Top 3 Costs Travelers Leave Out When Making Their Travel Budget

In spite of world events, travel is still an activity that continues to be extremely popular. People will still have the desire to see new places and experience new things in the way that only travel can give them. Because of the importance of travel, an affordable and relatively pain free experience is high on the traveler’s adjenda. A successful trip starts off with proper planning, but many beginner travelers don’t realize that planning your travel budget, is just as important as planning your travel itinerary. The more successful you are with creating a budget that will work for your itinerary, the happier you will be about your travel experience.

Outside of major mishaps that can occur during travel, such as bad weather, theft, and mechanical breakdown, there are some costs that many travelers forget to take into account when budgeting for their trip. These are costs that can’t usually be avoided, but can be easily planned for.

1. Extra Hotel Charges

When most people book hotels online, most times they don’t see the extra taxes and fees included in the prices that are quoted. Sometimes when the quote is given, it will include estimated taxes, but the quote may not list the exact cost. Therefore, you should plan your budget to include unexpected taxes.

Other costs could be movies charged to the hotel room, tipping the concierge, and room service. These charges can vary greatly depending upon how often they are used. Movies charged to a hotel room can be as much as $10 per movie, and room service is usually more expensive than eating out at a restaurant.

The key is to determine before hand, a daily budget for extra hotel charges and stay within that budget. If you choose one day to go over your budget, use it from any leftover balance you may have from the previous days. If you use any of your daily alotment designated for the future days, you run the risk of spending all of your budget for extra hotel charges before your stay is up. Some self control is obviously required, however, it can also lead to having enough to do something really extravagant on your last day.

2. Transportation Costs

Transportation costs include expenses such as cab, bus, or train fares, any rentals of cars, bikes or motorcycles, and also gasoline and parking costs for rented vehicles. Many travelers will take into account the major costs such as car rentals, and even some occasional fares, but may leave out other required costs such as parking, and gas which can add up.

If you plan to travel to a destination where you will need to rent a car, it is a good idea to plan for at least $30 per day for every day you have the car, for parking expenses and gasoline. This amount can vary depending upon the destination, but if you are planning on being in a metropolitan area, you will find out that your $30 daily budget can be eaten away quite easily.

If you are driving to your destination, you should calculate the milage you get per gallon of your vehicle and then calculate the distance you need to drive to your destination and determine how many gallons of gasoline it will take you to get to your destination. Take the national average of the price of a gallon of gasoline, and add an extra 15% on top of that. Then you can determine how much it would cost to get to your destination by car. You should also add the cost of at least two tankfulls of gas once you are at your destination if you plan on using the vehicle after you arrive.

If you plan to use the public transportation system, you can look in any number of the latest guide books to find the expected costs of bus and train fares at your destination. Once you know these, and know your itinerary, you can make a reasonable guess on what your daily budget would be for public transportation. Always add an additional 10-15% for contingencies.

3. Special Attractions and Events

Costs for special attractions and events can really creep into your expenses when you are either traveling to your destination or are at your destination. Occasionally, featured attractions, or other events will pop up on your radar as you go through your itinerary.

When making travel plans, make sure you consider the trip in addition to your hotel stays along the way, food, and gasoline. Most travelers don’t take into account how they will feel as they are traveling. It could be that at some point along the way, everyone in the car is really getting on everyone’s last nerve, and a movie, or a half day at the amusement park will put everyone in a better mood to complete the trip without it resembling a Jerry Springer episode. Or it could be that your favorite band is performing in the city you will be driving though, and you just can’t pass up that opportunity.

It is usually difficult to know of every last thing before you start your trip, but you should still budget for unexpected activities you may want to do on your way to your destination. It will make traveling much more fun and spontaneous.

Planning your travel budget is something that can be a bit of an art, but there are decisions you can make that will make it less likely you will run out of money before your trip ends. Just take into account your everyday costs and will greatly increase your chances in establishing a budget that will give you enough money to complety your trip with minimal drama. You can easily find information and tips online to help you with your travel plans when setting your budget limits. Go online today to find these resources.

Copyright 2006 B Hopkins


Fixed Training Costs Vs Variable Training Costs

The current economic client makes it difficult for training departments to obtain any extra funds, much less normal operating funds. Many times departments must “make do” with the budget they’ve been handed. But once you have a budget, no matter how large or how small, you should have an idea of what costs are fixed and what costs are variable.

