Could You Benefit From Umbrella Liability Insurance?

If you prefer to plan ahead for anything unsavory that might happen to you financially, you might want to consider purchasing umbrella liability insurance. Umbrella liability insurance can protect your assets from large claims or lawsuits.

Review these elements of an umbrella liability insurance policy. Maybe the time is right for you to obtain an “umbrella” of your own.

1. An umbrella policy is additional insurance. You can purchase an umbrella liability insurance policy as an adjunct to your homeowners’ or auto insurance policy. With some policies, you can also add to other coverage, like your boat insurance, with an additional charge.

2. It provides extra financial protection. Should you ever be sued for liability, having an umbrella policy to fall back on will provide extra coverage past the limits of your homeowners’ or car insurance policy. For example, if you cause an accident, liability claims could easily go way past your normal policy limits for property damage or medical care.

3. Umbrella policies are large. The least liability amount you can obtain through an umbrella liability policy is $1 million. Also, most umbrella liability policies require that your main policy (vehicle or homeowner’s insurance) already cover you for at least $300,000.

4. Your assets don’t have to be large. It’s not necessary for you to have $1 million worth of assets in order to obtain such coverage – or to be sued for such an amount. After all, you could, for example, get sued for a million dollars and only have assets totaling $200,000. Without an umbrella policy, your future income and assets are also at risk!

5. Your family and pets are covered. An umbrella policy covers everyone in your family living in your household, including your pets. So even if your pets get loose and cause some damage, you’re covered. Many policies even extend coverage to others, such as when you let someone else drive your car somewhere and they get in an accident.

6. Your legal fees are covered by an umbrella liability policy. Umbrella liability coverage will even pay for your legal fees if a liability suit is brought against you.

7. The cost for umbrella insurance is reasonable. The first $1 million of coverage costs as little as $200-$400 per year. Each additional $1 million is only about $100. Raising your regular deductible might even provide enough savings to pay for an extra million dollars of coverage!

8. Obtain an umbrella policy from your current insurer. Ask your auto or home insurance agent about adding an umbrella liability policy to your coverage. You might even get discounts on all your liability policies when you bundle all of them with the same carrier.

Here’s an example of how your umbrella liability policy would work:

You’re on a car trip and have typical vehicle property liability coverage of $50,000. You’re involved in a major car accident. You collide with an expensive recreational vehicle (RV). The RV is less than a year old. The insurance estimate to repair the RV is $90,000.

Your regular car insurance policy would cover only $50,000 toward repairing the RV’s damage. However, with an umbrella liability policy, the remaining $40,000 worth of damage would also be paid. You won’t have to pay anything out of pocket (other than your primary car insurance deductible amount).

It’s a comforting feeling to know that you can protect all your current and future assets, plus cover legal fees, with such a small investment. In the unfortunate event that someone brings a liability suit against you, you’ll be prepared.

Open your “umbrella” policy to protect you and your family!

Tips to Avoid Getting Ripped Off When Buying A Car

It has happened to many people before. Don’t let it happen to you!

You need a new car so you go looking for your best deal. But somehow, you end up leaving the dealership in a car that isn’t your top choice. And you paid way too much for it. “What just happened?” you wonder as you drive away.

Don’t let that be your story!

Wouldn’t you love to pay what you want for the vehicle you choose, rather than the high-priced car the dealer wants to get rid of?

Following these tips will help ensure a better experience the next time you buy a car:

1. Do your homework. Think about cars you’re interested in before you go shopping. Jot down makes and models you like. Note specific features you want.

  • Look at car manufacturer’s websites. Notice the features, specifically those that matter to you. Make notes. Eliminate cars that don’t fit your criteria. Make a note why you’re rejecting those cars. Later, you can look back on your notes, if necessary.

2. Familiarize yourself with the top 2-3 cars you want. Watch for them on the roads. Do you like how they look? Ask friends and neighbors who have a car you’re interested in if you can look at the dashboard and interior space.

3. Check the website. This website tells you what the car should reasonably cost you. You can select the interior and exterior colors and any extra options you want for pricing.

