Frugal Living

Smart Travel Tips for Entrepreneurs

These Won’t Bust Your Budget!

This is a guest post by freelance writer and aspiring businessman Michael Baker.

photo of coffee cup and glasses with scene of lovely beach symbolizing Smart Travel Tips for Entrepreneurs These Won't Bust Your Budget!Are you a new biz boss? An entrepreneur on a shoestring budget? Looking for the best travel options and locations within a strict budget can be overwhelming. But here are the latest smart travel tips to get the most out of your next vacation – without wrecking your budget!

Do you remember the line: “Ya gotta squeeze every penny” from the Simpsons? Even if you don’t, it still holds value in its straight forward message of being frugal where ever you can in order to save money.

Everyday there are numerous opportunities for us to save money in our busy lives, but what about when you travel?

Have you ever wondered, “What if I booked at this time,  or through this website? How much could I have saved?” Are the savings worth it compared to the amount of time you spend searching for the best deals?


Timing is Everything

The timing of your trip can determine how much over or under budget you will be. Going somewhere during peak periods means you will pay the most for your accommodation, food, transport and any activities you want to enjoy while you are there. So if you can, travel in the off season. There will be a lot less crowding in tourist hot spots, too.

A great example of this is Myrtle Beach, one of the best coastal beach locations to visit on a tight budget. Myrtle Beach is particularly good in off season periods where there is still plenty to do in the area but without the summer crowds.

Also, if you can be flexible with travel dates and allow yourself plenty of time to book, you will be able to hunt down the best deal.

Getting There Is Part of the Fun!

All across America, and the world, there are always hidden gems between major cities and holiday locations. If you have the time and can plan accordingly, a cheaper way to travel is by car. Of course, taking your own car can turn out to be expensive, so why not someone else’s?

Auto Driveaway is a great money saving option when it comes to travelling. They are a car relocation company which allows people to transport cars all across the country. They’ll give you a car, your first tank of gas and a certain amount of time and miles to get from Point A to Point B, usually between two major cities. But, there are some requirements. To use Auto Driveway,  you must be at least 23 years old, hold a current driver’s license and a current motor vehicle driver’s record.

Road tripping is a great way to see parts of the country you haven’t experienced before. One of the best road trip experiences you could have is the trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. This is a trip everyone should embark on at least once during their lifetime.

Riding the Rails

Travelling by train is another great way to save a few dollars. Some rail packages include sleeping accommodations and meals. Group packages are usually available which can help keep costs down on a family vacation or group trip.  Check out the railway options for getting to your next vacation spot!

Smart Travel Tips for Flying

If you want to fly, look for flights that land at regional airports. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save on ticket prices and sales taxes if your destination is near a regional airport.

Which Budget is a search engine that can help you find budget airlines and flights to regional airports. If you are planning to fly internationally, The Flight Deal, has great prices when travelling from the USA. It’s worth checking them out before you book your next trip

Get the Best Deals on Lodging

Where you choose to stay on your business trip or vacation can take a big chunk out of your travel budget. But you can easily offset this cost to being almost nothing. Here are a few ways how you can save on where you stay.

Feeling Adventurous?

Airbnb is a great way to save a lot of money on your accommodation. You have options for single rooms or shared spaces from about $30 – $40 per night. With this service, even a large group can stay together in one house. This is one of the best ways to save a bundle on group accommodation.

Couchsurfing is another great option for not just cheap, but free accommodations. Nope, I’m not suggesting crashing with your friends or family for a few nights. Couchsurfing is an online service similar to AirBnB that helps you connect with local folks willing to share their home at your destination. The added benefit is your new friends can offer great advice on finding those hidden gems mentioned earlier, like local night spots.

Tried and True

If you like sticking to what you know then last-minute deals on Priceline or Hotwire can get you rooms over 60% off the normal price. You are able to bid for rooms, but if you decide to do this, use the website Better Bidding to see how much others have paid for similar hotels and rooms.

Eating on The Cheap

Eating the local cuisine is a great way to experience the different cultures the world has to offer. But your food budget can easily blow out too much more than you would expect.  Paying for three meals a day adds up fast!  So, let’s take a look at how you can keep your food expenses down.

