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Become A Smart Traveler: Use These 15 Awesome Travel Hacks

Become A Smart Traveler: Use These 15 Awesome Travel Hacks

Everyone loves the idea of travelling. But, not everyone is in love with the concept of booking expensive flights, losing your week’s worth of luggage and being denied accommodation at a foreign country you’re not familiar with. How do you save money and still get to enjoy your travel experience? These travel hacks from professional travelers got your back:

1. Clear your browser’s cookies

Booking websites usually store your browser’s cookies so they know how many times you’ve looked for a hotel or flight deal. Since they want you to book quickly, they show you higher prices for you to take the bait. Prevent this from happening: clear your cookies and use an incognito browser window.

2. Track your airfare

Websites such as Yapta and Skyscanner allow you to monitor your airfares and give you alerts every time it changes. Just give them your email address and strike while the iron is hot! If the airfare seems cheap enough for you, book it already. You may not have the second chance in the future.

3. Fly Red-Eye

Don’t want airport hassles? Choose red-eye (overnight) flights so you avoid rush hour, long lines and grumpy personnel. You can always sleep on the plane and wake up energized when you arrive at your dream destination.

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4. Pack your luggage “Russian Nesting Doll” style

One of the famous travel hacks is to fold your clothes. Why don’t you take it one step further? Rolled up socks and underwear go inside your shoes. Rolled up shirts can safely store your digital camera or sunglasses. Put the items you’ll frequently need (liquids and items you’ll use mid-flight) at the very top.

5. Wear your extra luggage

Wear the bulky items that you will need but you don’t want to pack – a jacket, a pair of boots, a hoodie or your gym clothes! If you’re really extreme about it, you can also try Jaktogo so you can wear your luggage literally.

6. Make your luggage stand out – in a good way

Consistently checking every luggage that moves is not easy so you want your own luggage to be noticeable at first sight. Don’t use ribbons or bows because these can get stuck. Instead, put colorful and bright stickers on your luggage.

7. Choose your security line

Don’t line up behind senior citizens and children as they tend to take the most time in getting through security. Instead, look for people in business suits; they tend to move more efficiently as compared to others.

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8. Go through priority lines anyway

If you see that the line is excruciatingly slow, go to the empty line for priority/first-class passengers. You can actually ask them if you can just go through, or if you want, you can always pass by and they’ll wave you in. More often than not, you won’t even need to flash your frequent flyer card anyway.

9. Request shopping bags from airport gift shops

Ask for a big shopping bag and put all your remaining stuff there. Because everyone will assume that you just bought this from the airport’s gift shop, you won’t get charged for an extra carry-on baggage. If it’s not free, consider buying it. A shopping bag price is still cheaper than an overweight fee.

10. Bring an empty water bottle with you

Pass through security by making sure your bottle’s empty. Once you’re in the holding area, fill it up at the tap or water fountain and smile. Now you don’t need to shell out to pricey airport stores just so you can quench your thirst! If you’re extra cautious, you can bring an empty water bottle with a built-in filter.

11. Roll back your computer’s clock

Only given one hour to enjoy the free WiFi? Before the one hour is up, roll back your computer’s or smartphone’s clock. This way, you get more Internet time.

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12. Consider house-sitting

You can technically live rent-free if you do house-sitting. Join a house-sitting membership sites like TrustedHousesitters.com, sign up for notifications and reply quickly to any messages. Also, make sure to have a written agreement with the homeowner so that you know what and what not to do while living in their house.

13. Join free local guides

You can check out the Global Greeter Network for free local guides. You get free tours, new friends and perhaps even free meals, if your “greeter” is generous enough!

14. Make one meal the highlight of your day

Don’t splurge for every meal – you’ll spend more money faster if you do this. Instead, use one meal and make it the highlight every day. For example, for breakfast, stick with cheese and bread, yogurt or affordable fruits that you can buy in your nearest supermarket. Then for lunch, look for scrumptious yet cheap lunch set deals. For dinner, you can either eat street food or even make do with the food that you took home with you. You don’t need to eat like a king every time to enjoy your travel.

15. Have your USB stick with you

One of the most-ignored travel hacks is about safety: in an encrypted USB stick, include your ID pictures, bank/insurance company phone numbers, insurance policy, credit card statements and passport photos. This way, if you ever get robbed, you can immediately get back on your feet and take action.

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Which of these travel hacks are you familiar with? Share in the comments below and let’s talk!

Featured photo credit: 0qtowsuC.jpg/5demayo via cdn.morguefile.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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