  • Find out what the car manufacturers are offering for cash incentives or buyer’s rebates on the cars you like. This info can also be found at the Edmunds website. Completing this step will arm you with expert knowledge about what the car should cost.
  • If a car dealer tells you the Edmunds figure isn’t accurate, move on. He’s most likely trying to rip you off.

4. Never pay the sticker price. Car salesmen will try very hard to get you to pay that price. However, you can negotiate to pay less. If you already did your research, you’ll know what to offer. Don’t pay a penny more.

5. Consider shopping from home. If you’ve been held captive at a car dealership for 3+ hours being pressured, cajoled, and manipulated, you’ll appreciate this suggestion. Examine internet sites like or

  • If you prefer, go to the manufacturer’s website and request a price on a particular vehicle. A salesman will respond back by e-mail. Then, negotiate back and forth by e-mail or phone to obtain the car, features, and pricing you seek.
  • Determine if they have the exact car in your desired color with your preferred options on the lot. This point is important because salesmen will try to get you in to test-drive any vehicle in hopes they can give you the hard-sell routine.
  • Save a lot of time and frustration by shopping from home.

6. Never get financing through the dealership. Dealerships advertise low percentage rates then pump up “miscellaneous” fees in excess of a reasonable percentage amount. Therefore, get your car loan through your bank or credit union.

  • Seek a pre-approved loan before shopping. That way, you’ll know how much you’ll pay monthly based on the figure you were pre-approved to borrow.

7. Remember you can walk away or say, “No.” Avoid falling into the trap of doing everything the salesman says. After all, you’re the customer and he’s there to fulfill your needs, not the other way around.

8. Find out your state’s policy on returning new cars. Car dealerships will tell you that once you sign the papers and drive the car off the lot, you can’t return it. However, many states have a “buyers’ remorse” clause, which allows you a period of time, like 3 days, to return a vehicle you don’t want. Take time to read the fine print on whatever documents you sign.

  • The best way to avoid buyers’ remorse is to shop within your budget and avoid saying, “yes” to just any car or deal. Wait for the deal you want.

By following these strategies, you can avoid getting ripped off the next time you shop for a new car.

9 Ways to Cut Prescription Costs

As you may have noticed, everything related to medical care is expensive.

Medical expenses are responsible for well over 60% of the bankruptcy filings in the United States. Prescriptions can be a significant expense with some pharmaceuticals can cost over $1,000 a week!

If you don’t have comprehensive insurance, paying for your medications can be a real challenge.

Use these strategies to reduce your prescription costs:

1. Get the generic. Anytime your doctor writes a prescription, ask if there is a generic equivalent. Generics can be much less expensive and some pharmacies will fill many generic prescriptions for $4! Most of us can afford $4.

2. Ask for price matching. Sometimes your pharmacy will match the price at another pharmacy, even if that other pharmacy does business strictly via mail order. Pharmacies are competitive, just like any other business. It never hurts to ask.

3. Get a phone app. There are phone apps that will compare the cost of your prescription at multiple pharmacies in your area. There are several, just do a search and find one that works for you.

4. Split the pills. Many medications cost about the same, regardless of dosage. So you might be able to buy the prescription at double strength and split the tablets with a pill splitter. You just saved 50% on the cost of your medication.

5. Cut coupons. There are also coupons for many medications. Check the magazines in your doctor’s waiting room. You can also look at these websites: and

6. Find a new pharmacy. Pharmacies frequently offer gift cards as an incentive for transferring a prescription to their store. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you’re not going to pay a lot more for the prescription. Shop around and see what’s out there.

7. Get it online. There are many online pharmacies that tend to be significantly less expensive than local pharmacies. This makes sense, since they don’t have stores and all the related expenses that go along with them.

  • What about Canadian pharmacies, where prescriptions cost about 50% less? The FDA doesn’t approve of using this option, and it’s technically illegal to have pharmaceuticals shipped into the country. The FDA claims safety concerns, while others claim it’s merely the pharmaceutical companies flexing their muscles.
  • The website can tell you if an online pharmacy meets the legal requirements of US law.

