Millions of families look forward to the rest and relaxation of the summer months and will plan a vacation to take advantage of the summer season. Then there are others who are worried that they might be priced out of a vacation this year. Here we will list some vacation ideas for those that have to keep on eye on their finances.
The buzzword in the travel industry lately has been "staycation". We have mentioned it previously and it is still a great idea for families who don't have the money to travel a great distance. Chances are you are within a short distance to an area full of attractions that can entertain you and your family.
When you don't have to spend a lot of money on plane tickets or gas, or even a hotel room you can use some of that money to enjoy some of the higher end offerings in your area. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, who has information on local attractions. They will probably also have coupons or deals that you can use for additional savings.
Another great idea is to bug some friends or family that live somewhere else. You will have to have money to travel but once you get to your destination the costs can be minimal if you stay with your friends or family. You can save a lot of money by not having to pay for lodging and for having meals you can cook at a house and not have to go out for every meal.
Don't just show up unannounced though. Plan ahead and find out a time that works for both parties so you can enjoy some time together. Be courteous guests and offer to pay for some of the food or take your hosts out for dinner for one of the nights. When you save money on food and lodging you can use some of those savings to show your appreciation to your hosts. You can also repay the favor and set up a time that they can come and stay with you and visit your area. Another nice thing is not having to worry about getting lost if you want to visit the local attractions.
Another way to save on lodging is to book hotel rooms during certain times of the week. A hotel that caters to the business world may have cheaper weekend rates when they don't have as much business, while resort hotels may have the opposite rates because most of their business comes from weekend travelers. Avoiding large events is another way to avoid price jumps, and availability issues.
You could forgo hotels all together and opt for a camping trip. Campgrounds are considerably cheaper than hotels. So if you want to "rough it" for your vacation you will save a lot in lodging. You may even consider renting an RV and combining your transportation and lodging into one expense. You never know, it may be cheaper than driving or flying and then having to stay in a hotel.
Another popular trend that has been saving people money when it comes to vacations is swapping houses with someone. You'd be surprised to find out that people living in destinations you think of as fun and exotic want to get away just as much as you do. Use a site that specializes in house swaps, or simply ask around. Just make sure you make sure the opportunity is legit beforehand.
You can also offset the cost of a vacation by renting your house out to travelers. Say there is a big event in your town that brings in a lot of people each year (like a State Fair or sports competition). You can advertise your house for rent prior to that time, and while your house is being rented you can go on a vacation that is paid for with the rent money. Many people will be interested to have access to a house over a hotel if the prices are competitive.
Another great way to have an affordable vacation is to save for it all year. It's too easy to be tempted to listen to the ads on tv or radio prompting you to take out a short term loan to pay for a vacation. Your vacation will be lot more relaxing if you don't have to worry about how you are going to pay for it when you get back. Start at the beginning of the year and find out how much you need to put away each month and then find ways to save money throughout the year and then those savings can go into the well earned vacation fund.
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A summer job is a great way to introduce teenagers to the mechanics of a work force and to earn income while learning money management skills. Finding a job that balances work responsibility but still gives them plenty of opportunities to be a kid is key.
What you do during the school year can have a big impact on how hirable you are. Using teachers as references and having your transcript is a great way to show a potential employer that you are a hard worker and can get along with authority figures. If you also participate in extra-curricular activities like sports, music, drama, or student government it can show that you can handle a lot of responsibility and that you are able to work with others to get things done.
Since you might not have a lot (or any) previous experience your academic records are a great substitute. One thing you may need to consider when looking for a job is if a job may interfere with school related activities. This doesn't mean you can't have a job; you just want to look for one that has more flexibility to an already busy schedule.
The first step toward finding a summer job is knowing where to look. The best jobs for teens are businesses that need extra summer help because of tourism or vacationers. Golf courses, resorts, ice cream parlors, movie theaters, public pools, zoos, museums, and amusement parks are all good choices. Fast food restaurants, libraries, animal shelters, and telemarketing firms continually need help, and starting a summer job there may mean continuing to work during the school year.
Another option is to start your own summer business. Mowing lawns, doing housework, and babysitting are all great opportunities for teens. To get these types of jobs, advertise your services with neighbors, teachers, and other adults who may appreciate the assistance.
