, why not take advantage of this trend and make it part of your staycation?

The first step is setting up your movie theater. Invite some friends over, or your children’s friends, set up bean bags, lawn chairs, and blankets for seating (even exercise balls or milk crates if there’s overflow), and reserve one or two blankets to cover the windows and block out the sun (if it’s a daytime matinee).

The only money you’ll need to spend is on snacks. Make some popcorn, put out some chips and salsa, veggie platters, and some sweets. You’re all set for your home-grown movie night (or afternoon)!

5. Have a spa day

 Your fantasy vacation might involve a glamorous getaway to a spa resort, but don’t worry, you can bring the spa experience right to your home – for an affordable price.

“If you want to enjoy exotic spa services without traveling away from home, then you can contact aestheticians who offer services at private residences,” says Smith.

“Contact your friends to have a spa party at home that includes facials, manicures and massages. Your spa party can last all day with your guests having fun pedicures or other beauty care services in your home rather than at a spa.”

6. Try something new

A staycation is the perfect opportunity to try something new.

Take a BYOB painting or pottery class. Try a cooking course. Join a conversational group to learn a new language. Or take lessons to learn a new entirely new skill, like guitar or archery.

You can also get together with friends for a softball game, or take on a do-it-yourself project. And don’t forget about volunteering. This can offer up a meaningful experience during your staycation.

Saving money with a staycation

A staycation might as well be called a savecation. While an exotic summer vacation may not be in your budget this year, a staycation allows you to have fun while saving money.

To help you get going, start by creating a vacation savings account. Or, use a banking app set up with an automatic savings account to build your balance as you go. This way, as you’re kicking back on your staycation, your money is on the move up.

 

How much should you save for your vacation?

What’s your dream vacation?

Maybe it’s sitting on the beach sipping mai tais and watching the sun go down. Or maybe you’re a bit more adventurous and would prefer renting a van and driving around Iceland’s Ring Road.

No matter what your vacation preferences, one thing is likely the same: Your trip will cost you a pretty penny. Luckily, that’s what savings accounts are for. But how much should you save up for a vacation? And what’s the best way to save?

To answer these questions, we’ll show you how to create your own DIY savings plan so that no matter where your wanderlust takes you, you’ll have enough money in your bank account to get you there and back.

Step 1: Create a Target Savings Goal

Guessing and pulling a random number out of thin air is an easy way you can come up with a target savings goal. But it’s also one that’s likely to leave you disappointed, since you might run out of cash before your vacation ends. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a gorgeous exotic location but having no money to do anything.

Instead, try this approach:

Tally Up Your Vacation Costs

This will require a bit of research on your part (but honestly, isn’t scoping out all of the opportunities part of the fun?)

In particular, take some time to tally up the total cost of the following things for the duration of your vacation:

  • Round-trip airfare
  • Hotel
  • Food
  • Souvenirs
  • Trips, tours, and admission prices

Step 2: Create a Working Savings Plan

Now that you’ve got a target in mind, great. Now, what do you do? Create a savings plan, of course.

Here’s how to do it:

Tally up the number of months between now and when you’ll be leaving for your vacation. Then, divide your target savings goal by that number of months.

This leaves you with the exact amount of money you need to save each month between now and when you leave.

Curious to see how this works? Let’s look at an example.

Example: Next Year’s Trip to New Zealand

Let’s say you want to go on a two-week tour of New Zealand next year. You do some research and come up with the following numbers:

  • Airfare: $1,100
  • Hotel: $150 (per day)
  • Food: $50 (per day)
  • Souvenirs: $200
  • Trips, tours, and admissions: $100 (per day)

The total cost of this trip is $5,500. If you want to go on this trip in 12 months, you’ll need to save up $458.33 per month to have enough cash for the trip.

Step 3: Re-evaluate Your Plan

So far, we’ve just created a working plan. Chances are, you’re probably shocked by how much you need to save — that’s normal, don’t worry!

There are a few things you can do to revise the plan so it fits your finances:

  • Adjust your monthly budget: Look for expenses you can easily cut out, such as dining out, subscription boxes, etc. This will free up more money each month so that you can divert it to your vacation fund instead.
  • Start side hustling: Side hustling is the easiest way to boost your income. Each extra dollar that comes in is a dollar closer to your travel goals.
  • Change your travel plans: Look over your travel plans. Is there any way you can lower your expenses by perhaps staying at cheaper hotels or eating out less? This will reduce the cost of your vacation as a whole. Alternatively, you could push your vacation further out into the future, so that you have to save less each month.

Example: Final Plan for Next Year’s Trip to New Zealand

Maybe you decide there’s no way in heck you can afford to save $458.33 per month. No worries — you can still go!

