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How to Set Goals

How-to-Set-Goals

We all make goals and we make them for many reasons. They can help us be productive in both our personal and professional lives.

Explore this Guide:

  1. Make the Main Goal
  2. Find the Goal’s Purpose
  3. Make a Detailed Plan
  4. Measure the Results
  5. Reward Yourself

But if you don’t know the key aspects of goal making than your efforts can seem pointless. By taking into mind the following key components of goal setting, you can successfully accomplish all your goals.

Why Make Goals?

Goals are how you decide to do something and the plan you take to achieve it. Goals consist of long term and short term goals. Sometimes your goal is a big picture, far in the future kind of goal, and other times your goal is closer to the present. Sometimes long term and short term goals can be seen as main goals and sub goals that lead you to your ultimate goal.
For instance, maybe you want to start a successful business, having a successful business would be your long term or ultimate goal. All of the tasks and accomplishments that are necessary for you to get to your ultimate goal are the short term goals or subtasks or steps necessary to achieve the main objective. One of those short term goals might be getting the papers for your business in order.

inspirational-quote-goals

Different Kinds of Goals

Goals don’t just have to be professional. You can make fun goals too! There are lots of formal, professional, and serious goals we need to make throughout our lives, but there are personal and fun goals we can be making along the way as well. Make goals for your more professional and serious successes, but set goals for yourself as well, like to get out every Friday, or to save up for a vacation this summer. You’ll also want to be making financial goals, like to save up for a new car, or spend less on entertainment this month. If you ever need help reaching your financial goals and getting back on track you can take out a personal loan at Check City.

  • Professional Goals (goals about work, or your own professional endeavors, hobbies, or talents)
  • Fun Personal Goals (goal to save up for vacation this summer)
  • Serious Personal Goals (goals to better your physical or mental health)
  • Financial Goals

What are SMART Goals?

SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. It is an acronym that describes the kind of goals you want to make. You want the goals you make to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
 
Don’t just make a blanket goal to lose weight, make a specific goal to lose 10 pounds.
Utilize a scale to measure your progress.
Plan to achieve your goal by formulating a new plan for your meals and exercise.
Make a plan to lose weight because this goal is relevant to your life, and will give you tangible health benefits.
Give yourself a timeline by planning dates for weigh-ins, with specific weight goals for each weigh-in date.

1. Make the Main Goal

Don’t have too many goals at one time. This may be difficult if you are creating a business, but that is why hiring dependable employees and delegating effectively and communicating well with each other is so important, especially in the beginning. If any one person in your project has too many goals they need to achieve they can have trouble focusing and end up not accomplishing anything very well. So delegate goals so that each person can have the most focus possible for their manageable set of goals. That way, each goal gets accomplished on time, and in the best way, done all the way and not incomplete or done poorly.

2. Find the Goal’s Purpose

Every goal needs a clear sense of purpose. You need to have a specific objective in order to effectively motivate yourself to achieve this goal. Yes you may want to have a successful business but why? Think about your reasons and write these down. Many successful businesses today made it big because they had a clear motivation behind all they do, and a lot of them end up sharing this in their company’s origination stories or in their company motto.

3. Make a Detailed Plan

When planning your goals you’ll want to list out a series of steps or subtasks, or sub-goals that are going to get you to your main goal. You want these steps to be very specific things you can really do. Be detailed so nothing important falls by the wayside. For instance, only saying “make print ads” may not be helpful. You also need to plan out how you’re going to make them, when they are due, and where they’re going to get posted, and who is in charge of getting the permissions to post them at each location. Right all these things out, plan out the times, the places, and the people involved.

4. Measure the Results

Keep track of how you’re doing. If the steps you have in your plan aren’t giving measurable results than you can change your plan.

5. Reward Yourself

Sometimes an extra motivator or benefit is helpful when reaching your goals. In life we always like to have good things to look forward to, so feel free to reward yourself when you reach your goals. There are many healthy ways you can reward yourself. You can reward yourself with food, like a celebratory dinner, or a favorite dessert. You can also reward yourself by going shopping and buying yourself a gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Activities like fun outings, a movie or spa night, can also be great ways to reward yourself for achieving something.

 

goal-chart-printable

Create a Goal Workspace

It can also help to have a place where you write all these things down. Some even find it helpful to hang up your planned goals where you can see them every day. It can also help to place your plans in the most relevant place. For example, if your goal is about losing weight it would make sense to keep your goal chart in the kitchen, or near your treadmill. If your goal is about work then you’ll want to keep your goal chart in your workspace.

