Financial industry, Markets and Banking - Business site

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. USE APPS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE 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. 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. HOLD MONEY-SAVING COMPETITIONS Adviser 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."

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. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD 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.

Man says dog ate his money and us treasury paid up


A Montana man who pieced together the remnants of five $100 bills eaten by his one-eyed dog last year is sporting a $500 check he says he received this week from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to replace the digested funds. Wayne Klinkel said his dog Sundance, a golden retriever, sniffed the wad of bills out of a car cubby space while waiting for Klinkel and his wife to return from lunch, and the canine made the currency his lunch. Klinkel, a graphic designer from Helena, Montana, who works for the local newspaper, the Independent Record, said he found Sundance had left nothing uneaten but one intact dollar bill and a small piece of a single $100 note."He's been notorious for eating paper products," Klinkel said about Sundance. "I knew right away what had happened."Klinkel rescued Sundance as a puppy from a shelter 12 years ago and the dog later lost his left eye to surgery. For days after the December incident, Klinkel followed Sundance around in the snow, collecting his droppings in a plastic bag, he said.

Klinkel kept the bag of doggy mess frozen in the cold outside his house, and after weeks of hesitation, he went forward with his plan for retrieving the soiled cash by thawing the droppings in a bucket of soapy water. Using an old metal mining screen and a hose, he separated the $100 bill pieces from the rest of the matter, then washed and began to assemble the tiny paper fragments."It was sort of like putting the puzzle pieces back together," Klinkel said.

He then took the taped bills to a local bank and the Federal Reserve in Helena but was turned away, he said. Klinkel was eventually directed to the U.S. Department of Treasury's Mutilated Currency Division, where he mailed the digested bills with a notarized letter on April 15."There was no guarantee I was going to get anything back," Klinkel said. The Treasury Department offers reimbursement for some proven cases of damaged currency, and a standard claim can take up to two years to be processed, according to the department's website.

"When mutilated currency is submitted, a letter should be included stating the estimated value of the currency and an explanation of how the currency became mutilated," the website says. Klinkel said he didn't hear a word from the department until Monday, when he received a crisp $500 check in the mail from the Mutilated Currency Division to replace Sundance's midday snack six months prior. The Independent Record, the paper that employs Klinkel, has posted a picture on its website of Sundance with the check dangling from its mouth. An operator with the U.S. Department of Treasury on Thursday said department representatives were furloughed and unavailable for comment on Klinkel's reimbursement.; var median = (relatedItemsTotal / 2); var $relatedContentGroupOne = $('.related-content.group-one ul'); var $relatedContentGroupTwo = $('.related-content.group-two ul'); $.each($relatedItems, function(k,v) { if (k + 1 = median) { $relatedContentGroupOne.append($relatedItems[k]); } else { $relatedContentGroupTwo.append($relatedItems[k]); } }); } else { $('.third-article-divide').append($('div class="related-content group-one"h3 class="related-content-title"Also In Oddly Enough/h3ul/ul/div')); $('.related-content ul').append($relatedItems); } },500); } Next In Oddly Enough Surgical forceps removed from Vietnamese man after 18 years HANOI Doctors in Vietnam have removed surgical forceps from a man who unknowingly carried them inside his body for 18 years, national television VTV reported. Canadian man punches cougar attacking dog near fast food store CALGARY, Alberta A Canadian man punched a cougar in the face to stop it attacking his dog in a wooded area near a fast food store in Whitecourt, central Alberta, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said on Wednesday. Russians brave icy lake for Christmas swim A group of hardy Siberian residents stripped down to their bathing suits and Santa hats for a run and swim in Russia's icy Lake Baikal to promote healthy living. MORE FROM REUTERS window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'organic-thumbnails-a', container: 'taboola-recirc', placement: 'Below Article Thumbnails - Organic', target_type: 'mix' }); Sponsored Content @media(max-this site) { #mod-bizdev-dianomi{ height: 320px; } } From Around the Web Promoted by Taboola window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push( { mode: 'thumbnails-3X2', container: 'taboola-below-article-thumbnails', placement: 'Below Article Thumbnails', target_type: 'mix' } ); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push