Cheap Weekend Getaway Ideas

cheap weekend getaway ideas

With Memorial Day coming up, I thought it would be fitting to write about some cheap weekend getaway ideas. Because of many places of business being closed for this federal holiday, it makes for a great opportunity to take a mini-vacation. Your bank account may be unfortunately saying otherwise. Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy a four-day weekend.

Cheap Getaway Ideas

Many of these suggestions can not only be planned last minute but on a budget as well.

Last Minute Planning = Last Minute Deals (Sometimes)

It is typically encouraged to plan your trips well in advance to ensure the best deals; however, you can certainly grab some last-minute deals by waiting to book your trip. Try GoLastMinute, which is a travel site that scours the internet for last-minute flight deals. Other common booking sites offer last minute deals as well, such as Expedia, where you can also find hotel and cruise deals. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate.

Book an AirBnB

You don’t necessarily have to fly somewhere to stay in a cool location. Many sweet spots are just a reasonable drive away, and if you have one in mind, you can save money by renting someone else’s home. AirBnB has become an increasingly popular option for tourists traveling on a dime, but you can book an entire vacation home as well through HomeAway. Stay in the mountains in Asheville, North Carolina, visit the Florida Keys, or even rent a home in Paris for your trip. Plus, with these options, you can save money on going out to eat every night by purchasing your own groceries.

Getaway Locations

No matter what part of the states you are in, there are great (and cheap) places that are only a drive away from your location. Here are a few suggestions:

If you’re in the East Coast, consider staying in Atlanta, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; Burlington, Vermont; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Dewey Beach, Delaware.

  • Atlanta, Georgia: Along with its awesome barbecue, Atlanta does not charge for you to visit one of its most historic landmarks, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park. With hotel rates as low as $39.94 over Memorial Day Weekend, you may want to add this to your list.
  • Asheville, North Carolina: I just visited Asheville last spring, and it was not only affordable, but one of my favorite locations to date. Parking is not much fun, but you can walk just about anywhere downtown that you want to go. Plus, you can go kayaking right on the French Broad River outside of town.
  • Burlington, Vermont: If you’re the outdoorsy type, Burlington will not let you down. Vermont is really popular in the fall season, so now may be a good time to visit when tourism is slower.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The City of Brotherly Love is the host of the famous Rocky stair climb scene at the Rodin Museum, which has a mere suggested $8 entry fee. Take advantage of public transportation to save on gas and parking fees, and visit some of the mircrobrews that host complimentary tours on Saturdays like the Yards Brewing Company.
  • Dewey Beach, Delaware: Dewey Beach is adjacent to Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach but is the cheapest option of the two. Hitting it before the big beach season will help you save on hotel options as well. You can, though, try HomeAway and rent someone’s house for the weekend for potentially less. If you’re hoping to go to a beach over Memorial Day Weekend, this is a great option.

For West Coast dwellers, you’ll find  Portland, Oregon; San Antonio, Texas; Carmel Beach, California; Catalina Island, California; and Scottsdale, Arizona are some of the great spots for you to visit during Memorial Day weekend.

  • Portland, Oregon. Portland consists of a vibe that combines an outdoor feel to an urban area. You can visit the International Rose Test Garden, take some distillery or brewery tours, hit up a gallery walk, and more. Not to mention, they have some awesome flea markets you won’t want to miss.
  • San Antonio, Texas: San Antonio is full of free attractions, like the Alamo and their Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Market Square and the Japanese Tea Gardens are also attractions you can visit without spending a dime.
  • Carmel Beach, California: Drive down Highway 1 to see the rocky beach at Carmel Beach. Visit the small town full of boutiques and restaurants, do an art tour, surf, paddleboard, or go camping. This gem of a spot makes for a one of the many great cheap weekend getaway ideas without hurting your wallet.
  • Catalina Island, California: Believe it or not, now may be an ideal time to travel to Catalina Island right before the busy summer season starts. You may find the best rates during the week, though, instead of the weekend. You can book an average-rated hotel at a little more than $80, according to HotelPlanner. If you miss your chance to visit it now, the fall would be another time to visit due to the lack of crowds.
  • Scottsdale, Arizona: From parks to the arts district, you won’t be bored visiting Scottsdale. Check out this list of ten free things to do here.

Other Ideas

Of course, you could drive to the nearest body of water, National Park, or state park and camp out for the weekend as well, which is always cheap to do. You could also become a tourist of your own area by trying a restaurant you have not had a chance to go to yet or do a tour of the area hosted by your local tourist bureau.

What cheap weekend getaway ideas would you add to the list?

How to Reduce Your Student Loan Payments

how to reduce your student loan payments

Student loans make it possible for people from various financial backgrounds to take advantage of higher education; however, they can also be quite the burden. This is particularly true when you are just starting your career. Because of this, knowing how to reduce your student loan payments will be important, regardless of whether or not you are a recent college grad.

How to Reduce Your Student Loan Payments

Refinancing and consolidating the debts accumulated from your student loans will not only lower your monthly payments but also save you thousands over the course of repayment. When you first graduate from college, you are granted a grace period of typically six months before you have to start paying back on your loans. Unfortunately, many tend to continue to put these loans on the bottom of their to-do lists instead of focusing on them right away. By doing so, you set yourself up for future financial heartache.

When you neglect to pay on your loan, it becomes delinquent. After nine months without paying, it goes into default, hurting your credit and future loan opportunities. In fact, when you don’t pay on your federal loans, they will garnish your wages and take your tax refunds to collect what is due to them, as stated in this 2015 Business Insider article by Matthew Speiser. Imagine explaining that one to your boss…

Luckily, many financial institutions will allow you to refinance your loans for a lower interest rate, especially if you have a great track record. But, before you even start down this path, you need to know and understand the different loan options and what your company can offer you.

