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Top Tips for Helping Customers Plan a Cost Effective Vacation

Drew Furnari | Financial Coach | The Financial Clinic

 

Summer is vacation season, and while going on a trip may not be a top priority for customers, it can actually be an amazing financial goal. Positive habits, like saving and budgeting, are often built into the trip planning and booking process; and because traveling is nowhere near as expensive as it once was, the goal of going on a trip can be achieved sooner than say the longer-term goal of buying a house. Setting shorter-term goals help bolster customers confidence, and the reward of a vacation encourages them to keep their new positive financial habits.

Once your customer feels they are ready to book their trip, figuring out travel arrangements, accommodations, and activities that fit into their budgets, can seem like a daunting and expensive task. Luckily, traveling and booking travel is not what it used to be. With the help of technology, it is possible to book trips online without the help of a travel agent, and there are more cost-effective options than ever. 

Here are some tips to help keep the cost of a dream vacation down.

 

Travel Arrangements

Travelers tend to assume distance is what determines how expensive a flight is. While distance is a factor, it also depends on how busy the route is. For instance, there are many flights from JFK (New York City) to LAX (Los Angeles), and many airlines to choose from, making it easier to find a relatively inexpensive flight. Meanwhile, Nantucket is much closer to New York City, but it’s a less busy route and can be expensive. Websites like  SkyScanner or Kayak help you see different flights from different airlines and airports all on one page. This allows travelers to compare prices and experiment with different flight connections, airlines, dates, and times. 

Accommodations 

Apartment shares such as Airbnb or VRBO, allow people to rent rooms or whole apartments. While the room or apartment may not have the same perks as a hotel, the accommodations are often more affordable. It goes without saying there can be a downside to this type of lodging. Be mindful of the unit you are renting and look at the reviews. 

Activities

Many museums and attractions have designated evenings where admission is free. Planning a visit during those dates and times gives travelers the opportunity to see important cultural touchstones and to get a bit of free entertainment during their trip. Local tourism websites and centers are a  great way of finding out about free activities happening in the area.

Timing

Summer is peak travel time because it is when the kids are out of school and many families are taking their vacations. If a customer doesn’t have kids or is not planning on taking their children on a trip, traveling during the Fall or Spring can offer many more cost-effective options depending on the location. 

 

Setting a financial goal is an important step in the coaching process. Travel is a goal that you may hear from your customers, and we urge you to encourage them to start working towards their dream trip as a way of building positive, long-term financial habits. Additionally, there are several mental health benefits to traveling. Studies show that a change of scenery can be a huge stress reliever. Share some of these tips with your customers to help them get the most out of their trips. 

Making Homeownership Possible: Resources for Customers Looking to Buy a Home

Gloria Diaz | Financial Coach | The Financial Clinic

HOME OWNERSHIP IS POSSIBLE!

Homeownership is an important way to build wealth and pass it on to future generations. However, owning a home can seem like an unreachable dream for many customers, especially with the current reality of wage stagnation. According to The Pew Research Center’s, report on wages and purchasing power of the average American:

“Despite the strong labor market, wage growth has lagged economists’ expectations. In fact, despite some ups and downs over the past several decades, today’s real average wage (that is, the wage after accounting for inflation) has about the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago. And what wage gains there have been have mostly flowed to the highest-paid tier of workers” Desilver, 2018.

Statistics like these can make many customers feel like homeownership may just be a pipe dream. Despite dismal statistics, there are a few resources out there that can make this dream a reality.

The Department of Housing and Urban or HUD offers grants and programs that allow for more flexibility than traditional paths to homeownership. Programs like HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance are available in all 50 states. They allow clients to purchase their first home with less than 20% of the down payment (in some cases even less than 10%) and can also offer flexibility with credit requirements. Depending on the consumer and the program being offered, help towards downpayment or closing costs are also offered.

On top of the state programs, HUD also offers specialized programs that include:

To participate in these programs, customers have to complete a home buying course. It is a requirement, however, they are offered for free or at a low cost. They walk the client through every aspect of the home buying process, providing a strong foundation and understanding of the financial requirement needed so they can handle the large monetary commitment.

Although such programs offer flexibility, the basics of financial health still apply. Some questions to consider when speaking to a customer who is interested in owning a home are: is your customer fiscally ready to be a homeowner? How is their credit and credit history? Are there any issues that need to be addressed on any of their reports? How much can they afford to buy? That break down should include all debts and spending costs. How much of a down payment do they need to save for? What strategies can I suggest to help them meet their savings goal?

Here are a few Change Machine’s tip sheets that can help with this process:

These are great tools for coaches to get the conversation about homeownership going, and begin to build a road map for customer goals.

The dream of owning is possible, with determination, planning and creative thinking, we can help make our customer’s dreams come true.