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Who’s Going to Pay for That? Maybe You (and Your Insurance)

Everybody knows accidents happen, but in the eyes of the law (and insurance companies), there’s almost always someone to blame.

If you or your family are responsible for accidental damages to someone else — either property damage or injuries — that person may be able to make a liability claim against you and your insurance. Liability insurance claims can fall under your auto, homeowners or renters, and umbrella insurance, depending on the accident.

Liability insurance is only for damages to someone else — meaning you’re “liable.” It doesn’t pay for your own family’s injuries or damage to your own belongings, and it doesn’t cover intentional injury or damage.

The blame in liability cases is not always clear-cut, and who’s at fault may be disputed. If an insurer denies a liability claim, or an injured person thinks the payout is insufficient, they can hire an attorney and take the case to court.

Here are some common scenarios and who’s likely to blame.

1. Classic fender bender

The situation: Jim is driving home in heavy traffic when he’s suddenly cut off by another driver. A second later, the driver slams on the brakes and Jim just doesn’t have time to stop, so he rear-ends the car and damages the back.

Who’s liable: Even if the other driver was being a jerk, Jim is likely liable for the accident because he failed to maintain a safe driving distance. The other driver can make a claim against Jim’s car insurance to pay for damage to her car.

In some states blame can be split if both drivers share fault. For example, if the other driver’s brake lights were out and Jim couldn’t tell she was stopping, she could be found partially responsible in some states.

See this State list: Contributory negligence and comparative fault laws from Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer in Hartford, Wisconsin.

Another route: The other driver can make a claim for her car damage on her own collision insurance, if she has it.

» MORE: What does car insurance cover?

2. Food poisoning at a barbecue

The situation: The Jacksons decide to throw a backyard barbecue, but Uncle Joe calls a few days later to report he spent the next day in the hospital with food poisoning. Joe blames the potato salad, saying it sat in the sun too long. Nobody else has complained of illness to the Jacksons, who think it was just an unfortunate coincidence.

Who’s liable: It’s hard to say whether the Jacksons caused the illness through negligence, but Uncle Joe can still file a claim with their home insurance company.

“If someone’s coming at you, injured and looking for money, the first thing you should do is look at your insurance coverage,” says Bob Passmore, assistant vice president at the Property Casualty Insurance Association of America.

Home insurance and renters policies typically include medical payments coverage that will pay for medical bills up to a certain dollar amount. Some policies offer only $1,000 in medical payments, but you can usually buy more. Typically, no one has to determine fault or negligence for this coverage to pay out, Passmore says. If medical bills are higher, a claim could be made against your homeowners liability insurance, for which negligence has to be shown.

Another route: Uncle Joe can use his own health insurance for his medical bills.

» MORE: Understanding homeowners insurance

3. A party guest drives home intoxicated

The situation: The Novaks host a family holiday get-together. Aunt Charlene has too many glasses of wine before she gets behind the wheel, and she causes a crash on the way home. She goes through someone’s fence and hits their patio furniture.

Aunt Charlene has property damage liability insurance in her auto policy, as required by her state, but her limits are so low that her policy won’t cover all the damage. The fence owner says that because the Novaks served the alcohol, they’re liable for the costs to fix all the damages. The Novaks think that’s on Charlene, who should have known she was too drunk to drive.

Who’s liable: This one depends on where the Novaks live. They are probably not liable for the costs beyond what Charlene’s car insurance will cover, says attorney Joseph Matthews, author of Nolo’s “How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim.”

Some states have “social host” laws that can hold someone accountable if they provide alcohol to a guest in their home who then gets into a car accident, Matthews says. However, many of these laws focus on alcohol served to minors, he says.

Aunt Charlene isn’t a minor, so the Jacksons are only liable for the damage if they live in a state with social host laws that apply to adult guests. In that case, the fence owner would likely have to prove Charlene was clearly drunk at the party and one of the Novaks knew she would be driving, Matthews says.

