From tax tips to money-saving tricks, the Check Into Cash blog is your one stop for money talk. Here you’ll find ideas that you can use to save money, time, and energy. Check back for new content every week. If you like a post, be sure to share it with a friend! After all, everyone could use a little extra cash in their pocket.
To all the dads out there, we just want to say thank you for being you!
Show your dad how much you appreciate him this Father’s Day.
Summer vacation is good for the mind and the soul—overspending is not. Here are some great ideas to help you save on that much needed vacation.
1. Plan as much as you possibly can in advance.
This is a no brainer, but you want to keep in mind at all times how much booking ahead will save you ultimately. Travel experts advise to book over 45 days ahead for the best deals on hotels and airfare. Worried that hotel rates might go down if you book ahead? Don’t.
Tingo.com offers to match hotel rates if you book on their site and the hotel lowers their prices before your stay. If you have some flexibility on dates use Airfarewatchdog.com to track flight prices over certain periods of time to determine the best time to travel.
2. Don’t plan your trip during the peak of the summer season.
The bulk of travelers plan trips for the second and third weeks of August (right before back to school season), and you’ll save big if you refrain from traveling during that time frame. Travel in June for the best summer rates (particularly at seasonal destinations like the South of France) or in September when many hotels will begin to lower their rates.
3. Rethink where you are going to stay.
So you have your flights sorted, now comes the tricky part of picking a place to stay. If you are planning a trip to a major tourist destination, like London for instance, consider staying in a city close by (with easy access via public transportation) and you could end up saving a ton. Another idea? Instead of reserving a pricey hotel, why not opt to pay to stay in someone’s home? Airbnb is a great place to start that search, but other similar sites abound including FlipKey and One Fine Stay. Lastly, why not consider a home swap with someone in similar situation who also has the travel bug? Check out HomeExchange.com to look for the right opportunity.
4. Visit destinations that aren’t as popular during the summer.
Southwestern states, like Florida, see a ton of tourism in the winter, but not nearly as much during the summer. Jonesing to visit Miami? The summer could be the best time (just make sure to stay somewhere with air conditioning). The same goes for popular winter destinations like St.Barths, Tulum in Mexico, and Costa Rica.
5. Research plenty of budget activities ahead of time.
Don’t get sucked into spending a ton of money on activities at your vacation spot of choice. Instead of spending a small fortune on a visit to a zoo, for instance, visit a wildlife sanctuary. Sometimes museums will be free during certain hours, and it is good to know when ahead of time. Instead of taking a pricey walking tour, print one out online, and create a do-it-yourself version. The possibilities are endless, all it takes is some thought and planning.
This month’s contest supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. By entering our Cash For Kids Giveaway, you will have a chance to win $500 while we donate $500 more to support St. Jude. Not familiar with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital? Watch the video below to find out more.
Check Into Cash’s June giveaway gives $500 to the winner and $500 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
This month, don’t miss Check Into Cash’s Cash For Kids Facebook giveaway benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Check Into Cash will match June’s $500 giveaway prize with a $500 donation to St. Jude. St. Jude works to advance cures and prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases, such as cancer, through research and treatment.
“It means a lot to Check Into Cash that we find ways to show community appreciation while helping those who need it most,” said Check Into Cash President Steve Scoggins. “June’s cash prize will put a smile on our winner’s face, and the donation to St. Jude will help sick children.”
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital does not deny children treatment based on the family’s ability to pay. The families of ill children never receive a bill from St. Jude, and unlike other hospitals, most of St. Jude’s funding comes from individual contributions.
“The plight of a family with a severely ill child is tough to imagine,” explained Scoggins. “The last thing they need to be worried about is hospital bills and money.”
For anyone who wants to enter for a chance to win $500, visit Facebook.com/CheckIntoCash before midnight on June 30, 2016, and select the Cash For Kids Giveaway tab. To learn more about Check Into Cash stores and services, check out CheckIntoCash.com.
Learn more or get involved with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at StJude.org.
Memorial Day is a day of festivities for friends and families to unite in honor of those who served to protect the United States. Join us this Memorial Day as we honor those who have laid down their lives to protect our rights, our freedoms, and our country.
Check Into Cash is giving $500 to the March of Dimes and $500 more to one lucky winner this May. The March of Dimes foundation works hard every year to find ways to end premature birth. Visit MarchofDimes.org to learn more about caring for your baby both during and after pregnancy. Don’t forget to enter our Facebook contest!
The March of Dimes found a vaccine to prevent polio. Now, the organization is working to find ways to prevent and treat birth defects in premature babies. Check Into Cash wants to help by donating $500 to the March of Dimes in our One Dime at a Time Giveaway. To enter for your chance to win $500, just visit our Facebook page and click on the One Dime at a Time tab.
Mother’s Day is right around the corner, which may have you wondering, “What do I get mom for Mother’s Day?”
There are many ways to show mom how much you care: you could take her on a retreat or to a concert, or stick with the classic card and flowers. Most moms appreciate quality family time the most. Here are some fun Mother’s Day ideas:
Take an exotic “vacation.”