8. Ask for free samples. Pharmaceutical sales reps often provide free samples to physicians. In fact, some physicians refuse to talk to reps unless they provide free samples. It never hurts to ask.

9. Apply for free medications. Medications are frequently made available to those of lower income. You can find low-cost and no-cost prescriptions at If you don’t have insurance, you’re likely to get at least some relief.

There are many options available to reduce your prescription expense.

In many cases, prescriptions can be obtained for a greatly reduced cost compared to what you might be paying now. There is even the possibility of getting your meds for free if you can prove financial need.

If you’re having a financial challenge with your meds, there are solutions. Use the above tips to lower your costs and keep more money in your bank account.

Do You Understand the Time Value of Money?

You’ve probably heard that time is money and money is time. Well, it’s true! In financial circles, there’s something called the “time value of money.” The time value of money is simply a concept to assign a worth to money based on different periods of time.

For example, we can ask if you’re better off having $1,000 today or $3,000 in twelve years. Which is more valuable? To be able to answer that question, you have to be able to calculate the future value of $1,000 over a twelve-year span.

Future Value

Let’s examine the concept of future value. We’ll use our example of $1,000 now vs. $3,000 in 12 years. And let’s assume that you expect to make 8% on your investments.

Figuring Future Value (FV):

Equation: FV = Original Amount x (1 + interest rate)time

Plug in your numbers: FV = $1,000 x (1 + 0.08)12

Calculate Answer: FV = $2,518.17

This means that $3,000 in twelve years is more valuable because $1,000 now would only be worth $2,518.17 in twelve years.

Present Value

Just as money has a future value, it also has a present value. Using this concept, you can also solve the dilemma above by calculating the present value of the $3,000 that you’d receive twelve years in the future.

Present value looks at an amount of money to be received in the future and determines what it would be worth now.

Let’s imagine you were going to receive $5,000 in five years. What would that be worth now? This is really just the reverse of finding the future value. Let’s use an interest rate of 7%.

Figuring Present Value (PV)

Equation: PV = FV / (1+interest rate)time

Plug in Your Numbers: PV = $5,000 / (1+0.07)5

Calculate Answer: PV = $3,564.93

This means that $3,564.93 today would have the same value as $5,000 earned in five years.

Don’t let these equations intimidate you. Calculators and spreadsheets make them a snap. Financial math is often quite simple, even if the exponents look daunting.

What will your present investments be worth in the future?

Now that you have these equations at hand, let’s see what they can do for you personally. To start with, you could calculate what your investments will be worth in a certain number of years. You could also figure out what your savings account would be worth 20 years from now.

Let’s suppose you wanted to have a million dollars in the bank in 25 years. You’d want to calculate how much money you would need now to make that happen in the given period of time. You could also look at the amount of money required to make a million dollars sooner than that.

Here are some of the most common situations where these calculations would be useful:

  • Student loans
  • Savings accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Mortgage payments
  • Retirement planning
  • Investments

Retirement planning is probably the most common activity for using these concepts. Try playing with a few examples from your own life. Figure out how much your 401k would be worth in the future if you never deposited another dime in the account. Investigate the future value of all your retirement investments.

However you go about using these equations, now you can calculate exactly what time is really worth to you, in terms of money. By utilizing the concepts of future value and present value, you’ll never need to be confused again when you’re comparing financial options. Dig into the math and apply it to you own life. There’s no better way to learn.

Tax Advantages for Homeowners

You may already know that you can deduct the mortgage interest you pay on your home, but what other tax advantages are lurking in that house?

One of the biggest challenges of owning a home is dealing with the tax laws, especially those around points and cost basis. Just a little bit of knowledge can really clear up these frequently confusing terms. Here’s the scoop on mortgage basis points and how they’re used in your home’s value, cost basis, and tax burden.

What are Points?

