We'd all like to take more vacations, but between flights, accommodation and activities, the dollars add up quickly. Luckily, money expert Jean Chatzky dropped by Mondays With Marlo to chat about how to keep costs down when going away. Looking for package deals that include hotels and airfare is a great money saver -- hotels can offer rooms for a much lower price when they're bundled. Housing swaps can also be a great option. And finally, consider renting a home instead of shelling out for a hotel the next time you travel. For more on Jean Chatzky's Money School, visit her website.
Click here for the full interview.
Get the most out of your money with Jean's favorite tips and connect with her on Twitter:
Pack Snacks To Eat On The Go
Purchasing food while on the go is one of the biggest money suckers. Buying a snack or latte while on the go starts to add up. Save money by keeping a healthy, portable snack like a granola bar or piece of fruit in your bag to ease hunger pangs without dipping into your wallet.
Track Your Spending
If you ever look at your bank account and wonder where your paycheck went, it’s time to track your money. Write down everything you spend -- from that bottle of shampoo to that carton of milk -- for at least a week to see unexpected places where your money is going. Then you can target that area to save money. Are your weekly movie dates adding up to more than expected? Get a Netflix subscription instead. Are birthday gifts draining your bank account? Start a gifts closet -- when you see a gift appropriate for friend and family birthdays at a great deal, buy several.
Discuss Debt With Your Partner
Debt is the biggest financial strain in a relationship, so don’t sweep it under the rug. Jean suggests each of you share the three main areas: How much do you earn? What do you owe? What are you owed? Then, together, you can come up with a plan to tackle it and start building assets together.
Give Money As A Gift, Not A Loan
Don’t lend money, give money. If you can afford to give out a particular sum of money to a friend or family member, give it as a gift -- with no expectations of having it repaid (though it's nice if it is!). If you can’t afford to give money without having it repaid, then you can’t afford to loan money, no matter who it is.
Lower Travel Expenses
We could all use a vacation, but the high price of traveling can deter us. To save money, look for vacation package deals. Since prices for things like airfare and accommodation are bundled, companies can often go lower than if you purchased separately. Websites like <a href="http://www.priceline.com/" target="_blank">Priceline</a> and <a href="http://www.expedia.com/" target="_blank">Expedia</a> are good places to start. Also consider housing swaps or renting a home instead of staying at a hotel. The prices are often cheaper per night and when you factor in being able to cook your own meals, it can really lower vacation costs.
Teach Kids About Money Early
Give your kids a financial edge later in life by teaching them about money now. Allowances are a great way to do this, said Jean. Give your kids a certain amount of money each week -- along with a list of what you will no longer pay for, like video games or designer sneakers, that their allowance will have to cover. Don’t give them enough to buy these things outright, but just enough so they can save and purchase them in a reasonable amount of time.
Don’t Make These Home Buying Mistakes
The home buying market is ripe for the taking right now, but if that’s the only reason you’re thinking of buying a home, chances are you’re making a mistake. If you don’t intend on staying put for at least five years, your home won’t have time to increase in value. Research interest rates: you should shop around for rates the same way you would any other major purchase. What looks like a small difference can mean saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a loan. And don’t forget to factor in what it will cost to live there -- moving expenses, maintenance and utility fees can all add a lot more to the sticker price.
Share Some Of Your Finances
Instead of completely sharing finances, open a joint account with a partner instead. Each of you can contribute an equal percentage -- so no matter what each person earns, it’s the same percentage -- and use this to pay for shared expenses like rent or utilities. Keep a personal account as well so you can continue to have personal responsibility for your own money -- and a little freedom, too.
Go Into Business With A Friend
If you and your friend want to partner up in a business venture, it’s not necessarily a recipe for disaster, said Jean. Just make sure that you’re both on the same wavelength -- how many hours will you each put in? What are your expectations for the business? And if either of you contributes out-of-pocket money to the idea, put it in writing, so that it’s clear whose money is where.
Stock Away Savings
Not sure how much to save each payday? A good rule of thumb is 10 percent, said Jean. If that sounds like too much at once, start with 2 percent and gradually increase it with each raise. Have the money automatically moved into a savings or retirement account so you're not tempted to spend, then watch it grow.
Compromise With Friends Who Have More Money
If you’re watching your budget but your friends can afford to spend more, it can make for uncomfortable moments when it’s time to pay up. Instead of waiting until the check arrives, discuss it with friends beforehand to minimize awkwardness. Suggest restaurants or activities that you can afford, and ask for separate checks at the beginning of the meal.
When It Makes Sense For A Spouse To Stay Home
If you or your partner is considering staying home with children while the other works, be sure to consider not only the loss in what the stay-at-home parent is earning now, but the potential future earnings. Will the parent be able to break back into the job market and catch up later? If it’s financially feasible, discuss ways the stay-at-home parent can keep his or her hands in the business to make an easier transition back into the workforce later.
Add Marlo On Facebook:
Follow Marlo on Twitter:
Sign up to receive my email newsletter each week - It will keep you up-to-date on upcoming articles, Mondays with Marlo guests, videos, and more!
Sign up here