  • Put your goals on a calendar. With a calendar you can easily outline the dates of your plan.
  • Put your goals on a template, or chart. With a chart you can keep track of your progress levels and check off items once you’ve finished sub-goals.
  • Use an app. There are countless apps out there to help you track your habits and reach your aspirations. Here are some of the best goal setting apps:

Daylio is a great app for journaling and tracking your moods. It is also one of the most customizable apps, and allows you to track anything you want. It has a pleasing design, icons, and color palettes.

Loop is another great app for tracking. With Loop you can easily see all your goals and their progress in one place.

ATracker has some nice calendar and task features.

TickTick is a great goal app for groups or partners. You can sync and share tasks and goals with other people. There’s also a function to help you focus on certain tasks.

In some ways, goals are how we live our lives. It’s how we make decisions and enact change. Knowing how to properly set goals can help you level up in your personal and professional life. As Les Brown once said, “Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life.”

READ MORE

Learn more about setting goals by reading, “How to Set Goals the Easy Way.”

Read more about SMART goals and how this acronym applies to your personal life by reading, “Personal Goal Setting: Planning to Live Your Life Your Way.”

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

Make Your Own Adventure Club and Get Outside!

Make-Your-Own-Adventure-Club

As a kid you were probably forced outdoors at some point during the day to play outside and get your energy out. You probably noticed as you got older that now, if you want to get outside time you have to provide it for yourself. And if you live in an apartment or the city you may not be able to get quality outdoors time just by going into your backyard. If you live in the city you might have to plan your outdoor time even more as you coordinate trips to local outdoor hot spots. Getting yourself out in nature might be easier if you form a like-minded group to get you going. With the steps and tips below you can make your own Adventure Club and explore nature with your friends!

Why Going Outside is Good for You

Get vitamin D. You can actually get vitamin D from sun exposure. Vitamin D is very important to our health and it doesn’t always come in abundance in the foods we eat. One of the best ways to get your daily dose of Vitamin D is through being outside in the sunshine. It can help you have strong bones and protect you from certain diseases and ailments. Improves your immune system.
Opportunity to exercise. Unless you’re sitting in a chair it’s hard not to exercise at least a little whenever you go outside. And every ounce of exercise contributes to your overall health! Even a short stroll outside can do wonders for your physical health.
Elevate your mood. A lot of things about being outside can give your mood a healthy boost. The light, the sun, the fresh air, or the flowers and trees can help you feel a little better about the world if you give them the chance. But there are also studies to support this idea. The National Institute of Health (NIH) found in a study of theirs that just walking outside for a bit each day boosts creativity by 81%. Who knows what creative potential you might unleash just by getting yourself outside a little each day!
Good for children. Studies show that being outdoors helps kids focus better. Spending at least an hour outside every day can increase their focus, overall wellbeing, and help them get better grades.
It can be easy to let kids go run around outside and get all the exercise and vitamin D they need, but as we get older it can become harder to find time to get outside. One way to make getting outside easier is to give your outdoor time some kind of purpose.

  • Exercise outside.
  • Go for a daily stroll at the same time.
  • Get outdoor furniture. Once you have some place to set up camp outside, it can be easier to take things you normally do indoors, outdoors while you soak up some sunshine.
  • Make your outside time a group activity by creating your own outdoors club!

outside-nature

What Kind of Outdoor Club Do You Want to Do?

There are many things to do outside and everyone has different interests. Some people really like swimming, or hiking, or kayaking. What outdoor activities most interest you? These are the things you’ll want to incorporate in the purpose of your outdoors club. Having a clear purpose for your club will help a lot once you start bringing other people into the group and involving them in planning.
You can focus on one thing. You can make it a club all about just one thing you know you like to do:

  • Skiing
  • Hiking
  • A sport
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Backpacking
  • Running
  • Kayaking
  • Biking

Or you can involve many outdoor activities. Instead of making a hiking group, you can decide to make an adventure club! That way you can plan activities around all things adventuresome.

Whatever the purpose of your outdoor club, you’ll also want to keep in mind who you want to invite to the group and the level of difficulty everyone will be ok with. For instance, hikes and trails are often ranked by difficulty. They can be considered easy, moderate, or hard. So while you are deciding your club’s purpose remember to also consider the level of experience and difficulty you want to involve, and remember to disclose these things to those you invite to the group.

Who Do You Want in the Group?

Outdoor groups can be for all groups of people! You can make no restrictions about who can join the club, or you can decide to make your group exclusive in some way. For example, if you’re a dad looking to bond with your kids through fishing, you might make a fishing club specifically for dads and their kids. You can also restrict the group to certain age groups, like if you’re interested in getting to know more people your age.

Logistics

The last thing you’ll want to figure out before publishing your new group is all the logistics. Below are a couple questions to consider and make decisions about before going live with your new club idea.

