Archives February 2021

Inside jobs: What do people do all day?

Last week, I found myself revisiting the fantastic Inside Jobs project from The Atlantic. Atlantic staffers interviewed 103 American workers from all walks of life. The magazine then collected those interviews into a single, unified website.

Here’s how one of the project’s leaders describes her aims:

So much of my aspiration for this project was to hear from people affected by the realities that business writers so often cover: what it’s like to be a minority in a workplace, or the challenges of working parenthood, or the struggle to remain relevant as an industry changes. And we succeeded in finding those types of stories — for example, the three female lawyers who started their own firm, or the coal miner who is adapting to the focus on clean energy.

The ones that most stuck with me most were the people in the jobs many consider mundane, such as the janitor who so acutely equated people’s respect for his job with their ability to throw away their own trash, or workers outside of the traditional economy, such as the stay-at-home mother who struggled to find her place in a feminist movement that emphasizes women’s professional achievements.

The Inside Jobs website has a fun layout. Each interview has its own page. From the main index, you can filter stories by subject, or filter workers by industry, age, or other demographic factors. Or, if you’re like me, you can simply scroll down and click on any of the 103 worker portraits to read a random interview.

Inside Jobs

What Do People Do All Day?

The Inside Jobs project reminds me of one of my favorite books from childhood, Richard Scarry’s classic What Do People Do All Day? I’ve always been fascinated by the vast variety of work available to people, and how different each job is from every other job. Sure, there’s a degree of sameness, but there are tons of differences.

  • As a blogger, I sit at home all day and write. In a way, it’s like I’m an artist (but without any sort of actual artistry). Everything about Get Rich Slowly comes from me. If I don’t work, nothing happens here. (Actually, this isn’t quite true anymore. Nowadays, Rachel manages social media and Tom is handling business development.)
  • This process is similar to the one faced by my friends who are entrepreneurs or professionals. When you own your own business, it’s up to you to make it succeed. When you have your own accounting firm or law office, it’s up to you to build your reputation and client base.
  • Then there are folks like my girlfriend Kim, who works as a dental hygienist. Whereas I see nobody all day long, she sees tons of new patients every day she works. Her work is physically demanding; mine is not.
  • I have other friends who are band teachers and forensic chemists. I know engineers and salesmen and psychiatrists. I know lost of financial planners, of course, as well as factory foremen and county bureaucrats and hospital administrators.

It’s just like Richard Scarry taught me when I was a pre-schooler: Everyone is a worker.

Everyone Is a Worker

And it’s just like Brenda Ueland taught me (in a book about writing, of all places): Everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say. It’s the personal histories that make up history (by which I mean the grand tapestry of world events). Without your story — and mine — the larger story doesn’t exist. The mass movements of kingdoms and cultures are built on our backs.

Maybe that’s why I like oral histories so much.

Speaking of which, the Inside Jobs project naturally reminds me (and many others) of the work of journalist Studs Terkel.

Studs Terkel’s Working

In the early 1970s, Studs Terkel spent three years traveling across the United States to interview people about their jobs. “How would you describe your work?” he asked his subjects, men and women from all walks of life. And they told him. Terkel’s 1974 book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do collected 128 of these conversations.

Terkel interviewed nobodies and celebrities. He talked to housewives and farm workers and actors and stock brokers and prostitutes. Terkel even interviewed New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael. “I really enjoy what I do,” she said. “I love my occupation.” This attitude is the exception, not the rule.

“I was constantly astonished by the extraordinary dreams of ordinary people,” Terkel wrote in the introduction to Working. “No matter how bewildering the times, no matter how dissembling the official language, those we call ordinary are aware of a sense of personal worth — or more often a lack of it — in the work they do.”

A couple of years ago, National Public Radio spent a week sharing audio excerpts from Terkel’s Working interviews. And believe it or not, the book was even made into a Broadway musical adapted and directed by Steven Schwartz, a man better known for his work on shows like Godspell, Wicked, and Disney’s Pocahontas.

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As much as I love both musical theater and Studs Terkel, that looks awful. No wonder it was a flop!

In 2009, Harvey Pekar (and a team of artists) adapted 28 of Terkel’s interviews into a graphic novel. As a comic geek and a Terkel fan, I loved it. Below are a few scans from my favorite stories.

From the story of 34-year-old Roberto Acuna, a farm worker and union organizer:

Roberto Acuna, Farm Worker

From the story of 77-year-old Aunt Katherine Haynes, “farm woman”:

Katherine Haynes, Farm Woman

From the story of “deep miner” Joe Haynes, the nephew of Aunt Katherine:

Joe Haynes, Coal Miner

From the story of prostitute Roberta Victor, who started off as a high-priced Manhattan call girl (at age fifteen!) before becoming a streetwalker:

Roberta Victor, Hooker

From the story of actor Rip Torn:

Rip Torn, Actor

From the story of 41-year-old Nick Salerno, who has been a garbageman for eighteen years:

Nick Salerno, Garbageman

From the story of Brett Hauser, a 17-year-old boxboy outside Los Angeles:

Brett Hauser, Boxboy

From the story of Dolores Dante, who has worked as a waitress in the same restaurant for 23 years:

Dolores Dante, Waitress

From the story of 40-year-old stockbroker, David Reed Glover:

David Reed Glover, Stockbroker

From the story of 65-year-old jazz musician, Bud Freeman, who has been playing tenor sax for forty-seven years:

Bud Freeman, Jazz Musician

From the story of gravedigger Elmer Ruiz (whose audio clip I showcased earlier):

Elmer Ruiz, Gravedigger

From the story of 44-year-old Nick Lindsay, son of poet Vachel Lindsay:

Nick Lindsay, Carpenter

Like most (all?) of Terkel’s books, Working is simply a collection of oral histories. The author does a little editorializing — and has an unhidden liberal/progressive bias — but mostly he lets his subjects speak for themselves. I’ve read several of his other books, and they’re all great. (Every time I revisit his work, I’m reminded that I want to do something similar: I want to travel the country and interview people about the nature and meaning of wealth.)

In Praise of the Quotidian Life

In the preface to the Working graphic novel, Harvey Pekar writes:

I was especially pleased to work on this project because Studs Terkel puts a great deal of emphasis, as I do, in writing about quotidian life. The so-called normal aspect of human existence is underemphasized in every form of literature, yet that is the aspect that most readers are familiar with and can most easily identify with.

The style of life I myself am familiar with is the quotidian.