Points are fees that you pay in order to enter into a mortgage. Points are considered to be prepaid interest, and as such, you can deduct them. The issue is, can you deduct the full amount up front, or must you divide your deductions out over the life of the loan?

You can deduct all the points the first year if all of the following are true:

  • The loan is used to purchase or build your primary home.
  • Paying points is customary in your area.
  • The points aren’t paid for appraisal fees, title fees, property taxes, or similar fees.
  • You didn’t borrow the money to pay the points.
  • The points were based on a percentage of the loan and that fact is easy to see.

Cost Basis

Cost basis is the original value of an asset for tax purposes. The cost basis is quite easy to calculate; it is simply the price you paid for the home plus any capital improvements that have been made. Then you would subtract any seller-paid points, depreciation, and losses.

Capital improvements would be anything that increases the home’s value. Capital improvements would include such things as swimming pools and adding a room.

Understanding the Tax Burden When You Sell

If you owned the home (and lived in it) for at least two out of the last 5 years, you most likely don’t owe any tax at all. A single person doesn’t pay tax on capital gains of less than $250,000; for married couples the limit is $500,000. So as a married couple, you could purchase a home for $100,000 and sell it for $600,000 and not owe any tax on the proceeds.

There are circumstances under which the two-year requirement is waived, such as health issues, divorce, change of employment, and more.

In these cases, the amount of the exemption is based on the number of months the home was lived in. So if you were single and lived there for 12 months, you would be entitled to an exemption of $125,000, or half of the deduction allowed if you had lived there the required two years.

Inherited Property

The cost basis on inherited property is the market value at the time of the owner’s death.

This is great, because it doesn’t matter how much your grandmother paid for her home back in 1960. If you inherited the home she paid $20,000 for, and it’s now worth $175,000 (when she died), you would not owe any tax on the proceeds even if you were to sell the home immediately.

While it’s likely that the related tax laws will change again (they always do), it’s always a good idea to understand your home’s cost basis and your potential tax liability. Sooner or later the information may be pertinent to your tax situation, so keep abreast of the tax implications and deductions for your home.

Renter’s Insurance and Retirees

Does your house feel empty and over sized now that your kids have homes of their own? Maybe now is the time to move to a condo or apartment. You’d be free of mowing the grass, cleaning out of the gutters, and shoveling the driveway. And perhaps best of all: no more property taxes!

If you decide to downsize your residence and rent instead of own, you’ll no longer need homeowner’s insurance. Even so, you’ll still have stuff to insure, and renter’s insurance is your financial solution.

What Does Renter’s Insurance Cover?

Consider these attributes of coverage with renter’s insurance:

1. Loss of property. Renter’s insurance will cover the loss of your personal possessions in the same situations that your homeowner’s policy covered. This will include occurrences such as fire, theft, storm damage, and water damage.

  • Be aware that certain types of property like jewelry, high-end electronics, and antiques may require specific coverage with a rider.

2. Add a rider for earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes. As with homeowner’s policies, damage from earthquake and flood typically are not covered. Separate coverage or a rider is required if these are relevant to your geographical area.

  • Inquire about damage from hurricanes if those can be an issue where you live. After a hurricane, you may find it difficult to collect, so ensure you know what you’re getting up front.

3. Actual replacement cost vs. cash value. When looking at policies, understand whether the policy covers the replacement cost or the cash value.

  • If only the cash value is covered, for example, you won’t receive enough to fund the replacement of your 10-year old leather couch.
  • Purchasing a policy that provides the actual replacement cost will cover what it really costs you to replace your property, but the premiums will be higher.

4. Policy limits. Know the limits on the coverage within your policy. Some policies have a cap on the total payout, too.

5. Liability. Renter’s policies usually cover some liability.

  • For example, if someone slips in your apartment and breaks his arm, you’re likely to be covered.
  • You may also be covered if your dog bites someone, but certain breeds are frequently excluded, so be sure to check on these restrictions if you have a dog.
  • Any accidental damage you cause to the building is also usually covered. So if you trip and put your shoulder through the dry wall, your insurance should cover the cost to repair the wall.