Set a fair price, and describe exactly what you provide so you do not disappoint customers who have different expectations. When working for yourself, you must have the self-discipline to be on time, be a good worker, and learn how to do better. The more you please your customers, the more likely they are to call you again.
When applying for jobs it's important to act professional. Even though you may be applying for a lifeguard job doesn't mean you should apply or show up to an interview in shorts and flip-flops. When filling out applications, write legibly and in complete sentences. We get so use to sending emails and text with abbreviations that it's easy to forget to use complete words when filling out forms.
One of the most important things you bring to an interview is your attitude. Most employers will ask why you want the job, and showing your enthusiasm with a smile helps them understand how you feel about the work. At the end of the interview, always thank them for their time.
Getting a first job is never easy, especially for teenagers with no work history and very little experience. Many seasonal businesses are willing to hire teens, however, if they demonstrate responsibility, a good work ethic, and enthusiasm. With good grades, early applications, proper dress, and a realistic outlook, teens can land summer jobs that not only provide steady income, but also pave the way to better job opportunities next summer.
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Congratulations, you just spent the last 4(+) years earning a degree that could lead you into your career and be the cornerstone of your adult life. Now what?
So degrees don't come with instructions or automatic job offers. There are still a lot of choices to make and work to do. Some degrees reward you for continuing your education while other degrees will pay off sooner by landing you a job.
One of your choices is to decide to continue your education and get your graduate degree. You can continue your education at the school of your undergraduate degree or you can look to attend a different school based on multiple reasons. If you haven't already done so, now is a great time to start looking and applying. Chances are that deadlines for fall registration will come sooner than you think so you might not have too much time to be picky.
You may also decide to try the job market out first and if you are not having the luck you had hoped for, and then you can explore your graduate options. Still, it's a good idea to look for schools that fit your needs and then it's important to look for any scholarships or assistance you can receive. There is a lot of free money out there for graduate students if you are willing to put the work in to finding it.
The other choice is diving right into the job market. As I'm sure you are all aware of, the job market has seen better days and it may be harder to find a job. That doesn't mean that there aren't any jobs out there, it just means you have to work harder to get them.
First things first, you are going to have to ask yourself some important questions.
Once you answered some of these questions you can narrow down your search and focus on finding the right job for you. Finding a job should be treated like a full time job meaning you are putting in all your effort and starting at the beginning of the day and working on it all day.
A polished resume, engaging cover letter, and professional references are key marketing materials in selling yourself to potential employers. Study up on how to make yours stand out and the choice of words you can use that might give you the edge to land the position.
It's important to be persistent and professional. A good rule is to dress like you already have the job. I don't think anyone has ever been turned down for a job because they were dressed too nice. When you drop off a resume remember names and follow up within a few days to inquire about the status of the position.
While you are looking for a job you still have financial obligations, which means you, will need to have some sort of income. Though looking for a job is a full time commitment you may need to find an additional job that pays in the meantime. An evening job still allows you the daytime to go out and hand out resumes and look during business hours.
You may also need to find a place to live if you are not bringing in enough money to pay rent. This is where some people take advantage of moving back home for a time being until they can get a job that can support them.
Then there is of course your student loan to worry about. If you are having a hard time finding a job and can't start paying back your loans, they are generally happy to work with you until you are on your feet. There are deferments or temporary lower payments. Just make sure you contact them before they contact you.
Whether you decide to continue your education or dive in headfirst make sure you do your research and find the best option that works for your situation.
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The summer can bring extra expenses for parents who need to find care for their children since the school year is over. It would be great if we could take the summers off as well but many families have both parents working and that's just not a reasonable option. So here are a few things to consider now that summer is upon us.
Most daycare facilities undergo an exciting transformation in the summer months from their established program. Many facilities have kid-crazed warm-weather activities to keep children enrolled in their program, and by the numbers of happy kids participating in summer fun, it works! Daycares typically package weekly sessions involving field trips; swimming, water parks or splash days; art and music enrichment offerings; sports outings; and more activities that just shout summer fun. And, transportation to these activities is generally provided as part of the summer fun weekly fee.
