3 Vacation Expenses You’re Forgetting About

Vacation season is in full swing and it’s time to get packing. Your flight and hotel are booked and you’re ready to go. But before you take your trip, take a careful look at your travel budget. Are there certain expenses you may be overlooking? Be sure to take a look at these three commonly forgotten travel costs so you can plan your vacation budget accordingly.

Airport parking

In most cases, airports don’t require payment for parking until travelers return from their trip and head home. Therefore, once you arrive at the airport and head off to your destination, paying for parking may not be on your radar. It’s important to keep parking costs in mind while you’re enjoying your trip so when it’s time to pay, you still have enough set aside. Also, consider parking in economy lots over more expensive options. Even if you have to park farther away and take a shuttle to the terminal, at least you’ll be saving a few bucks after an expensive getaway.

Tipping

We all know to tip at restaurants, but it’s also proper to tip for other services while on vacation. The American Hotel & Lodging Association gives specific details on who should be given gratuity and how much. Examples of such services that are often overlooked by tippers include housekeepers, concierges, room service attendants, and travel guides.

Extra fees

It can often be difficult to find our preferred bank while traveling. Using ATMs at other banks can cost anywhere from $3-5, which can add up if you’re withdrawing cash multiple times. Instead, before your vacation begins, know where your bank’s ATMs are located or prepare to take out enough cash in advance before you travel. Aside from the cost of ATMs, also consider fees for using Wi-Fi (whether on a plane or in your hotel room) and data roaming charges. There’s nothing worse than using your phone for the internet and messaging only to come home to a massive cell phone bill you weren’t anticipating.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

How to Save for Your Summer Vacation

There’s no better time than the present to start planning your summer vacation. The sooner you get things planned and booked, the more you’ll save in the end, as prices commonly go up the closer you are to your departure date. What better way to look forward to the months ahead then to plan your vacation and turn your sunny dreams into reality?

Save weekly, not monthly.

Most of us try to put a little money away each month, but when your trip is just a couple months away, you’ll have very little time to save a sufficient amount. Instead, decide how much you need to stash away and begin saving each week to meet your goal. That way your savings plan will stay on the top of your mind weekly until your trip arrives.

Count your pennies.

Who doesn’t find random spare change in pants pockets or under couch cushions? Keep a change jar right by the door and add to it anytime you find yourself with extra change. It may seem like a small idea, but change jars can be more valuable than you think. Every little bit helps and when it’s vacation time, you’ll be happy to have even $15-20 extra spending money.

Spring clean for cash.

Spring is the perfect time to declutter your closet and make some extra cash. Go through your home and be decisive on ridding yourself of things you don’t actually need. Take part in a community yard sale (a great way to make side cash and get to know your neighbors better), or take detailed photos and post items for sale online. Check out Material World, PoshMark, and thredUP for easy and innovative ways to sell your gently used clothing.

Trim the fat.

When an extra expense like summer vacation is on the horizon, it’s time to really sit down and cut out anything unnecessary (and pricey) from your life. Do you watch programs from your streaming device and rarely watch cable? Cancel your cable television subscription if that’s the case. Do you find yourself taking walks at the park or going on a hike as opposed to running on the treadmill at the gym? If so, cancel that gym membership and stay outdoors. Take a close look at last month’s expenses and don’t hesitate to trim the fat – you’ll be glad you did when you’ve reached your savings goal and find yourself on a beach under a palm tree.

If you didn’t reach your savings goal – apply for a vacation loan from First Financial! You could get away for as little as $88 a month. Our summer personal loans also feature rates as low as 10.24% APR, flexible terms up to 60 months, and no pre-payment penalties.* Apply now!

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. The $88 payment example is based on a $1,000 loan at 10.24% APR for 12 months. Actual rate will vary based on creditworthiness. Subject to credit approval. A First Financial Federal Credit Union membership is required to obtain a Personal Loan, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. Terms and conditions of this offer may be subject to change at any time. Federally insured by NCUA.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

 

10 Tips for Vacationing on a Budget

065_tropical_sunset_21. Avoid peak season.

It’s no secret that as summer or holidays approach – travel costs, such as airfare and hotel lodging often go up in price. Consider taking your trip during an off-season month, such as September or October, as opposed to summer or the peak holiday months. The prices associated with your vacation may be considerably less, and better yet, your destination might be less crowded. All of this will help you travel on a budget.

2. Consider alternative lodging locations.

If your vacation takes you to a large city, it could be more cost effective to stay outside the city limits. The hotel rates, in some cases, can be much lower. Consider smaller hotel chains or bed and breakfast accommodations with fewer amenities to save money during your time off.