The easiest way to keep your food budget under control is to avoid eating out for every meal. The locals don’t so why should you? Don’t be afraid to visit the local supermarket and see what the area has to offer. Eating “in” for at least one or two meals each day will keep costs down.

When You Eat Out – Avoid the Madding Crowd

This may seem obvious enough when it comes to not spending too much, but it is something people often forget. Don’t stand in line at the top tourist eateries. Instead, try walking for a few blocks in any direction to try find where the locals eat. There is a good chance the food will be twice as good for a fraction of the price.

Follow your nose! In many places around the world, like Asian regions, you will come across side streets filled will food stalls. Usually, the cooking is done right in front of you and fills the surrounding area with some of the best aromas you will ever experience. You might need to be a little adventurous to try this, but low prices make it even more enticing.

More Smart Travel Tips

One of the best ways to save on business travel is to ask for corporate discounts. It doesn’t matter the size of your company, or your travel group. Most major airlines, hotels and car rental agencies have corporate discount programs. Some offer discounts as high as 25%.

A traditional travel agent can help you get corporate discounts, and may have their own incentive programs to save you even more.  If you are a frequent traveller, there are many opportunities to save a few dollars here and there through a good travel agent on each trip.

Another cost-saving method is to join frequent flyer miles programs and rewards clubs. Credit card companies usually have offers where you get points for every dollar you spend with one of their rewards partners. You will find many hotel and car rental companies participate in rewards programs.

To ensure you are able to save yourself the most money on your next trip – be flexible, allow plenty of time when booking your travel dates, and don’t be afraid to do a little homework yourself.

Have you used any of these smart travel tips? Do you have your own money-saving travel tips? Please share in the comments below!

Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay cc

Stress Free Holiday Shopping Tips You Can Use Now

planningCrush Debt With An Effective Financial Plan

Holiday spending is a notorious budget buster, but with Stress Free Holiday Shopping Tips You Can Use Now your fall and winter holidays can be affordable, satisfying and fun!

A Debt Free Holiday is a Stress Free Holiday

Holidays are stressful enough without the worry and regret of additional debt. Being in debt just plain sucks! Are you struggling with debt, and feel like you are getting deeper and deeper? Stop digging and start planning!

If you are dreaming about starting your own business but can’t afford to leave your day job, that’s another reason to stop the same spending pattern and start planning.

Cut the worry and guilt and avoid adding debt by starting your stress free holiday shopping now in the top three budget busting categories: travel, gifts and food.

It is all well and fine to tell yourself that this year you are going to be frugal, but let’s be real. Instead of giving out adorably boxed home-made cookies, are you likely to end  up in line at the mall in December with a big load of guilt and a smoking hot credit card in hand?

Plan your spending and shopping strategies now. Come the New Year, you can look back at a holiday season that did not leave you in more debt! You’ve got this!

Take Advantage of Tax Free Shopping

When football season is kicking off and every store is packed with back- to-school promotions. Keep an eye out for tax free shopping days in your region.

Each year, more and more states offer tax-free shopping days or weeks for consumer goods ranging from clothing to computers! It is perfectly legit to snag a few things off your holiday shopping list during the tax-free period.

The good news is, you do not have to have a third grader in tow to take advantage of the sales! Nor do you have to be a resident of the state. Take advantage of the sales and reduced taxes to score some planned for purchases for the coming holidays.

Start Now for Stress Free Shopping for Holiday Travel Deals

The United States Department of Transportation reports that the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. With higher demand comes higher pricing.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to start shopping for holiday travel tickets for you or for family members. Especially if you are planning to fly, shopping now is a very good plan. Not only will you be able to get better prices, you are more likely to get the flight you want before it fills up.

Don’t forget to look for hotel deals if you will not be bunking at Grandma’s or if the family is driving over a period of days. Remember a heated indoor pool is a great way to wear out kids who have been stuck in the back seat all day, especially if you can book that room at a reduced rate!

We Love Lay-Away for Holiday Gift Shopping

Thank goodness for the reappearance of the “Lay Away” plan at so many large retailers!  This old-fashioned payment method is a great way to avoid going into debt for holiday spending.

