10 Money Saving Holiday Travel Tips for Cost Conscious Families

Holiday travel can be expensive… especially if you’re traveling with a family. But you don’t have to break the bank, blow up the family budget, and go into debt just to take a family trip during the holiday season.

There are a number of things you can do to save money and still enjoy a fantastic, fun-filled trip.

Here are a few of the biggest money-saving tips:

1. Plan Early

Whether you’re considering a trip upstate or across the country during the holiday season, planning as far in advance as possible will save you money. In fact, the farther in advance you plan, the more money you’ll generally save. There are usually very few, if any, “last minute” travel bargains available, so don’t count on them.

If you’re traveling by air or train, search the internet for the lowest airfares on discount travel sites including Travelocity, Orbitz, Cheap Tickets, and Priceline. This will show you the lowest fares and tell you what airlines are flying to your destination. Check the individual sites of these airlines, since many offer lower internet fares or unadvertised internet specials. If your travel plans require a hotel room and rental car, check the discount travel and airline sites for packages that include hotel and or car rental. Usually, these packages will offer you significant savings.

Families planning to travel by car need to plan well in advance too. Check with the AAA or other auto club to plan the quickest easiest route and avoid congestion and road construction delays. Ask about gas prices and what you can expect to pay per gallon during the holiday season at your final destination. The auto clubs also offer members discounts on hotels, visitor attractions, and sometimes restaurants too. These discounts can generally save you 20% or more.

2. Travel “Off-Peak” If You Can

Everybody wants to arrive at their destination by Christmas Eve. Travelers with the flexibility to arrive several days before Christmas Eve … or on Christmas day or the day after Christmas, can sometimes save a considerable amount of money on air and rail fares. If you’re traveling by car, you’ll also find less congestion on the road on these “off-peak” days.

3. Check Airline Baggage Fees Before You Book

Go online and check each airline’s luggage policy and fees before you book. This could save you anywhere from $50 to $300 per roundtrip ticket, depending on the airline, your destination, and the dates you travel.

Jet Blue, for example, is one of the few airlines, that still gives you the first checked bag free. Assuming the fares with another airline are the same, you could save $25 per ticket … that’s $200 savings for a family of four roundtrips.. by flying Jet Blue.

American Airlines has a very complicated baggage policy and fee structure that varies by date, destination, size of baggage, and type of baggage. If you’re considering flying American, be sure you completely understand how much extra it will cost you. Call and speak to an American representative if you have any questions … before you book!

4. Set A Pre-Set Spending Limit … Avoid Credit Cards

Establish a firm budget for your trip, with a little built-in “wiggle room” for unexpected expenses. Try paying all your expenses by debit card, travelers’ checks, or cash and avoid credit cards. This way there are no “surprises” when you return or credit card charges that help you begin the new year deeper in debt.¬† Instead, try to find a payday loan store near your location or an online payday lender with the help of SolidCashHelp.com or similar websites. Payday loans can sometimes be a real life-saver.

5. Book Early and Fast

Always assume prices will only go up, so once you find the lowest fare or rate book it … or it will soon be gone and you’ll wind up paying more.

6. Pack Smart and Lightly for Airline Travel

Luggage fees and restrictions vary from airline to airline. Most airlines now charge for each piece of luggage checked and have restrictions as to the number, size, and weight of bags you check.

For domestic flights, you can generally expect to pay a minimum of $25 per bag for each bag weighing 50 pounds or less. Add an additional $50 to $100 per bag if the bag weighs over 50 pounds. These are one-way charges, so the costs are doubled for a round-trip itinerary.

Here are two simple tips for saving on airline luggage charges. The first is to pack lightly to keep each bag under 50 pounds to avoid overweight charges. The second is to “share suitcases” so you check a few pieces of luggage as possible. A husband and wife can share a suitcase and children’s clothing can be packed in their parent’s luggage. A couple traveling together could save a minimum of $50 roundtrip… and a family of four could easily save an additional $50 or more roundtrip simply packing smartly and sharing suitcases.

7. Ship Holiday Gifts In Advance To Save Money

Packing holiday gifts only adds to the weight of your luggage. Buy your Christmas gifts online through a site that offers free shipping and have them shipped to your destination in advance. This saves time, money, and aggravation too!

8. Weigh Your Luggage At Home

Weigh your bags at home just before you leave for the airport to keep from going over the weight limit and having to pay an additional $50 or $100 you didn’t expect when you check in … and the same amount on your return flight.

9. Bring Your Own Food and Save

Fast food doesn’t mean cheap food …on the road … and especially in airports where fast-food restaurants have higher prices and no $1 Value Menus. A burger, fries, soda, and dessert for a family of 4 can cost $25 to $40. Eating at a diner or chain restaurant can be even more expensive.

