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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hey y’all!  I hope everyone is enjoying “What’s HOT For Summer” so far, I know I am!  It’s finals week for me at school, though it’s mucho stressful I’m actually thankful that this semester is nearly finished, and today is a particularly heinous day with 2 finals and a paper due.  That means that I decided to switch things up a bit for today’s post!image

 

Since rising gas prices have us most of us wondering if summer vacation will even happen this year I decided to get some advice on how to save money and still have a great summer from consumer savings expert  Andrea Woroch.  “As a media expert source, Andrea has been featured on NBC's Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW and many more” and she has some great tips on how we can all have a rockin summer without breaking the bank. 

 

Q:  Is it possible for families to vacation on a budget and still have fun?

Andrea Says:  Yes, of course! Being frugal doesn't mean you have to drastically change your lifestyle. With a little bit of planning and research, you go on an amazing family trip without sacrificing the fun stuff.

 

Q:  What are your top 3 tips for saving money on vacation?
Andrea Says:
   Create a budget and research various vacation options to find one that suits you and your family. If airfare seems out of your price range, you can still getaway. Consider a road trip which can be full of memories and a wonderful bonding experience for you and your family. Look for free events in various cities along your route and consider camping to save on hotel. You can hike, bike and participate in various outdoor activities that are not only free but a healthy and fun way to spend time together.

2. Research destinations that are experiencing their off-season to save on airfare, lodging, dining, attractions and more. As well, consider traveling during the week -or off-peak days- to finder better rates.

3. Always compare prices online, read trip reviews and look for coupons to save on hotel, car rentals, theme parks, event tickets, restaurants and more.

 

Q:  What if our family doesn’t want to spend the extra money on vacation this year, are there ways that families can have fun closer to home? What are they?

Andrea Says:  Plan a "staycation" when you can't afford a getaway. Organize several family activities like hikes, picnics and bikes rides and then camp out in your backyard with a few tents, games and marshmallows to recreate an exciting weekend away.

 

Q:  When should families ideally start saving money for a summer vacation?

Andrea Says:  The farther ahead you plan, the better prepared financially you're family will be for any vacation and the better airfare rates you'll be able to book. However, you can still save money with short-term planning by being smart about other daily purchases and living expenses. For example, forgo restaurant outings during your saving period and stash that cash away for the vacation. Look for other areas where you can trim down on your spending to save more in the long or short term.

 

Q:  How much money should the average family have saved before they consider going out of town for a vacation?

Andrea Says:  This all depends on the size of the family and the destination. Careful planning and preparing a budget beforehand will make every trip go smoothly and be memorable. Save enough for your trip with a little extra on the side for those unexpected purchases or last-minute

 

Q:  What are your tips on teaching children to save money, as it relates to vacationing?

Andrea Says:  Involve your children in the planning the vacation and give your child chores so they can save up for souvenirs on the trip. As well, remind your children that you can't go toy shopping because you are saving up for that exciting trip to Disney Land!

 

Q:  What are your tips for parents when it comes to saving money on groceries this summer?

Andrea Says:

--First of all, always plan out your shopping trips and make a list. Shopping with a list will help you avoid impulse purchases on expensive and unhealthy foods.  Base your meals on sale items, simply review the circular before heading to the store and look up recipes online to find new ideas or to learn how to prepare a certain discounted meat that you've never cooked with before.

--Avoid out of season produce to find the best prices

--Use coupons. Most supermarkets accept manufacturer coupons and will allow you to stack coupons which means using the store coupon along with the manufacturer voucher to multiple savings. You can download these via the Cellfire mobile coupon app, upload them to your grocery store rewards card via the store website or search for manufacturer coupons on sites like CouponSherpa.com to print them straight from your computer. The Sunday circular still provides a number of great grocery store coupon so spend sometime each week looking for deals and you can save up to $1,000 a year with coupons!

--Use credit cards that offer supermarket and grocery reward points and cashback bonuses, some of up to 5%!  Just make sure to pay the balance off in full each month or after each transaction to avoid paying interest rates which would defeat the purpose of this action.

--Stock up at Warehouse stores like Costco, BJ's and Sam's Club where you can save anywhere from 20 to 40% on some groceries. Remember though to check the expiration date of perishable items and consider if you have room to store the bulk product and if you will use it before it goes bad.

--Shop Dollar Store deals - from canned to bagged and boxed food, dollar store offers some great deals. Make sure to check the exipration date though and if you don't recognize the packaging on brand name goods, sit's best to skip it all together. Basic kitchen and dining staples like dish towels, storage containers and cutlery as well as cleaning supplies are great buys there as well, so stuck up on your buck!

--Generic is always the cheapest and smartest buy at any supermarket. Shop by price not by brand and you'll quickly save a few dollars. Generic organic goods are a great option for those looking to stay healthy without overspending.

 

Q:  Are coupons always a good idea? What about coupons for attractions and destinations, are they worth looking in to?

Andrea Says:  Of course, coupons can save you a bundle and these days you can find coupons for just about anything including travel. From hotels to car rentals, themes and attractions, restaurants and luggage needs, your family can find great deals by researching coupons first. To save time when looking for specific deals, go directly to a site like CouponSherpa.com which aggregates all the top travel coupons and offers in one place. Families can also find discount gift cards for savings of up to 50% off at sites like GiftCardGranny.com.

 

Q:  What advice would you give to moms who want to save money this summer while still making sure their children have a memorable summer break?

Andrea Says: 

--Consider day camps instead of sleep-away as a less expensive alternative. Find out if there is an option to volunteer at the camp to receive a price break for your campers or ask about multiple camper discount rates.

--Get with other families and neighbors who too may not have room in their budget for camp this summer to organize daily activities for your kids. Parents can take turns chaperoning and coordinating kid-friendly activities, from arts & crafts to hikes and scavenger hunts.

--Go on a weekend or day road trip to visit the beach, drive through the mountains or a nearby city that offers some history lessons and site-seeing.

--Take advantage of all the free activities your city or nearby town have to offer.

--Check your local crafts stores for free family and kid activities. Likewise, stores throughout your community make offer free kid-friendly activities. For instance, Lowe's recently offered a free workshop where children built their own basketball game. Pottery Barn Kids featured a live Peter Rabbit Appearance and AC Moore offered a free "Make & Take Bloomin' Thomas Train" activity for kids. So search store's sites and create a calendar of all the complimentary activities in town for a memorable summer.

 

Those are definitely some fabulous tips that can help us all save a ton of money this summer while still having a blast!  You can check out Andrea’s website:  http://www.andreaworoch.com/ and follow her on Twitter @AndreaWoroch!

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