The revival of the Lay Away payment plan lets you buy your gifts now and divide up the payments between now and the holiday. You get to do your shopping early enough to avoid the rush and avoid any debt!

Since the gifts stay at the store until they are paid for, you don’t have to worry about hiding toys and bicycles from curious kids!

Most Law Away plans require 10 to 20% down with the remaining amount paid over a six to eight week period.

How it works: Say you have $300 worth of presents to lay-away. Most stores have a small lay-away fee of around $5. If you then put down 20% that would be $60 for a total to start of $65. You will then pay $30 each week for eight weeks.

Shop and lay-away now. You will have all your gifts paid off and ready to wrap the first half of December. Free and clear, with no January credit card hangover! How cool is that?

Rock Your Holiday Food Shopping

How many big meals and traditional recipes do you prepare every year? Are you expecting house guests in coming months? Do you tend to run to the store for your cooking and baking supplies a few days before the big event?

The grocery stores tend to offer attractive holiday specials or loss-leaders during the week or two before major holidays. Those bargains are designed get you in the store with the expectation that you will buy all the things you need while you are there. Yup,  even if the rest of the items on your list are not on sale.

Spread It Out

You don’t have to make yourself crazy trying to find rock-bottom prices on every item.

Control your spending and give yourself a little breathing room. Instead of stressing, plan your major holiday meals now! Include a complete “master list” of ingredients for all your special meals, treats and party foods.

Want a little extra help with planning holiday cooking? I really like the free meal planner sheets from the Organized Home site.

Look over your master list for items that may be safely stored for longer periods. Long shelf-life items are canned goods, frozen foods and baking supplies. Remember non-food items that run out faster during holidays. Stock up on toilet paper, napkins and paper plates!

Start now to pick up a few things from your list every time you go grocery shopping. You can spread the cost over several weeks. Bonus: You won’t be dragging it in the house and putting it all away at the same time. Win-Win!

Remember to mark the items off your Master List. Look at what you have accomplished!

Planning now for your holiday travel, gift giving and special meals will keep you out of debt and give you more time to enjoy your holidays.

Do you have some budget areas that are a problem? Would you like more tips for Stress Free Holiday Shopping? Leave your questions and comments below!

New Business? Things to Consider Before Dumping Your Day Job

Planning and budgetijng will help your new business succeed!
A written financial plan will help your business succeed!

I love being a freelance business woman. #Girlboss. Entrepreneur. I have been working hard on my online business, and would like nothing more than to be able to give it my full time and attention.

I am looking forward to the day when I can let go of my Monday through Friday day job and be totally my own boss. No more schlepping to work in rain and snow. Working the hours that match my energy levels – and not working the hours that don’t. Not working two jobs! Heavenly!

There is nothing easy about launching a new business. Exciting, yes… worth it, yes again! But it is very hard work, and putting in the necessary start-up hours on top of a full-time day job is extremely challenging and stressful. So why do I keep doing it?

My plan is to continue to live within my means while launching my online business. If you are interested in keeping financial balance as your build your empire, there are three areas of consideration before you dump your day job!

Promises, Promises

There are loads of internet courses that will offer you the secret formula for building your online business in a certain number of days. Some even promise that if you really go for it, you can quickly grow your income to make thousands per month!

Other biz bosses have made it big, so why not you? Armed with your course materials and fueled by enthusiasm, you begin to actually create your business and see some achievement. Hot dog!

In every social media group for business newbies, the question invariably arises, “When can I quit my day job?” With success and big bucks just beyond the horizon, why not now?

When you are being cheered on to “Listen to your heart”, “Trust in your abilities”, and “Just go for it” it’s easy to feel like nothing can stop you from claiming that gold ring. Right now.

Show Me The Money

Getting your first few customers or a huge order for a month’s worth of your services is great stuff! It’s a start, a good start. But unless you have a solid back-up plan, it is not enough to rationalize typing up your day-job resignation yet. And it is definitely not enough to justify an abrupt departure. Momma was right, don’t burn your bridges!

Having been through economic downturns and a few unexpected family emergencies over the years, I learned to keep a practical financial plan in place.Let’s face it… stuff happens!