  • How are people going to get places?
  • How are you going to get equipment?
  • How will your group stay in contact?

Maybe you’ll expect everyone to use their own cars and equipment to get places, or maybe you’ll want to talk to local rental places for any equipment your group might need. You can also keep in contact with your group in many ways. If you all know each other you can simply create a group text message. Or you can make a Facebook group, or use other messaging apps like Slack, or GroupMe. There are almost infinite options nowadays for where to keep your group’s base of operations.
flyer-outdoors-club

Now that you have your group all set up you can start reaching out for people to start joining. One great way to get members is to create a public Facebook group online. You can also try inviting some people you know and ask them to bring a member or two of their own.

You can also make flyers to hang up around town to meet new people! A flyer doesn’t have to be complicated, just make sure it has all the information they’ll need.

Fun Ideas

There are endless ways you can really have fun with getting more involved in your community and getting to know new people through starting a club like this.

  • Bring snacks.
  • Have a group potluck event.
  • Be educational. You can make a presentation about outdoor etiquette, safety, or hire a trial guide to teach your group about different plants you come across during your hike.
  • Do volunteer work every other month. You can volunteer to clean up a place you visit.
  • Make a website, a blog, or social media accounts for your group and post about the trips and activities you do!

Other Good Ideas

  • Have regular meetings.
  • Assign responsibilities to different people. You can nominate different group members to be the President, Vice President, Trip Coordinator, Treasurer, or Social Media Manager.
  • Fundraise for your trips. You can have a group yard sale or bake off to save up money for your bigger trips or activities. Sometimes your outdoor adventures are going to require fast funds while you’re in between paychecks. If your Adventure group finds itself short on cash, you can always get a payday loan or a personal loan from Check City and pay it back when you return from your trip.

Getting yourself outside is important. The great outdoors are meant to be appreciated and can shower you with mental and physical benefits. You don’t have to go through the trouble of making an outdoor club to get outside, but it can help motivate you to make going outside more of a habit, and who knows! You might just make some great new friends along the way.


READ MORE
Read all about vitamin D and it’s health benefits.
 
Check out another Check City Blog article, “Getting Outside This Spring” to learn some other great ways to get outdoors more often!

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

Cheap Ways to Enjoy the End of Summer

If you are living on a tight budget, know that you’re not alone. Most Americans wish that they had more spending money in general.

Americans find it difficult to save their money, so it may feel like you just can’t keep your money in your pocket. It always finds its way out eventually.

This dilemma becomes particularly potent when you realize that the summer season is quickly fading. You only have a few weeks left to enjoy the beautiful summer freedom.

What are you going to do with your precious few weeks that are left? Here are a few cheap end-of-summer ideas that will keep your family busy and happy and feeling like you haven’t let the summer go to waste.

Try Picking Your Own Fruit

One great way to spend the end of your summer is to go pick your own fruit. There are many states that are ideal for fruit picking.

These states include: Michigan, Oregon, Maine, New Jersey, North Carolina, Washington, California, and Florida. Blueberry season lasts from May until September, so you still have quite a bit of time to go and pick berries.

If you do not live in one of the above mentioned states, do not worry. There are plenty of blueberry farms scattered throughout the entire United States.

Many people who own blueberry farms let guests come and pay a small fee to have the experience of picking blueberries. Guests usually get to pick the blueberries that they pick while at the farm.

Guests have reported that this experience is very fun and fulfilling for the whole family. If you and your family do not have a berry bush or easy access to something similar, it may be the first time you and your family have picked berries in your life.
It can be a very fun, lighthearted, and easygoing experience for all ages. Guests who pick berries at farm report fun times taking the berries home and finding different recipes to use them in.

Guests report having lots of fun cooking the berries into pies, putting them into shakes, and making jam out of them. Some people even freeze the berries and use them in pancakes and muffins during the winter.

Using the berries during the winter keeps the spirit and hope of summer alive in your home. There are also other fruits and vegetables available for picking and harvesting.

Tomatoes, squash, and watermelon all reach the peak of their growing process in August. Visit pickyourown.org to find out where you can harvest the fruits and vegetables that are the most ripe right now.

Go For A Swim

Another great idea for a cheap, end-of-summer activity is to go swimming in the ocean. If you live near the ocean, or can take a day trip to the ocean, you should do it.

The water on the East Coast of the United States reaches its warmest temperatures during August. It could be a lovely family activity to take a day and go visit the beach.

There is nothing else quite like swimming in the warm ocean water and basking in the ocean sky. Go to the beach to feel refreshed and rejuvenated before you have to return to your regular work routine in the fall.

You do not even have to buy an expensive swimsuit in order to go to the beach. Just look for deals and sales online and in-store and you will be good to go.