The cost of coverage is usually quite low – often no more than $100 per year.

The factors that determine the cost include the amount of the deductible, your location, and your specific needs beyond the basics. Discounts are usually available for having safety features like burglar alarms, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers. Having additional policies with the same insurance company can also reduce your cost.

You can lower your premiums by having a sprinkler system for fire, dead-bolt locks, only non-smokers in the household, electronic payments, and a good credit rating. Electronic payments require less labor to process, so many companies charge more if you mail yours. The other items are risk management issues. A non-smoking household is much less likely to have a fire.

Before you sign up for a specific policy, sit down with your insurance agent and see what other premium discounts might apply to your situation. You could save yourself a bunch of cash.

Document Your Property

Make a list of all your belongings, with photos, before you get your policy. It would be an even better idea to make a video. Store your list or video in a private location online or in a safe deposit box at your bank. Keeping the video in the video camera won’t help you much if the camera gets stolen or destroyed in a fire. The same goes for a list on your computer.

Becoming a renter instead of a homeowner doesn’t mean you no longer need insurance. Your possessions still need to be insured and you still have potential liabilities. Because of this, renter’s insurance makes sense. It brings you a lot of peace of mind for only a little money!

How to Eat Out and Still Stick to Your Budget

Eating out is one of life’s great pleasures. You get to enjoy a great meal with your loved ones without any cooking or clean up. When you learn to eat out for less, you can even visit restaurants more often! Here are some ideas to start saving money today.

Picking the Right Restaurant for Your Budget

1. Take advantage of restaurant week. Many communities offer a special restaurant week when some of the most expensive eateries drop their prices to attract new business. They’ll probably limit the menu, but you’ll get sample creations from great chefs and enjoy the ambiance.

2. Search for places where kids eat free. Look online for places where your kids can eat for free or at big discounts. Plan ahead for family vacations when you may be eating out for most meals. That way, you’ll have a variety of options.

3. Make the most of your birthday. You can browse online to get free meals or at least a free dessert or drink for your birthday. Even if the restaurant has no official program, tell them you’re celebrating a birthday when you make your reservations and see if they’ll throw in something special.

4. Use coupons. Sign up for daily deal notices. Pay attention to the details like one coupon per table or a drink minimum.

5. Negotiate your own discounts. Many restaurants will offer discounts to nearby businesses to attract repeat customers. Ask your employer if they’ve got any deals in place or ask a restaurant owner if they’d consider making some kind of arrangement for customers at a nearby movie theater or gym.

6. Enjoy ethnic restaurants. Ethnic restaurants are often a treasure trove of low prices and great food. Pick your favorite cuisine or tantalize your palate by trying something new.

Ordering Wisely

1. Spend less on water. To avoid surprise charges on your bill, let your server know if you want tap water only. Even in expensive restaurants, it’s up to you whether you want to pay for water.

2. Evaluate the specials. Some restaurants promote deals that make the most profits for them. It’s okay to ask for clarification on the price even if the server fails to mention it.

3. Practice portion control. The servings in many restaurants are far more than one person needs for a single meal. Share a dish or put some aside to take home for lunch the next day.

4. Approach small plates strategically. Small plates are a great way to dine. However, you can easily wind up with too much food that will just end up assorted into individual tablespoon-sized dollops of mismatched leftovers. Try ordering a few dishes at a time and ask the server to let you keep the menu. That way you can order more if you really want it.

5. Consider the mark up on wine. Wine is another big profit center for restaurants. The mark up can easily be 400% or more compared to retail prices. A great wine can be worth it but consider the investment before you splurge.

  • Meals can be fabulous without wine, too, so remember that you can always elect to save this pricey treat for only the most special occasions.

6. Go as a group. Restaurants may be willing to design a limited fixed price menu if you let them know in advance that you’re bringing a group. Depending on your guests, be sure to have options for vegetarians and for medical needs such as diabetes and allergies.

7. Visit at lunchtime. You can often get the same dish at lunchtime for around 20% less than the price on the dinner menu. If the restaurant is slow, they may even be willing to make your favorite dinner dish at lunch, regardless of whether it’s on the menu.