Many communities have taken advantage of recreation centers and parks to offer reasonable child care during the summer and weeks when children are out of school. Sometimes a city promotes summer fun child-care camps as a community service for its residents and charges only enough to cover expenses and salary. A possible advantage to using recreation center care is if a parent only needs a few weeks covered and wants certain summer fun days or activities for kids. Many centers structure the fees on a week-by-week option, which allows for summer fun planning flexibility. Parents shouldn't delay, however, in signing up. Since spaces are limited, slots often fill up.
Public swimming pools are an option as well for older kids. You can usually by a summer pass to the pool which when used frequently is very cost effective. It's important that your child is a good swimmer and responsible. Even though public pools have lifeguards on duty that doesn't mean they are babysitters.
Some school districts are now starting to take advantage of their facilities that have not been used traditionally in summer months and offer summer fun camps of their own. The advantages are that the tuition fees often provide much-needed revenue for the school district and the staff is typically comprised of teachers and assistants already employed by the school. In fact, the summer camp leader could very well be your child's own teacher.
Round up parents of similar-aged children in your neighborhood and start a summer fun program for your kids. Parents could alternate care and plan and carry out a fun outing for all participants for assigned days. There typically is no money that changes hands; the pay-off is that everyone equally takes turns and plans an enjoyable and safe day. Meeting and agreeing to a calendar of activities and events is advised.
Another idea is to look for a summer camp that your children can attend. Many churches have summer retreats away from town. The costs are usually minimal or kids are encouraged to raise money to cover their costs. The same goes for summer music and sports classes. The children will raise money leading up to the camp in order to pay for the costs. Even though these camps might not last an entire summer they are still a good way to spend some of the summer for a minimal price.
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We are almost through the halfway point of the year and if the second half goes by as fast as the first half did I may need to take a break to catch my breath. Perhaps the longer days of summer will help, I'm certainly ready even though I don't see much time off in our future.
First things first, I need to address some mistakes we've made lately. It's easy to get into a groove and feel comfortable financially. When you don't have to worry about meticulously balancing your checkbook to ensure bills get paid it's easy to not pay attention, and that can lead to problems. We had been doing really good and even cutting down our grocery bill, which has been our big budget buster.
We got a little too comfortable and I wasn't monitoring our spending enough and throw in a birthday party or two and next thing we know we are hovering around the danger zone. At first I asked myself how did this happen, how did we get so low? Then I went back and reviewed the spending log and realized there were no errors, just errors in judgment.
Granted, we didn't overdraft or skip any bills we just got a little lower than we have in awhile and it was kind of a shock. I'm kind of learning that when you think things are going really well with spending that this is a great time to monitor your spending and find more ways to save instead of counting on the idea that a little extra spending here and there won't hurt because we have had such a good cushion as of late.
So it's the halfway point of the year and it's a great time to take another look at the budget and see where we can improve and take a look at the next few months to see what expenses we can expect to come up.
We covered some graduation topics in this issue and I just want to say how proud I am of my wife who recently received her Master's Degree. She managed to get it done while being a full time teacher and wrangling 2 kids while at home. Like many teachers, she attended night and weekend classes and corresponded online to obtain her Masters while applying some of the new things she was learning immediately to her current job.
I debated going back to school a few times but then I realize that I am more of a hands-on learner and wasn't the biggest fan of sitting through lectures and studying for tests. Then you have to look at your return on investment. In my wife's case she could earn more income by having her graduate degree. I would have no guarantee of higher pay just because I would have the extra schooling. So it doesn't really make financial sense for me to take out more loans if my income wouldnÕt increase enough to cover it.
I also know how frustrating it can be to not land a job right after graduation. I graduated in December of 2003 and found a job in a field related to my degree in June 2005. (It just so happens to be the great job I still currently have.) But until I got this job I interviewed for many positions and was told they were looking for more experience. During that time I had worked as a bill collector, parking lot attendant, and liquor store clerk. I then started applying to jobs all over the country; I even previously applied and was not chosen for the job I currently hold. So what I am getting at is it can be hard at first but it's important to be persistent and don't get too frustrated.