After looking at the three options listed above, you can make the following changes:

  • Cut your $25/month box subscription and cut $150/month from your dining out budget. This frees up $175 per month to go towards your New Zealand trip.
  • Start a side hustle and earn an extra $200 per month.
  • Opt for staying in backpackers’ hostels instead, for $50 per night. This frees up $1,400 from your target savings goal.

With these changes, you now only need to save $4,100, or $341.67 per month. You’ve also freed up $175 per month from your budget, and are earning an extra $200 per month for a net amount of $375 extra per month. Now, you’re able to save up enough for your trip!

Step 4: Put Your Savings on Autopilot

Now that you know how much your vacation will cost and how much to save each month, it’s time to put that plan into action.

Sure, you can try to remember to set aside money each month into your savings account. But, we promise you that something will get in the way and you’ll likely forget (just like that time you put your car keys in the fridge and couldn’t find them later).

Instead, put your savings on autopilot. You can use Chime Bank’s automatic savings feature to do this for you. In this case, you can set up your bank account to withdraw the money after each paycheck.

All you have to do is count up the number of paychecks between now and when you leave on your trip, divide your target savings goal by that number, and voila! You can set up your account to withdraw that amount from each paycheck so that it’s entirely on autopilot.

Are you ready to travel?

If you follow this four-step guide, all you’ll have to worry about is remembering your camera and deciding which fun activities you’ll do once you’re on your vacation.

Bon voyage!

 

How to Plan a Getaway With Friends That Works for Everyone’s Budget

Summer is right around the corner. This means vacation may be on your mind.

For many, a vacation entails traveling with a group, perhaps family or friends. As you may already know, group travel can be tricky, especially when people have their own  preferences and budgets. At the same time, a successful group vacation can be filled with fun memories and experiences.

If you’re ready to plan a getaway with friends, here are five tips to help you save money, create a budget for everyone, and make your summer vacation a positive experience.

1. Consider Your Travel and Destination Options

The first step when planning a group trip involves choosing where you want to go and how you’ll get there.

So, include everyone in a brainstorming session to gather opinions and vote on a destination. Consider factors like the cost of accommodations in the area and the types of tourist attractions you’d all like to visit. You’ll also want to consider how you’ll get there. Will you fly, take a train or bus, or perhaps drive?

2. Create a Budget that Works for Everyone

Once you’ve narrowed down where you’ll go and how you’ll get there, start to develop a budget that works for everyone.

Decide which expenses will need to be split among the group, along with how much you can individually afford to pay. For example, if you plan to drive, you may want to include an estimate of how much the fuel will cost, along with the price of a rental car.

If you’re flying, everyone can cover the price of their own plane ticket, but maybe you can search for airline deals so the airfare doesn’t exceed a certain amount.

Don’t forget to include budget categories for meals and lodging. Also, take into account hidden expenses like transportation during the trip and foreign transaction fees. What’s that? If you’re going to a different country, you may be hit with foreign transaction fees when you use your debit or credit card to make purchases.

Pro tip: You can avoid foreign transaction fees with a Chime bank account. Chime doesn’t charge any fees. This means you’ll have more vacay spending money.

3. Start Saving in Advance

Once you have a good idea of how much the trip will cost, you can start saving up for it. Figure out how far away your trip is and then break up the amount you need so you can make bi-weekly or monthly transfers to a specific savings account.

For example, if you’re taking a group trip in four months and need $1,500, you can plan to save $400 a month or $200 each paycheck if you get paid bi-weekly. You can even automate your savings so that the money is out of sight, out of mind. When it comes time for your vacation, the money will be ready and waiting for you.

Keep in mind that unexpected costs can come up during your trip, so it may be wise to save a little extra if you can.

4. Look for Fun and Affordable Things to Do

You don’t have to plan your group trip out by the hour, but it can be helpful to gather a list of activities and attractions to enjoy while you’re away.

You can also check to see if there are any deals available for specific activities. For instance, maybe you can catch a free museum or discounted boat ride on a certain day of the week. Or, perhaps a local restaurant has good ratings and provides bigger portions for less money. Some cities even have tourist packages where you can bundle a few popular activities together for one price.

Make sure you let everyone know about these options ahead of time so no one feels stretched financially during the trip.

5. Split Costs and Responsibilities

The great thing about traveling with a group is that you can split costs and responsibilities. Definitely take advantage of this when planning your group getaway.

For example, you can split Uber rides through the app, split up the cost of groceries, and use group discounts or Groupons for activities and outings. Depending on the size of your group, you may be able to spend less by renting a villa for the week instead of separate hotel rooms. You can also transfer money to pay each other easily with the Pay Friends payment app feature connected to your Chime Spending Account.