But just because one writes about everyday life doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting; in fact, I find it’s most fascinating, because it is so seldom written about. Virtually every person is potentially a great subject for a novel or a biography or a film. Bravo to Terkel for documenting these fascinating lives.

You won’t find any deep insights into the human condition while browsing the interviews in Working or The Atlantic‘s Inside Jobs project.

What you’ll get instead is a sort of voyeuristic glimpse into what other people do to make ends meet. You’ll learn how some people live to work, and how others work to live. Mostly you’ll be entertained by the variety of human experience.


Why Rough it When You Camp? Glamp Instead!

If you love camping, but prefer not to sacrifice your creature comforts, you may be happy to learn about the latest trend: luxury or glamour camping, a/k/a “glamping” — a way to explore remote parts of the globe while enjoying all the advantages of a luxury hotel.

Discerning travelers can find glamping locations in many unique places, although luxury tent safaris are particularly popular in Africa. Collective Retreats invites guests to destinations that inspire them to deepen their connection to the environment – by sleeping in the wild in luxury tents with plush beds, 1,500-thread-count linens, down comforters, chandeliers and private en-suite bathrooms. Locations include a working ranch in Vail, Colorado (with an on-site winery) and a backcountry retreat in Big Sky, Montana (with a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course).

For those who prefer to own their own glamping tent, Glampique will sell you a 12-foot by 18-foot tent, complete with a king-size memory-foam mattress, velvet couch, covered porch and five windows to maximize air flow. The company will also deliver and set it up – free – anywhere in the United States. Glampique tents start at $20,000.

Glamping is a far cry from the five-person tent currently gathering dust in your garage.


The ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ House Isn’t Even in Bel-Air

Almost 25 years after we said goodbye to Will, Jazzy Jeff, Carlton, Hilary, Aunt Viv, Uncle Phil, and Geoffrey the witty butler, HBO Max pleasantly surprised us with a heartwarming reunion episode that brought back a big part of the cast, in a highly familiar setting.

Sitting down on a meticulously recreated Banks family living room set, the cast shared fond memories and walked us through the process of making the iconic show, leaving fans (myself included) with a longing to go back to a time when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was possibly the coolest thing on TV. And definitely one of the most entertaining.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion episode. Image credit: Will Smith, Instagram

And while we’re taking a walk down memory lane, we though I’d be the perfect time to bring back another staple of the ’90s show: the house where the Banks family lived — and which stood as a symbol of the main character’s ‘moving up in the world’. Or, in the words of the Fresh Prince himself:

I pulled up to the house about 7 or 8
And I yelled to the cabbie ‘Yo home smell ya later’
I looked at my kingdom
I was finally there
To sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel Air

The actual house from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — and where to find it in real life

On the show, the Banks mansion acts as the glamorous residence of Will’s rich side of the family, who takes him in after his mother becomes concerned that he might get in trouble if he continues living in his hometown of Philadelphia. The spacious house plays a central role in the ’90s TV show, with most of the scenes taking place on its premises.

Said to have a total of 10 bedrooms and 4 and a half bathrooms, the rooms fans are most familiar with are the Banks’ kitchen, living room, and Will’s bedroom — which were sadly all filming sets and not a part of a real-life house.

However, the mansion used for exterior shots of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air house is as real as can be (though admittedly not located in Bel-Air at all). Several sources place the house at 251 North Bristol Avenue in the posh Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, a 15-minute drive from Bel-Air, where the Banks family supposedly lived.

Aerial photo of the Brentwood house used to film exterior shots of the Banks mansion

If you feel cheated in the slightest, know that there aren’t many differences between Bel-Air and Brentwood; both Los Angeles neighborhoods are home to the ultra-wealthy and feature huge mansions that set the tone for high-end real estate in the city.

And while Brentwood’s name isn’t as familiar to the general public, the area is considered to be one of the most affluent neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles. Though maybe if the iconic show would have been named in its honor (instead of promoting Bel-Air) more people would be familiar with the name. Famous Brentwood residents include Gwyneth Paltrow, Harrison Ford, and Travis Scott.

Fresh Prince house gets short stint on Airbnb

Earlier in 2020, Will Smith partnered with Airbnb to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the show by allowing people to spend a night in the original Fresh Prince of Bel-Air house. He even did a tour of the home on YouTube along with his trusty sidekick, Jazzy Jeff.

Will Smith giving fans a tour of the Fresh Prince house on YouTube. Watch the full video here.

This is not the first time Airbnb has banked on ’90s nostalgia; just a few years back, the booking platform was offering a stay at the Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse for just $60 a night, and they recently put out a listing in Deschutes County, Oregon to book a stay at the last remaining Blockbuster video store. Now, if you happen to be a little young for that, here’s a more recent pop culture location for you: Tony Stark’s cabin in Avengers: Endgame is also available on Airbnb (though be warned, a stay here doesn’t come cheap).

But we have to appreciate all the efforts made to appeal to die-hard fans of the ’90s sitcom. The limited time Fresh Prince rental offered access to a specific wing of the house consisting of Will’s bedroom (all decked out in ’90s paraphernalia, basketball hoop included too), a full bathroom, the pool area, an outdoor lounge, and the dining room.

More cool perks for fans staying at the house included one pair of Air Jordans for each guest and access to Will’s wardrobe on the show (where one could easily spot some iconic outfits, like the shirt Will Smith wore in the intro song of the show).

Inside the house from Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Image credit: Airbnb
Will’s bedroom. Image credit: Airbnb
Pool area of Fresh Prince of Bel Air house. Image credit: Airbnb

The Fresh Prince house is still up on Airbnb, but it doesn’t seem like you can book a stay anymore. Only a few dates were available throughout the month of October, and there’s no news on whether or not the property will be open to the public anytime soon.

More homes from popular TV shows

Is it Real? Lucifer’s Den of Sin & Luxury Penthouse at Lux
The Real-Life Homes from Modern Family — and Where to Find Them
We Are the Ones Who Knock — on Walter White’s Fictional Door in Breaking Bad
All the Glamorous Penthouses, Suites, and Lofts in Gossip Girl


For $35K/Month, You Could Join the Ranks of the Hollywood Celebs Renting This House in Malibu

Hollywood has plenty of well-kept secrets, and one of them is this house in Malibu that seems to be attracting celebrities like a magnet. Which comes as no surprise, given that its owner is a celebrity herself. Betty Moon, a well-known singer, songwriter and producer, is known to have quite the flair for real estate, with her previous projects landing her quite a few mentions in luxury magazines.

