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10 Travel Expenses You Should Not Forget To Budget For

10 Travel Expenses You Should Not Forget To Budget For

When you are travelling this summer, sticker shock certainly sets in regardless of the mode of transportation. From gas prices currently in jeopardy of increasing to higher airline fees, you’ll feel the pinch some where. However, what doesn’t help out is that these upfront fees don’t take into consideration the hidden and unexpected costs that come with your trip, domestic or international. Today, we will take a look at 10 travel expenses that you should remember to take into account when planning your travel budget for the summer travel season. We will also factor in some ways you can save on these unexpected costs.

1. Departure Taxes

Departure fees are easy for many individuals to forget including in their travel budget. For many countries, these are fees that are included and unchangeable in your airport ticket. However, for other countries, for example Argentina and Costa Rica, in some cases you’ll have to pay the departure fees the airport. While small for a majority of countries, hovering around $20 – $50, other countries charge a lot more. To stay up-to-date on departure fees from the United States, checkout this website by the US Department of State. Simply search the country and click “Entry, Exit, & Visa Requirements”.

2. Card Fees and Currency Exchange

When traveling abroad, you are likely to encounter foreign transaction fees from your credit card company. You may even find that such a fee is even imposed on debit cards as well. Before you depart, it is always important for you to call your credit card company to allow them to be informed that you will be out of the country.

Credit and debit cards don’t have GPS chips and they are unable to know if you croissant purchase in Paris is your summer vacation or credit card theft. When you call, ask what the foreign transaction fees are.

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Secondly, even when paying cash, ensure that you have a handy currency exchange app on your phone to ensure that you are truly paying a good price for all goods purchased abroad. XE Currency is a great currency conversion app that is updated daily whenever you connect to the Internet.

3. Meals During Travel

Eating is an obvious aspect of your travel budget. However, one addition to your budget that you might not always consider is eating while arriving and departing from your destination. These are costs that add up, especially if you encounter delays or layovers. If you are a family of four, you’ll find that this is a fee you can’t simply hope will organize itself. In an airport, food costs are astronomical.

To alleviate this cost, bring food from home to nosh on during your arrival, and make a short trip to the grocery store in your location you are visiting before heading back home. If you encounter a significant delay, get in touch with your airline for a meal voucher, they are almost always offered when asked in such situations. They want to keep your business, in the end.

4. Cellular Provider Fees

From keeping in contact with your family back home to sharing your vacation adventures on social media, voice and data costs are an aspect of your budget to consider when abroad this summer. Without intervention, your GSM (AT&T and T-Mobile) smartphone will simply connect to the local international provider in the area and you’ll find yourself charged huge fees.

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Before leaving, inform your cellular provider of your travel plans, ask for possible international plan discounts, and if such discounts aren’t available, look into getting an international pay-as-you-go phone while there. WIFI is a great alternative as well, making use of Skype for calling back home. Some Internet cafes and hotels charge to use their WIFI, but this fee is exceedingly cheaper than paying cellular fees.

5. Emergency Expenses

It can be easy to think that the most stressful part of your trip is the flight there and back. However, if you encounter an emergency, you’ll find that the flight was only a breeze. Being on vacation, you find yourself doing more strenuous activities that you don’t normally do every day (from hiking to scuba diving, etc).

This presents itself with unexpected risks of injury. If you find yourself with a major injury, your insurance could help out. However, other emergencies and injuries may require digging into your own pocket for associated fees (sprains, cuts, bruises, etc). Due to how this is an expense that not everyone encounters, look into setting aside your credit card for these expenses, instead of setting aside a specific amount of cash.

6. Visa Costs

Along with departure fees, you’ll possibly find yourself encountering visa fees that depend on the duration of your time in a certain country. Ensure that you have these fees set aside and paid for if you are having an extended trip. In addition, if you find that you have to go to a local embassy to handle these tasks, make sure you factor transportation costs for getting to and from there. A friend of mine currently visiting China had to make three embassy visits before receiving her visa. Sadly, we can’t put a price tag on the stress that task brings on!

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7. Travel Insurance

Regardless of if you are backpacking through Europe or becoming a beach bum this summer, travel insurance is a must for individuals going abroad. You’ll find that purchasing travel insurance through providers like World Nomads offers you not only medical protection, but also assistance for trip cancellations, assistance, interruptions, and delays. In most cases, travel insurance cost under $100 and can protect you with thousands of dollars in coverage.

8. Spontaneous Adventures

If this is your first time abroad, you’ll want to make sure that you have the time of your life. If you are in a country during a national holiday or celebration, you’ll find that activities and adventures appear out of no-where and can be once in a lifetime for you to celebrate in. Make sure to have a form of payment planned for these spontaneous adventures, either in cash with your budget or with your card. You’ll thank yourself in the end.

9. Flight and Baggage Fees

A common occurrence for travellers is that they encounter an amazing deal on a plane ticket, only to find that they are hit with baggage fees. Always ensure that you look at your airlines website before packing, not departure, to see the hidden baggage fees assessed by your airline. If you do this before packing, you can pack accordingly. Having a price tag attached to your overpacking will cause you to pack smartly, not impulsively.

Other flight fees that you might unexpectedly encounter are WIFI costs and food/beverage purchases. Contact your airline before departure to see if WIFI is available on-board and for how much. If it’s a short haul (< 2.5 hour flight), WIFI might not be a necessary cost.

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10. Lodging Fees

Finally, when travelling anywhere, fees associated with lodging can be unexpected for many travellers. Ensure that you have a clear outline of how much you have to pay for lodging. Internet fees, room service costs, open bar, and room service tips are costs that travelers find that they usually ignore when travelling. Make sure you include these possible costs in your budget to prevent sticker shock at the end of your vacation.

By including these fees in your travel budget, you’ll find that you are better prepared for any fees that come along the way. Not only can you combat them, you can save money along the way. Let us know in the comments below how you are saving money this travel season.

Featured photo credit: http://hawaiidads.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/family-travel-1.jpg via Hawaii Dads

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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