Fixed training costs are simply the ones you can count on at any point. You’ll budget for these costs and be able to rely on the fact that they will most likely stay the same. For example, the salaries of the training staff are relatively fixed. When you work on your budget, for whatever time period, you know if you’ll be able to add staff, which we will discuss in a moment. You’ll also know how much to budget for increases based on the average from the last year. But altogether, you’ll be able to count on salary as a fixed item.

The equipment you use routinely for training is also a fixed cost. In fact, much of the equipment training departments use is bought and paid for at one time. These items are every day use items such as copiers, computers, laptops, overhead projectors, LCD’s, screens, automatic whiteboards, and any other equipment that is routinely used in the classroom or in the administrative office. But don’t forget that you’ll need to fix the cost of the upkeep on these items. Light bulbs for overheads and LCD’s are fairly expensive, and must be replaced with an item that is approved by the manufacturer. One way to fix these costs is to know how long these items last and plan for their replacements accordingly. One of the biggest shocks to a training budget is when all of the LCD’s burn out at one time, leading to an expense item that can add up to thousands of dollars.

Overhead is also a fixed expense. As a training manager, you know how much it costs to maintain your location or locations. These costs include the rent or mortgage payment, the expenses that accompany the locations, such as office supplies and paper, and also any income that comes in from other departments or companies renting space in an owned building. You can also include utility costs as fixed overhead, but be careful when the weather becomes extremely hot or extremely cold – one way to do this is to ensure that engineering installs timed thermostats. Many organizations waste overhead money heating and cooling spaces that are empty overnight or over a weekend, so the training department can continue to prove its worth by turning off the utilities when they are not in use.

Finally, fixed or planned programs are also fixed costs. For example, if you know how many people will be in leadership development over the budget period, you can plan for the materials and outsourcing costs right away. The best thing to do with planned programs is stick to them unless changes become absolutely necessary.

On the other side of the budget, variable costs are the ones you’ll need to plan for more carefully. Do you pay usage fees for bandwidth or online courses based on the number of users? If so, this is a variable cost. You can look at average usage from the previous year, or you can simply purchase an advanced number of users for online courses in order to manage this cost. But don’t end up in the position of turning people away.

Your materials costs can also be variable. Think about which programs are not “fixed”, such as new hire training. You know what the organization’s turnover is, but can you anticipate large jumps in turnover? You also know the organization’s vision and business plan, so use that to plan your materials cost. One of the best ways to deal with this cost is to purchase materials as needed and plan as you go. There’s nothing worse than ending up with boxes of an outdated manual.

Finally, large variable costs can include mergers, acquisitions, expansions, and reductions. You should have an idea of where the organization is headed as far as mergers or acquisitions – and plan the budget accordingly. But there could be unexpected changes such as reductions or expansions that cause you to have to fork over money for space reconfiguration or additions to staff.

The management of variable items depends in a large part on the kind of budgeting system your organization uses. If budgets are fixed, there is not much leeway. But if budgets are “rolling” budgets or “pro-forma” style budgets, you can manage money a little easier as the variable costs swing from one side to the other. For fixed budgets, the best way to handle variable expenses is to look for ways to pay for them out of fixed costs. When variables come your way, find out how the organizational budget is handled and ask for help from the financial managers.

Now that you know which training costs are fixed and which are variable, you’ll be better prepared to manage the money as issues arise.


Crippling Real Estate Insurance Costs in Florida

So many Floridians are complaining about the increased costs of insurance premiums on Real Estate and to add insult to injury the taxes have also increased as well. It is especially tough on new residents and one man we interviewed stated; "If you ever wanted to move to Florida, think again, warn your friends!"

Wow, that is a heavy statement, although you can imagine the frustration for someone with a fixed income who has moved to Florida and then makes it through a couple of Hurricanes and just cannot afford the real estate insurance any longer. Certainly the homeowners insurance costs are up that makes sense after 2005 Atlantic Tropical Hurricane Season.

Florida's Real Estate has been blasting up for a long time and that has cost of living affects too, although many people made a lot of money on paper. Florida also has a favorable business climate, good market and apparently good laws for those who file for bankruptcy. It beats NYC for many folks and there are good reasons to be positive on Florida too, for instance this excellent weather in the Winter Months?

