How I Plan to Travel the World for Free

How I Plan to Travel the World for Free
When I was a child (around three or four years old), my family took me on my very first road trip. We drove from Charlotte, N.C. to Orlando, Fla. for a vacation at Universal Studios with my grandparents. Ever since then I have had a yearning for travel and as I get older I realize how difficult it is to curb that urge. That is why I have decided to research ways to travel the world for extremely cheap.

You’ve probably heard of people receiving free cruises or free trips through some sort of contest. That isn’t the only way to travel for cheap or free though. In fact, upon doing my research, I have found that traveling is extremely affordable (if you’re flexible). Here are a few tips and ideas that can help you travel for really cheap or free:

Change Your Job

If you are in the position to do so, you should find a more flexible job if your heart is set on traveling the world. I always knew that I wanted to do an extensive amount of traveling so when I graduated college, I sought out positions that I could work from anywhere. You can find a plethora of work-from-home jobs online on sites like Indeed. My current position is done 100% remotely so it is easy to travel with it. I work my regular hours but I simply work them from the hotel or friend’s house that I am staying at.

If working remotely isn’t something that interests you, you can also find a position that pays you to travel. Travel journalists, for instance, make a living at traveling and writing about their experiences. Travel journalism jobs can be hard to come by though. If you’re not a writer or having a hard time coming across a travel journalism job, there are numerous other options available. One of my personal favorite options for getting paid to travel is MindMyHouse. People post their homes on MindMyHouse and provide a time frame for how long they will be gone and they need someone to watch their home. This eliminates the need to pay for a hotel and, in some cases, people offer to pay for you to mind their home. The best part of it all is that you get to visit a new area and explore while you’re there.

Airbnb is a Good Option

Some people want to travel but don’t want to live their lives on the road like a travel journalist or a professional house sitter. Don’t worry, there are options for you as well! If you have the money to plan a trip, whether it be in the United States or abroad, Airbnb is a great way to save money on your lodging costs.

Airbnb is a service that allows people to open up their homes and rent a room, or the entire house, as a bed-and-breakfast. My best friend and I used an Airbnb in New Orleans and the experience was delightful! We rented the top floor of the woman’s home. When we got there, she offered a warm welcome and was able to provide extremely useful information about activities to do in the area. The primary benefit of staying with Airbnb is the savings. Instead of spending over $100 per night at a hotel in New Orleans, we stayed just outside the city in her home for $50 a night.

Couchsurfing is a Great Option

Couchsurfing International Inc. operates Couchsurfing.com. It is a hospitality service as well as a social media platform that allows members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, meet other members or join an event. It was founded in 2003, launched in 2004 and has progressively gained popularity throughout the years.

Registration for the site is free. You can pay to become a verified member, however, payment is not necessary to access all of the benefits of the site. Members create profile pages that include information about themselves along with photos of themselves and the accommodations that they provide. Homestays, as the site calls them, are a based on a consensual agreement between the owner of the home and the traveler. The duration of the visit and terms of stay are usually worked out in advance. Couchsurfing is an absolutely free option for lodging and a great way to get to know people in the area as well as explore the true culture of the region in which you are visiting.

Win Free Trips

We all dream of winning an all-expense paid vacation but unless you’re slated to be a guest of “Wheel of Fortune,” it seems unlikely that you’ll win a trip anywhere. This may be because you aren’t looking into the right kind of contests. You may have seen Facebook “contests” that claim with a like, share and comment you will be entered into a contest for a free trip. There are far too many people entering these types of contests to have a fair chance at winning. Not all hope is lost though.

A friend of mine has been on FIVE cruises this year alone. Cruises aren’t necessarily the most expensive vacation in the world but they are certainly not the cheapest. He has only paid for one of the five cruises he’s taken this year though. How? Well, the first cruise he went on this year, he went into the casino and gambled a bit and won a free cruise. This continued to happen each time he’s been on a cruise since then and departs on his sixth cruise of the year this week (it’s sickening how lucky he is).