Even if you can’t seem to find a swimsuit that is very cute, it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that you have a good time and that you make memories.

Try to Get One Last Crop In

No one will remember what you wore anyway. Another great way to enjoy the end of summer is to start a garden.
You may think that it doesn’t count as a summer activity if you’re preparing your garden for the fall, but it definitely counts. Make sure to prepare your plants for the summer heat, though.

You do not want them to dry up and die because you have not prepared them for the heat. Try wetting the soil a day or two before you plant the seeds, planting them deep into the soil, and making sure they have shade once they are planted.
These are necessary precautions to take when you are planting seeds during the summer. Also be sure to water the plants at least 2 or 3 times a day.

It is difficult to water plants too much when they are constantly being exposed to the hot summer fun. End your summer with a band with these fun, cheap, end-of-summer activities.

Saving Electricity While Still Keeping Cool

The summer time heat is in full swing, and with most of the country absorbing sweltering heat waves as the months of July and august pass, many homeowners are seeing a dramatic spike in their electricity bills. This sudden rise in the monthly electric bill should not come as a total surprise however, because over seventeen percent of the average household’s annual energy bill is spent solely on cooling the home.

In other words, on average, the average American household spends seventeen percent of their total energy costs per year on cooling the house. That percentage equals an average of over three hundred and seventy five dollars per year spent on cooling the home.

With summer heat causing many to turn on their air conditioning units, and estimated eighty four percent of American homes are equipped with air conditioning services, those numbers on the monthly electric bills in Pennsylvania are sure to rise with the added strain of a consistent air conditioning unit. For those families who wish to save more on their cooling costs and electric bills in the United States, there are ways to lower the electric bills by switching off the air conditioning while still keeping the home nice and cool.

Open The Windows at Night

One of the most common, yet surprisingly underutilized, ways to keep a home cool while switching off the air conditioner is to open the windows at night. While many homeowners in the United States know this trick to a cooler house, there are still a surprisingly large number of individuals and families who do not choose to do so.

By opening the windows at night, a home is able to bring into it the cool night air. Even on those nights when the temperature outside stays relatively warm, the cross ventilation of a home with windows wide open will be able to cool the home naturally without having to spend money by switching on the air conditioner.

But Close Them During The Day

A homeowner needs to remember, however, that keeping the windows open during the hot mornings and afternoons can actually make a home heat up rather than cool down, so after keeping the windows open all night, a homeowner will want to close the windows in the morning. Closing the windows in the morning will likewise trap the cool air in the home and allow for the home to stay cooler for longer.

Turn Off… Everything

Another way to cut even more from the electricity bill while simultaneously cooling the home is to shut off the lights in a home. The standard light bulbs used in the vast majority of homes will typically put off just as much heat as they do light, meaning that they can actually heat a room if they are left on for a long period of time.

Similarly, other electronic devices, such as computers and TVs, put off great deals of heat. To save both energy and the cool air inside of a home, a homeowner cannot just switch these appliances off, but they actually have to physically unplug them from the walls.

This is because some of these appliances, such as computer monitors, laptop fans, and TVs still put off large amounts of heat from their surface even when the appliance has been switched off and is in standby mode. By unplugging these appliances from the wall, the homeowner can effectively switch off the electricity flowing to the appliance which will save money on electricity bills while also limiting the heat radiating into the room.

Use Fans Wisely

Another way for people to beat the heat this summer while limiting their use of the air conditioner is with the appropriate use of fans. Fans are a bit tricky to manage because they too use electricity, so while the air conditioner may not be in use, those who over use their fans may be spending just as much or more than they would if they let their air conditioner run all day.

Homeowners can avoid high electricity bill costs but still use fans if they will use them effectively. The most important thing to remember while using fans to cool the home is that fans cool people and not rooms; or in other words, using a fan to cool oneself is a great way to save on cooling costs, but once one leaves the room the fan should be switched off as it will do nothing to cool the room but still be sucking electricity and money from the homeowner.

To keep a home cool in the summer without using an air conditioning unit can be a difficult challenge for most homeowners. But taking the steps to cool a home without using electricity will help a family to save more money on their electricity bills in the United States.

Cutting Costs on the Water Bill

Summer is in full swing and that means that water bills across the country are on the rise. Historically water usage goes up exponentially in July and August so in this post we’ll cover some simple ways that you can save on your water bill not only during the summer but year round.

The once a month water bill can sometimes be the forgotten child of the monthly utility bill round up. With other utility bills, like the gas and electric bills, often adding up to be more than what is owed to the city water provider, the monthly water bill can often times go over looked by those who are striving to save money by home conservation practices.