Apparently, others are echoing this gentleman's sentiments and telling stories of their own dilemma. Is anyone listening? Well, the Online Think Tank has been watching these issues and would be interested actually learning more. In fact as the coordinator and after having done much business in Florida, I too am concerned.

It has been an excellent market, although I must say labor is very tough and a continuous hardship. One can completely understand fixed income folks are in dire straights when costs such as you mentioned rise too fast and that is upsetting indeed. I certainly hope this article is of interest and that is has propelled thought. The goal is simple; to help you in your quest to be the best in 2007. I thank you for reading my many articles on diverse subjects, which interest you.


Car Insurance Costs Are Cut, But It’s Not Good News for Everyone

The seemingly never-ending rise in car insurance prices could be coming to a screeching stop thanks to proposed government changes.

New proposals will see a huge U-turn on the rate at which payouts for victims of serious accidents is calculated which is known as the Ogden rate.

The Ogden rate is set to be changed as soon as next year in a bid to provide a “fairer” system.

How does the Ogden rate work?

Set by the government, the Ogden rate is the amount awarded to victims with life-changing injuries after an accident.

The rate had been set at 2.5% which meant that for every £1,000 awarded to a victim in a claim, the insurer would pay out £975 – with the other 2.5% or the Ogden rate expected to be earned by the claimant through investment interest. This would then give them the full pay out they were due.

In March 2017, the rate was cut to -0.75% or in a monetary sense, insurers would now have to pay victims £1,007.50 per £1,000 payment.

It was this increase in pay outs that helped cause car insurance prices to hit record highs* in the last 12 months.

What’s the latest Ogden rate change?

While a specific date hasn’t been announced, the Ministry of Justice have confirmed that they are revising the rules and it’s expected that the Ogden rate will be put at 1% from next year.

The changes have been welcomed by insurers as it will reduce the amount they are forced to pay.

Huw Evans of the Association of British Insurers commented on the proposed changes:

“This is a welcome reform proposal to deliver a personal injury discount rate that is fairer for claimants, customers and taxpayers alike.”

“If implemented it will help relieve some of the cost pressures on motor and liability insurance in a way that can only benefit customers.”

What do these changes mean for drivers?

The last time rates changed it meant an increase in car insurance premiums as insurers passed on the extra costs to drivers.

Now with pay-outs to victims expect to drop, it only makes sense that the savings will be passed on to drivers by reducing the overall cost of their cover.

Changes are not expected to come into effect until next year so it may be some time before these savings can actually be seen on the price of annual insurance.

How will it affect accident victims?

While it’s potentially good news drivers, victims of serious accidents who are left with life changing injuries could be short changed.

Instead of receiving the full amount of the awarded pay-out, victims will now once again be expected to invest their money for profit.

While the assumption is that these people will be able to make up the difference comfortably, many have commentated on the unfairness of the new rate.

Speaking to The Mirror, President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, Brett Dixon said:

“Someone with a life-long, life-changing injury such as brain damage or a spinal injury cannot afford to take any risks with how his compensation is invested,”

“The last thing people with devastating injuries think about when they are lying in a hospital is their insurance premiums. They think about how they are going to manage. Insurers say an increased discount rate will benefit customers through their premiums. It is of no benefit if they are severely injured and forced to take risks with the compensation they so desperately need.”

4 ways to reduce the cost of your car insurance

While you wait for rate changes to bring the cost of you cover down, there are a number of ways you can save yourself money right now.

Reduce your risk

While there are some details you can’t change, there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk you pose. Something as simple as changing your job title from an office manager to an office administrator could save you money.

You also need to consider the vehicle you’re driving. When choosing a car, you should try and get one that’s safer, slower and less eye-catching.

Increase your excess

Increasing the amount you’re willing to pay if you have an accident will reduce the price of your premium. This is a great way to reduce the overall cost but remember you should never agree to an excess that you can’t afford to pay.

Make sure your car is secure

Whether it’s adding an immobiliser to your car or locking it away in a garage overnight, increasing your vehicles security will make it less attractive to thieves and cut the cost of your cover.

Make sure you let your insurer know about your improved security as some providers will offer discounts even before you renew.

Only pay for the cover you need

If you’re only borrowing a car or just need to drive for a few days, an annual insurance policy could be a huge waste of money.