Another route: The fence owner can make a claim on their own homeowners insurance.

4. Children injuring children

The situation: Some elementary-school-age children are playing at their neighborhood park when little Suzie Smith pushes Johnny Jones at the top of the playground set. Johnny falls off, injuring his head on the way down, and must go to the ER. Johnny’s mother calls an ambulance, then threatens Suzie’s parents with a lawsuit.

Who’s liable: Since Suzie is a child, her parents are liable for Johnny’s injury. Medical payments coverage, part of their homeowners insurance, can pay out up to a small amount no matter who’s at fault — typically $1,000 with the option to buy more.

But if Johnny’s seriously injured, the Smiths’ medical payments coverage through their homeowners insurance may not be enough. Rather than sue, the Joneses can file a claim against the Smiths’ homeowners liability insurance. On top of reimbursement for medical bills, they may also receive compensation for Johnny’s pain and suffering.

Another route: The Jones family can use their health insurance for Johnny’s medical bills, but it won’t pay for pain and suffering.

5. Her tree falls on his roof

The situation: A nasty windstorm causes a large tree in Jane’s yard to fall on her neighbor Ed’s roof. Ed and Jane agree that it really is a lot of damage, but disagree about whose insurance should pay. Ed thinks that since it’s Jane’s tree, she’s at fault and her homeowners insurance should pay for the damage.

Who’s liable: Ed’s homeowners insurance likely covers the damage, even though someone else owned the tree, Passmore says. Ed’s home insurance would pay for the damage because nobody was negligent or careless in this case.

There may be an exception if something was wrong with the tree, such as rot, and Jane knew about it but did nothing. In that case, Ed would have to prove that Jane knew about the rot and was negligent by ignoring it — a difficult case to make, Passmore says.

6. Injured slipping on ice

The situation: It’s been a cold and icy winter, but Sally’s neighborhood is starting to thaw and she goes for a walk.

On the sidewalk in front of the neighboring Henderson home, Sally loses her footing on a sheet of ice and fractures her wrist trying to break her fall. When she approaches the Hendersons about her fall, they say they did what they could, but there was just no way they could have prevented ice from forming in that particular spot.

Who’s liable: Who is at fault depends on where the accident took place, Matthews says. In some areas, the city or county has a legal duty to keep sidewalks in a safe condition, including snow and ice removal, he says.

But in many places it is the responsibility of property owners to keep the sidewalk clear and safe. If that’s the case in their neighborhood, Sally can file a claim against the Hendersons’ homeowners insurance, Matthews says.

Property owners can only do so much to clear walks, and Sally should know that one thing that happens in winter is that ice forms on sidewalks, Matthews says. Her claim could be reduced or denied if she were in any way careless, if she knew the ice was there or if the Hendersons took reasonable steps to keep the walk clear.

Another route: Sally can use her health insurance for her medical bills.

7. A dog hit by a car

The situation: Leonard, who rents an apartment, decides to take his dog to the park to let her burn off some energy. As he’s playing with her off leash, she’s distracted by a Frisbee across the road and runs toward it. Suddenly a car comes racing down the road and hits the dog. The driver stops, gets out and says he’s sorry about the dog. Then he notes the considerable damage to his car, saying Leonard should have to pay.

Who’s liable: “One of the foreseeable consequences of letting a dog off leash is that it might run into the road,” Matthews says. Therefore, Leonard is most likely liable for the damage to the car, and the driver can file a claim against Leonard’s renters insurance. This is especially true if he lives in an area with laws requiring dogs to be on leashes.

Leonard’s liability might be reduced, Matthews says, if:

  • He can prove the car was speeding
  • He can prove the driver was distracted
  • The park was designated as an “off-leash area” for dogs

Another route: The driver can file a claim on his own collision insurance, if he has it.