If you’re traveling by car, you can make sandwiches at home and take boxes of cookies, bags of snacks, and bottles of juice, soda, or water you can consume in the car or at rest stops. This can save a family of 4 making a total of 4 restaurant stops traveling two and from their destination well over $100 on food.

Families traveling by air can bring food on board to easily save $100 or more over high airport food prices. The only things you’ll have to buy at the airport once you clear security … or wait to have free onboard the aircraft … are any beverages because the TSA does not allow any bottled fluids … including water or soda through airport security.

10. BYO Beverages To Hotels

Bring liquor, wine, beer, and soda from home if you’re traveling by car and staying at a hotel. If you don’t feel like carrying it in the car or if there’s no room, buy your alcoholic beverages at a grocery or liquor store once you arrive. This can save two adults hundreds of dollars over having every drink at the hotel bar. Bringing your own bottled water, soda and snacks can save additional money too … especially if you’re staying with children.

Preventative Care & Money Saving Tips for Your Dog

Preventative care can be used for our canine friends as well as us humans. Like us, caring for your dogs before anything tragic happens can, in the long run, save you large amounts of money in potential medical care later on. Here are some of the ways we save money by caring for our dogs.

We always have an annual check-up for each one of our dogs. Keep in mind that dogs cannot verbalize to us when they are feeling ill or uncomfortable, so it is therefore very important that they are routinely checked out by a veterinarian to be sure that they stay healthy. A veterinarian can catch conditions early on, before it becomes something major, expensive and possibly even not treatable.

We always brush our dog’s teeth once daily. Doing this will not only keep your dog’s breath from becoming unbearable but like us, it will keep them from building up tartar and plaque.

Keeping your dog’s mouth clean will also help to keep them from getting ill. Our veterinarian, Dr. Phillip Baker from Baker’s Veterinary clinic in St. Louis has told us that tooth problems in dogs, just like in humans can even adversely affect a dog’s internal organs and shorten their life span!

When we get a new dog, we always have them neutered or spayed. (You can usually have this done at a lesser cost at your local humane society than at a regular veterinarian.)

Having your dog fixed can prevent them from developing cancer and other types of medical issues. Dr. Baker explained to me that a dog’s hormones in middle age and later often causes tumors to form in both male and female canines. Also with my male dogs, I have noticed that after they are neutered they become less aggressive and are easier to housebreak, so this is a nice benefit. Often, there are clinics and charities that will neuter and spay dogs for free for a nominal cost for those who are unable to afford it otherwise.

Simple grooming can be considered preventative as well. Did you know that a clean coat of fur means that there will be fewer problems with a dog’s skin?

Ask your vet for their advice on the best type of dog shampoo to use on your pet. Instead of taking my dogs to an expensive groomer, I have learned to shampoo and brush them myself. I also clip my dog’s claws myself.

If you take a dog to the vet to have their claws trimmed, they will usually charge between $10 and $20, so do it regularly, but I recommend doing it yourself. There is now the type that will file them as opposed to clipping them if you find it easier for you and your dog.

What you feed your dog can make a big difference as well. I highly recommend feeding your dog one of the higher quality brands of food. Have you ever noticed that when you feed your dog cheap food, not only do they eat more but they also poop more? I used to be guilty of that! I bought them the cheapest food I could find until one day I noticed that not only were their stools larger and more frequent, but they also were beginning to have a dull look to their fur!

You would be amazed after doing a bit of research on the internet at some of the horrible ingredients that are put into dog food! (chicken claws and beaks as well as other disgusting things that you would not want to eat!) I switched to a brand that does not use any kind of additives or fillers and began feeding it to them instead of the cheap brand.

Now I feed them Nutro. Within a few day’s time, I could see a big difference. Their stools were smaller, less frequent and more solid and their coats began to shine. My dogs love Nutro, although there are other brands as well that are high quality too.

When taking on the responsibility of owning and caring for a pet, it is best to use a few guidelines for the welfare of your animal, and in the process, save yourself a lot of money as well as a lot of heartaches. Have a happy pet!

If the letter is from a lawyer

If the letter is from a lawyer, contact the lawyer and offer 60% to settle, if he does not take it, slowly walk up to the original debt.

Do not admit that you have it right now, but will take a couple of days to get. The reason for contacting the lawyer instead of the original creditor is that the lawyer will operate within the law unless he is stupid.

If the letter is from a collection agency, contact the original creditor and do the same thing, but start at 40%.