But this should not be the case as saving on the monthly water bill can actually save a household up to hundreds of dollars per year, and those savings will be even more important in the future. The saving practices and conservation efforts by homeowners on their water usages will soon become a vital money saving technique due to the upcoming repairs on water pipelines across the nation.

According to the American Waterworks Association, there are over one million miles of water pipelines spanning the United States that will need to be repaired or replaced by the year 2035. The costs of those repairs are estimated to reach over one trillion dollars and the majority of that money will be garnered from the citizenry’s monthly water bills.

While the estimated increase to homeowners and property owner’s water bills will be nation-wide and seemingly unavoidable, the practices of in-home water conservation will still be vital for a family to over spend on their already increased water bill. Conserving water every month in the home can be simple for those who will take the time to turn water saving techniques into habits.

It Starts in The Kitchen

One of the major areas of the home where water saving practices can come into effect is within the kitchen of the home. The kitchen area of the home is often a leading area of water use due to the kitchen sink being in use for cooking and cleaning, as well as the dishwasher using gallons of water to wash the family’s dishware.

Don’t Wash By Hand

While some may think that washing dishes by hand will save them money on their water, the truth is that washing dishes by hand will actually expend more water than if a family uses their dishwasher correctly. So the first way that a family can save money on their water utility bill is to stop washing their dishes by hand.

It is estimated that those who wash their dishes by hand will expend up to twenty seven gallons of water in the process while those who use their dishwasher to wash their dishes expend only fifteen gallons of water per load, or, if they own an energy efficient model dishwasher, that number could be closer to four or five gallons. As one can see, choosing to use the water over washing the dishes by hand can save a family gallons of water per cycle and per month.

Use the Dishwasher Correctly

Along with using the dishwasher over washing dishes by hand, a family can save even more water if they will use their dishwasher correctly and efficiently. The first way to use the dishwasher of a home effectively is to make sure that the dishwasher is fully loaded before every use.

Having the dishwasher completely filled on both top and bottom racks will directly translate into having an efficient dishwasher, as less water will be used to clean the dishware per dish. Additionally, another way that a family can get more from their dishwasher is by understanding the dishwasher’s capabilities. Many modern dishwashers have settings such as energy efficient or eco-friendly cycles as part of their options for cleaning and switching the dial to have the dishwasher run on these settings will have the machine use less water overall. Likewise, most modern dishwashers can handle the grim of food stains and little pieces of excess, meaning that a family no longer needs to pre rinse their dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.

Not only is pre-rinsing dishes is literally a waste of water if a family owns a modern dishwasher, but it also leads to another water waster while in the kitchen—running the disposal. Every time the disposal is engaged, the water must be turned on.

Running the disposal can be avoided by simply saving the leftovers for future consumption (another helpful money saving tip, by the way) or by throwing the unwanted leftovers into the trash or a compost pile. Saving water in the kitchen is a primary way for families to save money on their monthly water bill.

Shorten Those Showers

In connection with saving water in the bathroom by taking shorter showers or smaller volume baths and by turning off the water while brushing teeth, saving water in the kitchen will help to save a family potentially hundreds of dollars per year on water bill costs.

5 Affordable Ways to Save Money on Wedding Travel

wedding travel

When it comes to family weddings, you’ll go anywhere to be a part of a couple’s special day. Depending on the couple’s plans this can sometimes mean you’ll be travelling quite a distance to be a part of that special event. Traveling often comes with a host of expenses.

The following is a guide to help you attend that special day for as little as possible, because being able to attend your loved one’s special occasions shouldn’t have to be a financial burden. Take a look at these five tips to learn ways you can save while traveling to a wedding.

Tip 1: Start Ticket Shopping ASAP

plane tickets

First, look for travel options as soon as you learn the wedding date. This is especially helpful when you need to purchase a plane or train ticket for the wedding because then you have ample time to browse ticket prices. Don’t just visit the websites of your favorite airlines either. Check out discount flight sites like Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak, or Cheap Flights. If there are deals to be had, they’ll be on these discount ticket websites.

It’s also a good idea to check ticket prices on different days of the week because prices will go up and down depending on the day. Some people even say that Tuesdays are the best day to check tickets because prices often go down right after the weekend.

Tip 2: Carpool When You Can

carpool

Second, if the wedding location is close enough, consider the price of carpooling. Five people paying for the gas of a fuel-efficient sedan can often go a distance of three to six hundred miles for much cheaper than the price of a plane ticket. That’s even considering it’s a round trip car ride. You’ll have to spend a bit of extra time on the road, but you’ll save money in the long run.

