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Setting Goals for National Financial Capability Month

Clare Levison
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April is National Financial Capability Month. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Seems like quite a long name for a pretty simple concept. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines financial as “relating to money.” It defines capability as “the ability to do something.” Basically, financial capability is “the ability to do something relating to money.” I would’ve called April Be Smart with Your Money Month. I think it’s less complicated and gets right to the point. But because President Obama didn’t ask for my opinion before signing his proclamation, National Financial Capability Month it is.

Most people are going to tell you to celebrate National Financial Capability Month by setting a goal. But, personally, I think setting goals is getting a little cliché. Everyone wants us to set a goal. We set goals for our career, our children, our money, our housekeeping, and especially our exercise. Doesn’t it seem like everybody is running a half marathon these days?

We all know the goal drill. We write our goals down and put them somewhere we’ll definitely see them every day. We may tape them to the handle of our toilet, or we may look straight into the mirror and visualize ourselves accomplishing our goals, or we speak our goals out loud while clicking our heels together three times. All of this, so we can be reminded of our goals and be successful in achieving them.

Don’t get me wrong. I think goal setting is great, and something everyone should do, but if reminding yourself of your goal is such a labor intensive process, perhaps you haven’t chosen the right goal. That’s what I want you to do this month — create the right money goal.

Here is a goal progression.

1. I’m going to save more money each month. This is not an exciting goal. It’s one that you’ll definitely have to chant each morning as you train for your next 5k.

2. I’m going to save more money each month so I can have a down payment for a home. Better, but still not quite there.

3. I’m going to save more money each month so I can have a down payment for a three bedroom home with a nice backyard in XYZ neighborhood. Now, this is the kind of goal that shouldn’t require much effort to internalize. Take a spin through the neighborhood you’re interested in or get online and look at homes you’d like to be able to buy. Remember, the more precise you can be about your goal, and the more exciting you make it, the more motivated you’ll be to achieve it.

Saving for a down payment on a home is just one example of a money goal. Create your own this month. Bring it to life by making it as specific and detailed as possible. What’s your money goal?

Clare K. Levison is a certified public accountant and author of Frugal Isn’t Cheap: Spend Less, Save More, and Live Better. She is a national financial literacy spokesperson for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and has appeared on major radio and television networks across the country. 

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Go-To Websites and Apps When You Want To Go (and Get a Great Deal)

By Erica Agran

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I love to travel and I love a great deal. On several recent “girlfriend trips,” I heard my friends bragging to folks we met about the deals we got for our trips. One was found on Luxury Link and the second was using VRBO to book owner operated hotel suites at Canyon Ranch in Miami instead of paying the hotel rates. In both instances, we saved more than 50 percent off of the “rack rates.” No surprise here, the Internet is awesome for travelers.

Links I Like for Travel Deals

  • Luxury Link offers trip deals and special offers for luxury trips all over the world. They offer “buy now” or auction rates. Membership is free and you get $50 off for signing up. If you share the link with a friend, you get $50 credit when they take their first trip, too!
  • Jetsetter offers great hotel deals and is from the folks behind Gilt City. They offer “access to the world’s greatest travel experiences at members-only prices.” They have limited time, curated sales and great tips for planning trips to the cities they highlight.
  • Travel Pony is a new hotel booking website with everyday prices that are often 10 to 70 percent below other travel sites. To use Travel Pony, you need to login via Facebook — no data or auto posting is required. That “unlocks” preferred pricing and some of the best deals around on hotels. Bookings can be made in advance and many bookings are refundable unlike some discounters.
  • Kayak’s website enables consolidated searching for all things travel. You enter your destination and dates and see a variety of options sorted by price, time or airline. You can then click to link to the deal you want. They now have free apps to go with the site, too. They have flights, hotels, car rentals and vacation packages.
  • Sherman’s Travel, Independent Traveler and Travel and Leisure Magazine offer deals, tips and some great things to consider for your travels. I love getting their online newsletters.
  • Yapta.com tracks airline fares for you and will contact you if the cost of your selected flight drops. After you buy your ticket, if the price falls below what you paid, most airlines and online travel agencies will refund you the difference in travel credits or vouchers.

My Go-To Travel Apps

  • Tripomatic is a free app that helps you plan a great itinerary in minutes! This free service recommends interesting places in over 400 destinations worldwide. It then creates free, personalized travel guides. Trip itineraries can be prepared easily using the website or mobile apps.
  • Hotel Tonight is an app that offers last minute deals on unsold hotel rooms in many cities. Discounts can be up to 70 percent. Deals can be booked from the app only. Rooms open up at noon on the first day of the reservation and can be booked for one to five days. This is a great option if you have a reservation that can be cancelled on the first day of your stay (or if you are adventurous and show up places with no reservations!)
  • Smart Layover finds activities like day-use hotels for a nap and sightseeing tours that are close to the airport if you have a planned (or unplanned) layover. These suggestions are provided along with maps and directions, so you can enjoy your time wherever you are.
  • Travelzoo lists their “Top 20” deals, local deals which can be purchased and redeemed with the app, entertainment deals, travel deals and last minute deals. This is a great way to get local deals when you travel!

Erica Agran is a health IT professional by day and blogger and deal finder by night. Erica started Erica Finds after years of connecting friends to deals, new websites, new people and new ideas. Her blog helps readers to find things that they don’t have time to find on their own. This includes deals, health and fitness tips, travel information, running tips and much more. Erica is an avid runner, bargain shopper, fitness and health buff and traveler. She loves to share her passions with her readers.

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