Budget-Smart Blog

Creative ideas on a Creative Budget

Vacation Rentals in Luxury and On a Budget

October 28th, 2014

When you do end up deciding on where to head out of the state or country for vacation, what amenities are you looking for at your hotel or nearby? Many people don’t realize that most hotels these days have gotten rid of regular bath tubs and replaced them with either large showers or step in tubs which are great, but only suitable for one person (only upsetting if you want to bathe with a partner ;), but they give you the awesome feeling that you’re at an expensive spa. This, for many is a deal breaker – or deal maker (lots of news stories on this right now).

The Spa Treatment Out of the Country

envy walk in tubWe went to Mexico 3 years ago and stayed at a great spot in Cabo San Lucas. They had all the amenities of a 5 star resort including massages, buffet with delicious food, live music and so much more. But the thing we both enjoyed the most was the massage table down the beach in a little tent, right on the beach. For $20 we each got a one-hour massage, making the entire day seem relaxing and like we were actually on vacation. But when we went back to our hotel room we both thought it would be nice to take a soak in a bathtub but our room only had a shower. I realize this is a total “first world problem” but for a lot of folks, especially older folks, bathing is a luxury that they would love to have included in their experience.

Spa-like Bathrooms, Massages, Great food. How did we get it for only $199?

Nevertheless, we were glad to be there and we just steamed in the hot shower after a long day of sun, relaxing, margaritas and massages. This was one of the times when we left the kids with grandma and didn’t feel guilty. Now, the key to the entire vacation was that it only cost us $199 for 6 days and 5 nights plus airfare from LAX. How? We had to agree to sit through one of those cool (ahem…) timeshare presentations. That was the only catch to our luxury and spa-like vacation in Cabo Wabo. I didn’t mind the sales presentation too much except for the fact that they kept giving me Coronas – so by the end of the presentation we almost bought a timeshare (whew! glad we didn’t) but didn’t – and ended up finding them for sale on ebay :).

So, be sure you have your travel savvy on when you want to go for the ultimate experience of a 5 star hotel. You get a 5 star dining experience, bathing experience, and sleeping experience all for a 2 star price (or whatever a Marriott next to the airport costs for 5 nights). This was a fantastic voyage for us into the “timeshare” presentation world of vacationing. You usually have to make $50k or more / year, have to be married, need a credit card in your name and have to be over 30yrs old … usually. Just do a search of timeshares in Mexico or wherever else you want to go and they will schedule you with a really sweet deal. Good luck and happy vacationing!

Staying Happy Helps You Make More Money

September 16th, 2014

There has been quite a bit of new research around what is called the “facial feedback hypothesis” – basically stating that your facial expressions are related to your emotions (depression, happiness etc…), which are related to your income potential, believe it or not.

There was a local news story I read on line about a study that involved a San Diego botox doctor who’s patients are reporting an increase in happiness because the look on their face is better than it was before getting a treatment. Now I’m of course no stranger to what a smile can do when I’m on the receiving end from someone who gives me a smile. But I had no idea what the effects might be of me giving a smile – even if nobody sees it – can have on me, myself. It turns out that smiling can actually alter you mood. Try it right now and see if you don’t experience a small amount of joy lifting your soul. I am doing it as I write this blog, can you feel it? :)

Happiness Increases Earning Potential


Since I know you’ve been saving a ton of dough using “staycations” instead of spending a ton on leaving town on an airplane, you could add to those savings and increase your wealth by being happy. Read more about how happiness influences your earning potential here> . It’s pretty exciting to be able to simply smile, or get some wrinkles removed (maybe you could spend your saved money on that botox mentioned above) and ultimately increase your overall earning potential, which compounded over time can have a significant impact on your level of comfort. After all, money doesn’t make you happy, happiness comes from the inside. Money increases your level of comfort. So if it makes no difference as to whether you have it as to whether you’re happy or not, you might as well have it and at least be comfortable. So give a smile not just to a stranger at the store, but to yourself. You deserve it, you awesome person you.