Not only that, but family members passing through can often offer you a ride for free. It’s always polite to offer to help pay for gas, but even if you give them gas money, riding along with family members can often be cheaper. Road tripping for the wedding with fellow family members can also allow you to catch up with loved ones you haven’t seen in awhile. But basically, whenever you’re traveling, it’s always a good idea to plan early and to plan cheaper options.

Tip 3: Pack Your Own Food

pack food

Third, pack your own food! It’s easy to be pressured to spend lots of money on eating out whenever you get to a new city and want to spend quality time with friends and family through eating together. You can always budget for eating out with your loved ones during celebratory times like weddings, but you can also pack a lot of foods to keep you from needing to eat out for all your meals while you’re traveling. You can pack granola bars, sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, fruits, crackers, string cheese, trail mix, and cut up vegetables. There are lots of travel food ideas you can use to keep yourself healthy and nourished while you travel without breaking the bank.

If you avoid eating out as much as possible you’ll save between $10 and $20 per person, per meal. After a three day weekend, that can mean saving yourself between $30 and $80, depending on the eating habits of your family.

Tip 4: Choose Gift Cards Over Gifts

gift cards

Fourth, remember that the wedding gift is a lovely donation to a newly married couple. But if you have to travel a long way for the wedding, and possibly pay for your outfit for the wedding, then paying for an expensively fancy wedding gift can be difficult. That’s why wedding registries can be extremely helpful because the couple will have lots of gift ideas for you to choose from, making it easier for you to find a gift you can afford.

Another great wedding gift idea for wedding guests who are on a strict budget is to give them a gift card. Putting some money on a useful gift card can be much less expensive than some actual gift items. You can also pool your money together with others to buy the couple a more expensive gift without having to pay for the whole gift on your own.

Tip 5: Share Hotel Rooms

hotel rooms

Finally, consider looking into sharing more than just a car as you arrive in the city. Share a hotel room too! You may not get the privacy that you’re hoping for, but you can at least save a little money for a few nights on your sleeping accommodations. Consider who you could room with, where you could go for a cheap hotel room, and work out a rooming situation that can get you through the wedding without spending full price all by yourself for your hotel accommodations that weekend.

 
Traveling to a wedding doesn’t have to be as extravagant as the wedding itself. You don’t need the most expensive form of travel. You don’t need to eat out every day of the weekend. You also don’t need to spend your whole wedding travel budget on the wedding gift.

If you have financial concerns, don’t be ashamed of keeping to a tight budget. After all, it’s the celebration of a couple’s love that this even should be all about anyway. That said, don’t be afraid to use a payday loan so you can reserve a cheaper ticket.

How to Save Money on Transportation

Its summer time and that means that personal and family vacations are just around the corner. Whether you’re planning your dream vacation to the South of France or you’re going to a family reunion at the Grand Canyon a little extra money can go a long way when it comes to your summer vacations.

For some people it makes sense to get a cash advance before heading out on their vacation so that they can have a little extra spending money, for other’s they’d prefer to save some money as they prepare for their vacation. In this post we’ll cover several ways that you can save as you prepare and embark on your big summer vacations to make sure you don’t go broke in your travels this summer.

Save Money on Airfare

If you travel by airplane often, then it is worth it to find the best deal possible on airfare. One of the most important things you can do to save money in regards to airfare is to examine all the options.
Compare the costs of different carriers and different airports. You may be used to flying out of the airport that is closest to your home, but that may not be the cheapest one.

Check Pricing from Different Airports

You may be able to find cheaper tickets out of a farther airport, and even factoring in gas money you will save money. Another great way to save money on airfare is to travel on the days that have the lowest fares.

The days with the lowest fares are usually the days in the middle of the week, like Tuesday or Wednesday. These are the days that are farthest away from the weekend, and so less people are traveling.

Don’t Go for the First Deal You Find

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always be looking for the best deal. Don’t settle for the first price you find on the Internet.

Whether you are looking for your tickets yourself online, or working through a travel agent, always ask for the lowest fares possible. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and you will very likely get the original price lowered.

Save Money on Car Rentals

Once you get to your destination, you will most likely need to rent a car. Car rental agencies are notorious for charging fee upon fee upon fee for people to rent cars.

The way to get around this is to compare the total cost of each car renting experience between the agencies you’re looking at. Be blunt when you’re asking the clerk about how much it will cost because they will sometimes try to hide fees from you by simply not mentioning them.

If an agency has a special offer going on, take advantage of that. Be wise, though; make sure that the offer is actually going to offer you a discount and isn’t just a flashy gimmick.

Car rental agencies also try to offer you lots of different liability and insurance options. These may seem like a good idea to purchase in the moment, but you may already have coverage from your already existing insurance company.

Make sure to check with your insurance company preferably before you’re at the desk at a car rental agency. You do not want to double up on coverage and have to pay more money in the long run.
Now let’s switch gears to talking about cars. Most adult Americans own their own car.