» MORE: Understanding renters insurance

8. An angry dog approaching

The situation: While walking through his neighborhood, Arnold sees a dog rushing at him, snarling and barking. Startled, Arnold falls back and sprains his ankle. The dog never reaches Arnold because the owner, Jen, has installed an invisible electronic fence to keep the dog on her property. Jen thinks she’s not to blame because Arnold and the dog never made contact.

Who’s liable: Arnold’s minor injuries are likely covered under Jen’s homeowners policy’s medical payments coverage.

If that is not sufficient, Arnold will have to prove Jen was negligent. In any liability claim, “you’re going to have to show that there was something the owner should have done that would have prevented your injury from occurring,” Passmore says.

Another route: Arnold can use his own health insurance for his medical bills.

The liability claim process

If you’ve been injured or your property was damaged and you think someone else is to blame, the first step is talking to them, Passmore says. Discuss what happened and ask about their insurance.

Follow these steps to initiate a claim against them:

Step 1

Ask for their insurance company’s name, the full name of the person who owns the policy and their policy number. You can write a letter directly to the insurance company to notify them that you’ll be a pursuing a claim.

If you didn’t get the name of the insurer, or the person responsible won’t give you the name, send them a letter by certified mail that notifies them that you’re seeking compensation for the incident. They have a duty to notify their insurer, and if they don’t they could lose their coverage.

» MORE: Sample letters from Injury Claim Coach:

Step 2

Snap some photos of injuries or visible damage with a time and date stamp.

Step 3

Expect a call from an insurance adjuster or investigator, who must determine if your injury or damage was caused by negligence. They’ll want to talk to you, the insured person and any witnesses, and see any photos you took or medical records of your injury.

Typically, you can determine who was at fault by asking some basic questions, Matthews says:

  • Did they have a legal duty to try and prevent the injury or damage?
  • Did they fail to fulfill that duty?
  • Did you, the injured, act reasonably to avoid the accident? If not, the claim payment could be reduced.

If someone wants to file a claim against your insurance, contact your insurer immediately, Passmore says. Let your insurer or agent know what happened from your point of view, and tell them to expect a claim.

Lacie Glover is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lacie@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @LacieWrites.

Ask Brianna: How Can I Take a Vacation and Not Rack Up Debt?

“Ask Brianna” is a Q&A column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to askbrianna@nerdwallet.com.

This week’s question:

“I want to travel this summer, but I don’t have a ton of money. How can I go on an adventure without piling on credit card debt?”

We all need time to recharge (while making our friends jealous with artfully filtered Instagram photos). But travel can be pricey: An American Express survey found respondents expected to spend, on average, $941 per person on summer trips in 2016.

Booking travel on credit cards is convenient and can help you rack up rewards for future flight and hotel savings. But if you won’t be able to pay off the balance soon after you return home, a leisurely vacation might lead to months of anxiety and big interest charges.

The best way to avoid debt is by saving for adventures in advance. However, for last-minute travel this summer, you can still plan a thrifty trip by prioritizing low-cost airfare, opting for nontraditional lodging and picking unexpected destinations. Here’s how to save and spend wisely when you’re ready to get out of Dodge.

Start a travel fund

If you have the luxury of several months to plan, set up a savings account specifically for travel. You can schedule recurring transfers from your checking account or set up direct deposit from your paycheck.

John Schneider, who runs the blog Debt Free Guys with his husband, David Auten, says they each save $50 per pay period in a travel “slush fund.” They didn’t set up online access to the account, so they must withdraw money from it in person at their credit union. That discourages the couple from dipping into the fund to cover daily expenses, Schneider says.

Of course, make sure to save at least $500 for home emergencies before shifting your resources to a travel fund. Just starting to save for summer vacation now? You won’t have much time, so if you put some expenses on a credit card, set a spending limit and make a realistic plan to pay off the balance. Stay vigilant while you’re away: Keep a running tally of your expenses so you can cut back on the souvenir shopping if necessary.