Located off Malibu Knolls Road, her three-bedroom, three-bathroom, 2,100-square-foot rental hasn’t been struggling to find tenants — and high-profile ones at that. Even though it costs a whopping $35,000 / month, celebs have been lining up to chill at the property, so you might want to get in line.

And if you do decide to give it a try, you’ll be in good company: Matthew Perry reportedly rented the home in August, Cardi B has booked November, and Taraji P. Henson will be renting it from January through April 2021. You might be wondering, what’s so special about this house that it has celebrities lining up to live here?

Image credit: Hagai Aharon

First of all, Malibu in itself is one of the most popular destinations for the rich and famous. It offers luxurious properties, proximity to Los Angeles, as well as seclusion and privacy, which is what celebrities are desperately craving. For these reasons, there are a lot of celebrities living in Malibu, including Robert Downey Jr. and Edward Norton, who live fairly close to the Malibu Knolls Road property.

Secondly, celebrities travel a lot, so many of them prefer to rent rather than buy a home in each place they visit — although some of them do. However, renting a celeb-friendly, luxury home in Malibu doesn’t come cheap, but it might be totally worth it.

This Malibu celeb magnet is the epitome of indoor-outdoor Cali living, featuring large glass walls that seamlessly blend the interior with the grounds. It’s also perfect for entertaining, as it includes an infinity pool with fabulous ocean views, a spa, and a fire pit. Can you think of a better way to spend those warm California nights?

Image credit: Hagai Aharon

The entertainment continues inside, as the house includes not one, but three indoor fireplaces, as well as a media room, making sure you stay entertained throughout the entire year. Amenities include everything you could possibly need, from in-unit laundry and air conditioning to five parking spaces, an outdoor patio and a cabana. 

Image credit: Hagai Aharon
Image credit: Hagai Aharon
Image credit: Hagai Aharon
Image credit: Hagai Aharon

As previously mentioned, the house not only rents out to celebrities, but it’s also owned by one. Betty Moon, a celebrated Los Angeles musician, songwriter and producer, currently owns the property which she recently renovated before listing it for rent.

Moon is no stranger to flipping houses and luxury properties in the area; she made news with her Encino property in 2018, garnering mentions in the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Claire Dorfman of LA Estate Rentals is in charge of the listing.

More celebrity homes

Every Celebrity House Featured on Netflix’s New Show, ‘Get Organized’
Kendall Jenner Gives Us a Tour of her Peaceful, Art-Filled Home
Morgan Brown Re-Lists Stunning West Hollywood Home Amid Split from Actor Gerard Butler
The Story of Taylor Swift’s Holiday House — Home to “the Last Great American Dynasty”


How to Incorporate Sculpture in Your Interior Design

Sculptures in interior design are something we often see in magazines, but rarely in the homes of our friends and family. Why? – It seems that many people are afraid to incorporate sculptures in their home decor simply because they consider them too artsy or do not know exactly what to do with them.

At first glance, sculptures might seem too pretentious or “too much” for your regular interiors. But let’s be real. You don’t have to place a 6-foot statue in the middle of your living room; you can always pick something small and cute that goes with everything else.

We no longer live in times where sculptures could only be admired in museums or maybe in the home of an art collector. It is time to make room for some beautiful pieces inside our own homes.

Bold and contemporary

People who are into minimal, contemporary style could certainly go for abstract sculptures and bigger dimensions. Clean lines, shiny or matte surfaces, thick or thin, it is up to you because the offer is vast.

A custom metal sculpture from wire or copper can do wonders in terms of aesthetics. Do not be afraid of answering questions about the object’s meaning because it really does not matter. If it looks chic and fits into your interior style, go for it!

Mixing modern with classic

A classical-looking marble sculpture can be a great twist to a contemporary interior design. If you are not into abstract forms, just go for a marble torso or a portrait in the Greek style.

You do not necessarily have to use modern materials such as metal or iron. A piece of marble or stone can add warmth, and people will be intrigued by that piece of art, so it is a great conversation starter too.

Rococo chic

Lush and vibrant, rococo style style stands for luxury, and pieces like that can quickly transform your home and add a dash of luxury to it.

Rococo pieces do not have to be solely sculptures; plenty of furniture have a lavish wooden construction with plenty of flowers and leaves. Chandeliers and candle holders can also be a great choice. Thus, something functional can count as a sculpture too.

Animal sculptures

It is believed that certain animals bring luck, prosperity, and money.

In many cultures, smaller or bigger sculptures of elephants, frogs, or turtles are very popular. But lately, one animal became particularly popular, and it is the flamingo bird.

Whether it is pink or metallic, the tall and elegant flamingo goes well with everything, and it can be a nice pop of color.

What about Feng shui?

Feng shui is basically the art of curating or arranging objects until they are in perfect harmony. One particularity of Feng shui is having Budha sculptures around the home, and there is an entire philosophy around it. It is believed that these statues bring serenity into the home and enhance the flow of chi energy.

Experts agree that a statue of Buddha should be placed facing the front door so that when the chi energy enters the house, it faces the positive aura of deity. But Buddhas can also be placed in a living room, above the eye level because that is the main space where everyone can enjoy a view of deity. Avoid placing them near bedrooms and bathrooms.

Dare to make a change

If you are hesitant about large sculptures, but you still love that artsy vibe they bring into every space, then start with smaller figurines, or statement pieces. Not every sculpture has to be tall and wide to stand out. Sometimes smaller sculptures can be even more attractive and eye-catching.

Author’s bio: Pamela Lezama is an interior designer. Her skills and passion enable her to help people in making their dream house a reality. She is not just particular on the designs, but she also makes sure that the quality of the bed and mattress she chooses are topnotch.

More tips for your fancy home

These are ‘Queer Eye’ Bobby Berk’s Top 6 Choices for Wall Décor
10 of the Most Stylish Minimalist Wall Clocks You Can Buy on Amazon
The Cutest Cat Condos You Can Get on Amazon
6 Smart Home Devices to Keep Your Pets Safe, Well Fed and Entertained While You’re Away


How to Get a Loan with Bad Credit

Everyone needs extra money from time to time, and this doesn’t change when you have bad credit. Unfortunately, your options become much more limited when you have bad credit. This makes it difficult to qualify for a loan, even when you need it to cover a financial emergency.

young couple

Whether you’re wondering how to get a car loan with bad credit, pay hospital bills, or even qualify for a mortgage with bad credit, we’ll show you how to improve your credit score and get your finances back on track.

Not only will you find out how improving your credit score can save you money on your next loan, you’ll also learn steps you can start taking today to start building your credit.

How does bad credit affect your ability to get a loan?

