5 Tips to Save on Airline Tickets

Saving and budgeting for you vacation can be a challenge, even before factoring in the cost of airfare. Yeah, you could go on a road trip or stay close, but sometimes it’s worth it to go far far away and truly relax. Whether you are looking for adventure or leisure you can make the most out of your dollar by minimizing the cost of travel.

indexHere are some tips that you can use to save on your next vacation:

Know When to Buy

Watch the rates well in advance of your vacation. Buying air plane tickets well in advance or waiting until the very last minute is not the best practice, instead you want to buy your tickets 6 to 8 weeks in advance. At this time airfare typically hits a low point, so make sure to purchase during this time.

Be Flexible on the Dates

Sometimes you can find lower rates by looking for flights in a range of dates instead of at a specific time. Flying mid-week can save you up to 10%, Wednesday is usually the best day if you are looking to save.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Not only are there specific days of the week where airlines will offer discount rates, but also early in the morning flights tend to be cheaper. Try to fly in the morning and throughout the workday to get a better rate.

Buy on a Tuesday

Take advantage of the industry’s competitive nature! Mid-week is not only the best tie to fly, it’s also the best time to buy tickets. On Tuesdays most airfares will start to go on sale when the airlines adjust their fares to match competitors.

Know When to Pull the Trigger

Airfares not only fluctuate day by day, but also hour by hour. Take time to learn the market and be ready to pull the trigger on a good deal!

The Top 5 Coupon Apps for Your Smartphone

Couponing is becoming a trend these days, so why not save the scissors and have those coupons available at the touch of your smartphone screen. Here are our 5 favourite coupon apps sure to help you save some cash:

Living Social

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 4.57.54 PMLiving social offers its users the opportunity to do things locally, in their city, on the cheap. There are different deals every day that offer coupons and discounts at various restaurants, bars, stores, spas and more. Living social also gives its users the opportunity to get free deals by sharing deals through e-mail, facebook and twitter. When your friends purchase a deal that you’ve shared with them you get it for free.

Groupon

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Groupon offers its users deals on products and services, they partner with top-rated businesses allowing users to feel comfortable trying something new. You can browse deals by location or categories. Groupon also offers featured deals, vacations, goods, occasions and gifts making it easy to get exactly what you need at a good price.

Google Offers

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Google offers allows users to find offers on all of their favourite Google products and services. You can find deals for shopping, restaurants, bars, courses, travel, beauty and more. By taking more deals the app learns your needs and will start to give you more customized suggestions for future purchases. When you buy an offer you have the option to use it right away for save it for later.

GeoQpons

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Using GeoQpons you can brwose a variety of products from automotive, to children’s, to groceries. The app makes it easy to use the coupons in a store by allowing users to simply show the coupon image on their smartphone to the cashier. Using a coupon online is also easy, you just have to copy and paste the code in the coupon box during checkout.

RetailMeNot

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 5.20.08 PMUsing RetailMeNot you get to save when you want, where you want. The app sends you deals that are based on your current location, such as your local mall, and offers coupon codes on everything from clothing to entertainment and even food.

Saving for College and Retirement at the Same Time

Saving money for a comfortable retirement when the time comes is something that is very important to you, but, on the other hand, you also want to help your child go to college or university. Is it possible to save for both? What will you need to sacrifice to achieve this goal? How do you find balance? Saving for your child’s education at the same time as your retirement can be challenging, but it may be possible to do both if you take the right steps now.

DivGrad_340Know your Financial Needs

You will need to determine what your financial needs are for both retirement and college. The following points are a good start:

For your retirement:

  • When do you plan to retire? 10 years? 20 years?
  • Do you have a pension plan or employer sponsored retirement plan? Are you participating in it? If you are, what is your balance? What will your balance be when you retire?
  • What amount you expect to receive in Social Security benefits? (estimate this using your personal earnings and benefit statement)
  • What plans do you have for your retirement? For example: Are you going to downsize your home? Do you plan on traveling much? Do you have expensive hobbies? Will you need to buy a new car?
  • Are you planning on working part-time during your retirement?