Work-to-Live Programs

Many countries have what are called “work-to-live” programs. Essentially, you apply for a work visa in said country and go through the work-to-live website to get placed in a job based on your given skill set. For instance, if you are good with kids, you could get placed as a nanny in the country that you visit. While you will have to front the initial cost of the trip, you can hold a job there and live in the country for up to six months. Most work-to-live programs also provide you with a first month’s rent as well as a phone card for the first month that you live there. I’ve been checking out Australia’s work-to-live program most recently and it provides these two things during your first month in the country and helps get you placed in a job.

In short, if you are looking to do more traveling this year, next year, in the next 10 years, you don’t have to let money stop you from doing so. You can travel for cheap, stay for free and work your way through your next adventure.

Do you have any tips on how to travel cheap or free? 

Photo: Flickr: fdecomite

Good Debt vs. Bad Debt

Good Debt vs. Bad Debt
When you hear the word “debt” it sends a chill up your spine. However, debt does not always have to have that affect on you. While no one wants a crippling amount of debt, having no debt may be negatively affecting you. Everyone has heard of “good debt” and “bad debt” but what does it really mean?

Well, in the most simplest of terms, not all debt is created equally. There is good debt, bad debt and really bad debt. Not all of these are clear when you enter the loan or credit card agreement. Because not all kinds of debt are clearly labeled, many people have begun to avoid debt altogether, according to Get Lenny.

Where is the distinction between good debt and bad debt then? Well, if you speak to billionaire Warren Buffett, all debt is bad debt. Warren Buffett, however, can afford to not have any debt. Most of us will encounter some type of debt in our lifetime though. In fact, eight in 10 Americans are in debt but that doesn’t mean it is out of control and it doesn’t mean it is all bad.

What is Bad Debt?

Bad debt is generally debt that you’ve racked up buying things you didn’t necessarily need or things that would not serve you for the amount of time you’d be paying for them. For instance, if you and your friends hang out on the weekends and you always charge the expenses of your hangouts on your credit card. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem and wouldn’t be considered bad debt (as long as you can pay it off). It becomes bad debt when the credit card bill does not get paid in full one month. You begin paying interest on your credit card at that point and your hard-earned money is going out the window.

Another example of bad debt is a purchase that will not maintain or appreciate in value. These are loans for things like vehicles, technology purchases or furniture purchases. By the time you are done paying the item(s) off, they have depreciated in value so you’ve paid the upfront price, plus interest on items that will never be worth what you’ve paid for them.

What is Good Debt?

Now that we’ve established what bad debt is, what is good debt? Well, for some people, there is no such thing as good debt. However, there are some lines of credit that can actually increase your wealth. The best example of this is purchasing a home. If you are able to watch the real estate market and list your house during a time when the national benchmark annualized appreciation is higher than your interest rate, you will be able to sell your home and make money on it. This means you’ll be able to pay out the remainder on your loan and potentially walk away with tens of thousands of dollars.

Educational debt is also considered good debt to many people. This is because, in theory, you will be able to pay for your entire life’s expenses with the career you will have from going to school for four years. You will not only be able to pay your debt with your salary but you will also be able to pay your bills, save and build a life for yourself from your educational debt.

Though it can be hard to decipher between the two, debt has a place in 80 percent of Americans’ lives. Be careful where you choose to have your debts lie.

Do you have any “good” debt?

How You Can Invest Without a Lot of Money

Invest Without a lot of Money
You’ve done your research. You have picked the stocks and markets in which you want to place your money. You’ve even brushed up on the stock market lingo, but you don’t have thousands of dollars to drop. Good news, you don’t have to have thousands to invest.