If all else fails and you wind up dealing with the collection agency, do not accept any of the penalties. If it is a collection agency, and there is truly a court date, then they have to give you all of the information for the court date to include the name and contact info of their lawyer.

The good news, if it does go to court, the judge will issue a payment plan and the creditor, collection agency, etc must accept it. If you walk into court with a certified check for the $5k, they will generally accept it and then put you on a payment plan for the remainder. The bad news, the judge can add ‘reasonable’ court costs to your judgment. Also, if you no-show the court case, they can claim they cannot contact you and ask for wage garnishment.

Don’t offer up front. Ask them what can be worked out, if anything. Avoid you telling them, they will try to get what they can. So you saying upfront I have $5000 will cost you at least $5000 when they would have accepted $3500. However, now that it has gone to a suing point, I didn’t get as good of a settlement as I did working with them before the court date was actually set. So You say something like I have XX amount of $$ now, even though you have $5000, they’ll say, oh I can’t accept that, then you ask what can you accept?? If you can come up with it, great!! If not, they’ll tell you sorry, we’ll see you in Court. Where you will have Court Costs and the balance and interest.

A judgment is when you are taken to court for a debt.

A judgment is when you are taken to court for a debt…you pay the court expenses by the way…they don’t have to show up either….the judge decides what you will pay on the bill monthly and then he moves on to the next person…this is entered as a judgment against you and is on your record at the credit bureau for 7 years.

Is having a court judgment for debt affects employment? is there imprisonment for non payment of debt? how can i negotitate with my credit card companies to lower the interest rate or waive late payment fees.

It could affect employment if the prospective company runs a credit check. The judgment will affect your credit in a big way. There is no imprisonment for debtors, otherwise half the country would be in jail with all of our out of control spending.

Give your creditors a call and ask what they are willing to do for you. I like to get everything in writing first, but I don’t always get it, then I have to decide if I can trust them (stop laughing everyone!) or just insist on written info or don’t go with their proposal.

Thank you for everyones advice. I am waiting to receive the papers becasue my parents live in a different state than me( I live in New York and have for 6 years, they live in Ohio). Then I can see what this is all about. I’m not sure if my court date is even in Ohio or New York becasue my parents didn’t open it. Will I have to be there? I can’t take time off work right now becasue we are so busy. My mom did mention that the court date is Feb 14th- Happy Valentines Day haha.

I will definitely try to contact the creditor once I see who it is and try to make a deal with them. I hope there is no time limit that has run out already though and responding to these papers? What should I offer them- the full amount up front including fees? I am afraid that it will be much more than my original credit card bill.

The only debtors prison in the USA is the prison without walls that debtors may find themself in if they are unable to pay a creditor off in a timely manner . Loan shark interest fees, over the limit fees that usually got there because of the L S interest, and late payment fees are the main
reason for this prison.

I saw on Lou Dobbs this evening that the US Senate banking committee
is looking into unfair practices in the CC industry. My favorite author , Elizabeth Warren testified. Her book ALL Your Worth is a keeper. Lots of great info in this down to earth book written by the Harvard Professor.

Those who lobby for the CC and banking industry must be busy on the hill with this hearing going on. Hopefully they will not be successful and some changes will be made. Kudo’s to Elizabeth Warren and Democrat Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut!

Check your state laws

First, check your state laws to see if you (or your parents) were properly served. laws vary from state to state on the proper way to serve someone. (e.g. some require that you get physically served, while others say that publication in the newspaper and/or certified mail delivery will suffice).

If your state is one of the fortunate ones that have the law where they physically have to serve you, then the collection agency committed an FDCPA violation by “threatening to sue with no intention of doing so.”

I’d call after going and getting the papers you apparently got and see why they sent it to your folks instead of you. That sounds fishy.

As someone mentioned earlier, they will contact anyone they can find. I still get notices at my mother’s address claiming I owe some money and I haven’t lived there in thirty years!! (On a side note, since she passed away in November, bill collectors call while I’m trying to clean up her house. It’s a bit of a shock when I tell them she has died and can’t pay anything at this time).

In California, $5000 would be considered small claims (someone correct me if I am wrong) and no lawyers are allowed. I still have not seen an answer (or I missed it) to what it means to have a judgment against you.

Are you being sued or are they taking you to debtor’s court? Try the Free credit counseling services. Do you have an actual copy of the the suit and do you know the name of the credit card company that is suing you?

Call them up and tell them that you would like to settle

If you call them up and tell them that you would like to settle the matter they will work with you and set up a payment plan or they will drop the interest and tell you to pay the balance. But you have to call them and let them know you want to pay.