Before you start looking for a loan, it’s important to get an accurate understanding of your credit score. Most lenders use the FICO scores, which ranges from a low of 300 to a high of 850. A “bad” credit score is typically defined as lower than 629.

If you want to know your exact number, you’ll have to purchase that information from FICO. But if you simply want to see what kind of derogatory items are on your credit report (and potentially fix them), you can request a free copy of each of your three credit reports.

It’s a good idea to take advantage of this free service every 12 months to check your reports for accuracy even if you’re not actively looking for a loan.

Once you’ve established whether or not your credit score is low, find out the exact impact bad credit can have on your life. Bad credit affects you both financially and emotionally, but the most expensive effect is the type of loan you’re able to get.

Higher Interest Rates

When applying for a loan, the lender will charge you higher interest rates for a poor credit score. That’s because your lender sees you as a greater financial risk, so they charge higher rates in case you default on the loan.

Higher interest rates can really add up over the life of the loan. Keep reading to find out exactly how much.

Application Denied

Even worse than getting a high interest loan, you may not qualify for a loan at all if your credit score is too low. If the loan is for something non-essential, then this may not be that big of a deal.

But it can significantly affect your well-being if you have serious financial needs, like car repairs or medical bills. At this point, some people decide to turn to “no credit check” lenders who offer predatory products like payday loans.

Though short-term, these loans have extraordinarily high APRs and often lead people into a cycle of never-ending fees for what started off as just borrowing a few hundred dollars. Luckily, there are many ways to avoid ending up in this situation.

Where can you get a loans for bad credit?

If you do have a poor credit history, some reputable lenders might be willing to offer you a loan. Just remember, you’re going to be paying a lot of interest on top of the amount you borrow.

Check Out Our Top Picks:

Best Personal Loans for Bad Credit

It’s always good to check with your local bank or credit union, although they are likely to have stricter lending standards and a slower origination process. If you have an existing relationship with a bank or credit union, they may be willing to help you out.

Many online lenders offer quick approval and funding, even for borrowers with a low credit score. Just be sure to do your research to make sure the company operates a legitimate business.

Before taking out a personal loan from anyone, check to see what kind of reviews that company has received and what its Better Business Bureau rating is.

Bad Credit Lenders

Here are a few online lenders that offer bad credit loans:

  • Avant is a major online lender offering bad credit loans that only requires a minimum credit score of 580.
  • MoneyMutual is a lending aggregator that offers short-term loans to borrowers with low credit. You do need to have a consistent monthly income of at least $800 to apply.
  • CashUSA partners with lenders offering loans to people with bad credit between $500 and $10,000. The credit and income requirements are flexible, but the interest rate could be pretty high.
  • is a lending marketplace for borrowers with bad credit who need quick access to cash. You could receive up to $10,000 with loan terms up to 60 months.
  • is another lending marketplace that offers personal loans to borrowers with poor credit. You will need to prove that you have a monthly income of at least $2,000 to qualify.
  • OneMain has physical locations in addition to its online presence and actually has no credit score minimum. The company says its average customer has a credit score between 600 and 650. Don’t get too excited, though – your APR could be as high as 35.99%.

Things to Know About Applying for a Bad Credit Loan

If you do decide on getting a bad credit personal loan, keep a few things in mind so you don’t damage your credit scores even further. First, limit your number of loan applications.

Every time you apply for a loan, the lender makes an inquiry on your credit report. This lowers your credit score anywhere between one and five points depending on your situation.

That might not seem like a lot, but it could affect your interest rate if you’re on the border between “bad” and “fair” credit. Plus, many lenders view a large number of inquiries as a risk factor, especially if they’re all made within a short period of time.

Thoroughly research potential lenders in advance and see if they offer to make a soft pull on your credit rather than a hard one. That way you can compare interest rates without hurting your credit even more.

Going through a lending marketplace is a good way to limit your credit inquiries as well. With just one application, you’ll receive quotes from multiple lenders that are willing to work with you.

How much extra interest should you expect to pay on a loan with bad credit?

Even after getting approved for bad credit loans, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s going to be an expensive decision. Just how expensive depends on the terms and conditions of the loan.

On top of your interest rate, your lender may also charge an origination fee. Unfortunately, this is a pretty universal concept, so there’s not much you can do to avoid paying it.

The origination fee is usually charged as a percentage of your loan amount, so – just like interest – the more you borrow, the more you pay. You don’t have to come up with the cash upfront; instead, the fee is deducted from your loan.

Make sure you account for this deduction in your loan request. For example, if you need a $20,000 loan and there is a 3% origination fee, be sure to request $20,600 because 3% of $20,000 is $600.

Annual Percentage Rate

A helpful tool in determining the best interest rate and applicable fees is the loan’s annual percentage rate or APR. This number helps you compare offers that have different rates and fees to see which is better on an annual basis.

However, APR does not account for the loan term, which is the amount of time it will take you to pay off your loan. A loan may have an extremely low interest rate, but if it takes 10 years to pay off, you might actually end up paying a lot more in interest.

There are a lot of variables to consider when figuring out how much interest you’ll be paying. Let’s look at an example to help put these facts and numbers into context.

Auto Loan Calculator

Let’s say you want to figure out how to get a new car loan with bad credit. By using an online calculator, you can determine if making the purchase now is worth paying the extra interest compared to fixing your credit first.

According to Experian, the average length of a new car loan is 67 months and the average loan amount is $28,711. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you get a 60-month (five year) loan for $28,000. Here is how MyFICO estimates different credit scores to stack up in the same scenario.

The differences in the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan are jaw-dropping: a person in the lowest range pays nearly $9,500 more than someone in the highest range. So you wouldn’t be paying $28,000 for that new car, you’d actually end up paying almost $37,500.

Bumping your credit score up just 31 points from a 589 to a 620 could save over $4,600 in this scenario. Think of how many paychecks that adds up to before you decide on getting a loan with a bad credit score.

Fico Score APR Monthly payment Total interest paid
720 – 850 3.312% $507 $2,421
690 – 719 4.636% $524 $3,424
660 – 689 6.751% $551 $5,069
620 – 659 9.474% $588 $7,262
590 – 619 13.848% $649 $10,958
500 – 589 14.944% $665 $11,918

Should you fix your credit before applying for a loan?

If you want to potentially save thousands of dollars on your next loan, then yes, you should consider fixing your credit before you apply. While some credit components take time to improve, there are many actionable steps you can take right now to improve your credit scores.

It’s always better to get a head start on the process rather than waiting for a financial emergency. If you don’t need the money right away, take the time to fix your credit now so you can save big when you are ready to borrow.

