Your Money: Sharing Family Getaways Without Any Cottage Conflicts

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Picture it: 40 picturesque acres nestled in Wisconsin lake country.

That is the ideal getaway the grandfather of Chicago financial planner Tim Obendorf’s wife built around 50 years ago. Then the property passed to the next generation, with ownership shared by four people.

Now they are thinking about the next generation: 11 potential owners.

Without the right planning, that paradise could turn into hell.

As brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents gather this summer at family homes to go hiking, canoeing or swimming, there will also be arguments over schedules, property taxes or mortgage costs, and upkeep duties, along with the thousand other matters that come with shared homeownership.

“Whenever a number of families are under the same roof, conflicts are going to arise,” said Jill Shipley, managing director of family dynamics for Abbot Downing, a division of Wells Fargo that handles high-net-worth families and foundations.

That is why Obendorf’s family has already logged a couple of family meetings. “It’s never going to be perfect, but you have to decide you value the place, more than the hassles of working through family issues,” said Obendorf.

It is not surprising that vacation homes have become a point of contention. Many vacation homeowners are baby boomers: They possess the bulk of the nation’s assets and are projected to hold over 50 percent by 2020, according to a study by the Deloitte Center for Financial Services. They are now beginning to retire as they hit their 60s and 70s.

The potential problems are plentiful: Is the place big enough for everybody? Who gets it on July 4th weekend? Do they split costs equally? Who cleans up, handles repairs, or stocks the fridge?

And the big one: When the owners eventually pass on – who gets the place?

How can families get the most out of shared vacation properties this summer, without either going broke or killing each other? Some tips from the experts:

Draw Up a Calendar

Just like season tickets for a sports team, some dates will be in high demand. So if the property is not big enough to handle multiple families at once – or, let’s face it, you just do not get along – pick your spots. “Establish a rotating lottery each year, and allow each family member to pick their respective dates,” suggests Kevin Reardon, a financial planner in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

Write Down a Policy

Everyone has different opinions of what a getaway should be, so hash it out and put it all down on paper. One key item: Whether ongoing costs like property taxes, homeowner’s association dues and repairs are split equally, or allocated based on usage.

Create an Opt-out

A sure way to guarantee family resentment: One member being forced into an arrangement they do not want. If a family cottage is being passed to the next generation, allow an escape hatch that permits one member’s share to be bought out by their siblings. After all, not everyone might be able to use the property to the same extent, especially if they have moved far away.

Bring in a Pro

Siblings, of course, do not always get along. In fact, 15 percent of adult siblings report arguing over money, according to a new survey from Ameriprise Financial. To make sure everyone is heard, bringing in a trained facilitator is probably your best bet, advises Shipley.

Have the Discussion Now

“I have been in many family meetings where the kids ask, ‘I wonder what mom and dad would have wanted?'” says Shipley. So if you are fortunate enough that the family matriarch and patriarch are still around, arrange a family meeting and find out what they envision for the property in the decades to come.

Maybe they want it to stay in the family, as a legacy for the grandkids. Or maybe, because of family circumstances like far-flung siblings, it would be wiser to just sell the property and split the proceeds.

Set up a Trust

One way to take future financial squabbles out of the equation altogether: If families have the resources, they should create a trust to “fund the maintenance and ongoing use of the property in perpetuity,” says Shipley. “That is one solution to reduce conflict, and keep the property in the family for generations.”

 

 

 

Written By: Chris Taylor
Source: Reuters

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

Having close access to ultra-successful people can yield some pretty incredible information about who they really are, what makes them tick, and, most importantly, what makes them so successful and productive.

“Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” – Vaibhav Shah

Kevin Kruse is one such person. He recently interviewed over 200 ultra-successful people, including 7 billionaires, 13 Olympians, and a host of accomplished entrepreneurs. One of his most revealing sources of information came from their answers to a simple open-ended question:

“What is your number one secret to productivity?”

In analyzing their responses, Kruse coded the answers to yield some fascinating suggestions. What follows are some of my favorites from Kevin’s findings.

1. They focus on minutes, not hours. Most people default to hour and half-hour blocks on their calendar; highly successful people know that there are 1,440 minutes in every day and that there is nothing more valuable than time. Money can be lost and made again, but time spent can never be reclaimed. As legendary Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told Kevin, “To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute.” You must master your minutes to master your life.