Refinancing

You’ll want to ask yourself a few questions as advised from Student Loan Hero as you start to refinance your loans.

  • What are my goals? What are your goals to refinancing? Is it to reduce your monthly rate, eliminate the debt as quickly as possible, or to achieve lower interest rates? Know which of these will be most beneficial to you when considering loan options. Student Loan Hero provides a handy student loan refinance calculator you can even use to weigh out what options will be best for you.
  • What options do I have for interest rates? Refinancing your existing student loans means you essentially replace these with a new loan. Thus, this gives you the opportunity to get a lower interest rate, Student Loan Hero writer Elyssa Kirkham explains. Determine your current rates and use this to compare with new ones. Kirkham adds that you can expect federal student loan rates to range from 4% to more than 7% while private student loans will typically range from 9% to 12% or more, but you might luck out and find rates as low as 2%.
  • Will I need a cosigner? As with any loan, if your credit score is poor or non-existent, you may be required to have a cosigner.

When considering refinancing options, think about how much you owe, how long it will take you to repay your loans and your current job situation. Do you feel stable in your current position? If your debt is nearly gone, refinancing may not be a benefit to you. Additionally, make sure to compare rates you find online with local lending companies, such as a credit union or bank.

Also keep in mind that while you can refinance both federal and private student loans together through a private lender, it may not be the best option. Learn more about why from LendKey here.

Loan Consolidation

As you research more how to reduce your student loan payments, you’ll likely see loan consolidation options. This is another way to lower your monthly payments and debt. What happens when you consolidate your student debt is that you are taking your loans and combining them into one larger loan with a fixed interest rate. Usually, you won’t have to worry about any consolidation fees. This process allows you to pay one monthly fee instead of different payments with different interest rates. But, loans can only be consolidated under the same borrower; multiple borrowers cannot consolidate their loans together.

It is important to note that you cannot consolidate loans while you are in still in school. Not to mention, you want to make sure you weigh out the costs of consolidating compared to you your current rates and payments. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible to the companies you are considering working with for your consolidation.

If interested in learning more about debt consolidation, check out one of our recent articles on how to consolidate your loans.

Loan Forgiveness Programs

Loan forgiveness programs exist to help those employed in public service jobs. These include teaching, medicine, law, the military, and some volunteer positions. Through these programs, a few thousand to more than $100,000 worth of student loan debt may be eliminated. Check within your industry to see what is available and where you can apply.

Before making any changes to your current student loans, though, make sure to revisit your original loan terms. You may have borrower benefits you could lose if you switch to one of the above options.

Once you know how to reduce your student loan payments, living a debt-free life does not seem as unattainable. Hopefully, these student loan tips can help you, no matter how long ago you graduated.

Have you tried one of the above for your student debt? What was your experience? 

How to Consolidate Your Debt

how to consolidate your debt

Debt weighs on our shoulders like a barbell at the gym that is too heavy for us to lift. It feels as though that no matter how hard you push, the weight does not move. Luckily, knowing how to consolidate your debt can make it easier to tackle your bills.

The process of debt consolidation makes the seemingly impossible, possible. We already have enough bills to keep track of, so the more we can reduce this overwhelm the better. This service won’t solve all your financial woes, but it will at least help…in a big way. Below are a few do’s and don’t’s on what to look out for, how to follow through, and determining whether or not it’s right for you.

How to Consolidate Your Debt

Find the Right Lender

Finding the right lender will undeniably take some time and research, but searching online is a great place to start. Any time you come across a company, make sure to check their reviews and score on the Better Business Bureau’s website. You’ll be able to gain an idea if they would be a good fit for you. But, here a few quick things to look out for from an appropriate lender:

  • Avoid lenders that pay their employees on a commission. You want to avoid companies that try to sign you up for services you may not need simply because they’ll receive a bigger paycheck.
  • Look at interest rates and companies with one application process. Don’t be afraid to shop around; after all, you do want to find the best option for you. Spend some time comparing companies and seeing how long they’ve been in business, seeing if their fees are reasonable and more. Also, lenders you find on the internet can provide you with a more streamlined process instead of waiting for paperwork to clear.
  • Stay away from companies promising a quick fix to your problems. Debt can take a while to heal, so any lender that claims they can significantly reduce your payments or get rid of your debt fast should trigger a red flag. Really, anything that says they have quick fix solutions is generally a bad idea.

Talk to Your Credit Card Company

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your credit card company to speak with them about your financial situation and your struggles. Many know they will have an easier time collecting money from you if they allow you to make smaller payments during your tough time. See if you can renegotiate some of your terms and fees until you are able to catch up. They key is to keep them in the loop as much as possible.

Ask Your Lender Several Questions

Part of learning how to consolidate your debt is to ask as many questions as possible. Consolidation can be especially beneficial for credit card debt specifically, but you should always get a second opinion. You want to make sure you know what the pros and cons are to your agreement, as Time suggests in this article, whether you will pay a small fee to reduce your overall interest and payments or if the low rates offered are only part of an introductory promotion. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you ask about the privacy policy as well. The last thing you need to add on your plate (other than more debt) is to have your information leaked to outside companies.

Of course, prior to starting this entire process, you need to not only know your credit score to gain a full grasp of your situation but also recognizing the root of your problem. Know that consolidation is also not a solution but a temporary fix. Create habits that will discourage debt accumulation moving forward such as paying off credit card bills right away and building your savings. Don’t purchase unnecessary items, and realize where you might be wasting money.

Have you ever had to consolidate your debt? Share your experience with us in the comments below.