Here are five steps you can take right away to fix bad credit:

1. Dispute any errors on your credit report

Before you attempt to repair your credit, you want to know what you’re dealing with first. So the first place to start is by reviewing and disputing any errors on your credit report. And checking your report will give you a good idea of where you can begin making improvements.

2. Start making your payments on time

One of the easiest ways to raise your credit score is by making your monthly payments on time. Your payment history counts for a significant portion of your credit report, so if you struggle to make your monthly payments on time, your credit scores will take a hit.

And you may be surprised to learn that this applies to more than just lending products. It also includes credit cards, personal loans, home loans, utilities, and even your cell phone bill. Once you have that under control, start paying down any existing credit card debt.

3. Lower your credit utilization ratio

Your credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your credit score, meaning you’re not just judged on the amount you owe, but also on the amount you have borrowed compared to the amount you are allowed to borrow.

If your credit cards let you borrow up to $10,000 and your balance is $4,000, your credit utilization ratio is 40%. Ideally, your credit utilization ratio should be below 30%, so try to make extra payments until you can reach that ideal range.

4. Consider using a credit repair service

If you’ve already taken the steps we outlined above with minimal success, then you may want to consider hiring a professional. A credit repair service can dispute any negative items on your account and help improve your credit score faster than if you’re doing it on your own. Here is our top choice for a credit repair service.

By law, an item must be removed from your report if the creditor can’t verify it within 30 days. By having a tireless advocate on your side, you’ll make sure your current and past creditors are following the law. They will help you make sure your credit history has been updated to accurately reflect your financial history.

5. Show a lender can you repay the loan

Once you’ve put in the work to raise your credit score, it can help to look for ways to show an online lender, bank, or credit union that you’re able to repay the loan. Providing proof of income can give a lender more peace of mind and demonstrate that you’re financially capable of repaying the loan.

If you don’t have any proof of income and your credit score is still lower than you’d like, you can consider applying with a creditworthy co-signer. Ideally, this will be someone who has a good credit history and can vouch for you with your lender.

However, you should only use a co-signer if you’re certain you can repay the loan. If you default on a loan, the bank will go after your co-signer, which will put their financial future at risk.

How can you maintain your credit score once it’s fixed?

After taking the time and effort to raise your credit score, make sure you do everything in your power to keep it up — or get it even higher!

You might not be looking for another loan or line of credit at the moment, but you never know what your financial future will look like. Perhaps you rent an apartment now, but want to buy a house further down the road.

Getting a Mortgage

It’s hard to figure out how to get a mortgage with bad credit, so do your best to make sure you take care of your credit now. That means paying all your bills on time, setting aside cash for emergency savings, and not racking up unnecessary debt.

Remember, most infractions stay on your credit report for up to seven years, so the financial decisions you make now stick with you for a long time.

Renting an Apartment

Plus, think of all the ways poor credit affects your life outside of getting a loan. Many landlords run credit checks on prospective tenants, so it can be difficult to rent an apartment with bad credit.

Potential Employers

Potential employers also sometimes run credit checks on job applicants to see how they handle their money. Why? They think that if you’re not responsible in your personal life, you probably won’t be responsible in your work life.

So bad credit not only affects your spending power, it affects your earning potential as well. Keep every door open by making a conscious effort to continually improve your credit. It would be a huge waste of time and effort to give up on all the progress you just made. Do yourself a favor and consciously manage your money going forward.

Final Thoughts

It certainly is possible for people with bad credit to get a loan, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best decision for you. Analyze just how urgent your financial needs are. Then, decide if you can wait a while to improve your credit before taking out a high-interest loan.

A reputable credit repair service can help you aggressively put your credit score on the fast track to improvement. Check out our credit repair reviews page for a list of reputable credit repair companies that can get you started today.


How To Save Money For A Car: In 6 Easy Steps

June 16, 2018 Posted By: growth-rapidly Tag: Loans

If you’re interested in learning how to save money for a car, then you have come to the right place.

Buying a car, just like buying a house, can be quite exciting. But it is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. So you want to make sure you get it right and avoid some pitfalls. For example, are you going to pay for the car upfront with cash or are you going to borrow?

Do you need an auto loan? For most people, auto loan financing is the preferred and most affordable route. Whether you need a loan to finance your car or pay for it right away, you need to figure out how to save money for a car and develop a savings plan to help you reach your goal.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to get a car loan through the car dealership. It’s often cheaper to get a loan from a bank.

Find out: Get An Auto Loan Quote Today.

How to Save Money for a Car:

Before you start saving money for a car, it’s always a good idea to check your credit file or make sure you have a good credit score. Why is that important?

A good credit score not only can get you qualified for a car loan faster, but also it can save you thousands on interest.

So before you borrow money, get a free credit report at CreditSesame to now exactly what your credit score is and take steps to improve it.

1. Figure out how much money to save for a car.

Figuring out how to save money for a car shouldn’t be a problem once you figure out how much the car will cost you.

Cars are quite expensive. According to, the average price for a new car is around $38,000. The average price for used cars is around $19,000.

For reviews on cars, list of cars, consumer reviews, or to find out what people are paying for cars, visit the following:,, or CarMax.

2. Figure out how you will pay your car.

Once you have an idea of how much money to save as a down payment for a car, you need to know which a loan to take out for the car.

It’s always a good idea and much cheaper to buy a car outright than it is to buy it on finance or taking out a loan through a bank. But if you don’t have the cash upfront, you will need to get a car loan. If you end up taking out a loan, make sure you shop around because interest rates and related fees and charges for car loans vary a lot.

Compare the rates now for your car loan.

3. Make saving money for a car a priority.

Keep in mind that while you’re saving money for a car, you need to also make sure to budget for your other expenses as well such as your mortgage and other monthly bills.

Once you figure out how much you’ll need to buy your car, the next step is to start saving money.

If you need to work extra to earn more money on the side, know that there are multiple ways to make extra money. From completing surveys to watching online videos. These extra cash should go towards car savings goal.

4. Set up a high interest savings account.

What is the best account to save for a car?

Instead of putting your money under your mattress, think about opening up an online high yield savings account. They offer better interest rate which compounds so you can interest on the interest and your savings keep growing.

5. Make your savings automatic.

One of the best ways to save money for a car is to make it automatic. If you have a job, transfer some of your paycheck directly into your savings account.

You can do it yourself or ask your employer to do it for you. Saving your money automatically allows you to ‘set it and forget it,’ so your savings will grow each time you get paid.