2. They focus on only one thing. Ultra-productive people know what their “Most Important Task” is and work on it for one to two hours each morning, without interruptions. What task will have the biggest impact on reaching your goals? What accomplishment will get you promoted at work? That’s what you should dedicate your mornings to every day.

3. They don’t use to-do lists. Throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out that only 41% of items on to-do lists ever get done. All those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect, which, in essence, means that uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them. Highly productive people put everything on their calendar and then work and live by that calendar.

4. They beat procrastination with time travel. Your future self can’t be trusted. That’s because we are time inconsistent. We buy veggies today because we think we’ll eat healthy salads all week; then we throw out green rotting mush in the future. Successful people figure out what they can do now to make certain their future selves will do the right thing. Anticipate how you will self-sabotage in the future, and come up with a solution today to defeat your future self.

5. They make it home for dinner. Kevin first learned this one from Intel’s Andy Grove, who said, “There is always more to be done, more that should be done, always more than can be done.” Highly successful people know what they value in life. Yes, work, but also what else they value. There is no right answer, but for many, these other values include family time, exercise, and giving back. They consciously allocate their 1,440 minutes a day to each area they value (i.e., they put them on their calendar), and then they stick to that schedule.

6. They use a notebook. Richard Branson has said on more than one occasion that he wouldn’t have been able to build Virgin without a simple notebook, which he takes with him wherever he goes. In one interview, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis said, “Always carry a notebook. Write everything down. That is a million dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!” Ultra-productive people free their minds by writing everything down as the thoughts come to them.

7. They process e-mails only a few times a day. Ultra-productive people don’t “check” their e-mail throughout the day. They don’t respond to each vibration or ding to see who has intruded into their inbox. Instead, like everything else, they schedule time to process their e-mails quickly and efficiently. For some, that’s only once a day; for others, it’s morning, noon, and night.

8. They avoid meetings at all costs. When Kevin asked Mark Cuban to give his best productivity advice, he quickly responded, “Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check.” Meetings are notorious time killers. They start late, have the wrong people in them, meander around their topics, and run long. You should get out of meetings whenever you can and hold fewer of them yourself. If you do run a meeting, keep it short and to the point.

9. They say “no” to almost everything. Billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” And James Altucher colorfully gave Kevin this tip: “If something is not a ‘Hell Yeah!’ then it’s a no.” Remember, you only have 1,440 minutes in a day. Don’t give them away easily.

10. They follow the 80/20 rule. Known as the Pareto Principle, in most cases, 80% of results come from only 20% of activities. Ultra-productive people know which activities drive the greatest results. Focus on those and ignore the rest.

11. They delegate almost everything. Ultra-productive people don’t ask, “How can I do this task?” Instead, they ask, “How can this task get done?” They take the I out of it as much as possible. Ultra-productive people don’t have control issues, and they are not micro-managers. In many cases, good enough is, well, good enough.

12. They touch things only once. How many times have you opened a piece of regular mail–a bill perhaps–and then put it down, only to deal with it again later? How often do you read an e-mail and then close it and leave it in your inbox to deal with later? Highly successful people try to “touch it once.” If it takes less than five or ten minutes–whatever it is–they deal with it right then and there. It reduces stress, since it won’t be in the back of their minds, and it is more efficient, since they won’t have to re-read or re-evaluate the item again in the future.

13. They practice a consistent morning routine. Kevin’s single greatest surprise while interviewing over 200 highly successful people was how many of them wanted to share their morning ritual with him. While he heard about a wide variety of habits, most nurtured their bodies in the morning with water, a healthy breakfast, and light exercise, and they nurtured their minds with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, or journaling.

14. Energy is everything. You can’t make more minutes in the day, but you can increase your energy to increase your attention, focus, and productivity. Highly successful people don’t skip meals, sleep, or breaks in the pursuit of more, more, more. Instead, they view food as fuel, sleep as recovery, and breaks as opportunities to recharge in order to get even more done.

Bringing It All Together

You might not be an entrepreneur, an Olympian, or a billionaire (or even want to be), but their secrets just might help you to get more done in less time and assist you to stop feeling so overworked and overwhelmed.

 

 

Written By: Travis Bradberry
Source: Inc.

