Budget Travel Tips – Eight Simple Ways to Stretch Your Vacation Budget

Budget travel has become a necessity for most people with the cost of gasoline and other consumer products on the rise. But when we start considering when, where, how and what type of vacation to undertake, we sometimes get caught up in the anticipation and excitement of the upcoming trip and let the more important financial side of things slip a little. After all, for most of us, taking a vacation may only happen once a year and for some, even more infrequently, so we tend to indulge and forget about our pocket book a little.There are many ways to save money, avoid unnecessary cost, ensure you take care of details end up a smart and perceptive traveler. Travel planning is easier that you might think and here are eight great budget travel tips for making your travel dollar go further!1. Cushion your budget – When considering a trip or planning budget travel, it is important to plan for the unexpected and consider the financial side of things early on. This ensures affordability, liquidity and having the resources to enjoy it to the fullest! Plan for the worst-case financial scenario and prepare for things to cost a little more than you expected. Allow up to 20% increase in cost to be on the safe side of things.2. Emergency money: Carrying some spare cash somewhere can also be a lifesaver. The rule of thumb seems to be around $50-$100 in small bills. This can be used for incidentals, ground-transportation like cab fare and/or your return home, tips and more.3. Set your priorities: Set some budget travel spending priorities and criteria in advance, like eating at a special restaurant or attending a concert, even if this means sacrificing a bit on lodgings or visa versa, depending on what is more important to you.4. Keep an eye on your credit cards: It is extremely easy these days to have access to your financial resources through ATM’s and credit cards. Just remember that it is just as easy to overspend because of it being so readily available. A little discipline will go a long way to protect your financial interest and help you stick to your travel budget.5. Maximize gas mileage and efficiency: If you’re planning a road trip, make sure that your car has been serviced at least a week before your trip. A well-maintained vehicle will go a long way to ensure carefree driving. If your budget allows, you may consider renting a vehicle to save wear and tear on your own. Small economy cars are better on gas and are much more comfortable than they used to be. Minivans and sport utility vehicles are practical only if you have to transport a large family with a lot of equipment or luggage.6. Gas fill-ups: For filling up your car en route, avoid pushing to the limit until the gas runs out. Gas will obviously be more expensive when filling up in remote locations. If you miscalculated and the light on the dashboard indicates that you are really in need, opt for filling just half a tank until you reach the next more densely or major populated destination, where gas might be a little cheaper.7. Pack-a-snack: Bring your own refreshments and snacks. Gas station prices on drinks and snack food are high. Avoid these during a pit stop, if you are counting your budget travel dollars. A cooler packed with lots of cool drinks, water and ice and/or a thermos of coffee or hot water for tea, some fruit, granola bars, or a sandwich, goes a long way to still the hunger and save you money by avoiding all high priced stops en route.8. Travel necessities: It is advisable to travel with basic necessities, like a cell phone and a first aid kit, since both can prove to be essential in emergencies. Most people have cell phones at their disposal, but in the event that you are not one of them, a prepaid cell phone may be the answer for your trip. The peace of mind it offers is worth the small investment. Cell phones can also save on hefty surcharges and higher long distance rates that hotels and resorts often charge.Budget travel requires close attention to all things financial before and during your trip. Planning a trip or vacation can be a little time consuming but following these travel tips will hopefully save you a lot of headaches as well as some unnecessary interest charges on your credit card balances later! You will thank yourself for your fiscal restraint and spending discipline, upfront planning, foresight and forward thinking!

What to Watch Out For If You Decide to Finance at a Dealership

I am going to make this a simple article to read. I want you to be able to read this whole article and understand it before you make your next vehicle purchase.

Yeah, the economy isn’t the greatest right now. Yeah, nearly all industries are down on sales.

You see commercials on TV all the time talking about how now is the best time to buy a car. It is, BUT…..

You see, the auto industry is struggling. So of course, to get people to come in and purchase a car they need to advertise these “great” deals and show you how you can get their employee pricing! Sounds exciting, eh? Well if you walk in there with cash, maybe you are going to get a great deal. Actually, you probably are assuming you can negotiate a good deal.

But what if you are going in there without cash? Or without your own financing? Are you really going to get such a great deal? Well you may receive your dream car at employee pricing and they may promise you that its the best they can do on price.

Lets take a close look at their financing techniques.

Did you know that dealers really do shop for the best rate for you? Yeah, they do! However, they won’t give you that best rate! They shop for the best rate then give you a higher one. How? They are allowed to mark up your interest rate up to 2% higher than what they were quoted. That means that they are making profit off of the financing too. That can lead to you paying hundred to thousands more for your new car.

So think about this:

The car you are looking at costs $20,000.00 after manufacturer’s rebates. The dealership said they would take off an additional $1000.00 to get you to employee pricing. Sounds good, right? It is good. Now, you go to the financing office, they finance you at an 8% rate when you could have actually had a 6% rate. That will end up making you pay more, a lot more. They could have you paying a couple thousand dollars more in just interest! It makes that $1,000.00 discount look weak, doesn’t it?