That’s why I appreciate that some of the top online business celebrities have been touching on these topics lately. These women are inspirational and encouraging to new business owners, and they provide a needed dose of realism.

Alexis Giostra, also known as MissTrenchcoat on her site Strange and Charmed, is a multi-platform star Business Coach and Productivity Guru. Alexis has been very candid about the measurable financial goals she set for her online business that had to be met before leaving her position with a Fortune 50 company. Goals that included a savings cushion and reaching target income levels before resigning her day job.

Earlier this week, the wildly popular Hilary Rushford, known for her fashion and business coaching services through her site Dean Street Society, gave an absolutely hilarious scope on a completely serious topic. While sporting a blonde wig, big glasses and an accent, “Gigi” explained that there are no overnight successes. Anyone you see who is making a steady financial success of their online business worked their tail off for more than a couple months!

The valuable take away from these two icons of successful online business is (1) having a written financial plan is an important part of building your business; and (2) you are not a failure if you haven’t replaced your day job income right out of the box.

Dollars and Sense

You can build a successful business in a short period of time. I know, because I’ve done it! I have a good foundational framework for my business, and paying customers.

So why do I still have a day job?

One reason is that I work for a fabulous employer that has been very good to me. I’m in no rush to run out the door forever.

More importantly from an entrepreneur’s perspective, is that my business is not yet where I want it to be. If I have to rely solely on my online business revenue, I won’t feel as free to take risks and try new things.

Since I started my business, I have learned so much from continuing education with exceptional mentors like MissTrenchcoat , Anne Samoilov and Mandy Jean Chic that my vision of the possibilities for my venture has grown! I am also benefiting tremendously from the communities formed by like-minded online business owners.

My financial plan and business budget is right where it needs to be. I am debt-free and have enough savings to cover all my living expenses for more than the recommended minimum six months.

I could quit my day job today and probably be all right. Since I really don’t want to have to burn through my savings, I would have to keep my nose so close to the grindstone that I would not likely be able to drop back and make changes and dream bigger. So I will wait a bit longer.

After Careful Consideration

Congratulations, your new business is taking off! You are a full-fledged entrepreneur!

Before you dump your day job, take stock of your unique situation in the three areas of expenses, income and expectations.

  • Expenses: Do you have debts that could be paid off if you keep the day job a bit longer? Have you prepared a written budget that includes quarterly or annual expenses pro-rated for each month so you are not caught short? Are there expenses currently covered by your employer that will have to be paid out of pocket, like health insurance? Will you be able to avoid incurring debt?
  • Income: Is your side-hustle now bringing in enough income to cover your monthly expenses and pay your taxes and related costs? Remember, as a self-employed person, you will be responsible for timely payment of taxes, usually quarterly. Do you have a savings cushion to cover at least six months of your expenses?
  • Expectations: You will be evolving as a manager and growing your business. Are there business enhancements you would like to invest in that would improve your platform, products or marketing? Improvements may include things like business courses, coaching services, web hosting, a camera or anything else that would help you work smarter or enhance your brand. Would you have to do without those improvements if you quit your day job now?

If you are ready to take the plunge and leave your day job, celebrate! It is a major milestone in your life.

If you are like me, and not quite ready yet, that’s okay too! We are still successful, still growing and have a lot to share with our communities. Tip: It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. My plan is to cut back to part-time and have the best of both worlds for a while.

Are you still working full or part time? What are your thoughts on dumping a day job? Have you done it? How did you make it work? Leave your comments below!

Living Within Your Means – Why You Should Be Planning To Shop Now!

Plan your holiday shopping now!

Hi there! My name is Debra. I have been married for 38 years and raised two children while living a frugal lifestyle. We own a lovely home and are totally debt-free.

Would you like to be comfortable and debt-free? You can do it. I am here to share my experience and tips that will help you Live Within Your Means.

What? How will it help you Live Within Your Means if you get in the car and go shopping?

If you are struggling with debt, and feel like you are getting deeper and deeper, the first order of business is to stop digging. Stop digging and start planning.

If you are dreaming about starting your own business but can’t afford to leave your day job, that’s another reason to stop the same spending pattern and start planning.