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5 Ways To Travel in Europe on A Budget This Summer

5 Ways To Travel in Europe on A Budget This Summer

Summer is here and you’re excited to head off on that dream vacation to Europe. The one small problem is that you’re not really all that ready. You might know when you’re going to go and when you need to be back, but Europe is such a vast and varied place that working out exactly how to do it all properly is pretty overwhelming. What’s worse, you’re not sure that you’ve even got enough money.

Luckily for you, there are a number of smart ways to travel in Europe on a budget. I’ve done it and used them all, multiple times. Below are five simple tips that should help you do the same whilst having one of the best holidays of your life.

1. Hit the Road

Europe is fully covered by a plethora of low-cost airlines offering cheap flights to all the major cities. The problem is that at this time of year the cheapest of these seats have probably been taken up.

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Young travellers can look to have an authentic European travelling experience by buying a Eurail train pass. These can work out to be very good value if you use them a lot, but they need a lot of forward planning and you will have to move quite often to get your money’s worth.

A cheaper option is to head down to the bus station and jump on a coach. Modern coach travel is pretty comfortable, often now comes with free Wifi, and is usually a much cheaper option than a flight or train ticket. Journey times are obviously a bit longer, but if you can get a night bus, you save twice. Not only will the journey be cheaper but you won’t be paying for accommodation that evening either.

BlaBlaCar is another decent road alternative if you’d like to share a car ride with people making the same journey as you. You can sign up quickly via Facebook and there will be plenty of rides available across the whole of mainland Europe.

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2. Go East

London, Paris, Rome, and Barcelona all pull at the heart strings of those travellers from outside Europe who are heading over on their first visit, but these major cities do not come cheap, especially in summer. Unless you have a lot of time and money on your hands, it would be wise to make one or two of these cities your jumping off and departure points and then look to the east in order to get some real value for money.

Everything is cheaper the further east you travel in Europe but this does not mean you have to compromise in any way on the amazing places that you can experience here. Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Sarajevo, and Ljubljana are just some of the city highlights that you can find in the east. In these places you’ll encounter history, culture, and architecture to match all of the big boys. And the people are often more welcoming than in the more historically popular capital cities where everybody is just a teensy bit tired of all the tourists by this point.

3. Unlock Your Phone

One of the quickest ways to watch all your money get eaten when you travel in Europe is for you to use the roaming service from your mobile carrier. Some companies do now offer good deals on this, but any digital nomads who rely on their phones to allow them to work whilst travelling will definitely need more data.

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The best way to get around this is for you to unlock your phone before your departure and pick up a free SIM card when you enter any of the major cities in Europe. This is particularly useful if you’re planning on staying in one country for a while. Even if you are not, a European SIM from a low-cost company like Lebara will allow you to move from country to country within the EU without incurring too many additional charges.

4. Double Up

Undoubtedly the most expensive part of travelling anywhere is the cost of accommodation. The easiest way to make this cheaper is by splitting the cost. Anyone thinking about making a solo trip should perhaps consider whether there could actually be a good friend out there who might want to join you. Your costs will immediately come down and you won’t have to take so many selfies.

For those people who do really want to go it alone, the best sleeping options will be in the hostels with shared dorm rooms. You can find really cheap beds in these places all over Europe, but some are obviously better than others, so make sure you do a little bit of research before making your booking.

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5. Eat Cheap, Eat Local

After accommodation, food is where you are most likely to blow most of your budget. This doesn’t have to be the case if you do as the locals do and buy your food stuffs from the supermarket. Bread, fruit, and vegetables are all relatively cheap wherever you go, especially if you are buying local produce. This is an excellent way to save money but also one that pumps money directly back into the local economy.

If you fancy eating out a restaurant try to do so at lunch time. In many European countries this is often the main meal of the day and most restaurants usually offer special lunchtime multi-course options that are very good value.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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