The whole point here is to tell you that you need to be cautious when using dealer financing as if you know they aren’t making much from the car due to the incredible deal they gave you, they are going to make it up on the financing end of it.

Always negotiate interest rates. You wouldn’t ever take them up on their first offer on the price of the car would you? Nope. So treat the first offer on the interest rates the same too. A lot of dealers won’t even tell you what the rate is. Be sure to ask.

They have their own special programs through the car manufacturers to make up for lost profit. Don’t let them fool you. It is called dealer hold back. It is tough to negotiate into that.

Automotive Advertising Agencies Drop Conventional Media in Favor of Social Networking by Consumers

Old school wisdom like ‘the customer is always right’ have often taken a back seat to automotive advertising agencies and auto dealers who presumed to talk “at” customers rather than listen to them. Hard sell tactics built on that presumption may have sold cars in the past but with the rise of the Internet and social networking media — not so much!Today’s educated car shoppers are bypassing the auto dealer’s real and virtual showrooms in favor of visiting other online information resources. Auto dealers are being replaced by consumers in the formative stage of their buying cycle who turn to trusted friends in social networking communities. These online groups of like minded consumers share their car buying experiences before, during and after the sale and customers find that they are able to provide far more transparent and relevant information than any self serving auto dealer; real or imagined.Similarly, the reach and frequency of the best planned automotive advertising campaign can be trumped with the click of a mouse by a car shopper who can get the information they need to buy a car without having to listen to a sales pitch from a self serving auto dealer. The solution for automotive advertising agencies challenged by a shrinking economy and a consolidating auto industry is obvious — if you can’t beat them, join them.Social networking on the World Wide Web is an extension of an equally established wisdom that people like to do business with people that they like. The social part of this growing online marketing phenomenon is built on trust in friends which is an element of human nature that has survived on the Internet Super Highway. Networking references the value of word of mouth advertising that delivers a single message to a sphere of influence that used to be limited to close friends and family. The Internet now distributes that same message virally on channels like You Tube, My Space, LinkedIn, Face Book, Bebo, Twitter and too many others to list that are growing exponentially.Automotive advertising agencies have been challenged to monetize social networking with mixed results primarily because they attempted to apply best practices learned from their past experiences on conventional media like radio, T.V. and print. Initially, it was assumed that the only adjustment needed was to post the same retail messages that worked in conventional media on the social networks. That was accomplished through the use of banner ads linked back to the auto dealer’s website or with an invitation for the customer to call or visit their real world dealership to get the information they needed beyond the low ball price or payment that was often offered but rarely trusted. These banner ads were seen as an easily avoided nuisance by community members who opted not to play. However, evidence does suggest that they did/do provide a residual impression that adds to the auto dealer’s top of the mind awareness with the car shopper; although sometimes the impression was tainted by the dealer’s intrusion into the community of friends.When the R.O.I. of the banner ads did not meet expectations, automotive advertising agencies attempted to register their auto dealer clients as members of the community to promote themselves from within. Auto dealers were quickly discovered as the wolves in sheep’s clothing that they were and the unwritten rules of etiquette of these social networking sites drove them from the community with their tails between their legs.Automotive advertising agencies have since learned that the elements of human nature that drive word of mouth advertising are fragile and they require transparency to survive in social networking communities. As is often the case, the solution has been provided by the developing technologies that have matured along with the Internet as a marketing media.One such solution is provided by ronsmap.com, a game changing customer centric marketing platform with proprietary applications including vBack and SellersVantage that generate Intelli-Leads with market and consumer intelligence not previously available to auto dealers. vBack is a social media engine that is embedded on the vehicle postings on ronsmap as well as the auto dealer’s website and linked marketing channels with an Ask-a-Friend/Tell-a-Friend feature functionality that develops viral messages trafficked through the social networking communities that the customer belongs to and trusts. In addition, related comments from friends solicited by the customer are attached to the Intelli-Lead as part of their SellersVantage application that also accumulates data on comparable vehicles from the auto dealer’s inventory in accordance with the customer’s stated preferences as well as related real time product and pricing information from local competitive dealer inventories posted on the Internet. This added information is sourced from within the social networking community by the customer — not the auto dealer — preserving the anonymity of the dealer while providing the auto dealer virtually unlimited access to members.This method of C2C marketing from the inside out vs. the now dated B2C marketing from the outside in is unique to ronsmap and it promises to allow automotive advertising agencies access to this growing online media. Conventional media is, and will always be, an integral component of any comprehensive marketing plan, however access to leveraged viral messaging offered by consumer driven social networking channels is the best way for budget challenged auto dealers to sell more for less. After all, what are friends for!