Dine well and pay less for the same great experience. If you pick the right restaurants and order wisely, you can have a great time and sample fine cuisine while you stick to your budget.

Top Fixes to Increase the Value of Your Home

The value of your home is a crucial part of your overall investment portfolio. Although homeowners often think of it separately, your house is a huge investment that affects multiple financial areas of your life.

The value of a house can be affected by many factors during a sale.

These fixes can increase that value:

1. Get rid of the clutter. Cleaning the inside and outside of your home is an easy way to start the process. Clutter scares away potential home buyers and affects how your home is appraised. You’re not auditioning for a hoarder reality show, so you’ll want to make your home clean and inviting.

  • One of the key elements of reducing clutter is to make the home appear sale-ready.
  • You may want to consider a consulting service that offers cleaning homes specifically to increase their value.

2. Kitchen updates. The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home, and buyers pay a lot of attention to it during their inspections. Always, always clean your kitchen before showing your home to potential buyers.

  • How old are your appliances? Have you polished and cleaned all of the visible surfaces? You may want to consider getting new appliances if yours are extremely outdated.
  • Consider other fixes such as painting the walls or changing the floors to add value.

3. Bathroom updates. After the kitchen, the bathroom is often the next room that needs an update.

  • Get rid of mold and mildew.
  • Add a new shower curtain and rings to freshen up the space.
  • Consider investing in some fresh plants to decorate the sink area.
  • New fixtures on your sinks and bathtub can also add an instant facelift to the room.
  • New door handles can also brighten the area and inexpensively increase the home’s value.

4. Clean the yard and add landscaping. How does your yard look to a potential buyer? Is it filled with leaves from last fall and piles of kids’ toys? It’s time to clean up the mess to make the value of your home greater.

  • A nice yard with cut grass is only the first part of the process. Landscaping can go beyond the usual shrubs and trees. Include some flowers for extra beauty.

5. Search for minor repairs that can cost you in the long-term. Minor repairs are easy to do and can prevent major issues.

  • If your house needs multiple small repairs, it gives the impression that you haven’t maintained the property. Buyers often wonder what else you haven’t taken care of besides what they see. Most often, they’ll simply look elsewhere to buy.
  • Do you have a leaky faucet? Does one of your doors always creak? Fixing these things and other issues around the house can add instant value.
  • Minor repairs can turn into major challenges if they’re not handled quickly. The leaky faucet can cause a flood that leads to mold growth. This is why it’s essential to make repairs right away.
  • Small cosmetic house issues like the paint not matching or door handles being loose also need to be addressed. Little things that annoy you may also annoy others. They are easy to handle and buyers will notice the care you put into your house.

The value of your home depends on the appearance and status of repairs. To get the most money for your house, clean vigorously, take care of repairs, and update where needed.

Common Money Beliefs That Aren’t True

It’s not the things you don’t know, but rather the incorrect things you believe, that cause many of the real challenges in life. A few errors in your thinking can be a detriment to your finances. Enhancing your understanding of money and personal finances is an effective way to get on the path to prosperity.

Avoid these money myths:

1. Income equals wealth. People that make more have a tendency to spend more. Lottery winners are notorious for losing everything. Many of the families that earn over $1 million per year manage to outspend their income. You can earn a very high income and still live paycheck to paycheck.

  • Wealth is what’s left over after you’re done spending. The more money you’re able to invest in appreciating and income-producing assets, the more you can expect your wealth to grow. A high income provides opportunity. It doesn’t provide a guarantee.

2. More money equals more happiness / Money has nothing to do with happiness. Studies have consistently shown that more income results in greater levels of happiness to a point. The break-even mark appears to be $75,000 per year.

  • If you’re earning less than $75,000, you can expect your feelings of happiness to increase with a greater income.
  • If you’re already earning that much or more, more money isn’t going to make you feel any better.

