Vacation Tips for the Money Conscious Traveler

Of all the joys that summer brings, vacation is one of the biggest joys of the season.  While your vacation can bring you much needed rest and relaxation, it can also bring unnecessary stress if you are not wary of your expenses.  Luckily, there are still plenty of ways to save an extra buck and avoid overspending while enjoying your escape.

jsummerabstract-resized-600The first step in every big decision is planning, and vacation is no exception. By taking the time to plan ahead, you will have more options to choose from before flights, resorts and other travel amenities get booked.  This means you will be able to choose the best available deals, saving you serious amounts of money.  Make an itinerary so you will know where you’re going each day of your trip, that way you can find coupons and discounts on certain restaurants and attractions. Also by planning ahead, you can be more flexible with your time, avoiding the days and months that are heavily traveled and highly priced.

Nowadays, airlines are charging more and more for extra luggage, heavy luggage and just luggage in general.  So, now more than ever, it is important to make sure you pack as light as possible.  Try reusing outfits after a few days and rolling your clothes to save space in your bags.  Also, if possible, pack as much as you can in your carry on to prevent checked luggage fees.  For guys, packing light is usually easier, so don’t be shy and lend out some of that extra space!  Not only will packing light save you money, but carrying a few less bags can make your vacation even less stressful.

Most likely, you’re already paying a decent amount for your vacation, so you don’t want to spend any more money than you have to.  Although this sounds like a no-brainer, you can’t imagine all the ways that you can waste money when you’re away.  Chances are you are vacationing in a location geared toward travelers like yourself.  The local businesses know this, and as a result they charge significantly higher prices.  To avoid falling into this trap, you may want to bring snacks, because if you want to get a snack from a local resort or attraction, more often than not, it’s going to be overpriced.  Also, you may want to cut down on souvenirs when you’re away.  Although they are a nice reminder of your journey, they can be expensive.  Plus, your pictures often do a better job of bringing back vacation memories, and these days, they cost next to nothing if you have your own camera.

Another way to avoid that extra spending is by taking advantage of anything free.  No matter where you go, the hotel you stay at is more than likely to have complimentary shampoo, so use it.  If you use shampoo that you bought at home, you’re just going to have to buy another bottle sooner than you would if you had used the hotel’s shampoo.  Also, many resorts will offer free stays in exchange for your business, so take advantage and enjoy yourself!

Now that you’re on vacation, you’re going to have to decide whether you will be paying for your purchases with a debit card or a credit card.  Although debit cards have their advantages – having a concrete value of money on your card forces you to budget – credit cards are typically the way to go on vacation.  First of all, sometimes resorts or rental car companies will put a hold on your card as collateral. If this hold exceeds the actual cost of what you budgeted for, it will have no effect on your credit card, but with a debit card it could end up frozen and incapable of making further purchases until the hold clears.  Also if your card gets stolen, it is much easier to deal with false charges to a credit card.  Plus, some credit cards earn rewards (like First Financial’s VISA® Platinum Card), which can really pile up during vacation spending.

If you’d like more details, check out our low rate First Financial VISA® Platinum Credit Card. We offer a great rewards program called CU Rewards, where you can accumulate a point for every dollar spent as a cardholder!

Now that you know the in’s and out’s of saving money on vacation, get out there, book your trip, and enjoy yourself!


Back to School Shopping: 10 Ways to Save Your Money

back-to-school1First Financial gathers some easy tips and advice in order for you to save on back to school shopping:

  1. Coupons and Coupon Codes: It’s all about the bargains. When shopping online, don’t forget about coupon codes that you can apply to your cart. Also, remember to look through newspapers and your junk mail to cut out coupons for various items that might be on your checklist.
  2. Get Ahead: Most clearance items go on sale after the season has ended. Take advantage of this opportunity and buy items for the fall and winter even though it may be spring or summer, you’ll be able to save money and use it for the following year.
  3. Use Your CU Rewards: All First Financial VISA® Platinum Credit Cardholders are eligible to earn reward points at various retailers by shopping on our CU Rewards Mall. For more information login to your CU Rewards account.
  4. Outlet Shopping: Many people forget that large retailers have factory outlet stores. Outlets are great for special deals and markdowns on your favorite brands without paying full-retail price.
  5. Leave the Kids at Home: Parents, you know all about the guilt-trip. Don’t be pressured to buy certain things and wind up spending more money than you have to!
  6. Use Your Smartphone: They’re called “smart” for a reason. For example, the Google Shopper app enables you to scan an item’s barcode and then it shows the prices for the same product at different stores in your area so you can get the best bargain.
  7. Utilize Social Media: While you’re poking around on Facebook and Twitter, make sure you “like” or follow your favorite stores and brands. They often post different deals, coupons, and promotions that are going on.
  8. Sharing is Caring: Buy in bulk and split it amongst the kids, or save it for later on in the school year.
  9. Don’t Forget About eBay and Amazon: Use these sites to your advantage; your kids don’t need the latest and newest technology, they need something that works and is fitting for them. Frequently, these sites will sell items new or barely used for a great price.
  10.  Maybe Hand-Me-Downs are Good: Do a little “summer cleaning” and go through your kids’ closets and see what could be passed on to another sibling.

If you need additional assistance paying for back to school supplies and clothing, First Financial offers one of the lowest credit card rates around. To learn more about First Financial’s VISA® Platinum Card and apply today, please visit our credit card page.