Also, I don’t know what happens if you are being sued, but I think if they can save money by not taking it to court, they may talk to you. Contact the creditor directly, see what they can settle with you and get it in writing BEFORE you send them any money. Maybe you have a Legal Aid type thing where you live and they may be able to help you…not sure how it works. People on this board have mentioned that the remaining balance is reported as income, but I don’t know anything about it. I never settled a debt, but that is the way I would handle it.

Good Luck. Amazing how they contact everyone you have ever known. Once, a long time ago when I couldn’t pay my bills on time, the creditors called my uncle, who I wasn’t really close to but I ran his TV repair business for a month while he was out of the country. They called him asking how much money he could send them to pay my debt.

What I did was called the office that was filing the law suit. They knocked off very little, and I was able to pay the amt. they asked for in full and avoid court. I did get a paper, that said the court date was settled before hand or something like that. At first they did offer me a monthly payment plan, however, they were still going for the judgment. All I could do to avoid the judgment was pay it in full. Well, with the amount they were allowing to discount. I think it was around $400 dollars discount on a $2500 bill. So my advice is call and see what’s up to avoid going to court. If you have the $$ and that is what you want to do.

Looking for insight…….

Hello all,

I’ve been a blog member for a short while, reading postings and learning as we all go along.

We are considering cashing in our resp and rrsp to pay off debt. We are having difficulty keeping up. Between us we have a decent wage and a disability pension. We have home equity but not enough to rectify this situation.

Any thoughts would be good to hear.


Answer to the last quesiton.

I’m feeling pretty cynical today, so keep in mind that’s where thisresponse is coming from. ūüôā

But first, the positive stuff: give yourself a pat on the back formaking the first step and communicating! That’s major progress!

Second, I’m not so sure it’s a bad idea to scare him with fearful¬†numbers and show him he spent twice what was budgeted. If you do this¬†in a kind and loving way, it might get through. I’ve learned that with¬†some people (namely, my dear spouse) the nice, subtle messages just¬†don’t work. Saying very bluntly “I’m worried about our expenses from¬†last month–we spent double what we made, and I’ve got a real problem¬†with that” might actually work.

Again, I really really empathize with you on this. We are going¬†through similar struggles and it’s very frustrating. I’ll reiterate my¬†plea to the group: if anyone knows the magic formula to getting one’s¬†spouse on the same financial page, please tell us!¬†Scare him to death, before reality and life does it for you.

I was studying for a class and must have been thinking about your¬†situation in the back of my mind. Lately I’ve been trying to consider¬†each purchase in the terms of how many hours I have to work to earn¬†the money. Like my car bought a month ago is equal to what I earned¬†by working 341 hours. Compare your husband’s purchases in terms of¬†how many hours he works to pay for them.

For example, say he earns $10 per hour. He buys tools worth $1,500.¬†He must work 150 hours or 3.75 weeks (40 hour work week) to pay for¬†them. Or say the rent is $1,000 a month. That’s 100 hours or 2.5¬†weeks.

Don’t know if this helps you but it’s been helping me when I want to¬†buy things. There’s a book I want to buy that is equal to 2.5 hoursof my pay. It’s the only thing keeping me from buying that ¬†book;¬†thinking how long I’d have to work to earn the money to pay for it.

Some questions.

  1. Has anyone experience with Discover Card or Chase Visa where they were successful in working out a plan with the card holder to repay the debt? If so would you please share some of  the steps you took.
  2. Has anyone used Care One Credit Counseling?¬†American Express is really treating us rotten. The minimum payment keeps changing.. I go to pay online and pay more than the min. shown, but then I get a letter stating I have an overdue payment, and then they tell me it was really $50 or more on top of what the minimum shown.¬†I’ve had this problem 2 months in a row.¬†My interest went from 12.99% to 27.99%¬†I just noticed this the other day.¬†I told them 2 months ago I was struggling to make payments and my husband will soon be getting out of his job and doesn’t have a new one yet. I asked for help, and they basically said, “goodluck with that”.¬†Now they are treating me like crap by raising my interest.¬†Anyway, out of all my credit cards, I want this one taken care of, but I’m thinking of consolidating all.
  3. Okay so got the hubby to sit and help me put together a budget. But ¬†out of nowhere he went and spent money that was for his tab at work(he didn’t even get the money to work before he spent it.) So apparently I didn’t get the communication that I had desired out of him. He’s been good at taking his lunch but has been supplementing his lunch with bought things that he shouldn’t even eat for his health. So he helped put the budget together but otherwise doesn’t care.¬†Any ideas of on how to communicate with him other than scaring him to
    death with hard truths and fearful numbers of what he did last month?  ie he spent double what we made on absolutely nothing that I can say was worth it.