Making your first investment is an exciting and terrifying task. However, many people are under the impression that, in order to invest, you need to have a lot of money. That is just not the case. In fact, many successful investors have started small and worked their way up. Here are a few ways to start your investing journey small:

Get a plan through your employer

Placing money into a mutual fund or 401(k) through your employer is a no-brainer. There is no minimum required investment for many of these plans. You will simply have it automatically placed into the 401(k) from your paycheck. Many employers also offer a matching contribution as well. Usually you have to stay with the company a certain number of years or have put a certain amount in the 401(k) to have the company match your contribution, however, it is definitely worth it. If you put $1,000 in, the company will put $1,000 in as well, giving you $2,000. Some companies offer a percentage match or up to a dollar amount as well (capping at $5,000, for instance).

Schwab Index Funds

Investing firm Charles Schwab offers five conventional stock-index mutual funds and three bond-index funds. Each of these has a $100 minimum. It has U.S. stock market fund options, international-index fund and bond-market funds. Any or all of the three would make for great portfolio holdings and none of them require a huge amount of money to get started.

Actively managed fund

Some investing firms will waive their regular minimum if you agree to making a recurring deposit. For instance, if you don’t have a lot of money to invest now (only $100), you would agree to have $50 withdrawn from your account monthly for a specific period of time.

Online Brokerages

Online brokerages have made it easy for many people to start investing. With as little as $500, you can open an account. Some online brokerages don’t require any minimum deposit. With these brokerage accounts, there are ways to pay no commission and buy/sell investments for very little money (about $10 is standard).

Acorns Investing

If you have never tried it, Acorns is an app through Intuit. It allows you to create a portfolio based on your investment goals. You can set up recurring deposits or you can start with a small amount (as little as $5). Acorns also allows for a “Round Up” investment. This means that every time you swipe your credit or debit card, the app rounds up and places the change in your investments account.

Any account with only $100 or $1,000 won’t do you much good. If you want to gather a decent amount of cash, you will have to save as much money as you can. When you have extra money, place it towards your investments.

Do you have any additional funds or investments that don’t require a high minimum? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you. 

Photo: Flickr: 401(K) 2012

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How I Plan to Travel the World for Free

How I Plan to Travel the World for Free
When I was a child (around three or four years old), my family took me on my very first road trip. We drove from Charlotte, N.C. to Orlando, Fla. for a vacation at Universal Studios with my grandparents. Ever since then I have had a yearning for travel and as I get older I realize how difficult it is to curb that urge. That is why I have decided to research ways to travel the world for extremely cheap.

You’ve probably heard of people receiving free cruises or free trips through some sort of contest. That isn’t the only way to travel for cheap or free though. In fact, upon doing my research, I have found that traveling is extremely affordable (if you’re flexible). Here are a few tips and ideas that can help you travel for really cheap or free:

Change Your Job

If you are in the position to do so, you should find a more flexible job if your heart is set on traveling the world. I always knew that I wanted to do an extensive amount of traveling so when I graduated college, I sought out positions that I could work from anywhere. You can find a plethora of work-from-home jobs online on sites like Indeed. My current position is done 100% remotely so it is easy to travel with it. I work my regular hours but I simply work them from the hotel or friend’s house that I am staying at.

If working remotely isn’t something that interests you, you can also find a position that pays you to travel. Travel journalists, for instance, make a living at traveling and writing about their experiences. Travel journalism jobs can be hard to come by though. If you’re not a writer or having a hard time coming across a travel journalism job, there are numerous other options available. One of my personal favorite options for getting paid to travel is MindMyHouse. People post their homes on MindMyHouse and provide a time frame for how long they will be gone and they need someone to watch their home. This eliminates the need to pay for a hotel and, in some cases, people offer to pay for you to mind their home. The best part of it all is that you get to visit a new area and explore while you’re there.

Airbnb is a Good Option

Some people want to travel but don’t want to live their lives on the road like a travel journalist or a professional house sitter. Don’t worry, there are options for you as well! If you have the money to plan a trip, whether it be in the United States or abroad, Airbnb is a great way to save money on your lodging costs.

