Road Trip On A Budget

It’s spring break season! In a few weeks, college campuses will empty out and highways will fill up with students blowing off a semester’s worth of steam while road tripping to great vacation destinations. For many students, this might be the first time they’ve taken a vacation without parents to help plan (and pay for) it. For a newbie, it can be quite a challenge.

Worry not, road warrior! Here are a few ways you can save some green on your next four-wheeled adventure. Try these three savings tips!

1.) Budget beforehand

If there’s one rule of financially savvy vacationing, it’s this one: Make a budget before you hit the road. It can be easy to justify an ever-ballooning budget. A few dollars here and there can quickly turn into one big expense, and it’s one you could be paying for long after the semester’s over.

Instead, take control of your spending by giving yourself a realistic goal of how much you’ll spend. If you end up a few dollars over, you can make up the difference much easier than if you were to later find out you massively overspent. Making a budget also gives you an idea of how much you need to save between now and the start of your grand adventure.

 

2.) Feed your future

Gas station food might be an attractive option after you’ve spent all day on the road, but it’s not always the best plan. In addition to the cost, such food is generally fried and unhealthy. You probably don’t want to spend the first few days of a great vacation sweating off a pound of fried cheese! Beyond the food, spending money on bottled beverages can do some quick damage to your budget.

As much as possible, prepare your snacks before leaving. Even if that means just putting snack-sized bags of chips together out of a big bag and filling a cooler jug with water, the cost savings are well worth the time. If you’re feeling more on top of things, consider packing bread and sandwich fixings to save on roadside lunches. If you plan on stopping at restaurants for dinner, consider shopping ahead of time at a gift card exchange site where you can grab other people’s Christmas rejects for a fraction of the price, or check Groupon for good restaurant deals in most cities across the US.

 

3.) Vet your vehicle

Nothing will influence the roadtrip experience more than your choice of vehicle. This is where you’ll be for several hours a day, so you’ll want to make sure it’s as comfortable as possible. Beyond a thorough cleaning, consider what maintenance tasks you’ve been putting off. Get a tire rotation and an oil change before you leave to avoid having to pay for expensive repairs on the road.

Finally, you’ll also want to make sure all the legalities are covered. Make sure your insurance is current and you know where your card is located. Call your insurance company to make sure you’re covered if someone else is driving your car. Confirm that your plates are current and that you know where all your important documents are. Taking these steps can prevent an expensive and time-consuming ticket!

Your Turn: What are your best road trip savings tips? Let us know in the comments about how you keep the costs down on your highway adventures!

 

SOURCES:

https://www.thetravelingpraters.com/practical-tips-save-money-next-road-trip/

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2014/06/05/8-money-saving-tips-to-jump-start-a-summer-road-trip

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/7-tips-for-a-frugal-hassle-free-road-trip-3.aspx

http://www.businessinsider.com/10-money-saving-tips-for-the-penny-pinching-roadtripper-2012-6

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Rising Interest Rates: What Do They Mean For You?

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If you read financial headlines, you’ve no doubt seen the news that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates. These headlines can be accompanied with all sorts of hyperbole about the end of the stock market, the boom of bonds or any of a dozen other possible predictions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when there’s this much information and so much of it is conflicting. Let’s set the record straight on what rising prime interest rates mean for you and your:

  • Adjustable-rate Mortgage
  • Portfolio
  • Savings
  • Debt

The prime interest rate is the rate that the Federal Reserve charges financial institutions to borrow from it. It influences a lot of other financial prices. Many of these are only of concern to investment bankers, professional investors and other economic enthusiasts. Here are some key ways the prime rate hikes can affect you!

1.) Get out of your ARM

Many people opted for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) when interest rates were historically low. These mortgages often have much better rates for an introductory period, usually five years, before they adjust to a new rate. That new rate is determined in large part by the rate the Federal Reserve charges.

The Federal Reserve is planning to continue to increase interest rates as the economy continues to improve. This means the rate on your ARM may go up as well. Worse yet, the rising rates could make your monthly mortgage payment unpredictable, putting you in a bit of a budget bind. Fortunately, you can refinance your mortgage into a fixed-rate loan and take advantage of still-low interest rates. You may still be able to secure a low rate on a 10-, 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. As interest rates continue to rise, your fixed-rate mortgage will stay the same, meaning your savings will increase as time goes on.

2.) Balance your portfolio

The historically low interest rates over the past six years have done wonders for the stock market. Because companies could borrow at affordable rates, they could expand rapidly. That expansion fuels growth in stock prices.

As interest rates rise, that credit availability will decrease. Companies will find it more difficult to expand, and their growth will slow. This slowing of growth may lead to a decline in stock prices.

However, as interest rates rise, bond rates will also increase. That will lead to an increase in their price as more investors chase those rates. Individual investors need to ensure their portfolios are properly balanced to take advantage of changing market conditions. Speaking to a financial adviser to ensure your assets are where they need to be will help keep your investments growing at a healthy rate.

3.) Save more

The Federal Reserve interest rate also affects the rates that financial institutions are able to offer account holders. As it becomes more expensive to borrow from other institutions, it’s more profitable for those institutions to “borrow” from their members in the form of certificates and savings accounts. As interest rates continue to rise, it’ll be increasingly more profitable to sock your money away in an interest-bearing account.

If you’ve been putting off opening a certificate or increasing the deposits in your share account, now is an excellent time to consider it. With a 12- or 24-month certificate, you can take advantage of rising interest rates while still leaving yourself the flexibility to re-invest once interest rates rise again.

4.) Refinance your debt

The service charges on several kinds of debt are tied to the prime rate. Notably, credit cards and private student loan rates may increase as the prime rate continues to climb. That makes now a great time to think about refinancing.

Take advantage of currently low interest rates with several strategies. A home equity line of credit can help bundle your high-interest, unsecured debt with your low-interest mortgage. A personal loan for refinancing can also help secure a better interest rate. Other options exist, and the sooner you speak with a debt counselor or other financial professional, the better off you’ll be.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the financial terminology surrounding news events like rate hikes. That’s why it’s best to have an advocate in your corner to help you figure out what to make of a changing economic landscape. Utah community Credit Union can do just that. Call, click or stop by to speak to a member services representative about how you can take advantage of this opportunity and put yourself on the path to financial wellness.

Find your nearest UCCU location here: http://www.uccu.com/home/uccu/locations

Your Turn: Got questions about rising interest rates? Leave your questions in the comments. Or, if you’ve got a handle on all things economic, share your wisdom with others!

Sources:

http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumers/2017/01/19/bit-bit-rising-interest-rates-making-impact/96560462/
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/your-money/increases-in-interest-rates-on-savings-accounts-remain-slow-to-materialize.html?_r=0
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/12/28/what-2017-may-mean-your-personal-finances/95736736/

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