A temporary policy offers the same level of cover and financial protection as yearly insurance at a fraction of the price.

You get the cover you want without having to pay for insurance you don’t need. You can get a range of quotes in minutes and compare prices to save time and money.


How to Reduce the Costs of Car Insurance For Your Honda?

Car insurance costs can vary a great deal, but it is often possible to reduce the costs of your car insurance. Insurers will often offer reduced insurance premiums to drivers, who they consider to be less likely to have an accident. If you fit within one of these low risk categories then you will be able to benefit from lower insurance costs.

Low risk groups include drivers who have good driving histories and who have not previously made a claim on their insurance, experienced drivers and female drivers. There is little you can do about being a young, male driver, apart from waiting until you get older, but you can ensure that you are paying as little as possible for your Honda insurance by driving carefully and avoiding the need to make a claim. This will allow you to benefit from a no claims bonus in the future.

Your insurance will also be cheaper if you live in a safe area. Insurance costs are also lower for car models that are less powerful. Honda cars are usually considered safe and have affordable insurance costs.

Another way in which you can reduce the cost of auto insurance for your Honda is by making changes to the insurance coverage that you take out. If you reduce the types of coverage that you choose to take out then you will significantly reduce your insurance costs. As well as reducing the types of coverage that you take out, you can reduce the size of insurance coverage. You will then receive less money if you have to make a claim, but you will be charged less for your insurance. You may be able to reduce the amount of liability coverage in your policy, for example, although you will have to pay for the minimum amount required in your state. You may also be able to reduce your coverage for comprehensible insurance and collision insurance, for example by increasing your deductibles. This will lower the costs of your insurance, but you will be required to pay some of the costs of any repairs that are required on your own vehicle. If you are driving a new Honda then you should ensure that your insurance will cover its replacement should it be irreparably damaged in an accident.

It is often possible to find an insurance company that can offer you a better deal, particularly as many insurers are willing to offer discounts to new customers. If you need to buy new car insurance then you should shop around to find the best deal for you. This will enable you to find the cheapest car insurance for your Honda.


5 Hidden Costs of Motorcycle Ownership

A lot of the time when people buy things like cars and motorcycles, they only look at the actual sticker price of the vehicle. While this is obviously a major part of determining your ability to afford something or not; it is not the whole story. Cost of ownership is a large part of owning any motor vehicle that is often forgotten about until it is too late. To help you understand what it could really cost to own a motorcycle, here are the 5 hidden costs of motorcycle ownership.

Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle insurance is the largest hidden cost to owning a motorcycle. As safe and good a motorcycle rider as you may think you are, accidents are bound to happen and are often times not even your fault. When talking about how common motorcycle accidents are, many people say that its not “if” you are going to crash, it’s “when.” Insurance companies understand this so personal liability insurance for an motorcycle rider is often extremely high. Motorcycle insurance is also expensive for the bike itself do to that same probability accident probability.

Motorcycle registration

Other then purchasing the motorcycle and paying for the insurance, many people forget that you have to pay for registration. Just like with the insurance, this a recurring cost that will have to be made annually. While the price of the registration wont break the bank in and of itself, when stacked onto all the other hidden costs, it can really be a burden.

Motorcycle Maintenance

The next thing on the list after motorcycle insurance and registration is maintenance. Following the dealer recommended regular maintenance is important if you want to keep your motorcycle in top running shape for a long time. While this may be expensive, it will be cheaper than having to buy an entirely new motorcycle if yours breaks due to not following proper maintenance.

Motorcycle Modification

While not an essential part of motorcycle ownership, the modification of ones bike often comes shortly after purchase. Everyone likes to customize their motorcycle in order to make it their own and we cant blame you. Those aftermarket parts aren’t cheap though. Some people even spend more money on parts then they did on the whole motorcycle to start with!

Motorcycle Financing Interest Payments

Most people who buy a motorcycle cant afford to pay for the entire thing up front. This means that they have to finance the motorcycle with either a bank or the dealership they bought it from. The ability to do this comes with our last hidden cost known as interest. Sometimes people ending up owing more to the bank then the motorcycle is actually worth! This is never a position you want to be in.