For your child’s education

  • When will your child start college?
  • What is the expected cost of your child’s education? Do you think they will attend a private or public college?
  • How many children are you saving for?
  • Do you expect your child to receive any scholarships based on athletic, artistic or academic abilities?
  • Will your child qualify for any financial aid?

There are many calculators that can be found online to help you predict your child’s education costs and your financial needs in retirement.

Determine how much can you afford to put aside each month

Once you determine your financial needs, figure out how much you can afford to put aside each month. In order to do this you will have to put together a budget that accounts for all your expenses and income. Once you determine how much you can put aside you will need to determine how you will split up this money.


Your retirement should be the priority

Yes, college is important, but you need to focus on your retirement, especially if you find out that your funds are more limited than you thought they were. Social security bennefits can not be as depended on as they have been in the past which makes it your job to fundĀ  your retirement. The other side is that, if you wait until your child starts college to save you will miss out on tax-deferred growth and compounding your savings. It’s important to remember, worst case scenario, your child can always fund college by taking out loans or receiving scholarships but you cannot take out loans to fund your retirement!

If it is possible, go ahead and save for both

In the ideal scenario you will be able to finance both college and retirement at the same time. The more money you save for college the less debt your child will be faced with when they complete school. Even if you put away very little, it can be surprising how much it will grow by the time your child gets to college. For example, at 8% $100/month will grow to around $18,000 in 10 years time.

A professional financial planner can help you figure out how to divvy up your funds between college and retirement if you are having troubles.They can also help you pick adequate goals and diversify your portfolio. You should treat each goal independently even if you are saving for both at the same time.

Can retirement savings be used to fund college?

Yes, but this is not a good idea. Financial planners strongly discourage this because it can leave you financially strapped in retirement. If you think that this is still something that you should be doing you can withdraw money penalty free from an IRA even if you are under the age of 60. Using your 401k will cost you a 10% penalty on any withdrawls you take out before 60. You can also potentially be subjected to a 6 month suspension if you make a withdrawal and you may also have to pay income tax on this money. It is best to talk to a financial planner before tinkering with your retirement savings to finance your child’s education.

When Can You Eliminate Private Mortgage Insurance?

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is often required for those who put less than 20% down on their homes. This insurance protects the lender from loss if you default on your home mortgage loan. While PMI can make it possible for you to qualify for a loan with a smaller down payment, you will need to pay a good sum for it. On a $200,000 loan, you will pay a little less than $100 a month for PMI.

Baby Boomers

Unfortunately, depending on the size of your down payment, you may be paying your mortgage (and PMI) for years before you own 20% of your home and can drop PMI. You will likely spend thousands of dollars on PMI.

If you would like to put more money on your mortgage quickly, one thing you can do is refinance your home. This can be especially usefully if you took out your loan several years ago when rates were higher. Refinancing and getting a lower interest rate means more of your money will be applied to the principal if you continue to make your original loan payment. A simple refinance can shave years off the time it takes you to be free of PMI.

To begin the process, shop for mortgage rates online using a site like http://www.mortgagerates.ca. From there, you can begin to talk to specific lenders.

Keep in mind you may need to fill out a mortgage application when you refinance as well as bring in all pertinent paperwork including W-2s, federal tax refunds, paycheck stubs and proof of investment income.

Another important variable is the cost to refinance. Refinancing can cost a few hundred dollars. How long will it take you to recoup that money? If you refinance, how much more quickly can you eliminate PMI? How much will you save in PMI by refinancing?

A refinance is not right for everyone, especially people who plan to move and sell the house within a few years. However, if you plan to stay put and want to gain traction paying down the principal of your mortgage so you can drop PMI, a refinance may be perfect for you.