During high school there wasn't a summer where I wasn't working. The one thing it taught me was having a good work ethic is an important quality to have and it helps you enjoy your job more. The one thing I wish I had learned from working is I should have done a better job saving my money. It's great to have a little financial independence but I wish I would have listened a little better to my parents and saved some money instead of buying plenty of things I could probably go without.
I was even guilty of it while coming back from college to work. One summer I worked at an RV campground and made a lot of good money. I worked around 60+ hours a week but had fun the whole time. I love meeting tourists and accommodating them the best I could. I was making a good hourly wage and racking up a ton of overtime but when it came to the end of summer and I was getting ready to head back east I realized I didn't have a whole lot more money than I started the summer with. I ended up spending a lot of money on things like eating out everyday and buying shoes and clothes that I really didn't need.
It's great for young people to be introduced to the working world, but it's even more important that they learn how to manage their paychecks as much as it is to learn how to nail an interview.
Well before I run out of room, I better sign off. I hope the summer months are finding you all enjoying some great weather and quality time with your friends and family. Until next time, good luck and have fun.
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Forensic Mortgage Loan Audit Scams: A New Twist on Foreclosure Rescue Fraud
Fraudulent foreclosure ÒrescueÓ professionals use half-truths and outright lies to sell services that promise relief to homeowners in distress. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nationÕs consumer protection agency, the latest foreclosure rescue scam to exploit financially strapped homeowners pitches forensic mortgage loan audits.
In exchange for an upfront fee of several hundred dollars, so-called forensic loan auditors, mortgage loan auditors, or foreclosure prevention auditors backed by forensic attorneys offer to review your mortgage loan documents to determine whether your lender complied with state and federal mortgage lending laws. The ÒauditorsÓ say you can use the audit report to avoid foreclosure, accelerate the loan modification process, reduce your loan principal, or even cancel your loan.
Nothing could be further from the truth. According to the FTC and its law enforcement partners:
There is no evidence that forensic loan audits will help you get a loan modification or any other foreclosure relief, even if theyÕre conducted by a licensed, legitimate and trained auditor, mortgage professional or lawyer.
Some federal laws allow you to sue your lender based on errors in your loan documents. But even if you sue and win, your lender is not required to modify your loan simply to make your payments more affordable.
If you cancel your loan, you will lose your home and you will have to return the money you borrowed to your lender.
If you are in default on your mortgage or facing foreclosure, you may be targeted by a foreclosure rescue scam. The FTC wants you to know how to recognize the telltale signs and report them. If you are faced with foreclosure, the FTC says legitimate options are available to help you save your home.
If youÕre looking for foreclosure prevention help, avoid any business that:
Guarantees to stop the foreclosure process Ð no matter what your circumstances are.
Instructs you not to contact your lender, lawyer or credit or housing counselor.
Collects a fee before providing any services accepts payment only by cashierÕs check or wire transfer.
Encourages you to lease your home so you can buy it back over time.
Recommends that you make your mortgage payments directly to it, rather than your lender.
Offers to buy your house for cash at a fixed price that is inappropriate for the housing market.
Pressures you to sign papers you havenÕt had a chance to read thoroughly or that you donÕt understand.
Finding Legitimate Help
Housing experts say that when youÕre behind on your mortgage payments, maintaining communication with your lender is the most important thing you can do. Contact your lender or servicer immediately if youÕre having trouble paying your mortgage or you have received a foreclosure notice. You may be able to negotiate a new repayment schedule.
Call 1-888-995-HOPE for free personalized advice from housing counseling agencies certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This national hotline Ð open 24/7 Ð is operated by the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit member of the HOPE NOW Alliance of mortgage industry members and HUD-certified counseling agencies. For free guidance online, visit www.hopenow.com. For free information on the PresidentÕs plan to help homeowners, visit www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.
To learn more about home mortgages and other credit-related issues, visit www.ftc.gov/ MoneyMatters. This site offers short, practical tips, videos, and links to reliable sources on a variety of topics from credit repair, debt collection, job hunting and job scams to vehicle repossession, managing mortgage payments and avoiding foreclosure rescue scams.
If you think youÕve been dealing with a foreclosure fraudster, contact:
Federal Trade Commission Ð www.ftc.gov
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