Above you will find 5 hidden costs of motorcycle ownership. Unfortunately, these are not the only hidden costs you will encounter when owning a motorcycle however. When purchasing a bike, be sure to do all your research and make sure if owning a motorcycle is really something you can afford in the long run!

Wealth Building

Prepaid Tuition Costs Can Save Thousands of Dollars in Gift and Estate Taxes

With education costs soaring to all time highs, making tuition payments for grandchildren and others can save lots of money in gift and estate taxes down the road – even if the donor is not alive when the tuition money is actually used.

By way of some background, the tax laws exempt tuition payments by grandparents or others from any gift taxes, provided certain requirements are met. First, the only educational costs that are gift-tax free are tuition costs. The cost of room and board, books, and other educational expenses are not exempt.

Second, the tuition costs must be paid directly to an educational organization that “normally maintains a regular faculty and curriculum and normally has a regularly enrolled body of pupils or students in attendance at the place where its educational activities are regularly carried on.” Notice that there is no requirement that the tuition costs be paid to a college or university. In fact, tuition payments for nursery school, private elementary school, and private high school may also qualify. It’s possible, too, that tuition payments for part-time courses, such as dance, theater, music, cullinary arts, and the like will also qualify for the gift tax exemption.

So, how is this such a good deal? In the first place, these tuition payments are not treated as taxable gifts, so you don’t have to worry about having them come under the annual gift tax exclusion. In fact, you can make tuition payments for your grandchildren or others and still give each of them the annual exclusion amount ($12,000 for 2006) as a birthday gift or whatever.

Second, if your estate is large enough to be concerned about federal estate taxes (currently in excess of $2 million, $4 million for a couple), then the amount of the tuition payments will be excluded from your estate upon your death. In other words, your tuition payments will not be subject to a gift tax when the payments are made, nor will they be subject to an estate tax upon your death. In addition, they will not be subject to any generation-skipping taxes (GST) upon your death

That’s pretty good deal by itself, but here’s an added bonus. On July 9, 1999, the Internal Revenue Service issued Technical Advice Memorandum 199941013 stating that prepayment of tuition costs was also exempt from gift taxes under IRC Section 2503(3)(2). In that particular case, a set of grandparents had made payments to a private school to cover tuitiion costs for their two grandchildren from pre-school through grade 12. There was an agreement between the school and the grandparents indicating that the tuition payments would not be refundable even if the grandchildren failed to attend the school each of those years. The total payments made by the grandparents amounted to over $181,000 over a two-year period.

Recently, the Internal Revenue Service issued a private letter ruling that supports the Technical Advice Memorandum cited above. In that case, the IRS told a taxpayer that prepayments of many years of tuition costs for his grandchildren would not be considered a gift.

While Technical Advice Memorandums and private letter rulings only apply to the taxpayer’s who request them, they are a good indication of the IRS’ position on specific tax matters. Here, it appears fairly clear that prepayment of multiple years of tuition costs will not be treated as a taxable gift by the IRS.

Now, let’s sort of put all this into perspective. In the TAM discussed above, the grandparents pre-paid roughly $181,000 of tuition costs over a two-year period. The payments were not treated as taxable gifts and, since the money was removed from their estate, it was not subject to estate taxes upon their death. If the grandparents kept the money until they died and then gave it to their grandchildren under their will, it would have gone through probate first, then would have been subject to a federal estate tax and then, possibly, a generation-skipping tax – all before it could be used by the grandchildren.

If the grandparents had a fairly large estate, say larger than $4 million, then the estate taxes paid on that $181,000 would be roughly $83,260 (based upon a marginal tax rate of 46%). In that case, prepaying the tuition costs resulted in an estate tax savings of roughly $83,260. Plus, the grandparents didn’t have to use up their annual gift-tax exclusion to get the estate tax savings.

Still, there are some drawbacks that you should be aware of. First, you have to have a large enough estate to be concerned about estate taxes. Second, you probably should be concerned about dying before your grandchildren complete their education. Otherwise, you could just pay the tuition costs as they become due.

Finally, when you prepay your grandchildren’s tuition costs, you won’t be able to get the money back if your grandchildren drop out of school or decide to attend a different school. Some schools may allow the money to transfer to another school, but that would have to be agreed upon beforehand. Even so, there is no guarantee the IRS will go along with those types of arrangements.