The Holidays Are About the Fa La La, Not the Moo La La

This year, we’ll collectively fork out $465 billion on holiday spending. Of all that cash, about 43% is spent on travel, and another 41% on gifts. Saving in those two areas alone can really help make a difference in your wallet.

A few things the airlines don’t want you to know

When you figure that Americans will spend more than $6 million on air travel during the holiday season, the costs can seem unavoidable. But if you follow a few simple rules, you could save hundreds.

  • Avoid buying a ticket for the Friday before Christmas
  • Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Sundays on off-peak hours
  • Search tickets for one passenger at a time—airlines tend to jack up the prices when you buy for more than one.
  • Clear your browser history, or search incognito. The more airlines learn about you, the more they learn about where your spending habits are and the more they can skew the prices based on what they know about you.

Online hacks that’ll help save your wallet

It’s a digital world. And that makes shopping a whole lot easier, but it also opens up the opportunity for huge savings.

  • Take Honey for example. It’s a Google Chrome extension that tests every coupon code available, so you don’t have to.
  • Amazon Prime is only $99/yr, and it currently gives you free shipping on a ton of things listed on the site—which has some of the most competitive prices already.
  • Deal Squad is a site that checks to make sure you’re getting the best price available—you just cut and paste the URL of the item you’re watching.

Go for thoughtful, not pricey

Putting more thought into a gift means you can spend a little less. Say your coworker loves elephants—buy him the elephant socks you know he’d never buy for himself. Same goes with magazine subscriptions. If your dad loves boating, get him a boating magazine—it’s a gift that keeps giving, year-round. Or you can gift what you’re good at—get crafty. Yeah, pecan pie bakers, we’re looking at you. Even if you’ve never tried out a DIY, it’s worth a visit to Pinterest for some inspiration. Sometimes a meaningful gift goes a lot further than one with a high price tag.

Charities need your time, not just your cash

You can give charity a hand without breaking the bank—just give some of your time. And it’s a great way to spend time with your friends and family too. You could volunteer as a group at a food shelter or soup kitchen—or you can look for local opportunities on Volunteermatch.

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Ally Bank

 

The 6 Top Airlines for Holiday Travel

 

Experience air travel at its best during the hectic travel season.

We all remember nightmarish winter travel stories from our favorite holiday movies. From rushing through crowded terminals to dealing with flight cancellations to losing luggage in transit, iconic holiday films remind us of epic travel blunders that arise during the busy holiday travel season. And while it’s tricky to dodge winter travel headaches altogether, there are some airlines that make travel during the holidays relatively smooth and pain-free. Whether you’re traveling with kids, seeking an airline with perks such as free Wi-Fi, elevated in-flight entertainment and cuisine or looking for a carrier with an easy rebooking process for weather-related delays, here are six top airlines for holiday travel.

fusulage

Delta Air Lines

In the last few years Delta has quietly done a commendable job bringing its cabins up to speed. High-speed Wi-Fi is available on nearly all of Delta’s planes. Plus, the airline has consistently delivered a high on-time performance during the holiday travel season in recent years. And Delta has made great strides to enhance its in-flight entertainment and cuisine, as well as general customer service, with added amenities such as free doughtnuts or bagels and coffee for early morning flights in most major hubs. Plus, if you hold Silver Medallion status (or higher) with the Delta SkyMiles program, when there are empty seats, you can enjoy a complimentary upgrade to a first-class seat.

traveler

Air France

If you are going to endure a long-haul flight from the U.S. to Europe over the holidays, consider flying with Air France. The carrier has invested in upgrading its planes with tech-savvy entertainment systems that provide over 1,000 hours of on-demand programming. Also, Air France has a best-in-class premium economy cabin with spacious economy seats. Even better, If you fly in a business-class seat, feature films are available in high-definition, screens are an oversized 17 inches and you can enjoy delicious meal service with cuisine options developed by the Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud.

cathay-pacific

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific offers scheduled passenger and cargo services to nearly 200 destinations in Asia, North America, Australia, Europe and Africa. Seasoned international jet-setters praise Cathay for its impeccable airport lounges, superlative kid’s menu options (you can call in advance for any dietary needs) and innovative in-flight entertainment systems. And recently, the airline elevated its culinary offerings by partnering with celebrity chef Daniel Green to develop a vegetarian menu filled with options such as seared ahi tuna, edamame, butter lettuce and sesame soy ginger vinaigrette and Thai red vegetable curry in light coconut milk and Thai sweet basil, to cater to a variety of palates.