6. Save more and more.

Think about ways to cut back on necessary items like gym membership, clothes, subscription magazine, etc…

Track your everyday expenses , so you know what you’re spending your money on. The Personal Capital free and easy to use app will help you to keep track of where your money is going.

Let’s recap:

Before you buy a car, take time to learn how to save money for car by doing the following:

  • Check your credit score before you buy your care. That can save you thousands of dollars in interest. You can get a free credit score and credit report either at CreditSesame or Credit Karma.
  • Save as much money as you can to buy your car, and make savings a priority. Remember the more money you put down, the less you have to pay.
  • If you decide you’re gonna take a loan to buy a car, remember to shop around for the best deal. So take time to compare interest rates at LendingTree. Remember even a small difference in the interest rate can make a huge difference on how much you have to pay.

Related: How to Save 100k

Work with the Right Financial Advisor

You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you save 100k (whether you need it to pay off debt, to invest, to buy a house, or plan for retirement, saving, etc). Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.


Does a Business Loan Affect Personal Credit?

When starting your own business, funding can be a big hurdle—in more ways than one. And if you’re not careful, the lines between business credit and personal credit can get blurry.

As you start setting up your business accounts, make sure you understand your business financing options and how they may affect you personally. Here’s what you need to know about the relationship between your business books and your personal credit score.

Tip: Are you ready to apply for a small business loan?
See what rates you qualify for.

A Personal Guarantee: When Business Accounts Affect Personal Credit

Depending on what type of business you have and how you acquire credit, a business loan or credit card may affect your personal credit score. Specifically, if you personally guarantee a business account in any capacity, it can impact your personal credit.

Business Loans

In many cases, small business loans are guaranteed by an individual. That means you, as the sole proprietor or partner in the company, agreed to pay the debt. In such a case, the lender can seek to collect payments from you personally in the event your business can’t pay as agreed. This also positions you as a cosigner of sorts, which means the debt can be reported on your personal credit report.

Similarly, if you personally guaranteed a business line of credit, it can impact your credit history. Personal loans—including home equity loans—used to fund your businesses will affect your personal credit score as well.

Business Credit Cards

A business credit card is a great way to manage cash flow and increase your working capital. Whether or not information related to a business credit card account shows up on your personal credit report depends on how the account is set up. If you are an employee of a corporation and the company provides you with a business credit card to cover work expenses, it’s unlikely this card will be listed on your personal report. You’re simply an authorized business user for the card.

>> See our recommendations: best business credit cards.

However, as a small business owner with your own business credit card, you are considered more than an authorized user. You may be guaranteeing the account personally, which means it’s likely to show up on your report and impact your score. Before signing up for a business credit card, make sure you understand whether or not you are personally guaranteeing that account.

If you use a personal credit card for business expenses, those payments will also appear on your report and affect your score.

How to Keep Business Debt Off Personal Credit Reports

Now’s the time to think strategically about the best ways to keep your business credit score and personal credit history separate. Consider some of the options below.

Choose the Proper Business Structure

“As a sole proprietor, your business and personal credit will be one and the same,” says attorney Garrett Sutton, author of Own Your Own Corporation and founder of Choosing a company structure (such as an LLC, S Corp. or C Corp.) that separates business and personal finances may offer some benefits. Small business owners should talk to a business organization lawyer or CPA to find out what might work best for their situation.

Choose the Right Business Credit Card

You may be able to choose a business credit card that doesn’t routinely report activity to the consumer credit reporting agencies. However, you must make all payments on time to keep this so. Virtually all major small business cards will report if you default on the card.

Talk to Your Lender

Ask lenders whether they will check your personal credit reports for a business loan or payment plan. Those inquiries are hard pulls that affect your scores. Before committing to any financing offers, you should also ask about the lender’s policy for reporting loans. Review all contracts to determine whether or not they are requesting a personal guarantee. If you sign anything with your own name, rather than the name of your business, you may be held personally liable for the terms of that contract.

Consider Alternatives

Before you tap your home equity line or personal credit cards to launch your venture, talk with a tax or financial adviser about alternatives. Loans against your 401(k) or other retirement plans, for example, don’t show up on consumer credit reports.

How Personal Debt Impacts Business Loans

Personal debt or a poor personal credit score could derail your prospects for a business loan depending on factors such as whether your business has its own score and what type of company organization you chose. Some lenders may only look at your business credit score or history, which is reported by three major business credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet. In other cases, such as with some working capital loans, the lender is more concerned with the historical fitness of your revenue streams and balance sheets than any credit score.

>> Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Business Credit Score

A loan you take out for business purposes could be based partly on your personal credit. If you are taking out a personal loan, such as a home equity line of credit, to help cover business expenses, your personal credit definitely matters. Even if you’re applying for an actual business loan, you may need to rely on your personal credit history if your company is new and doesn’t have its own history or successful revenue to trade on.

Get a Business Loan

If you’re ready to start or grow your business, check out your loan options.


Life Insurance for Seniors: Tips on Getting the Best

  • Life Insurance

Life insurance is essential if you want to provide for your family after your death and don’t have substantial assets to leave them. It’s something that everyone should consider when they have dependents, but if you’re over the age of 60 those insurance premiums could cost more than you can afford and more than they’re worth.

Find the Right Life Insurance for You!

Attention: Still Open During the Financial Crisis…

Tip: Act now to see if you qualify for lower rates!

Compare free personalized quotes from the nation’s top providers.

If you need seniors life insurance that doesn’t cost the earth and provides the benefits you need, keep these tips in mind.

Why is Seniors Life Insurance So Expensive?

Insurance is an industry built on statistics and probability. You’ve probably heard detractors refer to it as gambling, using this as a reason to refuse any form of life, travel or home insurance. To an extent, they’re right.

Just like a casino, an insurance company studies the numbers and tweaks the outcomes to ensure they always fall in their favor. A policy may award an individual $200,000 when they’ve only paid $20,000, but for every big loss there are many big gains, just as a jackpot win is offset by the countless players who walk away with nothing.

Insurance premiums are fixed based on a series of probabilities. Where life insurance is concerned, the underwriters will look at previous health conditions, genetic disorders, mental health history, drug/alcohol abuse and more, before determining how likely that individual is to cash-out the policy.

For instance, they know that smokers live 10 years less on average, and that heavy drinking and a sedentary lifestyle are two leading causes of preventable death. The average life expectancy in the US is around 78 to 79 years. If you’re purchasing a 30-year policy aged 40, and you’re a heavy smoker, recovering alcoholic who works as a writer, designer, or IT technician, and doesn’t exercise, you fall into all those demographics. 