One final point, tuition payments excluded from gift taxes under IRC Section 2503(e)(2) are not the same as payments under a 529 plan. First, gifts to 529 plans come under the annual gift-tax exclusion. Prepaid tuition gifts are in addition to the annual exclusion gifts.

Second, gifts to a 529 plan are excluded from the donor’s estate only if the donor survives during each year for which the pre-payment was made. Prepaid tuition gifts are excluded from the donor’s estate as soon as the prepayment is made.

Third, 529 plans apply only to higher education (college and beyond) whereas prepaid tuition gifts apply to all levels of education, including nursery schools, elementary and high school.

Fourth, 529 plans apply to all education costs, including room and board, books and supplies, as well as tuition. Prepaid tuition gifts apply only to tuition costs.

That is not to say, however, that prepaid tuition gifts cannot be used in tandum with 529 plans.

For wealthy grandparents who are inclined to help with their grandchildren’s education costs, a prepaid tuition gift under IRC Section 2503(3)(2) certainly should be considered.


What Are The Average Motorcycle Insurance Rates and Costs?

Average motorcycle insurance rates depend on how much of an accident risk your insurance company deems you and your bike to be. While motorcycle fatalities have declined over the last couple of years, insurance companies tend to see bikes as more risky than cars; thus, your rates for motorcycle insurance will probably be higher than for comparable auto insurance. There are several factors that control how much you pay for motorcycle insurance.

Type of Bike – High-powered sports bikes are more expensive to insure than other motorbikes. These bikes are harder to control; therefore, there’s a greater risk that you will get into an accident while driving a high-powered sports bike. The average motorcycle insurance rate on a sports bike may be close to double that of a lower-powered bike for this reason.

If you want to drive this kind of bike, it’s imperative that you take a driver’s safety course. Not only will this type of class help you become a safer motorcycle driver, but most insurance companies offer bikers a hefty discount if they complete a safety course.

Experience Level – Insurance companies also take your age, experience level and driving history into account when determining the insurance rate for motorcycle coverage. If you’ve never driven a bike before, you’re more likely to get into an accident because of your inexperience. This is especially true of younger drivers, who statistically get into more fatal accidents than older people regardless of whether they are driving a motorcycle or a car.

In addition to your experience level, your insurance company considers your driving history. It may seem unfair to have to pay higher than average motorcycle insurance rates because you have multiple speeding tickets while driving a car, but insurance companies see your driving history as a reasonable measure of how safe a driver you are. If you are constantly speeding or breaking other traffic laws, insurance companies assume you take a lot of risks while driving or are an impatient driver. Thus, you are more likely to get into an accident, regardless of whether you are driving a motorcycle or a car, and your insurance company will charge you a higher rate than it would charge someone who has a cleaner driving record.

Location – Average motorcycle insurance rates differ from state to state because of a wide range of factors. Some states feature poor weather for part of the year. These states may charge you a cheaper rate than states that are sunny year-round because you probably won’t be able to use your bike in heavy rain or snow. Thus, you only have to pay for insurance for the months that you will be using the bike.

Regardless of the weather in your state, urban locations usually require you to pay higher insurance rates than rural locations. The standard of living in cities is higher than out in the country, so everything will be more expensive. In addition, there’s more traffic and congestion in urban locales. This means that there is a greater chance of getting into an accident. Bikes are considered riskier than automobiles when there is congestion because bikers may be tempted to ride between lanes; automobiles are too large to be able to do this.

Type of Insurance – By law, you usually have to carry liability insurance on your motorcycle. Liability insurance is the cheapest type of insurance; it covers damage to other people’s property and bodily injury to other drivers in the event of an accident. However, it doesn’t cover repairs to your motorcycle. You have to purchase comprehensive or collision insurance for this purpose, which is more expensive.

Saving Money on Motorcycle Insurance – Since the average motorcycle insurance rates are much more expensive than comparable auto insurance, it’s important to do whatever you can to keep costs down. Most insurance companies offer discounts to motorcyclists who install anti-theft devices on their motorcycle; the reduced risk of theft drives down the price of motorcycle insurance. You can also get discounts for taking driver safety courses or for insuring your motorcycle and your automobile via the same insurer.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to calculate exactly what the average motorcycle insurance rates might be for your bike because so many factors affect motorcycle insurance. However, if you plan to buy a bike you should be aware that insurance usually is not cheap. The best way to save on motorcycle insurance is to be a conscientious, careful driver and avoid accidents or tickets so that you can avoid rate increases and possibly get a discount for having a good driving record.