Airbnb is a service that allows people to open up their homes and rent a room, or the entire house, as a bed-and-breakfast. My best friend and I used an Airbnb in New Orleans and the experience was delightful! We rented the top floor of the woman’s home. When we got there, she offered a warm welcome and was able to provide extremely useful information about activities to do in the area. The primary benefit of staying with Airbnb is the savings. Instead of spending over $100 per night at a hotel in New Orleans, we stayed just outside the city in her home for $50 a night.

Couchsurfing is a Great Option

Couchsurfing International Inc. operates Couchsurfing.com. It is a hospitality service as well as a social media platform that allows members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, meet other members or join an event. It was founded in 2003, launched in 2004 and has progressively gained popularity throughout the years.

Registration for the site is free. You can pay to become a verified member, however, payment is not necessary to access all of the benefits of the site. Members create profile pages that include information about themselves along with photos of themselves and the accommodations that they provide. Homestays, as the site calls them, are a based on a consensual agreement between the owner of the home and the traveler. The duration of the visit and terms of stay are usually worked out in advance. Couchsurfing is an absolutely free option for lodging and a great way to get to know people in the area as well as explore the true culture of the region in which you are visiting.

Win Free Trips

We all dream of winning an all-expense paid vacation but unless you’re slated to be a guest of “Wheel of Fortune,” it seems unlikely that you’ll win a trip anywhere. This may be because you aren’t looking into the right kind of contests. You may have seen Facebook “contests” that claim with a like, share and comment you will be entered into a contest for a free trip. There are far too many people entering these types of contests to have a fair chance at winning. Not all hope is lost though.

A friend of mine has been on FIVE cruises this year alone. Cruises aren’t necessarily the most expensive vacation in the world but they are certainly not the cheapest. He has only paid for one of the five cruises he’s taken this year though. How? Well, the first cruise he went on this year, he went into the casino and gambled a bit and won a free cruise. This continued to happen each time he’s been on a cruise since then and departs on his sixth cruise of the year this week (it’s sickening how lucky he is).

Work-to-Live Programs

Many countries have what are called “work-to-live” programs. Essentially, you apply for a work visa in said country and go through the work-to-live website to get placed in a job based on your given skill set. For instance, if you are good with kids, you could get placed as a nanny in the country that you visit. While you will have to front the initial cost of the trip, you can hold a job there and live in the country for up to six months. Most work-to-live programs also provide you with a first month’s rent as well as a phone card for the first month that you live there. I’ve been checking out Australia’s work-to-live program most recently and it provides these two things during your first month in the country and helps get you placed in a job.

In short, if you are looking to do more traveling this year, next year, in the next 10 years, you don’t have to let money stop you from doing so. You can travel for cheap, stay for free and work your way through your next adventure.

Do you have any tips on how to travel cheap or free? 

Photo: Flickr: fdecomite

Good Debt vs. Bad Debt

Good Debt vs. Bad Debt
When you hear the word “debt” it sends a chill up your spine. However, debt does not always have to have that affect on you. While no one wants a crippling amount of debt, having no debt may be negatively affecting you. Everyone has heard of “good debt” and “bad debt” but what does it really mean?

Well, in the most simplest of terms, not all debt is created equally. There is good debt, bad debt and really bad debt. Not all of these are clear when you enter the loan or credit card agreement. Because not all kinds of debt are clearly labeled, many people have begun to avoid debt altogether, according to Get Lenny.

Where is the distinction between good debt and bad debt then? Well, if you speak to billionaire Warren Buffett, all debt is bad debt. Warren Buffett, however, can afford to not have any debt. Most of us will encounter some type of debt in our lifetime though. In fact, eight in 10 Americans are in debt but that doesn’t mean it is out of control and it doesn’t mean it is all bad.

What is Bad Debt?