virgin-atlantic

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin America has won many best-in-class awards for its quality customer service and tech-forward amenities, including in-flight Wi-Fi and an in-flight entertainment platform with a touch-screen TV and an on-demand menu that allows fliers to order a cocktail or snack from their seat any time during a flight. Even better, Virgin Atlantic offers guests the ability to stream Netflix, making Virgin Atlantic the only airline to offer this service. If you’re willing to splurge (or you’re traveling with younger globe-trotters with picky preferences) Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy cabin boasts a wide selection of complimentary snacks, from candy to chips to fresh fruit and other select British goodies.

quantas

Qantas Airways

If you’re heading to Australia to ring in the New Year with youngsters in tow, Qantas offers plenty of family-friendly perks. Kids have their own designated areas within airport lounges, a welcome amenity kit and their own entertainment channel. Meanwhile, adults can pick from more than 1,500 entertainment options on Qantas’ Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 planes, making the nearly 24-hour flight from the East Coast much more comfortable. Plus, Qantas offers service to Australia and the Pacific from hubs in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Honolulu. What’s more, you can enjoy a complimentary wine tasting on long-haul flights, thanks to the airline’s Sommelier in the Sky Program.

etihad

Etihad Airways

Flying with Etihad Airways during the holidays (or any time of year) affords a lavish air travel experience. You can enjoy excellent cuisine, in-flight Wi-Fi and a top-notch entertainment system, regardless of which class of service you select. Plus, you’ll have access to more than 120 movies and 300 TV shows. If you’re looking to spring for the penultimate form of holiday travel, try the three-bedroom Etihad apartment in the sky, known as The Residence. Inside the first-class suite, guests can enjoy a private living room, a bedroom and shower room, as well as the service of a Savoy-trained butler, a gourmet in-flight chef and a concierge team, among other perks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Sery Kim of U.S. News & World Report

Source: U.S. News & World Report

 

 

 

In Transport Wars, it’s Hyperloop vs Hyperloop

The Hyperloop is becoming a modern day gold rush, with 2 technology companies battling to capitalize on the transportation mode’s promise of interstate travel at breakneck speed.

The innovation, with its science fiction-like description, is the brainchild of entrepreneur and Tesla Motors (TSLA)founder Elon Musk. The technology looks to challenge existing transportation methods by offering cheaper, faster and safer travel through a low-pressure system that move pods just under sonic levels, at about 760 mph. As the the idea gradually moves from concept to reality, a number of startups aim to plant their flags in the emerging sector.

“We are the first ones that took the Elon Musk project in 2013 and transformed it into something real,” Bibop Gresta, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) COO told CNBC in a recent interview. “We are the only company who are actually building a real full-scale Hyperloop.”

Yet a company with a similar name, Hyperloop technologies, is also jumping into the fray. The company has raised $100 million in funding to track test Hyperloop technology in Nevada, and is also trying to stake a claim on the emerging technology.

Recently, Gresta’s company announced the construction of a Hyperloop prototype in Quay Valley, California, which is halfway between L.A. and San Francisco. The company also signed a deal with Slovakia, a hub for technology development in Europe, which HTT expects will be a beneficial catalyst for Hyperloop’s expansion quest.

Gresta told CNBC that the difference between Hyperloop Technologies and HTT is that his company researched its scheme aside 520 scientist from 42 countries before building a “full-scale” Hyperloop. He contends that Hyperloop Technologies has taken a different approach, and that employees of Space X and NASA are working actively with HTT.

“There’s an old model where you raise a bunch of money and then you have to spend it as fast as you can to demonstrate to your investor that you’re doing something,” he told CNBC, before adding that the corporation is “very happy to create an industry together because it means that the concept is valid.”

Separately, Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop Technologies told CNBC that his company is “clearly leading” the development of the Hyperloop concept, as itsboard members have been leaders in major companies before the startup. Hyperloop Technologies is looking to reap nearly $10 million in various incentives from the state of Nevada for its rail, which will carry passengers at 600 miles per hour.

“Our company is leading; we are not the only company, I don’t expect us to be the only company, but we are the company that’s leading.” Lloyd said in a recent interview. He added that positions in Hyperloop Technology are in high demand, with 130 full-time employees and hundreds of applicants per open positions.