Student Loans

Student Loans Help College Tuition Costs Rise

College tuition prices are rising every year – faster than almost any other expense including health-care and food. The bad news for students is that post-graduation salaries have been practically flat! In a free market economy, this might lead to students seeking cheaper educational alternatives and driving down the price of learning, but government support of the student loan industry will preserve the ability for students to acquire the debt for the more expensive choices. Thanks to these specific government policies, there is very little chance that tuition costs will be coming back down.

While most debt and credit markets seize up, the student loan industry is mostly guaranteed and insured by the federal government. Even though some companies have been leaving the student loan sector, the government is expanding its own direct loan program to ensure that the system of loans for college stays intact. If students were unable to find loans, schools would be forced to immediately cut costs and offer lower tuition rates to keep enrollment up.

Yet for some reason, lower costs seem strange to the American economist or consumer – we often demand the best, we demand the most, and somehow we still act surprised when we can't afford to pay the bill for that dream product we just custom -ordered. That lack of money is never seen as a problem – as long as it is easy for the consumer to acquire loans. Everything that made the housing bubble a nightmare is still playing out in higher educational financial statements …

As long as those easy loans are available, colleges have little incentive to cut costs in outside-the-classroom activities like social programming, semi-competitive sports teams, and lavish furnishings. If there were no government safety nets, students could still find loans if the lender felt that the student would actually be able to pay it back after graduation. This means more students and student lenders would choose local and cost-effective schools. Competition for funding would even ensure that the smartest and hardest working students get enrolled first.

Ideally, everyone who wants to go to college should be able to – and to some extent the student loan programs have helped to provide that opportunity. Unfortunately, it is showing signs of an unintended consequence that would quickly undo that benefit and make college ultimately unaffordable for a large part of the population.


Overseas Travel Insurance Plans – Costs Less and Offers More

Everyone craves for vacations to enjoy some quality time with their loved ones and Indians are no exception. The outbound travel sector of India saw a robust growth this year because international travel destinations are highly sought-after among Indians in 2015. Obstacles like inflation, skyrocketing ticket price and depreciation of rupee couldn't deter the wandering spirit of Indian travelers to travel around the world. Over 60% of Indians remain unmoved by the depreciating rupee and are raring to go to travel. However, the rate of availing travel insurance to safeguard the trip is still dismal among Indian travelers.

Young generations prefer to travel to international destinations once a year at least. According to a survey, 90% of these travelers make use of their own savings for overseas trips and don't consider travel cover. Quite surprisingly, this is the mindset of young internet savvy generation as ICICI Lombard conducted the survey in the age group of 25-35 among 1049 people across six metro cities in India who had international trips in the previous year.

The survey further reveals that Singapore is the most preferred travel destination among young Indian travelers; the second and third places are held by US and UK.

Let's take a look at the travel plans available and their prices for those who favor these destinations. Let's start with Singapore.

Travel insurance plans available for Singapore trips

The following list of top 5 policy quotes in terms of lowest premium are for one 30 years old person looking for a single trip to Singapore. The trip duration is 10 days and the chosen sum insured is US $ 500000.

  1. Universal Sompo – Premium of Rs. 942
  2. HDFC Ergo – Premium of Rs. 1015
  3. Reliance – Premium of Rs. 1129
  4. TATA AIG – Premium of Rs. 1234
  5. Religare – Premium of Rs.1666

The lowest premium is Rs. 942 for a travel insurance plan for a 10 days trip to any Asian country such as Singapore, Thailand. This means one has to pay less than Rs. 100 per day to make his trip safe and secured . Indian travelers must know that travel plans are not only inexpensive but they also provide coverage for loss of baggage, passport, hijack and even emergency treatment.

Travel Insurance plans available for UK trips

The following list of top 5 policy quotes in terms of lowest premium are for 1 person looking for a single trip to UK. The trip duration is 10 days and the chosen sum insured is US $ 500000.