There is a high probability that you will not make it to the end of the term, in which case you’re a high risk and may be charged higher premiums, offered a reduced term or denied a policy altogether.

As a senior, you’re high risk because you’re more likely to cash in the policy than someone aged 20, 30 or 40. As a result, many insurance companies may refuse to work with you while others will simply offer you expensive policies and limited terms. To get around this, you may need to work with specialist senior life insurance companies. 

Do you Need Seniors Life Insurance?

At the outset of this guide, we noted that life insurance was essential if you have dependents and no assets. That “if” is key here, because with those things, it becomes less of a concern. It would certainly benefit your family more to have a cash payout on your death, but there is no guarantee and without that guarantee you could be paying into a policy that never pays out, thus taking valuable money from your pocket and your estate.

Life insurance should be considered for seniors who:

  • Have a mortgage to repay
  • Don’t have sizeable cash reserves or assets
  • Are the main breadwinner
  • Have debts

That final point is important, because if you have lots of debt then it won’t matter if you have assets because the debt could take them away. As discussed in our guide to what happens to your money when you die, your debt will be passed onto your estate (and if you live in a Community Property Estate, it could be passed onto your spouse). 

Prioritization will be declared, and tax debt will be placed at the top of the pile, after which all unsecured creditors can collect their pound of flesh.

If your debts are greater than the value of your estate, you could lose everything, assuming those debts are not forgiven upon your demise (as is the case with most student loan debt). At that point, your family will have nothing.

In this scenario, life insurance is essential. It’s also important to assign beneficiaries, ensuring that the money goes to them and not to the estate.

If your mortgage hasn’t been repaid in full and is passed onto your estate, your heirs will either need to continue making those payments or repay in full (either in cash or by selling the house). If there are additional debts that do not exceed the sum of the estate, these will be repaid, and your heirs will get what’s left.

Therefore, when calculating whether you need seniors life insurance, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I live in a Community Property State? (includes Louisiana, California, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Arizona).
  • Do I owe a lot on my mortgage?
  • Will my heirs struggle to pay for my funeral?
  • Are my debts greater than my assets?
  • Will I leave my heirs with substantial debts and obligations?

If your answers are negative, life insurance is an optional extra. It’s something that we recommend looking into, but not something you should commit to if you can’t find a suitable deal. 

If you answered yes to most of these questions and you don’t have an existing policy, it’s worth doing all you can to acquire life insurance or to find another means of supporting your family after you’re gone.

Options for Senior Life Insurance

Unlike whole life policies, which are designed to pay out substantial sums of money in the event the policyholder dies, senior’s life insurance is often designed to payout relatively small sums. 

There are typically two options for seniors seeking the protection of life insurance:

Funeral and Burial Insurance

Funerals are expensive and can cost upwards of $10,000 if you want a burial with a premium casket and all the trimmings. That’s a lot of money for your heirs to handle, but it’s something that funeral and burial insurance can cover.

Funeral and burial insurance can either be purchased through an agent or through an insurance company. In the first instance, you can make the funeral home your beneficiary, which allows you to arrange and plan your own funeral in advance, knowing that the costs will be covered and your loved ones won’t have to deal with the stress of planning and paying for a funeral while grieving.

In the second instance, everything is arranged through an insurance company and the money goes to your heirs. There is no prerequisite stating that this money must be used to pay for your funeral, but you can prepare instructions for when you pass.

Generally, these policies cost anywhere from $10 to $100 a month, depending on how much coverage you want. We recommend looking at some catalogs and discussing with funeral homes to discover how much your desired funeral will cost before applying for this insurance.

Term Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is rare for seniors due to the high risk involved. As the name suggests, whole life insurance is designed to be paid for the whole of your life, at the end of which there will be a payout. The alternative is known as term life insurance and is fixed over a specific period.

This way, there is a chance that you won’t die during the term, which means the insurance company doesn’t have to payout, reducing the risk and the costs and allowing them to offer you some favorable terms.

Term life insurance for seniors typically begins at age 60 (if you’re younger, you can apply for traditional term life insurance). Many insurance companies will stop providing these plans when you hit 75, at which point the liability is too high. 

You pay a fixed sum of money every month for a predefined term, often 10 or 20 years. The insurance company will then pay out an amount if you die during that term. As an example, a healthy 60-year-old applicant on a 10-year term can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 a month with a $250,000 payout. 

As soon as you include previous and existing health conditions into the mix, those premiums increase. You’ll also pay a lot more for a 20-year term as that will take you to 80 years old.

The Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors

Here for a few options to consider for seniors life insurance. But don’t just take our word for it. Do some research of your own, get as many quotes as you can, and choose the best one only when you’re absolutely satisfied that you’re getting the best deal.

Haven Life

With Haven Life, you can begin your cover up to your 65th birthday. The application process is quick and simple and it’s one of the cheapest options around for seniors, with term policies costing between $50 and $100 a month on average. If you’re 59 or younger, you don’t even need a medical exam for your cover to be finalized.

Haven Life policies are underwritten by MassMutual, an insurer that has existed for over 160 years.

AIG Life

One of the biggest insurers in the United States is also one of the cheapest for seniors. You can get up to $25,000 without the need for a medical exam. This is offered to all applicants aged between 50 and 85, with payouts that begin at just $5,000.


Transamerica offers a final expense policy, which provides a cash sum to be used for funeral expenses and other costs. This ranges from $5,000 to $50,000 and there are multiple policy options aimed at applicants up to the age of 85.

Mutual of Omaha

Although the costs can be a little higher and the options fewer, Mutual of Omaha offers coverage up to $100,000 without the need for a medical. This is rare and will come as a welcome relief to countless applicants who don’t want the additional stress and worry of a medical exam. 

What’s more, Mutual of Omaha will release part of your benefit in the event of a terminal or chronic illness.

New York Life

Apply for a policy that lasts for between 5 and 20 years and get a death benefit paid to your family when you die. There are many policy options to add and remove and very respectable premiums and payouts.

Summary: When to Apply for Seniors Life Insurance

The sooner you apply, the greater your options will be. Whether you’re 29 or 59, if you need life insurance then now is a good time to apply. A single year can make a massive difference the older you get, potentially adding tens of dollars to your monthly premiums and reducing your chances of getting the payout you seek.

As soon as you have dependents, bills, and responsibilities, look into getting a whole life or extended-term life insurance.


Are We There Yet? 5 Tips for a Frugal Road Trip

Coolers, cheap gas, a car checkup and other tips for enjoying your next road trip on a budget.