Lloyd is a tech veteran, having worked for Cisco Systems (CSCO) for more than 20 years before joining Hyperloop Tech. Co-founder Shervin Pishevar, who is also managing director of Sherpa Ventures, a venture capital firm that’s invested in startups such as AirBnB, Uber and Munchery, co-leads the tech start-up.

Regardless, the idea of rapid transportation is gathering momentum, and may get a boost from the federal government. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said recently that Hyperloop tech could be eligible for funding via the University Transportation Centers program, which doles out more than $70 million per year.

Lloyd said that the difference between his company and others is that Hyperloop Tech focuses on both freight and people. Gresta also mentioned the idea of transported goods in a recent interview.

“The movement of freight is something that has tremendous impact on reducing traffic, moving to a more sustainable electric only and even shipping containers,” Lloyd said. “Our company believes this will be truly transformational.”

Written by Denise Garcia of CNBC

(Source: MSN)

12 Great Things About Retirement

© Monika Lewandowska/Getty Images
© Monika Lewandowska/Getty Images
© Monika Lewandowska/Getty Images

Some people wonder what they will do with all their extra time after they retire. They fear they’ll become irrelevant, aimless or out of sorts.

There’s no doubt there are some pitfalls of retirement, such as boredom, loneliness and even depression. That’s why retirees should decide what’s important to them, plan out their future and appreciate retirement for the exceptional opportunity that it really is.

To get you started, I recently spoke to a variety of retirees about their lifestyles. Here are the dozen favorite things about retirement retirees cite most often.

1. I’M FREE OF THE DRUG OF AMBITION

Suddenly you don’t care whether or not you get promoted, and the jockeying for a better title or an office with a window seems so petty. A weight is lifted from your shoulders when you quit the rat race.

Despite financial concerns, retirement is often a lot of fun.

2. I CAN CATCH UP ON MOVIES I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO SEE.

Maybe you were too busy with your career and kids to follow some of the great directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen and Robert Altman. Now you can go on Netflix or Amazon or just borrow CDs from the library and enjoy some of the great stories of our time.

3. I KEEP UP ON CURRENT TV PROGRAMS

Whether you’re watching cable or Netflix, you can join the conversation about “House of Cards”, “Orange Is the New Black”, “Better Call Saul”, “Grace and Frankie” and the other smart TV shows.

4. I JOINED A BOOK CLUB

Some groups alternate between classics like “Anna Karenina” and modern stories like “Gone Girl”. Others keep up with the bestseller lists from “The Girl on the Train” to “The Boys in the Boat”. And still others are theme oriented, whether it’s mindfulness and spiritual issues or history and politics. Regardless, a book club is both socially engaging and intellectually stimulating.

5. I CAN STILL WORK PART-TIME

Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a job here and there. A lot of people carry over assignments from their old company, while others parley their personal interests into a moneymaking gig.

6. I BABYSIT MY GRANDCHILDREN

Many retirees feel both useful and appreciated when they make it possible for their children to pursue a career, and they relish the opportunity to create deep and lasting memories with their grandchildren, memories that will last long after grandma and grandpa are gone.

7. THERE’S TIME TO GIVE BACK

Many retirees find it enormously rewarding to volunteer their skills to worthy charitable organizations, whether it’s the Lions Club or the Kiwanis Club, their condo association, the local food pantry or a community college.

8. TRAVEL, TRAVEL, TRAVEL

Almost everyone’s bucket list includes a trip to some special place, from the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China to the Grand Canyon or the Empire State Building.

9. I HAVE THE TIME TO DO NOTHING

Finally, there’s time to enjoy the pleasure of sitting on the front porch or the back deck and soak up the atmosphere, reflecting on your life and enjoying the cool breezes wafting across your face.

10. I’M LIVING MY DREAM

Some people have a half-written novel in their study, or a half-finished piece of woodworking in the basement. Retirement gives you the time to write the rest of your story and even publish it online, complete the projects in your workshop or make jewelry or crochet sweaters and sell them on Etsy.

11. THERE’S NO PRESSURE, NO STRESS AND NO PROBLEMS

It’s the freedom that many retirees appreciate so much: Freedom from the pressure to get ahead at work, get your kid into college and keep up with the neighbors.