Pick locations based on airfare

Getting to your destination will often be the biggest drag on your wallet. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for domestic trips of at least one night, transportation accounted for 39% of the total cost in 2013, followed by food and alcohol (27%) and lodging (26%). For international trips, transportation was more than half of the cost.

There’s always camping or driving to your destination, which is often cheaper than flying. But for destinations farther afield, websites like Airfarewatchdog, Google Flights and Skyscanner will let you compare airfares to your preferred destination. They’ll also show you what locations fit your budget on the dates you’re free.

If you’re loyal to a specific airline, use any miles you’ve earned; check the airline’s fare calendar and pick a vacation spot that way. If you travel a lot, consider springing for a branded airline credit card. They often provide free checked bags, notes Matt Kepnes, author of “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day.” But avoid carrying a balance. Interest can quickly cancel out baggage savings.

Live large beyond hotels

Steer clear of pricey hotels and choose lower-cost options like hostels, Airbnb, staying with local hosts for free on Couchsurfing and renting vacation homes on VRBO and HomeAway. If you have your own kitchen, you can cook and make drinks at home to cut down on food and alcohol costs.

Schneider also recommends house swapping, especially if you’re traveling internationally. For a monthly or annual fee, services like HomeExchange and Love Home Swap will let you list your place and swap it with other members. Home Exchange says swapping saves members “up to 58 percent on typical vacation costs.”

You can also save money on housing — and airfare, for that matter — by traveling to less popular summer destinations. Costa Rica between May and November is one option; it’s the rainy season, which locals call the green season. You’ll explore unconventional locales, make new friends and save some of your own green.

Brianna McGurran is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: bmcgurran@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @briannamcscribe.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

Budgeting for College Students: Where to Start

College marks a significant transition period for many young adults — it’s a time of newfound freedom and the financial responsibilities that come with it.

Whether your funds come from family, student loans, scholarships or your own wallet, you’ll need to budget for expenses like textbooks, housing and, yes, a social life. Knowing who’s footing the bill, what costs to expect and which ones you can live without — ideally before school starts — can reduce stress and help you form healthy financial habits for the future.

Have the money talk

Before you build a budget, go over some important details with the people — parents, guardians or a partner — who will be involved in financing your education. Discussing your situation together will ensure everyone is in the loop and understands expectations.

“One of the biggest obstacles we have [with] teaching young people financial literacy and financial skills is not making money and expenses a taboo subject,” says Catie Hogan, founder of Hogan Financial Planning LLC. “Open lines of communication are far and away the most important tool, just so everyone’s on the same page as far as what things are going to cost and how everybody can keep some money in their pocket.”

Here are some topics to start with:

  • Who is paying for college and how. Have a conversation before the start of each school year to decide if your family will pay for costs out-of-pocket or if you’ll need to get a job, rely on financial aid, use funds from a 529 plan or combine these options.
  • What expenses to expect. In addition to tuition, you’ll have to budget for other college costs, like transportation and school supplies. Make a list of likely expenses, estimate the cost and agree who pays for what. (See more on expenses below.)
  • FAFSA and taxes. Whether a parent or guardian claims you as a dependent or you file taxes on your own determines whose information is required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and who can claim tax credits and deductions. Discuss your financial status before each school year and address any changes, like a raise or job loss.
  • Credit cards and bank accounts. If you’re considering opening a credit card account for the first time, are younger than 21 and don’t work full time, you’ll need a co-signer: a parent or other adult. You’ll want to talk about ground rules, like only using a credit card for emergencies and defining what constitutes an emergency. Approach new financial products with caution and be careful not to take on debt. If you plan to directly deposit funds from a job or allowance, look for a checking account that offers low (or no) fees.
Anticipate your expenses

To determine what you’ll spend each term, keep these college-related expenses on your radar:

  • Textbooks and school supplies. Course materials could eat up a large chunk of your budget. The average estimated cost of books and supplies for in-state students living on campus at public four-year institutions in 2016-2017 was $1,250, according to the College Board. Also plan for purchases like notebooks, a laptop, a printer and a backpack, and read the do’s and don’ts of back-to-school shopping for money-saving tips.
  • Room and board. When it comes to food and living arrangements, weigh your options. Compare the cost of living on campus and getting a meal plan versus renting an apartment and shopping for groceries.
  • Transportation. Will you take a bus, bike or walk to and from campus or work? If you absolutely need a car, be prepared to cover gas, maintenance and insurance.
  • Clothing. Budget for seasonal clothing and job-fair outfits.
  • Discretionary spending. You deserve a break from studying. Leave room in your budget for fun stuff like entertainment, travel and social activities.

» MORE: How to manage money in your 20s

Track your spending and cut back where you can

The basic principles of budgeting, like living below your means, still apply regardless of the source of your funds. Whether you’re working or receiving help from your parents or financial aid — or all of the above —  figure out how much money flows in and out.

You don’t have to go through a grueling process, like filling out a spreadsheet every day; you’ll have enough homework. Just set aside some time at least once a month to review your money situation. Budgeting apps and online banking can help make the process more manageable.

“Just knowing that you can log into your online banking and take inventory of what you have and the income coming in, I think that’s more than enough,” Hogan says.

Once you start to monitor spending, you can decide where to save money. Identify your needs and wants and reduce spending on things that aren’t essential.

Start with the common culprits: food and fun. “Looking at what is the least expensive meal plan you can get without going hungry is a big money-saving tip,” Hogan says. “And a lot of campus activities and groups and all that [are] really great, but they can weigh really heavy on your budget, so don’t overcommit.”

» MORE: Should you spend, save or invest your graduation gift?

Keep your future self in mind

If you’ve managed to stay afloat as a student, you’re in good shape. Continue on a financially healthy path by thinking about life after graduation. If you’re working and able to build a cushion, set financial goals, like creating an emergency fund or saving for a trip — and don’t forget about any student loans you might have to pay off after graduation.

“You obviously don’t want to burden yourself so much that you have anxiety about it while you’re in college, but I think having a healthy grasp of reality … is helpful in terms of knowing what kind of lifestyle you can really afford to live in college,”  says Kyle Moore, a certified financial planner in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Lauren Schwahn is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.

What to Do When the GI Bill Won’t Cover College

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, veterans who serve at least 36 months of active duty are eligible for coverage of up to 36 months of college or career training.

That’s enough for nine months of education each year for four years. Benefits also include a monthly housing allowance and $1,000 stipend for books and supplies. The 36 months of college or career training need not be consecutive and can be used over a 15-year period.

Some vets can pay for an undergraduate education with the bill alone, but others need additional resources.

That’s because not everyone can complete an undergraduate degree in four years. The National Center for Education Statistics found that just 40% of college students who receive a bachelor’s degree do so within four years. And veterans don’t always know how to maximize GI Bill benefits, experts say.

“It’s pretty rare when I have a savvy veteran who knows how to use their GI Bill to its extent. There are always questions and concerns,” says David Boyle, veterans program manager of Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.

When the GI Bill might not cover your costs

Here are a few situations in which you’d likely need to supplement the GI Bill:

Attending a private college

Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits cover the full cost of in-state tuition at public colleges, but only up to $22,805.34 per year at a private college.

What to do: Use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to see how far your benefits will go at different schools before picking one. If your college is eligible, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Yellow Ribbon Program can provide additional funds.

SERVING LESS THAN 36 MONTHS

Those who serve less than 36 months receive a percentage of the maximum benefit. For example, if you served at least 18 months, but less than 24 months of active duty, you’ll qualify for 70% of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.   

What to do: Find the benefit percentage you’ll receive through the VA. This will help you determine how much of your tuition and housing costs will be covered and how large a gap you’ll need to fill.

TRANSFERRING COLLEGES AND LOSING CREDITS

More than one-third of students transfer colleges, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. And when transferring, students lose an average of 13 credits, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. If you lose credits by transferring, you might require more than 36 total months to finish a degree.