For supplies, be sure to ask around to see if anyone in the group has the item before you purchase it. For example, someone can bring a cooler if you’re planning a road trip or camping getaway, whereas you can all bring some snacks to share.

Stretch Your Dollar While Enjoying a Group Getaway

Budgeting for travel doesn’t mean you have to penny-pinch or forego having memorable experiences with your besties.

It all comes down to researching your trip ahead of time and working together to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the costs. From there, you can start saving early, take advantage of group deals, and split costs. Are you ready to plan your summer vacation?

 

How to Plan the Perfect Staycation: 6 Tips for Affordable Relaxation

It’s no secret that travel can be expensive even if you’re able to take advantage of hacks to lower the costs.

In fact, according to one study, the average family of four spends $4,580 on a vacation. And, many of these families expect to put at least $1,000 of their travel costs on a credit card.

Yet, there is a way to take time off without leaving your hometown and spending oodles of cash: Take a staycation.

What is a staycation?

A staycation is just like a vacation only you stay home. This means you don’t have to spend money on travel and lodging. You’ll still take time off and seek out new experiences, but you’ll be spending time near your home exploring your own town or taking day trips.

You can save a lot of money with a staycation and still bond and make memories with your loved ones.

Here are 6 tips to help you plan the perfect staycation.

1. Explore your city

A staycation can be just as fun as a vacation because you’ll have the opportunity to explore your city like never before. To start, think about whether there are there restaurants or attractions you’ve never been to.

Perhaps you can visit a new neighborhood eatery or attend a local festival. Maybe you can swap out your online shopping to check out some local shops and support the businesses in your area. Or, visit local museums and wander through the exhibits.

If you live near a metropolitan city, you may be able to take advantage of tourist attraction passes that allow you to visit several landmarks or attractions for one flat fee. You usually have a few days to visit all the places included in the pass. This is also a great way to experience the best of what your city has to offer – on a budget.

For example, CityPASS offers a low-priced pass in many cities, including Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Seattle and New York City. For a $64 adult Boston CityPASS ($52 for kids), you get access to five major attractions, including the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and Boston Harbor Cruises. You’ve got nine days to visit the attractions and your pass also gets you expedited entry into all sites. Not so shabby.

2. Play Catch Up

A staycation is a great way to catch up on errands, set up appointments, and organize different aspects of your life. Dentist appointment anyone?

Yes, this may sound like work, but you can schedule tasks on your own terms and check off a few things on your list, leaving you feeling refreshed.

Just think: You can accomplish things that have been on your to-do list for weeks, like getting routine maintenance checks on your car, going to a doctor’s appointment, and decluttering and organizing your home.

In true staycation fashion, you can even treat yourself to a nice lunch after you finish errands or visit a day spa for the afternoon.

3. Embrace the Outdoors

Ready to embrace the outdoors? Use your staycation to explore local trails. You can also plan an outdoor picnic with family, visit a park, go swimming if the weather permits, or ride a bike along a scenic path. If there’s a nearby state or national park, you can even take a day trip to feel as if you’re getting out of dodge.

Another option to consider: Take a trip to the local zoo. There are several free or low-cost zoos across the country. Most will even allow you to bring in your own food and snacks, cutting down on your costs even more.

4. Take on a New Hobby or Learn a New Skill

Part of the thrill of going on vacation involves going someplace new. Yet, you can still experience something new without traveling far from home. A good place to start: Try out a new hobby.

Think of something you’ve always wanted to do and plan to hone that new skill or passion during your staycation. Whether you want to start playing a new instrument, learn photography, fix cars, start sewing, or practice cake decorating, this is a great opportunity to give it a whirl. Perhaps you can even take a class in the area or check out free resources online. Skillshare, for example, is an online community that allows people to learn new things.

If you’re stumped for a new idea, try a paint and wine outing with friends. These are typically budget-friendly and you don’t need a lot of artistic skills.

5. Make Time For Friends

Take the initiative to reach out to friends you haven’t seen in a while and plan a get-together.

You can simply have a lunch date, invite your friends over, or go somewhere fun. To stay on budget, look for Groupon deals. For example, maybe you can check out a new coffee shop or restaurant in town.

You can also use your staycation as an opportunity to meet new friends. Sites like Meetup have tons of local groups that are designed to facilitate meetings of like-minded folks. There are groups for runners, parents, couples, board game lovers, creatives, pet owners, and more.

6. Relax, Just Do It

Staycations are perfect for relaxing.