Bad debt is generally debt that you’ve racked up buying things you didn’t necessarily need or things that would not serve you for the amount of time you’d be paying for them. For instance, if you and your friends hang out on the weekends and you always charge the expenses of your hangouts on your credit card. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem and wouldn’t be considered bad debt (as long as you can pay it off). It becomes bad debt when the credit card bill does not get paid in full one month. You begin paying interest on your credit card at that point and your hard-earned money is going out the window.

Another example of bad debt is a purchase that will not maintain or appreciate in value. These are loans for things like vehicles, technology purchases or furniture purchases. By the time you are done paying the item(s) off, they have depreciated in value so you’ve paid the upfront price, plus interest on items that will never be worth what you’ve paid for them.

What is Good Debt?

Now that we’ve established what bad debt is, what is good debt? Well, for some people, there is no such thing as good debt. However, there are some lines of credit that can actually increase your wealth. The best example of this is purchasing a home. If you are able to watch the real estate market and list your house during a time when the national benchmark annualized appreciation is higher than your interest rate, you will be able to sell your home and make money on it. This means you’ll be able to pay out the remainder on your loan and potentially walk away with tens of thousands of dollars.

Educational debt is also considered good debt to many people. This is because, in theory, you will be able to pay for your entire life’s expenses with the career you will have from going to school for four years. You will not only be able to pay your debt with your salary but you will also be able to pay your bills, save and build a life for yourself from your educational debt.

Though it can be hard to decipher between the two, debt has a place in 80 percent of Americans’ lives. Be careful where you choose to have your debts lie.

Do you have any “good” debt?

How You Can Invest Without a Lot of Money

Invest Without a lot of Money
You’ve done your research. You have picked the stocks and markets in which you want to place your money. You’ve even brushed up on the stock market lingo, but you don’t have thousands of dollars to drop. Good news, you don’t have to have thousands to invest.

Making your first investment is an exciting and terrifying task. However, many people are under the impression that, in order to invest, you need to have a lot of money. That is just not the case. In fact, many successful investors have started small and worked their way up. Here are a few ways to start your investing journey small:

Get a plan through your employer

Placing money into a mutual fund or 401(k) through your employer is a no-brainer. There is no minimum required investment for many of these plans. You will simply have it automatically placed into the 401(k) from your paycheck. Many employers also offer a matching contribution as well. Usually you have to stay with the company a certain number of years or have put a certain amount in the 401(k) to have the company match your contribution, however, it is definitely worth it. If you put $1,000 in, the company will put $1,000 in as well, giving you $2,000. Some companies offer a percentage match or up to a dollar amount as well (capping at $5,000, for instance).

Schwab Index Funds

Investing firm Charles Schwab offers five conventional stock-index mutual funds and three bond-index funds. Each of these has a $100 minimum. It has U.S. stock market fund options, international-index fund and bond-market funds. Any or all of the three would make for great portfolio holdings and none of them require a huge amount of money to get started.

Actively managed fund

Some investing firms will waive their regular minimum if you agree to making a recurring deposit. For instance, if you don’t have a lot of money to invest now (only $100), you would agree to have $50 withdrawn from your account monthly for a specific period of time.

Online Brokerages

Online brokerages have made it easy for many people to start investing. With as little as $500, you can open an account. Some online brokerages don’t require any minimum deposit. With these brokerage accounts, there are ways to pay no commission and buy/sell investments for very little money (about $10 is standard).

Acorns Investing

If you have never tried it, Acorns is an app through Intuit. It allows you to create a portfolio based on your investment goals. You can set up recurring deposits or you can start with a small amount (as little as $5). Acorns also allows for a “Round Up” investment. This means that every time you swipe your credit or debit card, the app rounds up and places the change in your investments account.

Any account with only $100 or $1,000 won’t do you much good. If you want to gather a decent amount of cash, you will have to save as much money as you can. When you have extra money, place it towards your investments.

Do you have any additional funds or investments that don’t require a high minimum? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you. 

Photo: Flickr: 401(K) 2012