3. Wills are for rich people. Everyone with children or assets needs a will. Unless you want the courts to decide who will raise your children and receive your assets, you need a will. A simple will is only a few hundred dollars. You might even be able to do it yourself for less.

4. Owning is better than renting. From a financial viewpoint, it depends. Mortgage interest is deductible, but it’s still a significant expense. Home ownership also includes property taxes and maintenance. The upside is the potential for appreciation and a place to call your own. Crunch the numbers and decide for yourself.

  • Renting is generally advantageous in the short-term.

5. Quality and price go hand-in-hand. There are many examples of this statement being false. Generic drugs are identical to the brand name version and cost much less. Companies price goods and services in order to maximize profit. That means the perceived value affects pricing, not the actual value.

  • Many items are priced to accommodate expensive marketing campaigns. The Beats headphones so popular with teenagers are considered by experts to be only worth half the common retail price. In this case, you’re not paying extra for higher quality.

6. An index fund never wins. Over time, index funds outperform the majority of managed funds. More often than not, the lower expenses and turnover rate of an index fund are more important than a professional stock-picker. Take advantage of the ability to match market returns for very little expense.

7. You should never have a credit card. Credit cards are a wonderful invention if used properly. However, credit cards also provide a means to spend money you don’t have. This can be a challenge or a godsend, depending on the circumstances. Credit cards can also help (or damage) your credit.

Are your erroneous beliefs limiting your financial growth? Consider all of your money beliefs and question if they might be incorrect, too. Having accurate beliefs enhances decision-making and results. Avoid buying into the myths.

8 Ways to Save Money on Family Road Trips

The family road trip can be a great experience, but it can easily go over your budget. It’s important to plan ahead so you can save money on your trip.

Road trips can be economical if you follow several important tips:

1. Carefully plan everything at home. It’s easier to plan ahead than to come up with last-minute solutions on the road.

  • You can find a variety of deals online, make phone calls, and compare rates. Book your arrangements ahead of time so you can actually use your vacation to relax.

2. Compare gas prices. Gas prices often fluctuate from one area to the next.

  • Use apps and websites to see the gas prices along your route. You can compare gas stations and read reviews.

3. Reduce the cost of food. Fast food is convenient, but the cost can quickly add up during a road trip. You may want to bring your own snacks and meals.

  • Consider getting a large cooler with ice to pack food and beverages. Your cooler may hold enough food for a couple of days, but in most cases you’ll still want to eat out sometimes. This is another opportunity to do research ahead and find the most economical restaurants.
  • Restaurants aren’t the only option. You can also make pit stops at grocery stores to fill up your cooler with more snacks and meals.

4. Check twice to ensure you’ve packed essentials. Did you remember to bring all of your medication and other medical supplies? You can save money by avoiding a trip to a pharmacy.

  • Do you have enough clothes and shoes for everyone? Are you prepared for emergencies? Avoid having to shop for a new pair of sneakers during the road trip because your child’s feet are cold.

5. Check out free events and attractions. You’ll find that many museums, events, and other places have free admission. You can add these to your plan as you put together your list.

6. Carefully check your car before you leave. Inflate your tires to the pressure that’s recommended in the car’s manual to maximize gas usage. Also, consider the car’s weight. Heavier cars burn more gas, so just pack the essentials and avoid bringing unnecessary items.

  • You can avoid costly roadside assistance and towing by doing recommended maintenance that you know will be needed soon. Do you need an oil change or minor repairs? Do them before you leave on your trip!

7. Find flexible cancellation policies. Are you making reservations ahead of time? Road trips can be eventful, and the best plans cannot prevent all possible emergencies.

  • Search for hotels and restaurants with flexible cancellation policies to avoid adding extra costs to your trip. If you’re late and miss a reservation, some businesses charge you.

8. Look for coupons and additional discounts along the way. These money-saving items can reduce the cost of your trip.

  • Coupons and discounts may be available from hotels, restaurants, and other places. Museums and shops may also offer them along your route. Stock up on additional savings.

Road trips can stay under a budget with the right plans. If you consider the costs of common items that occur during a trip, you can save money.