Monthly Archives: August 2016

Your Dream Trip Will Be Comes True

imagesIf you’re a budget conscious traveler, you likely already know about farecasting sites like Hopper, FLYR, and Kayak, rock-bottom flight deals to Europe on carriers such asWow airlines, and the destinations where your U.S dollar will go the farthest this year.

But do you know how to save the money for your trip to begin with? If you consider yourself a newcomer to the world of personal finance, read on. Diane Harris, editor ofMoney magazine, shares her tips for saving money, below.

Make your goal concrete.

“When it comes to something like a trip—a very particular goal—there are a number of tricks to get yourself to save more,” explains Harris. “The first would be to make what you’re saving for as concrete as possible. Decide which vacation, when, where you want to go.”

“Also, put a number on it. Set a budget. See how much airfare would cost, your hotel, meals. Have a very specific idea of how much you need to meet your goal,” Harris says.

Find pictures of the destination, and post them by your computer. Or have a picture in your wallet—the more that you can remind yourself of the goal the more likely you are to save.

“Also, put a number on it. Set a budget. See how much airfare would cost, your hotel, meals. Know how much you need to meet your goal.”

Make saving easy.

“The next thing you want to do is make it easy on yourself,” says Harris. “Most of us are creatures of inertia—if you have to think about it each time you put money away, life will intervene.” Instead, Harris suggests setting up a separate travel savings account with automatic deposits. All it takes is filling out a simple form at the bank, or making a request to your HR department to have portions of your paycheck deposited into separate accounts. “Money that we haven’t touched—we don’t miss. You will automatically adjust your budget,” says Harris.

Also, if you have a sudden windfall (a raise, a bonus, a tax refund), put a portion of that toward saving for your trip as well.

Make it public.

Tell other people about your goal. “There’s a whole body of research showing that if you tell someone what your goal is, and if you write it down, you’re much more likely to achieve it. Tell your mom, tell your kids, tell your friends and co-workers that you’re taking this trip. Write it down and put it on your refrigerator or your bulletin board at work.”

Hold yourself accountable.

“The last thing is to hold yourself to it, to make yourself accountable.” There are a number of online tools to help with this step, but Harris recommends Stickk, a site designed to help people set goals, and then achieve them through reminders and alerts. You can even designate a friend as your “referee” to monitor your progress and keep you on-track.

Those are the basics, but Harris offered a few other tricks as well.

Save your change.

“Never pay with change—only pay in paper currency, and you’ll have a bunch of change at the end of the day,” Harris suggests. “Taking all of your loose change and putting it into a jar actually adds up,” she says.

Keep your hands to yourself.

“When you are shopping—don’t touch anything,” she says. “Research has shown that if you touch something, you feel psychological ownership, and you’re more likely to buy.”

Institute a waiting period.

“To avoid impulse shopping, wait 24 or 48 hours before you buy something. If you think about it again, and you won’t make half of the purchases.”

Write it down.

Another trick Harris recommends is to spend the week writing down everything you spend, from a stick of gum to a magazine. Studies have shown that once you see your habits written out, you’ll self regulate, and cut back.

Luxury Hotels With Affordable Price

Even if you’ve already shelled out top dollar for luxurious accommodations, getting a luxe little something for free can make your stay that much sweeter. While complimentary Wi-Fi and mini bars are nice, some gratis designer duds are even better. Forget stealing those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner—these five hotels provide their guests with some of the most lavish takeaways ever:

Kahala Hotel & Resort in Honolulu, Hawaii

Presidents, celebrities, and international royalty have been visiting this legendary hideaway for years—which is why they don’t just offer your typical toiletries. Book a suite for access to white sand beaches, stunning ocean views, a plethora of spa services, and—yes—free Bulgari beauty products. Known for their high-end jewelry, the company made these aromatic luxury products for the most discerning of customers.

Langham Place in New York, New York

Manhattan is home to some of the world’s most well-regarded works of art. WhileLangham Place, Fifth Avenue will gladly direct clientele to any number of galleries; the hotel has offers a little something extra for those little guests still working off an allowance. The “Little Collectors” package includes a stay in a Family Place Room or Family Suite, as well as a complimentary framed limited edition print and signed copy of David Levinthal’s book, “Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty.”