  1. Universal Sompo – Premium of Rs. 942
  2. Bajaj Allianz – Premium of Rs.991
  3. HDFC Ergo – Premium of Rs. 1015
  4. Reliance – Premium of Rs. 1129
  5. Bajaj Allianz (Travel Elite Platinum) – Premium of Rs. 1139

Universal Sompo provides the lowest premium. The premium of travel insurance plan is also Rs. 942 for a 10 days trip To UK.

Travel insurance policies for US trips

The following list of top 7 policy quotes in terms of lowest premium are for 1 person looking for a single trip to US. The trip duration is 10 days and the chosen sum insured is US $ 500000.

  1. Universal Sompo – Premium of Rs. 1344
  2. HDFC Ergo – Premium of Rs. 1438
  3. Bajaj Allianz – Premium of Rs.1441
  4. IFFCO-TOKIO – Premium of Rs.1456
  5. Bajaj Allianz (Travel Elite Platinum) – Premium of Rs. 1658
  6. TATA AIG – Premium of Rs. 1694
  7. Reliance – Premium of Rs. 1783

The lowest premium is Rs. 1344 for a travel insurance plan for a 10 days trip to US. Just imagine, you are getting all types of risks covered just by paying less than Rs. 140 for each day of your trip .

Best travel insurance plans in India in terms of baggage and medical coverage

The survey also made clear that 79% people buy travel plan to cover medical emergencies. Safety of baggage is the second most vital reason as 60% people behind purchasing travel insurance policy. So let's find out best travel insurance plans in terms of medical emergency and luggage safety.

From the above list of travel policies for US, two plans by Reliance and Bajaj Allianz look best in terms of baggage cover.

Reliance Travel care platinum provides US $ 1500 for the loss of checked baggage for a premium of Rs.1783.

The Travel Elite Premium plan by Bajaj Allianz provides US $ 1000 for a premium of Rs. 1658 for the loss of checked baggage .

To get the best coverage for medical emergencies, the Titanium plan by HDFC ERGO is the best. It primarily covers:

  1. Emergency Medical Expenses
  2. Permanent Disablement / accidental death
  3. Hospital Cash
  4. Loss of Personal Documents
  5. Accidental Death
  6. Loss of Baggage
  7. Financial Emergency Assistance
  8. Personal Liability

What is the cost of international travel policy for a couple?

According to the survey, 52% of travelers prefer to have trips with spouses. So, if these people can avail a travel plan for visiting US or UK or Singapore, how much do they have to pay?

Let's start with US trip for 10 days for a sum insured of US $ 100000 covering 2 people who are 30 and 28 years old.

Religare offers the best plan which comes at a premium of Rs. 2407.

If you compare travel plans available for couples who wish to visit UK, keeping the same criteria for trip duration, sum insured and age of the traveler, Religare provides the best plan. The premium of the plan is Rs. 1537.

For a trip in countries like Singapore, Thailand within Asia which has been the top travel destination of 2015, a couple has to spend even less for a travel insurance policy. If you compare travel insurance plans that cover Asia, you will get the lowest premium of Rs. 1218 from Explore Asia plan provided by Religare.

The positive part of the survey is the increased awareness among Indian travelers. More than 90% of young generation is aware of the travel insurance which is a significant rise from last year 80%. One of the major provider of travel insurance plans in India; ICICI Lombard underwritten a total travel insurance premium of Rs 100 previous year, one can expect the premium to increase by 5-10% in this year. The problem is not with the awareness; it is the lack of understanding about the benefits associated with these travel covers.

27% of the total respondents in the survey choose not to avail a travel insurance plan simply because they were under the wrong conception that such plans cover only accidents, loss of baggage and theft but don't provide medical coverage. This is far from being the truth as the complete break-up of Titanium plan by HDFC ERGO shows extensive coverage for medical emergencies.

25% surveyed people didn't buy any travel plan because they thought such plans are costly but it is not so. The price of all plans for person mentioned here are about less than Rs. 100 to less than Rs. 140 for each day of a 10 days trip. Travel insurance policies for couples are even cheaper as they cost in the range of less than Rs. 65 per day per person to less than Rs. 125 per day per person for destinations like US, UK and all countries in Asia including popular destinations like Singapore, Thailand.

Indians love to spend their holidays in international destinations. An international travel insurance plan doesn't cost much and offers a lot in return. If you are also a travel freak, you should insure the total duration of the trip so that you can enjoy your holiday with complete peace of mind.