A European vacation is a dream for many people, but it can easily become a reality if you are familiar with methods to cut your costs while traveling abroad. If you are looking to travel, but can’t afford a planned package and just aren’t sure about the idea of backpacking and youth hostels, find out how to explore Europe on a budget.
Get to Europe Cheaply
The first step in your budget vacation is to get to Europe for as little money as possible. You can start your airline search with main carriers from the United States or Canada, but if there are not amazing specials available, you should also be sure to check European budget airlines. Be creative with your flights. See if it’s cheaper to fly to a lesser known city and then drive to others. Are certain countries more expensive than others? Spend time researching and searching before buying.
When you have a found a low price ticket, buy it and start packing – you are most likely leaving soon as last minute deals are often the least expensive.
What to See in Europe
After arriving in Europe, regardless of actual country, plan your itinerary. This might also be good to do on the plane as flights are long. European travel destinations are plentiful, and short of staying for years, there is no way to see everything on a single trip. So decide ahead of time if you want to simply skim the surface of Europe to see as much as possible, or if you want to concentrate on a few destinations and explore those choices thoroughly.
Getting Around Europe
However you decide to spend your time, make at least a rough itinerary of the most important things to be sure you see those. Then begin working out travel arrangements between destinations. Transportation options between cities and countries include airlines, buses, trains, and rental cars. Each can be expensive depending on your exact destination and requirements, so be sure to research and compare prices before booking any travel within Europe itself. Don’t forget to consider public transportation or even cabs if they are reasonably priced, safe and available.
Spending the Night
There are plenty of tricks to inexpensive housing. Teenagers and college students take advantage of youth hostels, but these may not be a viable option for you. Explore them to see if you meet the criteria and are comfortable with the idea. Many budget hotels exist, and inns can be found off the main roads that might be willing to negotiate a lower rate. If you are renting a car, you have the option of sleeping in it if you can get comfortable and find a safe place. You might also travel long distances by train at night where you can reserve a berth.
Finally, cut corners whenever you can. Skip the restaurants in favor of street vendors and small cafes. Most pubs and bars serve food which may be less expensive than restaurants. Even convenience stores sell hot food in many locations, so take advantage of that option to help save money. Look around for deals and ask friendly locals if they know of any special rates on popular destinations. Be friendly and always try to negotiate – you never know, it just might work!
Home security systems can be expensive. If you are working on a tight budget, but would like to be sure your home is as secure as possible without expensive alarms and cameras, you can. Here’s how to secure your home on a budget.
Secure Your Locks
The least expensive way to secure your property is to be sure the locks that are supposed to be keeping people out are up to par. Check all of your locks to be sure none are broken, and then invest in new locks for the front and back door. If you have a sliding door, be sure you have a bar to prevent the door from sliding open without your permission should the lock be jimmied.
Backdoors are often less secure than front, and most intruders know this. Purchase a chain, deadbolt, or combination of locks for the backdoor as well as the front. This is your first measure of defense, and you want it to be a good one. Check your window locks and see about installing additional locks on these as well.
Set Up Surveillance
Notable cameras are off-putting to intruders as they don’t want their actions recorded. Fake security cameras are inexpensive and may provide an excellent deterrent. If you’d rather have the real thing, but can’t afford a full-blown security system, a simple webcam or nanny cam hooked up through your computer can record short bursts of activity for you to monitor while you’re away or at the end of the day. Just be sure you set up the camera in a location where it can “see” as much as possible.
A motion activated floodlight in the backyard or along the driveway is another good deterrent to intruders. Someone sneaking up in the dark would suddenly become flooded with light making it hard to act nonchalant. Of course, the neighbor’s cat would also become flooded with light, so consider your wattage and sensitivity when installing these.
Decorative lights that illuminate the yard in both the front and the back can also provide a measure of security by eliminating the darkness that makes it easy for intruders to sneak through. These lights are also attractive, so you’d be killing two birds with one stone.
Once you have your locks, lights and cameras in place, you must be vigilant about maintaining them. Don’t get lazy and forget to lock up at night or sleep with a window open if you’re on the first floor. Locks and lights are terrific at helping to keep intruders out, but you must utilize the systems properly for them to work correctly. Be vigilant and be your home’s best protector.
Read a home decorating magazine or watch a cable-TV home improvement show, and you might easily conclude that any upgrade will pay off when you sell. This is simply not so because even in good times, not all projects have widespread appeal. You’ll earn back virtually your entire investment in a kitchen or deck, but less than 75 cents on the dollar if you add a home office or sunroom, according to "Remodeling" magazine’s annual cost vs. value survey.
