By Joshua Zerkel
Summer… ahhh. When summertime comes, there’s a palpable change in the air – a feeling of fun, relaxation, and freedom from worry. Or at least, that’s how it can seem! Of course, the details of life and work don’t just go away with the change of the seasons. Especially if you’ll be traveling this summer, things can get pretty complicated. That said, there’s plenty you can do to prepare yourself for maximum summertime fun! Here’s a few ideas:
Forget about your bills. Are you spending time sitting down to pay your paper bills? This is probably one of the last things you’d want to spend your time on during the summer when you’re trying to relax. If you haven’t already, pull out each of your monthly bills, and set them up for automatic payment (wherever it makes sense to do so). What I typically recommend to my clients is to choose one of your credit cards to charge all your bills to via auto-payment, and then you only have to worry about paying one bill instead of several. I think this is a lot better than having your bills deducted from your checking account – if there’s an error, your credit card company can go to bat for you. Of course, this system works best if you pay your credit card off in full each month.
Plan ahead for maximum discounts. If you plan ahead, you can save a ton on summer travel. Use fare finders like Kayak (www.kayak.com) to help streamline your searches, and you’ll be able to compare deals from many airlines, hotels, and rental cars at once. Although they can be somewhat annoying, e-newsletters from your favorite hotels and airlines do sometimes feature sales and other bargains, so if you are planning on traveling using one of those vendors, you may want to sign up for their newsletters and then unsubscribe when you are done booking your travel – otherwise they can just end up as clutter in your inbox. If you’re not a big planner but still want to find great deals on last-minute travel, try Lastminute.com (www.lastminute.com). To maximize your time actually spent at your destination rather than your time getting there, look for direct flights, and try to travel with only a carry-on.
Dining on a dime. Once you’re at your destination, use a site like Restaurant.com (www.restaurant.com) for significant savings on dining out. With this site, you select the coupons you want from a list of restaurants, and buy just those. For instance, you can buy a $25 off certificate for around $10 – but if you use a discount code found on sites like CurrentCodes.com (www.currentcodes.com), you can get a discount off your discount – essentially bringing the price of a $25 off coupon to just a few dollars. Using these coupons, I’ve dined at some amazing restaurants with my friends and family, for a fraction of the cost of the people sitting a table away from me. What’s also great is that most of the restaurants on the site are small, independent venues, so you get to support local merchants while saving money on a fantastic meal!
Double your pleasure… by getting duplicates of the things you regularly need to travel with. For instance, instead of packing and then unpacking a toiletries kit, purchase duplicate items of all the lotions and potions you need, and keep a fully stocked kit in your bathroom. When you’re ready to travel, you won’t have to scramble to re-create the kit for every trip. Same is true for your electronics. If you have to unplug your laptop, cell phone and mp3 chargers every time you travel, it’s a huge timesaver to just get a second set of these gizmos, and keep them in a pouch or bag that can easily be grabbed and slipped into your luggage. I like the travel charger organizers from Kanagraoom Storage (www.kangaroomstorage.com).
Of course, there are many other ways to get organized to save time and stress during the summer. What are some of your ideas for having a simply organized summer?