12. I DO WHAT I WANT TO DO, INSTEAD OF WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WANT ME TO DO

In retirement there are no more expectations. You no longer have to please your parents or bear responsibility for your kids. You can move to the city or the country. You can do something or do nothing. No matter how well-financed you may or may not be, you can live the lifestyle of the truly wealthy: You can do what you want and answer to nobody.

Written by Tom Sightings of U.S. News & World Report

(Source: U.S. News & World Report)

Five Ways Road-Tripping Families Can Save Money

With four kids between the ages of 1 and 12, Loralee Leavitt is a cost-savings ninja when she hits the road.

Leavitt, who hails from Kirkland, Washington, estimates that she has gone on more than 30 road trips with her growing family, logging over 60,000 miles, to places like Utah, Colorado, Arizona and California.

From packing their own food, to staying in state parks, to scouring for last-minute hotel deals, the family has made an art of saving money. Their piece de resistance: A trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park that did not cost more than $400 total.

“It is easy to spend more than you expect,” says Leavitt, author of “Road Tripping”. “But if you prepare it right, it can be a lot of fun, and very cheap.”

More Americans are planning road trips around the United States. In fact, 65 percent of those polled report they are more likely to take a road trip this summer than they were last summer, according to a recent survey by booking site Travelocity. And when you single out parents, a whopping 81 percent said they were more likely to hit the road with the kids this year.

Be careful, though. While a domestic road trip might appear like an affordable alternative to traveling abroad, costs can easily spiral out of control.

A recent study by travel site Expedia found that Americans expect to pay an average of $898 per person for a weeklong trip within their own country, hardly chump change.

To keep a lid on summer road-trip costs, we canvassed financial planners for their best tips, culled from personal experience. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Use apps to your advantage

© Brennan Linsley/AP Photo

Not that long ago, travelers squinted at printed maps and missed exits. These days, there is no excuse for not using smartphone apps.

Google Maps, for instance, will get you from Point A to Point B without getting lost and racking up unnecessary mileage. GasBuddy will locate the cheapest local stations where you can fill up the tank. Apps like RoadNinja and Roadtrippers can tell you about local amenities and help plan your route, and HotelTonight or Hotels.com can locate last-minute lodging discounts nearby.

2. Get campy

Ditch the hotels, and stay in campgrounds, says financial planner Therese Nicklas of Braintree, Massachusetts.

By camping in state parks with her family of four for around $10 a night, and cooking their own food, Nicklas estimates they save about $150 every single day.

You don’t have to pitch a tent every night. Consider an occasional splurge at a hotel with a pool, hot showers and free breakfasts.

Diehard money-savers might enjoy so-called “dispersed camping” permitted in many national and state forests, where you set up away from designated campgrounds. No amenities, but no fees, either.

Also consider an annual pass from the National Park Service, allowing you access to more than 2,000 sites nationwide for $80.

3. Hold money-saving competitions

© James W. Porter/CorbisAdviser

Niv Persaud of Atlanta has an innovative idea: Make budgeting a game with your kids instead of a chore. “For each dollar they save, on coupons, special deals, or cheap gas, they earn a star,” Persaud says. “The one with the most stars at the end of the trip gets to pick the location for the next family vacation.”

4. Forget flights and car rentals

Whatever savings you realize by staying domestic could be wiped out by airline bookings and car- or RV-rental fees. So do what David MacLeod did, and schlep to your destination in your own car, even if it’s a long distance away. The planner from Fullerton, California recently took his family all the way from southern California to Montana in their trusty Honda Odyssey, saving $1,000 in the process.

5. Bring your own food

© Jack Smith/AP Photo

The silent killer of many family travel budgets: Eating out. Nip that in the bud with a cooler or two stuffed to the brim with snacks and quick meals.

“A simple gallon of milk, box of cereal, yogurts and fresh fruit can provide a great breakfast at 1/4 of the cost of eating out,” says Janice Cackowski, a planner in Independence, Ohio. She also advises eating out only at lunch, when restaurant prices tend to be much lower.

Above all, don’t be scared off by the idea of being in a car for so many hours with your kids. Magic occurs when families actually spend time with each other. “Something wonderful happens: You pay attention to each other,” says Leavitt.

Written by Chris Taylor of Reuters

(Source: Reuters)