What’s worse, some renovations can even hurt you in the eyes of home buyers, a costly problem if you hope to sell in a softening market like today’s.
The Swimming Pool:
In some areas, especially hot-weather spots like Arizona and Florida, a pool is a must-have. In the Southwest, adding one boosts your home’s value by 11 percent on average, according to a National Association of Realtors study. But elsewhere it can just as easily turn off buyers, who worry about affording the upkeep and insurance. And if the most likely buyer of your home is a family with small children, think long and hard before installing a pool.
"People with younger children may be leery of houses with pools for safety reasons," says Barry Graziano, a real estate agent with Prudential Rand Realty in White Plains, N. Y. "I’ve had families walk away. A pool can cut down on the number of people who will want to buy your house."
You’ve thought about how that great room and master bedroom wing will let the family spread out. But what you probably haven’t considered is what the space will look like from the outside.
"A badly designed addition can kill your resale value," says Sal Alfano, the editorial director of Remodeling. "People focus on the floor plan and the flow, but not on how it fits into the neighborhood or even the house itself."
Watch out for boxy, poorly detailed additions and be careful of a style that will look dated when you throw your open house. Spotting the trend that’s on its way out is trickier than you think. While it is easy to assume that sleek red European kitchen cabinetry is tomorrow’s harvest gold fridge, other design staples that seem like sure bets can quickly drift into obscurity too.
That’s what Mark Johnson, a Whirlpool design manager, says is happening to stainless-steel appliances. "For a period of time, people aspired to a commercial kitchen" he says. "What I am seeing is more interest in warmer finishes."
You want a design trend with legs. Johnson says custom panels that dress appliances in maple or mahogany finishes are likely to remain popular for several years. Also, think about the materials for hardware like hinges and light fixtures. Polished brass or anything shiny is out. Brushed nickel is a better option. Johnson is betting that oiled-bronze finishes will take off next.
The elaborate master bath is okay, but the big circular tub with 15 jets that can pulse or massage is risky.
According to Holly Slaughter, brand manager at RealEstate.com, you’re better off with an oversize shower that has a rain showerhead and multiple jets (think of it as a car wash for humans).
Baby boomers have little time to spend hanging out in the bathtub, and parents with small kids prefer a conventional tub. Ultimately, don’t expect a future buyer to pay up for the luxury you considered an essential.
The housing market is always fluctuating, but regardless of the overall market, you can always work to find a great deal on mortgage rates and terms. Here’s how to find the best home mortgage.
Determine Your Needs
Before contacting any bank, you need to start with your own needs and a bit of research. Presumably you’re buying a home, but what kind of home? How long are you going to stay in that home? How much money do you have available for a down payment?
Your situation has more to do with the best home mortgage for you than any special offers a bank might be offering.
- If you’re only staying in a home for a few years, a variable rate mortgage will help keep your payments low, provided you’re out or refinanced before interest rates rise.
- A fixed term loan of thirty or fifteen years is the most traditional mortgage, and it works well for most buyers as payments are set for life.
- Variations on the fixed and variable loans are programs that offer two loans – one for 80% of the mortgage and one for 20% to cover what should be a down payment. The more money you have to put down the better your options.
- Interest Only Loans are fine if you’re planning on refinancing or leaving in a year or two, but they aren’t for the average buyer.
Clean Up Your Act
Clean up your credit report and organize your paperwork before contacting any lender. Your credit needs to shine to get the best home mortgage. You’ll almost most likely need your last two tax returns and supporting documents as well as bank statements. To qualify for many loans, you’ll also need to have money in the bank ready to pay for closing costs and a down payment. Once you’re ready with money in your account, your paperwork on hand, and a squeaky clean credit report, you can start your search.
Find the Best Home Mortgage
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the best terms will come from a bidding or well advertised website. It may be that a website does have the best terms, but it is also possible your neighborhood bank has favorable terms as well. Without applying for any loans, simply look around for the mortgages being offered in your area.
Get online and look at as many websites as you can stand, and stroll into your own bank or others in your neighborhood to see if they are offering something more favorable. The best home mortgage will have:
- A low interest rate
- A reasonable amount of points to buy down the interest rate
- Low or possibly fixed closing costs
- A suitable down payment
- A competent professional to guide your through the application process
Act on Your Decision
Finally, when you’ve made your decision, work with a lender to apply for the loan. You can possibly apply online, but for a loan of this size, you would do best to work with someone who might know a few tricks and tips to speed up the acceptance process or help remove obstacles. Congratulations – you’ll be a home owner in no time!
