On the beach- or on vacation from the Death Star by Kristina  Alexanderson, on FlickrIn these times of economic strife, consumers are being careful when spending their discretionary dollars. The desire to stretch the vacation dollars and seek value while planning a vacation cuts across all income groups. So what are some of the value tips that you can keep in mind while planning your vacation? Let’s take a look:

Book off-season
Almost every destination has a peak season and an off-season when tourist arrivals are low. Everything ranging from airfares to hotel rooms is going to be cheaper in this off-season period. The cost of a trip to France, for instance, can be 60% lower if you travel in November as opposed to May through July. While this may not work for everyone, travelers with a little flexibility in their schedules can take advantage here.
Put it together yourself
If your destination is the Americas or the Caribbean, then all-inclusive packages are normally the way to go. For all other destinations you will save anywhere from 25 to 40% by piecing the vacation together instead of going for a package. If you are planning your vacation within the CONUS (and we’re not talking snails here), it is almost always better to go with a packaged offering.

Browse the social media platforms
Many tour operators and new travel companies advertise on social media to leverage the reach, while minimizing advertising costs. Outdoor-Traveler, an outdoor-oriented travel company, recently launched a campaign on Facebook to attract travelers. In return for “likes”, the user gets an array of perks ranging from discounts, vouchers, giveaways and exclusive offers.

Dare to compare
Most websites will offer you a wide array of destinations and packages. Spend some time researching different offerings for the destination of your choice. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Follow the news
Economies in Spain and Greece are in the financial doldrums. It’s all over the news. This is exactly what makes these destinations cheaper options for the budget-minded traveler. The strength of the dollar is an added advantage, so follow the news to save money on your vacation plans.

Know when to book and travel
Wednesdays are the cheapest day to travel by air within the US. Resort properties are cheaper on a Sunday and midsized city center hotels catering to the business traveler will often have special weekend and midweek packages.

Use your reward points
All the points that you tally up on your credit cards and your frequent flyer cards through the year can be redeemed for lower fares or deals that you can incorporate into your vacation plan.

Use your age
If you are over 55 you can use your age to your advantage. Most airlines, cruise companies and hotels will offer special senior citizen rates. Every dollar that you save counts, right?
Shopping around for the best vacation deals online may take some time but it is well worth the effort. The amount you can save via special deals, coupons and alternate accommodations can help stretch your vacation dollar.


fix credit scoreThere is nothing quite as satisfying as sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying a clean home after a long day at work. It is a well-known fact though, that few people actually enjoy the task of cleaning, particularly if this involves cleaning upholstery, carpets, or the exterior of your home. Luckily, help is on hand, and there are numerous ways – hacks if you will – to save money on certain tasks so that you can spend as much as possible on necessary professional services.

Cleaning hacks for your home
If you’re about to tackle a cleaning task in your home, stop. Do you know what you’re doing? This may sound like a patronizing point to make, but you’d be surprised how many people stroll into the task of housework with a gung-ho spirit, only to fall at the first hurdle. Do you have the right products? Do you know how to apply them correctly?

The internet is full of handy hints and hacks, each designed to make your life easier. For example, are you aware of just how amazing baking soda can be? This kitchen staple can be used as a multi-surface scrub, to freshen sponges and dishcloths, as a cutlery polish, and even to clean your floors. Not only is this a handy tip to know, it could also save you a fortune on expensive individual products. Similarly cheap and easy, lemons are a great deodorizer, and can banish smells from your waste disposal, trashcans, and fridge in just a few simple steps, while toothpaste can be used to brighten your bathroom taps and fixtures.

What other products have you got about the house that could be used for cleaning? Try coffee, vinegar, ketchup, and rice – we all have them about our home, but regularly overlook their cleaning powers. Why not raid your kitchen cupboards and save yourself a bundle on today’s chores?

Call in the professionals
While cleaning your own home, and utilizing a number of hacks to get tasks done properly within time and budget restraints can be incredibly satisfying, there are also numerous benefits to calling in the professionals.

Domestic cleaning companies are specifically designed to save homeowners time and money, providing excellently efficient services that allow you to work and enjoy leisure time while your house is being thoroughly cleaned, as well as ensuring that tasks are performed efficiently. Additionally, professional cleaners are fantastic assets when it comes to tackling stubborn messes; carpet cleaning can be particularly difficult and laborious and, when done incorrectly, can cause a whole host of problems within your home, including areas of damp, musty smells, and stains that can never be shifted.

The internet may be rife with carpet cleaning tips and hacks, many of which will make your life easier, but it really can be more beneficial to call in the experts every now and again. After all, they have access to numerous chemicals that you may not, have the knowhow and experience to tackle stubborn stains undaunted, and will be able to advise you on carpet upkeep for the years ahead, as well as freeing up your time to complete other household tasks, or simply enjoy yourself. Carpet cleaning is a thankless task, but shouldn’t be such a headache if you use the right people for the job.



Updating your interior to impress potential buyers

April 30, 2015 Personal Finance

First impressions are important, but never more so than when you are trying to sell your home. As soon as a potential buyer pulls up outside, they are starting to form an opinion about how they feel about your house, and question whether they can see themselves living there. Something quite small, such as the […]

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