Save Money on Furniture in the Long Run

September 5th, 2014

I recently watched Dave Ramsey give a good talk about saving money to buy furniture. He gave the advice that instead of going in to debt, you should save and pay cash, and the “90 days same as cash” isn’t really same as cash because all stores know that 75% of the people who come in for that deal end up paying interest. It’s not the same as cash because people who walk in to a store to buy a piece of furniture that has a sticker price of $2,500 can barter if they have cash – interesting concept Dave!

Industrial Strength Furniture will Last You a Lifetime

A great point to note is that when you buy well, you will not end up having to buy often. In other words, buying cheap furniture at a place like IKEA usually means that you end up purchasing furniture every year or two, and definitely after each time you move. In the long run, say after 10 years of buying dressers at IKEA, a new one every year and a half or two years, you will end up spending close to $1500. If you flip this around and spend something like $1500 upfront, on a piece that will last you a lifetime, then you are actually making an investment, especially if the piece of furniture grows in its value over time instead of depreciates or falls apart like so many box store items. Check out a cool modern industrial furniture store called combine9.com and get some real authentic vintage industrial or modern industrial furniture that will literally last you a lifetime, and even become something that you will hand down to your children. Instead of throwing money away on throw a way items, you are actually building equity if you buy things that last a lifetime. It’s almost like the difference between renting a home in owning it!

Saving Money While Gaining an Amazing Piece of Vintage or Modern Furniture

Not only will you be saving money in the long run, you will be living in your home with a true piece of useful artwork. If you find a piece that truly matches your personality and style, it will become something that you will not only be proud of , But will become the centerpiece of any room. And when you are proud of something in that room, the chances are, you are going to take better care of everything else in the room, a double money saver!! So perhaps the old adage is true, spend money on the right stuff So you don’t have to spend money on a lot of stuff. That is our budget – smart tip for the week! Find anything worth sharing? Shared here, we love to hear comments. -@Janice  :-)

Save Money by Getting Your Credit Score Restored

August 12th, 2014

Steps To A Better Credit Score

With the current economy, many people are in need of credit restoration. Whether you need a complete overhaul of your credit rating or just some tweaking here and there, this article suggests some ways to get the credit repair process started.

Get a copy of your credit report prior to doing anything else. There are many sites where you can pay for this and at least one that is completely free for one report a year. Get your credit report, study it, and then figure out how you are going to go about getting it to a healthy place.

Contact your creditors directly for information on your account. When armed with this information, you’ll be better able to decide which accounts get top priority for payment. Dealing with these critical accounts before others can help save you a lot of money in the long run. In order to take some of the pressure off of you, attempt to set up payment plans for your accounts.

Anything that is negative on your credit report should be documented. It is important to document each bad thing on your report. Remember that some of the negative information may be a mistake, and challenging it could instantly improve your credit. After identifying mistaken information on your report, have it corrected by working with the business or organization that made the claim.

It is important that you know what your rights are when it comes to collection agencies. Collection agencies cannot legally threaten you with the prospect of jail time to force you to pay a debt. You should know your state’s laws regarding debt collection. Debt collectors have no right to threaten or verbally assault you.

Get Out of Debt

You should aim for the balance of your credit cards to be around 30% or less of your limit. Keeping your balance below 30% makes the payments easier to make every month. Exceeding 30 percent hurts you financially.

Try to negotiate a payment plan for any bills that have entered collection. You can even do this before your outstanding debts are turned over to collections. Not taking the call of a debt collector can exacerbate the problem. They can help you out, but you have to talk to them to figure out the best way to pay them. Let them know you are doing your best, but circumstances are not working in your favor. It may also be possible to reach an agreement to lower your amount owed, or set up a payment plan that you are capable of meeting the payment requirements. Once your creditors realize that you are serious about paying off your debt, they will often find ways to make it easier for you to do so.

Using the suggestions in this article will allow you to maintain a good credit score. There have been a lot of tips discussed that you can implement right now to restore your credit.