A short sale, or flip, seems simple enough when you watch a television program or read of other people’s success. Flipping a home can be simple if you know what you’re doing and the real estate markets support you. But short sales can be risky at the best of times. Here’s how to do a short sale.
Find a Market
Before you even think about a home, you must first find a housing market with conditions accommodating to a short sale. Area such as California have seem home prices rise dramatically in almost all areas, especially for homes that have been updated. Rising home prices and high levels of demand are ideal for a short sale. Be sure you’ve found a neighborhood where fixing up a home will bring you profits, not be lost in the sale process if the upgrades don’t add the right balance of value to the home for the area.
Find the Right Home
Look within your selected market for a home that is in need of updating but that doesn’t have expensive necessary repairs such as roofing or foundation work. Redoing a kitchen and updating fixtures is one thing, but repairing termite and water damage is another. Find a home that seems to be behind its neighbors. By bringing that home up to date, it should make it more valuable if the entire neighborhood is increasing in value.
Find a Cheap Home Loan
When you’re doing a short sale, you’re not interested in building equity over time. You want to mortgage the house for as little as possible for the six months to a year that you’ll be holding it. California mortgage options include interest only and short-term variable rate loans ideally suited for this purpose.
Complete Home Upgrades
To maximize profits, you must complete repairs as quickly as possible without spending an arm and a leg. Find a good general contractor if you’re too busy or inexperienced to act as your own and keep the workers coming. The longer it takes to sell, the more profit is lost. Upgrade areas that are obviously in need of updating, but focus your attention on areas that make a substantial impact such as kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and the living areas.
Sell Your Home!
Sell the home as quickly as you can. Short sales can take as little as a few weeks or might take up to a year. The moment your house is presentable, put it back on the market. Stage it well and work on curb appeal to sell it quickly. Every month it sits, you’re losing money in mortgage payments, so be flexible in your sale price – price it to sell, not necessarily to maximize profit. Waiting three months to sell $10,000 higher might net you nothing if you paid as much in mortgage payments during that time.
The task of installing a steering wheel does not seem like too difficult to most especially if you are a mechanically inclined type of person. There is however, a lot small pieces and parts need to be kept careful track of so installing a steering wheel is a job that requires a good amount of patience.
Read the Steering Wheel Instructions!
The first thing that you need to do is read the instructions that came with your new steering wheel and gather the required tools. A pliers and screwdriver are two of the tools that will be most likely needed to install a steering wheel.
After carefully removing the old steering wheel making very sure to keep track of all the parts that you have removed you are ready to begin installing your new steering wheel.
First of all you need to begin by placing a small tubular sleeve down across the steering shaft. Next you will want to position the hub being certain that the shaft is properly aligned with the earlier marks that you made. You may need to make some slight adjustments in order to make sure everything fits correctly.
Next you will want to take the plastic sleeve that you removed the wire from along with the spring that you removed and insert them both into the plastic horn housing. If the plastic sleeve does not measure 1/8 of an inch below the top of the hub it needs to be cut so that it does. When the plastic sleeve measures correctly remove it.
Running the Wires
Take the wire lead that can be found in the kit for the new steering wheel and place it through the plastic housing. The bell shaped end of the wire lead will not be able to pass through the plastic sleeve. The end will be placed into the horn contact housing and can be locked into place once it has been inserted.
Wire needs to be routed around the hub, you need to start the wire at the ten o’clock position and route it to the two o’clock position to make sure that the wheel will end up properly aligned. Once you are sure all the wires are in the correct positions you will want to fasten the hub together with the wheel and post cover but be sure to not tighten everything completely.
If you find that your steering wheel is in the proper position you can then replace the shaft nut that you removed along with the shaft nut retainer. Take the shoulder bolts off and reinsert them into the retainer ring checking to see that the fiber side is facing toward you. Use caution when putting the shoulder bolts back in as if they are tightened to tightly the hub can be damaged. If everything is done correctly the shaft nut will hold all the pieces firmly together.
The next step in how to install a steering wheel is to reconnect the wire lead to the connector on the retainer ring. The center nut needs to then be aligned with the position spring. Match the dimples in the horn cap with the relief in the fiber material and push the dimples into the fiber material. Turn the horn cap in either direction until it is snug.
Your final step is to replace the horn fuse or reconnect the battery(whichever you did when you removed the old wheel) then you have successfully installed a new steering wheel.