The Grand Amore Hotel and Spa in Florence, Italy

This 11-room luxury boutique is all about creating that ultimate personalized experience. Before arrival, guests fill out a pre-check-in questionnaire that covers everything from preferred mattress type to favorite flower. With such one-on-one attention, it’s no surprise that guests receive a departure gift that is both totally unique and completely tailored to them. One couple received an antique cigarette case from the 1930s and a ’60s vintage Gucci tie, while other guests have been gifted Ferragamo, Pucci, and Cavalli foulards.

The Upper House in Hong Kong, China

It might just be enough that their mini bar (or, as they call it, the “Maxi Bar”) is free, but The Upper House ups the ante when guests book Studio 70 rooms. What’s included: an in-room manicure or pedicure from the city’s top salon—using Christian Louboutin nail polish, no less—and a complimentary card holder from the brand to stand out in that next business meeting.

The Gritti Palace in Venice, Italy

Complimentary robes and slippers are always a nice added touch, but this former noble residence on Venice’s Grand Canal goes one step further. Those staying in suites receive handmade slippers courtesy of the Venetian fabric company—and the palace’s interior decorator—Rubelli. And, just to make sure guests feel a little more like royalty, the hotel stocks bathrooms with Acqua di Parma amenities. (That tiny bottle of shower gel retails for $74.)

Tips for save money on next vacation

juAmericans are notorious for leaving their vacation days on the table partly because of work pressures, but also because they think they can’t afford trips. Financial expert Jill Schlesinger visited MONEY to offer a few vacation planning tips:

Set a realistic budget

Do enough research to figure out costs in advance, and then plug the trip in as a separate line item in your annual budget, so that you’re not scrambling to come up with cash just when you’re dying to get away.

Expect the gotchas

From breakfasts to museum costs to special excursions, make sure you’re budgeting well beyond just hotel and dinner costs.

Save separately

To avoid diverting your travel funds to cover day-to-day costs, set up an automatic monthly transfer that will create a separate pot of money dedicated to your vacation.

Don’t skip time off

Even if you’ve got big costs elsewhere, commit at least to a staycation. To make it special, treat it as you would an out-of-town vacation: Spend time at museums or other tourist spots you might not otherwise have time for, don’t check work email, and avoid blowing that time off on ordinary errands and chores.

You should also be aware of foreign transaction fees your card may impose, and see if you can get around ATM fees. Start your search for a new card at MONEY’s Best Travel Credit Cards.

Tips to Avoid Major ATM Fees in Europe

ATMs are getting trickier to use overseas, with some offering “dynamic currency conversion”—asking if you want the ATM to convert your dollars into local money, instead of letting your home bank do it. Agree, and you’ll get hit with a service fee, usually 2 to 3 percent. Some travelers in Europe have spotted sneaky tactics, like buttons that seem designed to confuse you into accepting and machines that ask repeatedly if you’re sure about your choice. Read each screen carefully before completing your transaction.

Also watch out for a double-whammy of fees from your home bank—some big banks charge 3 percent plus $5 for each international withdrawal. The ATM operator can tack on a fee, too. To avoid the extra costs, use in-network ATMs, if your bank has them. We’re not talking about the Plus or Cirrus networks, which just indicate whether your bank card will work at a particular machine. Bank of America customers get fee-free use of cash machines operated by its partners, including BNP Paribas in France and Deutsche Bank in Germany and Spain. Citi has its own branches in London, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Russia. Or, open an account with a bank that refunds ATM charges: credit union USAA, for instance, will give back $15 in fees each month.

Tips for the US Abroad To Visit

If you’re planning your first trip overseas, millennial money expert Stefanie O’Connell has some money-saving tips.

Alert your bank that you plan to take this trip. You don’t want to be in a store, trying to make a purchase only to find out that your credit card is declined.

If you tell your card issuer that you’re going overseas, you may be able to avoid that.

You should also be aware of foreign transaction fees your card may impose, and see if you can get around ATM fees. Start your search for a new card at MONEY’s Best Travel Credit Cards.

 Also watch out for a double-whammy of fees from your home bank—some big banks charge 3 percent plus $5 for each international withdrawal. The ATM operator can tack on a fee, too. To avoid the extra costs, use in-network ATMs, if your bank has them. We’re not talking about the Plus or Cirrus networks, which just indicate whether your bank card will work at a particular machine. Bank of America customers get fee-free use of cash machines operated by its partners, including BNP Paribas in France and Deutsche Bank in Germany and Spain. Citi has its own branches in London, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Russia. Or, open an account with a bank that refunds ATM charges: credit union USAA, for instance, will give back $15 in fees each month.