Even if you can’t afford to go to Paris for the weekend, you can still enjoy a little taste of France (or any other destination that intrigues you). Get some croissants for breakfast, pack a picnic lunch of French bread, cheese, and fruit, or order a meal from your favorite deli or restaurant (quiche, anyone?), and get into the flavor of the country. For an added touch, adorn your kitchen or dining room table with a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth and fresh flowers, put on some French music, and teach your kids a few basic words in French, such as “bonjour” (good morning) and “merci” (thank you).
Go to the movies.
One good way to share family memories is to look at old photographs or home movies. If you live near Grandma or Grandpa, ask them to pull out old photos and movies of you as a child, and take a trip together down memory lane. Your kids will get a kick out of the styles of clothes you wore — not to mention the fact that you were once a baby, toddler, or teen.
Find the humor in family life.
Start a new tradition this year by creating a family comic strip. Take a long sheet of paper, and draw three or four large squares next to one another, like a newspaper comic strip. Then think of an event, celebration, or something funny that happened this past year, and illustrate it with markers, crayons, or paints. Be sure to include dialogue, a date, and a title, such as “Life with the Smiths.” Older children can help with the drawing and writing, while younger kids can dictate their thoughts or help color. Save your comic strip, and create another one next year and others in years to come. When you’re ready to compile all of your strips into a book, stack the pages and thread them together with sturdy yarn.
Make a little music.
Nothing brightens a family celebration quite like music. But if you want to really turn up the volume on fun, stage your own “lip-synch” contest. To begin, have each family member choose a favorite song from a CD, tape, or video that you currently own. Then turn on the music, and let each person lip-synch the words to the song, doing his or her best to mimic the performer. (Your 2-year-old, for instance, can pretend he’s Barney singing the “I Love You” song.) Other family members can rate the performance from one (not at all like the performer) to five (exactly like the performer), and write down their score on a card. The person with the highest score wins the contest.
At some point on Mother’s Day, you may want some time alone or a chance for a little rest and relaxation. Make sure you get what you need — and deserve — by asking for it in advance. For instance, a few days before Mother’s Day, give your husband and kids a list of five “services” you desire. The list could include:
An hour alone so I can call a friend or soak in the tub
A chance to sleep in until 9 a.m.
A manicure at my favorite nail salon
No sibling squabbles for an hour
Whatever else you’d really love!
Have your husband and kids make up coupons with each of these services, and be sure to redeem them throughout Mother’s Day weekend.
Go on a “bug safari.”
Now that spring’s in the air, why not gather up your family for a good old-fashioned bug safari? To begin, you’ll need an insect field guide (to identify the creepy, crawly creatures), a magnifying glass (to inspect them closely), and a field to explore (this could be your own backyard or a local park). Get kids in the spirit by telling them some fun facts about bugs. For instance, grasshoppers can leap 20 times the length of their body, which would be like a human jumping halfway across a football field. After the safari, kids can run around and pick wildflowers and present you with a homemade bouquet.
Plant some flowers.
If you have some extra space in your garden, you can create a real, live Mother’s Day canvas. First, buy various packets of flower seeds that grow fast and well in your region. Then have your kids draw a picture or write a short message (like “We love Mom”) in the garden dirt with a stick. Drop the flower seeds into the dirt lines; then cover them up, and water every few days. Before long, your picture (or message) will be blooming, and you’ll have a Mother’s Day gift that keeps on growing.
Make a “lasting impression.”
On a warm day, go outside and have your children (and anyone else who’s game) place their hands and feet into a shallow tub of colorful, nontoxic paint. Spread out a roll of butcher paper, and have everyone press their hands and feet onto it, leaving their prints behind. Label each handprint and footprint with the person’s name, the date, and special message to Mom, and allow your collective masterpiece to dry. Try this activity again next year, and see how much bigger some hands and feet have become!
Read a good book.
If you want to have some downtime on Mother’s Day, take a blanket outside and leaf through a children’s book that’s just right for the day, such as The Mother’s Day Mice, No Time for Mother’s Day, Clifford’s Happy Mother’s Day, or Are You My Mother? You could also select one of your own childhood favorites, and read it with your kids.
Schedule time for hugs.
Finally, what would Mother’s Day be like without hugs and kisses all around? One way to work them into your day is by setting up a silly “hugs and kisses” schedule and posting it on the refrigerator or other visible spot. For instance, you could write, “10:30 a.m.: Everyone runs around the couch and gives Mom a hug and kiss.” or “2:15 p.m.: Everyone hops around the oak tree on one foot and assembles for a group hug.” Make up your own directions and silly things to do — but be sure to include lots of hugs, kisses, and laughter in your day.
Today is National Arbor Day. Celebrate by planting a tree, or visit the National Arbor Day Foundation to see how you can help. Don’t forget to enter our Money Tree Giveaway for a chance to win $500, and Check Into Cash will donate a matching $500 to the Arbor Day Foundation.