Save Money on Gasoline

Many Americans complain about how much money they spend on gasoline for their cars. What most Americans don’t realize, though, is how much money they can save by being wise about buying gasoline.

Americans can save hundreds of dollars per year by only buying gas from the cheapest stations, and only using the lowest possible octane allowed for their vehicle. Many people are ignorant about what their car needs and this unfortunately costs them money.

If you are currently looking for auto insurance for your car, there are ways to save money on that as well. Again, it comes down to comparing prices across different agencies.

Contact your state insurance department to get a complete list of prices charged by various insurance companies in your state. Be aware that you may not want to automatically go with one of the lowest prices listed; it’s important to compare what coverage each company offers as well.

If the insurance is cheap, but the coverage isn’t very extensive, then that really isn’t a good deal. When you’ve decided on an insurance company to go with, make sure to meet with an insurance agent who works for that company and explain your situation to them.

If they are a reputable company, they will work with you to work out an insurance premium that is fitting for your needs. There are hundreds upon hundreds of ways to save money; all you have to do is try them.

Are Timeshare Investments Worthwhile?

It’s that time of year again when everyone gets sick of the cold weather that winter has to offer and they start to day dream of warmer times and locations. For those of us you that plan ahead, winter can be one of the busiest times of year for vacation planning. Most vacation rentals open up their schedule around the first of the year and in most cases its first come, first serve to try to get your favorite cabin, condo, or camping spot. In the midst of all this vacation planning madness it can be tempting to start looking into “investing” in a timeshare.

If you’re not familiar with timeshare properties, these are properties that are typically resort style condominium units that you can buy rights to use. In exchange for your investment you are given a set amount of time (typically one week) each year that you get to use the property.

It’s easy to get sucked into timeshare sales pitches, some of the top time share companies in the nation will travel from city to city offering free dinners, discounted vacations, and other gifts and prizes for just attending the seminar, once they get you there they will lay out a very convincing sales pitch by illustrating things that time shares will do for you and your family such as:

  • Create Family Memories
  • Locations from Myrtle Beach to Snowy Colorado
  • A Wise Investment for the Future

It’s important to understand though that the sales reps at these seminars work on a commission so sometimes you’ll get sales reps that will either tell you half-truths or just flat out lie to you about what you’re getting in to. Most timeshare owners that are dissatisfied with their purchase are unhappy because of lies that were told to them during the sales process.

Some of the most common lies include:

  • Timeshares can save you money
  • Timeshares are a financial investment
  • Timeshares can easily be rented or sold at anytime
  • Exchanging a timeshare is possible at any time, any place
  • The timeshare offer is only good for today

As you consider investing your money in something like a time share it’s important to pull the emotional side of things out of the equation. It’s easy to let yourself think that if you don’t move forward with an investment like this you’re a bad spouse or parent because you don’t care about investing in memories with your family but it’s important to understand that you can still have amazing family vacations and oftentimes for less than the cost of a time share.

You see, what most people don’t understand about time shares is the fact that when you purchase a time share, once the initial investment is paid off, you still have the maintenance fees for as long as you “own” the property. These fees can oftentimes cost anywhere from $1200 – $2000 per year which is more than a nice annual family vacation would cost.

Something that most people don’t understand about timeshare properties is that they aren’t necessarily designed to just replace hotel expenses as they are pitched, the system itself is designed for people who might like to own a second home but maybe not be able to afford a full vacation home or similar resort facilities. So if you’re not at the point in your life where you have the additional income to pay a second mortgage, then timeshares are definitely not for you.

Some of the reasons we recommend NOT “investing” in a timeshare are:

First, it’s not an investment. The term investment would imply that you’re going to be able to sell it, ideally for a profit, at a later date and you can’t give the things away once you own them. All you are doing essentially is pre paying your hotel bill for the next 20 years in advance and those of us that know anything about money know that you’d be much better off putting that money in an investment and the investment would produce enough for you to be able to pay your hotel bill.

People like the idea of a condo and having a place that they can go. They’d probably even like to use a condo as a family thing being a place that they can go to, a traditional location that they can go to every summer. But it’s important to understand that people have done that for years without time shares. You can still go to the lake, but rent the lake house or beach condo for a couple weeks instead of tying yourself down to a lifetime maintenance fee.
The problem is that you are locked in, and while some of the time share people give you the ability to trade back and forth but even then they’re telling you where you can stay even after you’ve “pre paid” your hotel you are just stuck in these things. In a recent survey of people who had gone through the process of purchasing a timeshare they had about a 98% dissatisfaction rate.