When traveling with family or friends, it’s hard to beat the memories you’ll make on a road trip: taking in panoramic views, cruising through coastal towns, stopping at roadside fruit stands. Experiencing life on the road—at least for a little bit—can really put things into perspective.

But those memory-making experiences can turn sour pretty quickly if you don’t plan ahead. Who wants to be stranded 20 miles from civilization and paying for a costly tow truck, all because you forgot to map out when and where to fill up your gas tank?

With proper travel prep and financial planning, you’ll have only fun memories of your road trip for years to come—instead of guilt for that time you way overspent.

Planning ahead is one of the easiest ways to save money on road trips, so you can focus on making memories.

How do you save money on a road trip? It’s easier than you might think. Check out these five tips to make your next vacation a frugal road trip:

1. Plan your trip in advance

In order to have a road trip on a budget, it’s good to have a realistic expectation of what the trip will cost. Despite higher gas prices, road trips were the most popular vacation option for families staying stateside in 2018. Nearly two-thirds of families planning a summer vacation in 2018 were expected to hit the road, according to roadside assistance provider AAA.

If you’re joining the throngs of road-trippers, the best way to save money on a road trip is to plan, plan, plan. “Do your research ahead of time, and estimate your trip costs in advance,” says Desmond Henry, a certified financial planner at Afflora Financial Life Planning in Topeka, Kansas.

If you want to plan ahead, look to how other people have managed frugal road trips by checking out travel review websites. “You can go into the reviews and see other travelers’ tips for a destination that you’re going to,” Henry says. “Maybe you have a lot of people that are saying ‘don’t pay extra for this,’ or ‘instead of parking in that parking lot, if you park a few blocks down, there’s a free shuttle.’”

Nearly two-thirds of families planning a summer vacation in 2018 were expected to take a road trip.


J.R. Duren, a personal finance analyst at consumer product review website HighYa, finds it beneficial to get a head start on planning a road trip on a budget to give his family more options of things to do. By comparing prices of various activities ahead of time, you can figure out how to stretch your vacation dollars further—and know how much you need to save for those non-negotiable activities.

“If you want to give yourself and your kids the best experience, start planning ahead and set a savings goal,” Duren says. “The last thing you want to do is be stressed out on the vacation because money is running out.”

unexpected breakdown. Otherwise, you may end up paying for repairs that cost much more than routine and preventive maintenance—and during times when you’d rather be out sightseeing and enjoying your vacation.

As you prepare for your frugal road trip, take the vehicle you will be traveling in to a reputable auto repair shop or dealer’s service department for preventive maintenance, says Richard Piatt, a certified credit counselor with Consumer Credit of Des Moines.

If you happen to need a standard oil change before your trip, many service centers will offer a free multi-point checkup of your vehicle and examine fluid levels, the battery, tire pressure, brakes and more. You can tell the auto shop that you’ll be traveling and how many miles you plan to clock on your adventure.

Even if your car has been checked out and is ready to go, you’ll also want to be prepared in the event of an emergency on the road. Be on the safe side and equip your car with emergency supplies like a flashlight, first aid kit, drinking water, food for passengers and pets, battery booster cables, tools to change a flat tire and emergency flares or reflectors.

3. Download travel apps

There’s an app for everything, including those that can be used as a way to save money on road trips. Fueling up at the gas station could be a big part of any road trip budget, so consider leveraging apps that can help locate the cheapest gas stations. “The gas station that is right off the highway is typically the worst place to get gas,” financial planner Henry says. “They always seem to be the most expensive.”

For a frugal road trip, you’ll also want to consider route-planning apps to help identify what you’re up against on the road, from construction-related slowdowns to common speeding checkpoints to accidents blocking traffic. “These could really put a damper on a trip and waste gas,” credit counselor Piatt says.

Several apps also provide information about amenities available at nearby exits, from restaurants to rest stops. Otherwise, you may end up wasting gas—and money—by aimlessly meandering, or you could find yourself settling for something over-budget when there is a more cost-effective option nearby. “It’s nice to know what’s coming up to avoid getting off the exit and having it be a dead end,” says Bonnie Sewell, a certified financial planner at American Capital Planning in Leesburg, Virginia.

Travel apps are key to planning frugal road trips

But be careful going with the default route if ways to save money on road trips are more important to you than saving time. “Most of these apps that try to keep you on the fastest route will keep navigating back to the toll road,” Sewell says. You may want to choose a route that steers clear of tollways if you’re looking to avoid additional costs and keep your road trip on a budget.

4. Eat on the cheap

Another way to take a road trip on a budget is to pack your own food and beverages in a cooler rather than relying solely on eating out. Piatt says if a family of four eats at a fast-food restaurant, the tab will likely be at least $20. If your family eats one fast-food meal a day over a two-week time period, “you’re talking about [at least] $280 just in eating fast, unhealthy food,” he says. If you’re grabbing fast food twice a day, you’re up to more than $560.

If food is your thing, experiencing the local cuisine will be an important part of your travel. Henry recommends doing some light grocery shopping for breakfast and lunch food and then dining out for dinner to be a frugal foodie. He personally makes a point of staying at hotels that offer complimentary breakfasts and fully takes advantage of them as a way to save money on road trips.

“If you can knock out one free meal a day for your family, that’s huge savings,” Henry says. “We’re also not shy about grabbing a piece of fruit for a mid-morning snack.”

“You typically can find a whole apartment or whole home rental that’s cheaper or equivalent to what you’d pay at a hotel. You get the added benefit of having your own kitchen, which can save you money on food. It’s fun to go out and shop at local supermarkets and farmers markets.”

– J.R. Duren, personal finance analyst at HighYa

5. Find affordable accommodations

Consider staying at a vacation rental for your road trip on a budget. “You typically can find a whole apartment or whole home rental that’s cheaper or equivalent to what you’d pay at a hotel,” Duren says. “You get the added benefit of having your own kitchen, which can save you money on food. It’s fun to go out and shop at local supermarkets and farmers markets.”

You can also try booking a last-minute hotel room if you’re feeling spontaneous. “Nothing replaces walking into a hotel, talking to the manager on duty and saying, ‘We’re thinking about stopping for the night. What’s your best rate?’ You might have to be prepared to leave if the rate isn’t good and see if the next hotel is more accommodating,” Sewell says.

Enjoy your road trip on a budget

Taking a vacation with your family or friends doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, it shouldn’t. With some mindful research ahead of time, you can map out a frugal road trip that the whole family will enjoy.