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15 Free Ways (Or Even Get-Paid) To Travel That Will Enrich Your Life

15 Free Ways (Or Even Get-Paid) To Travel That Will Enrich Your Life

Traveling can be any experience you make it and whether or not you’re looking for a way to travel for less (or free) there are in fact ways to help you do just that. Not only can working abroad be a great experience, but it’s possible to cover parts of your trip or even make money while traveling. To say the least quite a few the options can lead to some of the most enriching travel experiences and adventures.

Get Paid to Ski

Get paid to ski by taking part in seasonal work at mountain ski resorts. You don’t even have to know how to ski, which is great because if you ever wanted to learn, this is your chance to do it and get a free mountain pass.

Ski resorts hire nationals from all over the world to fill positions from ski lift operators, hotel and restaurant staff as long as a temporary work visa can be obtained. Popular spots for seasonal work at ski resorts are New Zealand, Mammoth, California or Vail, Colorado. Even if you want to work domestically, it’s a great chance to live in some of the most beautiful places in the world and get away from city hustle-and-bustle. There are many resort options, but make sure to apply early to ensure a spot before the season starts. To find these positions you can start with a Google search or check out NZSki.com for vacancies in New Zealand.

Volunteer to Speak English for Free Room and Board

If you speak English fluently, you can sign up for a work exchange experience that requires you to have conversations with students in English who want to improve their language skills. Usually companies will send their employees to these programs so they can hone their conversation skills to better communicate with their clients. Though some people sign up as students just to improve their English in general. Throughout the week you’re engaging in conversations and getting to familiarize yourself with people of different cultural backgrounds.

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In return for speaking with the students in English, you can receive free room and board for the entire time you are volunteering. Diverbo is a program that does just that and accepts English speaking volunteers for their sites in Germany and Spain and provides volunteers with full room and board as well as transportation to the site.

Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

Earning airline miles from generous credit card offers is quickly becoming more popular and one of the easiest ways to travel in luxury for pennies on the dollar. Banks often offer sign-up bonuses to lure customers to using their cards in hopes of gaining a loyal customer. With just one 50,000 mile sign-up bonus you could be on your way for free to Europe, making it an incredible way to save money on travel. Some credit card offers require you to meet a minimum spending amount, while with others such as the 40,000 mile US Airways credit card offer it’s as simple as buying a cup of coffee.

On top of that there are many ways to to maximize your miles like adding free stopovers in cities along the way, so you can visit more than one destination or even continent on the same ticket.

WWOOF -Work exchange on organic and sustainable properties

Can you picture yourself working on a vineyard in Tuscany? Or a pineapple farm in Costa Rica? WWOOF is an opportunity to work on organic farms around the world in exchange for free housing and food. As a participant, you’re expected to put in around four to six hours of work per day for at least two days with anything that needs to be done. Once your shift is over you are free to explore the village, trails or nearby cities as you please.

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CouchSurfing

CouchSurfing is a website that allows you to connect with local hosts while you’re traveling to stay in their home for free, likely with someone who has a few things in common with you. For a night, two or even three you could stay on a couch, your own room or even a yurt out back for free. One aspect of CouchSurfing that people find appealing is that you are able to get to experience an area with a local. Another aspect of CouchSurfing that people find appealing is that hosts and couch surfers have profiles and reviews from past guests and their hosts so you can get a general feel for the person before contacting them.

Teach English Abroad

There are opportunities for fluent English speakers to teach English abroad in elementary and high schools even if you do not have teaching credentials. Most opportunities require that instructors are TEFL certified which is earned after a series of coursework is completed to become an affective English Second Language instructor. Salary for teaching abroad is based on the living standards of where you are teaching, but depending on the program you go through, some of your living expenses like free housing. In countries like the Middle East such as Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates as well as Japan and South Korea, the salary rate for TEFL teachers is known to offer the best paid TEFL Instructor salaries.

