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How to Travel the World on a College Budget

How to Travel the World on a College Budget

Traveling is a great way to keep yourself going during the hard grueling semester’s work. But having the money to finance your travelling desires is truly the only thing in your way from dropping everything and leaving! Here are a list of very helpful, uncommon tips that will help you get away much faster on a college budget.

Ways to fund travel

Credit Cards

Using credit cards to travel overseas can be very risky; especially if you do not have the means and a solid plan to pay back the expenses that you will incur. The good thing about using a credit card to help you travel overseas is that some of them (please do your research before applying to any credit card company) come with currency exchange, so when you arrive in a new country it will exchange your currency for you rather than you having to go through the trouble of doing it yourself. You can also go to a neighboring country that uses the same currency, but has a better exchange rate, so you get more of their money for less of yours (keep that in mind)!

When using a credit card to travel out of the country, make sure that it can be used worldwide (check with the issuer). You could also look into a student credit card, which sometimes have better benefits for college students.

Just keep in mind that being irresponsible with credit cards will put you further into debt than the student loans you might be using for your education.

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Being financially literate will help you save money

Check with your bank to see what the ATM fees and debit/credit card usage policies are overseas. This way you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into and won’t feel blindsided if you come home owing a lot more money than you originally anticipated. Look into as many possible avenues as you can in regards to worldwide credit cards, student credit cards (that can be used worldwide), and programs such as the two below that can help you save money.

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

The ISIC gives you access to student discounts on flights, museums, and attractions. You can save much more money by investing in this card rather than not. It doesn’t make anything free for you, but it does make certain things more affordable with the discounts that it gives you access to. You can visit their website for further information.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

By becoming a part of WWOOF you’ll have access to jobs across the world, and will be accommodated on your journey to a certain extent. For all intents and purposes, at least WWOOF provides a place for you to stay. It is essentially like volunteer work. You do not get paid to help on the farm, but room and board are provided. Each membership costs $30 USD per year and needs to be renewed annually. You can read more from their FAQ at their website.

Where Should You Stay?

Hostel instead of a Hotel

Hostels are much cheaper and they can be found in various locations. There are hostels outside of the cities you’re visiting so it’s more cost-efficient, and hostels that are within the city limits which rival hotels. Most hotels are inside city limits and the prices are higher because of that reason. The important things to remember with hostels are as follows:

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  • Hostels may charge for using their laptops/tablets/computers–so make sure you bring your own.
  • Drinks are cheaper at your own hostel
  • Use services like www.hostelworld.com or www.hostelbookers.com to find your hostel destination.
  • Never tell your hostel when you’ll be arriving. If you arrive late they will give up your room and you won’t be able to get your deposit returned to you.
  • Always bring a padlock (or two).

Getting There: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

How to get there is important, every bit as important as keeping money in your wallet. Stay frugal, open-minded and choose your means wisely. Search for flights on lesser-known airlines. When you get to your destination, say if you’re going to a place such as Europe with a great train system, take the trains.

What to do when you get there

Follow the Deals

When you’re traveling with only your college budget in mind and not so much your destination, it makes it easier to stick to following the deals.

Your best bet is to schedule your trips outside of major tourists’ months, when the prices drop. If you get off the main streets and avoid the major attractions, you’re sure to find cheaper prices and more of an authentic “local” experience.

Buy food in bulk and cook for yourself, if possible

This will lower the expenses on buying food at restaurants by a great deal! If you’re staying at a hostel, most of them provide kitchens for this reason alone.

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Talk on FaceTime and stay on Wi-Fi instead of using your minutes overseas

Overseas plans for each carrier are different, so you definitely want to check with your phone provider before leaving the country. Otherwise you may come home to a bunch of phone bills you weren’t expecting.

Search local tipping laws before you hand out extra cash to your bartender/waiter

It’s commonplace here in the states to tip a minimum of 15%, but that same rule doesn’t apply in most places overseas. As long as you look it up and find out for certain, you won’t feel bad leaving without tipping at all or as much as you normally would.

Look for free opportunities

Instead of looking for that club to go out to, or spending money at museums or galleries, you can save yourself money by going swimming in the ocean for free, read a book on a beach for free, or find the parks in the area and spend your day there. You can also hide away in a historic library

Packing: How to cut down on cost

Packing light is your best bet. You can avoid fees for extra bags this way and, if you’re backpacking, you won’t kill yourself with all the additional, unnecessary baggage.

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Packing light is also beneficial because you’ll be able to chase down and catch that bus rather than stand around waiting for a taxi. Pack lightweight, wrinkle-free or wash-and-wear pants, shirts, and travel jackets so that you can roll them up and save space. If you’re going for studies overseas then don’t take the hardcover books, find the paperback or electronic version.

Staying for an extended period of time?

Find local work to help immerse yourself in the culture and earn some extra money. If you go WWOOFing then you won’t be paid for working on the farm, but you may have access to other working opportunities in the area. If you do both you’ll get the exposure to two different working lifestyles overseas, additional language exposure, and you’ll have an asset that’ll help you stay financially afloat while you’re there.

Getting around overseas

You are better off renting a bike than paying for a tour

You can lose yourself in the city and learn so much more about it rather than having to pay out of pocket to be guided around to all of the major sights to see.

Be sure that you’re using public transportation instead of taxis

Taxis are great conveniences and luxuries at times, but the wallet doesn’t like them that much. Public transportation is pretty well developed in the other countries, especially Europe, the UK and major Asian countries.

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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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