3. Try public transportation.

One of the best ways to get the local flavor of your vacation spot is to take public transportation. Plus, taking public transportation is also an excellent way to save money. Whether you go by bus, subway or train, you’re not burdened with car rental, gas, or parking costs. Plus, you get to see more sights because you’re not behind the wheel driving.

4. Avoid the trendy eateries.

Food can eat up a large portion of your vacation budget. Avoid the cost of high-priced meals by seeking out and going to lesser-known restaurants. Read up on local spots and plan ahead to make reservations at restaurants that are within your budget.

5. Watch the currency.

When planning a trip abroad, look into the currency exchange rate of the country you will be visiting as compared to American dollars. Try to plan your trip when the dollar is trending strong. This will give you more bang for your buck with hotel accommodations, food and local events.

6. Limit the souvenirs.

It’s nice to have a reminder of your travels, whether in the form of a t-shirt or baseball cap. Just be mindful of places in your destination where these items can cost far more than their usual amount.

7. Seek out friendly advice.

Do you have a relative or friend who’s been to where you’re vacationing? If so, ask for some advice, such as are there any inexpensive accommodations or restaurants that are within your travel budget?

8. Stay closer to home on your vacation.

Instead of vacationing abroad, where you could be subject to higher airfare, and unpredictable currency fluctuations, consider staying in the U.S. There are many national attractions. Plus, if you travel within the U.S., you won’t have to budget for the expense of renewing or obtaining a passport!

9. Take a road trip.

If you do stay close to home, an entertaining and cost-effective vacation could simply entail getting in your car. You’ll be able to travel at your own pace without the hassle of hurrying to airports or connecting flights. Just remember to be mindful of the fluctuating price of fuel as that could affect your travel budget.

10. Consider a staycation.

How well do you know your own state, or even your own city? A cost-effective and fun vacation idea could simply be a trip around your own city. With all the money you save by not taking a flight or renting a car, you could stay in a fancy hotel with all the amenities and pampering imaginable — just a few miles from your own home.

First Financial’s Summer Savings Account is ideal for those who are looking to save up for summer expenses or a vacation as well as employees who get paid 10 months out of the year. This account allows you to have money available for summer expenses during July and August and you have the ability to choose the amount of money you’d would like to have deposited each pay period through direct deposit or payroll deduction.*

You can elect to have your money transferred into a First Financial Checking Account in two different ways: Either 100% of funds can be transferred on July 1st, or 50% will be transferred July 1st, and the other 50% August 1st. This account can be opened at anytime – stop into any branch, or call us at 866.750.0100.

*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the Bronze Tier. Click here to view full Rewards First program details. Accounts for children age 13 and under are excluded from this program. 

Article Source: David Dorion, http://www.cuinsight.com/10-tips-for-vacationing-on-a-budget.html 

How to Take a Debt Free Vacation

We’re knee deep in summer and that means one thing: vacation time. While you definitely deserve some time off, we’d recommend not taking it at the expense of your budget. Unfortunately, a new study from Experian Consumer Services found that many Americans are doing just that.

Experian’s report found that 46% of people used a credit card to pay for their vacations because they hadn’t saved enough. Another 49% of travelers racked up credit card debt while on vacation and almost 70% admitted going over their budget. The most common items that added to vacationers’ credit card debt: hotels, airfare, entertainment, and dining out.

There are ways to keep your spending down and avoid going into credit card debt while on vacation. First, start small with your savings plan. Setting aside a low amount far in advance of the occasion will make things easier on you. If you try to cram your savings into the two months before the vacation, you could risk missing your mark. Also, if you’re driving, pack food for the road to avoid spending on costly meals.

When setting a budget for your vacation, keep in mind that there are always unexpected costs, so aim a little higher than you think you should. Just being mindful of debt can help. “You don’t want to come back with two weeks’ worth of memories and two years’ worth of debt,” Becky Frost, education manager for Experian Consumer Services, told USA Today.

Don’t rack up high interest – First Financial’s Visa Platinum Credit Card has no balance transfer fees, a Cash Advance Fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), and a Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount.*

Here at First Financial, rates are as low as 10.9% APR and first time card approvals are eligible for 2.9% APR for the first 6 months on purchases and balance transfers!**

Apply for a First Financial Visa Platinum Card today!

*APR varies from 10.90% to 17.90% when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. This APR is for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. No Annual Fee. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Platinum Card and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

**The 2.9% promotional rate will apply to purchases and balance transfers only for six statement cycles from the new account holder’s initial balance and/or initial transfer to the First Financial VISA Platinum card. The balance transfer promotional rate does NOT apply to cash advances.

Article courtesy of Chris O’Shea of Savvy Money.