Join a Family and become an Au Pair

For travelers who love working with young children, there are families who are looking for Au Pairs to help take care of their children. Families may look for an English speaking nanny so that their children can improve their English-skills. As an Au Pair you should expect to receive free room and board as well as some payment. The company Au Pair World helps connect host families with potential Au Pairs through profiles which you can browse through by country and gets you in touch with a potential match. What you would get out of it is essentially an opportunity to immerse yourself within the culture and community and learn the customs and traditions.

Hitchhike the Globe

In some parts of the world, even in some areas within the US hitchhiking is common, accepted and generally safe. In Armenia, for example, it’s common for locals to hitch a ride so it would not be odd. To flag down a ride the universal sign of hitchhiking is to stand on the side of the road in the direction that you want to go and stick out your thumb. Always use good judgement when accepting a ride. If the vehicle or its occupants give you a bad vibe, then do not accept the ride. To get a feel for which countries hitchhiking is acceptable in and considered safe you can refer to Hitchwiki which is user-compiled and breaks down the unofficial rules and tips of hitchhiking by country.

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Diaspora Youth Programs

Birthright programs are usually synonymous with the young Jewish community through Birthright Israel in which for 10 days 18-26 year olds from all over the world get an all expense paid trip to Israel to connect with the Israel. However, for those who are not of the Jewish faith, there are programs geared towards other cultures such as Birthright Armenia which reimburses travel expenses to Armenia as long as they commit to a minimum of two months to intern or volunteer in various sectors such as news agencies, hospitals, government offices and environments NGOs in Armenia. Through these internships you get valuable experience that you can take back with you for your work resume. Other similar programs include Heritage Greece, ReConnect Hungary, or the Love Boat Study Program for youth of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.

Volunteer at a Hostel or Homestay

If you’re backpacking or traveling for an extended period of time, stumbling across a hostel that you love while traveling is likely to happen more than once. It never hurts to ask if they have any volunteer opportunities for free room and board. This can be a great way to extend a stay while traveling abroad. To find some volunteer experiences that vary from working at a hostel teaching yoga, to helping build a house, check out HelpX which lets users post help wanted ads.

Got skills? Become an instructor

If you are well versed in a sporting activity—surfing, rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking—you may be able to land a job abroad teaching other people the ropes. If you speak several languages it may also be a huge plus since most tourism agencies rely on their instructors to communicate with many international customers. Adventure Work is a great place to start looking for potential instructor jobs around the world.

See the World for Less through House Sitting

Believe it or not, homeowners around the world are looking for house sitters, and you’d be surprised as to how many opportunities are out there. You would also be surprised as to how many people are doing it and with multiple established websites it’s easy to get started. The options are varied, but for pet sitting or gardening, you can be staying for free. A benefit of house sitting, is that not only are you living rent free, but you get to spend time in one place for a longer than you may have if you had to pay for accommodations and get to know community.

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Free Walking Tours

If you are traveling to a country you know a lot about, especially the significance of monuments within a particular area, historical moments and are well versed in the culture, why not take a dabble at being a walking tour guide. Many of the guided tours are free, but basically you work for tips. While the tips may not be very much money, it can very well cover the cost of your meals for an entire week.

Show Off Your Talent with Resort Entertainment

If you have the talent to entertain, whether your forte is dancing, singing or even magic tricks, you may find positions available with cruise ships around the world. Working with a cruise line comes with a salary, free accommodation and the chance to travel along.  You of course have to audition, but if you have a special talent that you would like to let shine and you get the position, you will get to paid to do what you love, travel and perform. Backstage.com which offers a list of casting calls for various cruise lines is a great way to get started.

Teach in the US with AmeriCorps

While you may not be able to travel outside the US with AmeriCorps, you will be placed in a new city to work as an educator and role model under one of its programs. AmeriCorps members depending on the program usually serve in low-income communities, working with children in different aspects like homework help and tutoring. Some programs go as far as doing environmental field research like surveying salmon counts and analyzing watersheds. In addition to helping out communities who may be in need, members can have their university loans deferred, receive a monthly stipend, and a grant to help pay for grad school.

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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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