Sleep in, take naps in the middle of the day, catch up on your Netflix shows, and take long walks. Before you staycation, you can deep clean your home and organize your space as if you were leaving town.

You can even plan your meals and prep dinners in advance – then freeze them so you don’t have to worry about cooking. Decide on which days you’ll dine out and which days you’ll pull a ready-made meal from the freezer.

If there are any beaches by your home, plan to spend a day there relaxing and swimming. Or, if you have a sauna or pool at your gym, this is the week to make use of it.

Determine how you want to relax during your staycation and make it happen!

Save Money and Refresh With a Staycation

A staycation can not only be a huge money-saver, but it can help you relax, enjoy time with friends and family, and return back to reality feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Most importantly, you don’t have to save up a ton of money to have a successful staycation. And, you also won’t spend as much as you would if you travel far away. Just think: These staycation ideas will help you have a memorable experience without airline fees, hotel costs, and high restaurant charges.

Are you ready to plan a staycation?

 

What To Do Now That You’re Broke From Coachella

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It was worth it.

You paid a steep price to make all of your Childish Gambino-Grande-Solange dreams come true. And witnessing Idris Elba fulfill his lifelong dream of scoring the Coachella DJ gig. Well, that was priceless!

Yes, the three-day music festival event may have drained your bank account – at least that’s how you felt in the moment.

Now, however, the music has faded away and it’s time to start saving money again and get your finances back on track. But how do you do this?

Luckily for you, we’ve put together a four step guide to shoring up your financial situation. And, if you play your budgeting cards right, you may even have enough cash for your 2020 Coachella trip. Read on to learn more.

1. Assess the Damage

It’s time to look reality in the face. How much debt did you rack up to pay for Coachella? How much money do you have left in your bank account?

To get started, calculate all the expenses you will need to cover from now until payday. Get real about your financial situation. You may have to cancel after work drinks or eat dinner at your parents’ house three times this week. But, whatever you do, don’t get behind on your bills.

The faster you get back on track, the better.

2. Create a Bare-Bones Budget

A bare-bones budget is your old budget with all of the extra perks stripped away.

Basically, you can include money for groceries, but don’t you dare think about that Cloud Macchiato from Starbucks. You had your fun, now it’s time to get back to adulting. Plus, you only have to live with a minimalistic budget until your bank account is back in the black.

Make a list of essential, non-negotiable expenses, such as your rent/mortgage, car payment and insurance. These bills get priority. Next, write down all of your other expenses. What can you cut out temporarily, like eating out or your Hulu subscription?

Get creative with flexible expenses like groceries. Make a game of it. What new meals can you come up with from leftover food in your pantry? Adjusting your meal plan to feature cheap staples like rice and beans can cut your food bill for the month as well. Other quick ways to save over the next month or two include:

  • No shopping other than groceries
  • Use cash for groceries. No backup payments to save you at check-out
  • Cut or pause all subscriptions, like Netflix, your gym membership and Prime
  • Carpool or rely on public transportation to save on gas
  • No eating out
  • Minimize utility usage – i.e. shorter showers and shutting lights off
  • Return anything you recently bought that is still returnable

3. Get Extra Money Fast

Now is the time to sell anything and everything that you no longer need. You can list small, valuable items on eBay to make shipping easier. Large items can be sold through local marketplaces, like Craigslist and OfferUp. You can sell the rest of your stuff by holding a yard sale.

Here’s another idea to raise cash fast: See if you can put in a few extra hours at work or pick up more shifts. Try offering babysitting, dog walking or cleaning services to family, friends and neighbors.

Devote every penny you earn towards debt payoff and balancing your budget. This is not the time to reward yourself with extra splurges.

4. Save for Next Time

Already making future Coachella plans? Money.com estimates that festival costs about $2,347. Start saving now by putting $200 into savings each month if possible. Automatic savings makes this part a cinch.

If you’re a Chime member, you can take advantage of automated savings in two ways. First, you can choose to have 10 percent of your paycheck automatically transferred on to your Chime Savings Account. Secondly, you can have every purchase you make on your Chime Visa® Debit Card rounded up to the nearest dollar. The round up amounts are automatically transferred to your Chime Savings Account. Cha-ching.

Plan Before You Splurge

Life without trips and adventures is kind of blah. And, while Coachella may have put you in a tough spot financially, hopefully it was a wonderful experience that you’ll remember for years to come.

You can have the best of both worlds, though. Every new adventure or splurge doesn’t need to derail your budget. By following the guide above, you can effectively plan and save for Coachella, as well as other fun experiences.

Are you ready to start saving and budgeting so that you can achieve your financial goals and treat yourself to special events?

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