Second, they are almost impossible to get rid of. If you are able to sell your property you will never get the initial $5,000 – $50,000 that you originally invested. Usually at best you’ll be able to find someone willing to take over your annual fees. We did a search in the completed listings section of eBay recently and out of the hundreds of people who

What if you’ve Already Invested in a Timeshare?

If you’ve already invested in a timeshare property then there are several options for you. The first option is to simply enjoy it. By simply remembering why you purchased it in the first place and make sure you get your use out of it each year. However, if you’re like the vast majority of timeshare owners that are trying to get rid of their properties then below is some information for you.

Beware of Companies That Approach You about Selling Your Timeshare

Unfortunately, timeshare owners have become a large target for scam artists. They realize that in this down economy people are desperate to get rid of their timeshare properties and would be open to having help in selling these properties. What typically happens is a person will call you knowing that you are a time share owner, they will then say that they can help you sell it or that they might even have a buyer already lined up but that you need to pay them for their services in advance.

Once you’ve paid them for their services they will most likely say that the sale fell through but that they will continue to search out buyers. Usually months or even years will go by without these companies ever delivering an interested buyer or refunding your money.

Another Option Is Donating

While some timeshares can maintain or increase in value over time, the vast majority of them decrease in value down beyond what you might be paying in annual fees. Now these timeshares can be almost impossible to get out of in fact a lot of the time you will see them selling for $100.00 or less on eBay because people just want to get out of the expensive annual fees. One way that people have found to get out of these timeshares is to donate them to charities.

Now it’s important to understand that this isn’t a guaranteed way out of your time share but it’s a way that you can get rid of your time share and have a nice tax deduction. In fact you will be able to get the full appraised market value of your time share as a write off even though the timeshare itself will probably sell for much, much less when the charity that you donate it to turns around to sell it.

Now there are some guidelines, you can’t donate properties that current have a mortgage on them or if you’re behind on your maintenance fees. When it comes to these types of donations a representative from the National Associates for Cancer Research called these types of donations a “win win” because the donor is reliever of the responsibilities of paying costly ongoing maintenance fees for a time share that they no long want and the charities are able to fund their programs. Now it’s important to point out that this isn’t a fast process. It can take up to three months to get the paperwork put together and process your time share so if you’re thinking of a tax deduction you’ll want to act sooner rather than later.

Being Safe Out on the Water

Summer is winding down, but there still is plenty of time to get out there and enjoy it before it is done. One of the most popular activities during the summer is getting out on the water and having a blast. Whether it is one a pond or lake or reservoir or river, getting out on the water allows people to have fun and cool down.

That being said, time out on the water should always be market by a focus on safety. There are a lot of possible risks to engaging in these activities, so making safety a priority will hopefully allow people to be able to avoid them.

First of all, always make sure that you go with other people- no matter what kind of activity you are doing. The buddy system cuts down accidents by a huge margin while also providing people to help out in times of need. Also make sure that everyone has a proper flotation device, such as a life jacket. While not mandatory for every activity, it is essential for things like boating and kayaking and river rafting.

Another good water safety tip is to be very safety conscious with what defines the activity. Give other boats plenty of room and always strive to be visible when boating. Don’t take unnecessary risks when kayaking or rafting and always stay in your skill range.

One of the most important things of all is to never endanger another person. Good natured fun and horseplay is entertaining out on the water, but people should never push it far enough to endanger someone else.

When it all comes down to it, being safe out on the water allows everyone to have a good time while avoiding any kind of incident. There still is a bit of summer left, so get out there and have a great time!

Making Your Vacation a Work Free Vacation

When you head out onto vacation this summer, leave your work behind. There are many reasons as to why you should take a work free vacation and here are some of them…

1. You will come back re-energized and ready to work. You will be more effective and you may even be excited to come back from work when you take some time away from work without checking into the office or checking your work e-mail the whole time that you are gone. The rejuvenation is a great way to become more optimistic about work and even to motivate creativity and problem solving solutions you may not have been able to develop before.
2. More than likely, the internet that you are using when you are traveling is not going to be the most secure of internet sources. When you are in a hotel, on the beach or even on a cruise ship, you want to make sure that you are transmitting confidential information. So, leave your laptop closed and keep your PDA in your purse. Keeping your information safe and secure is a much better option than trying to work and finding that an important piece of confidential information has been found.
3. Show your team that you trust them, even when you are not in the office. Calling in, micro managing and checking up on your team may be obnoxious and can get really old really quick. When you trust your team, you will be able to give them the vote of confidence that comes with a work free vacation for you. Should there be an emergency, you may want to have a line that your employees or coworkers can call, if it is absolutely necessary.

So, as you take your time off this summer, make sure that you are actually taking real time off.

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