What to do: Use a transfer credit tool, available at most colleges, before making the switch. This will show you how many courses you’ve already taken might be accepted at a new school.  

Transferring benefits to a SPouse or child

If you transferred benefits to your spouse or dependent children while on active duty, you’ll only be able to use GI Bill benefits by revoking the transfer. 

What to do: Use the Transfer of Education Benefits website to revoke a transfer. If you don’t revoke the transfer, pay for college using grants and scholarships, work-study and student loans.

needing additional time

If your intended career field requires more than 36 months of education or an advanced degree, GI Bill benefits won’t cover all of your costs.

What to do: Calculate the costs of college for your degree or an advanced degree at different types of schools. Public colleges will have the cheapest tuition, but a private college that offers you more financial aid could be a better value.

college closing

If your school closes or is no longer approved by the VA, your benefits won’t be reset.

What to do: To continue your education and use any remaining GI Bill benefits, you’ll need to transfer.

Closing coverage gaps

First, make sure your school has submitted your enrollment status to the VA so you can receive your full benefits. Then, if you have coverage gaps, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA.

The federal government, states and colleges use the FAFSA to award grants, scholarships, work-study and student loans. Your GI benefits won’t affect your expected family contribution, so you can still receive aid, such as the federal Pell Grant. Veteran-specific scholarships and grant programs at the state and school level might require additional applications.

Experts advise student veterans to explore all potential programs and services created to help them pay for college. When Jude Prather, veteran services officer for Hays County, Texas, left the military in 2005, he was unaware of the Hazlewood Exemption Act, which provides eligible veterans up to 150 hours of tuition exemption, including fees, at public colleges in Texas. Instead, Prather paid tuition for his first semester out of pocket.

“That’s the case for a lot of veterans: In their hurry to get out of the service, they may miss some opportunities or benefits that are available to them that they’re just unaware of,” says Prather.  

Several states — including Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin — offer tuition exemption or benefit programs for veterans. Ask your state’s VA for details.

» MORE: 10 top scholarships for veterans

Consider a student loan if the GI Bill, grants and scholarships don’t cover all of your college costs. Maximize federal loans before choosing a private lender, because private loans tend to carry higher interest rates than federal loans. Private loans also have fewer protections and forgiveness options. However, depending on your credit — or your co-signer’s credit — you might receive a lower rate on a private loan than a federal one. Compare private loan options before making a decision.

No matter the scenario, Boyle recommends speaking with a VA counselor about your education options and the best way to maximize your GI Bill benefits.

Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: anna@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski

What to Buy (and Skip) in June

June is a time for dads, grads and newlyweds. But what else is the month known for? Deals.

From scooping up swimwear to saving money on gym sessions, here’s what you should buy — and a few things to hold off on — in June.

Buy: Swimwear and lingerie

The first things to put on your “to buy” list are swimwear and lingerie. Why? In January and June, Victoria’s Secret hosts an insanely popular semi-annual sale, and other retailers follow suit. This is the time to save big on bras, panties, swimsuits and the like.

Last June, Victoria’s Secret customers snapped up savings across popular intimates categories. Discounts included: Up to 50% off lingerie, up to 40% off loungewear, a $19.99 or less bra clearance and a $4.99 or less panty clearance.

Victoria’s Secret recently phased out its swimwear collection, but its Pink brand still sells swim styles.

» MORE: Victoria’s Secret semi-annual sale guide

Skip: Grills

June marks the official start of summer, which means almost everyone has grilling on their mind. This higher demand equates to higher prices. If you can get by without hosting a barbecue in June, wait for prices to cool off later in the summer. As with most other timely purchases, the further into the season you go, the more you’ll save.

Buy: Gym memberships

While everyone else is grilling outside this month, you can head into the gym at a bargain price. Summer is one of the best times to purchase a gym membership because, as you probably guessed, demand isn’t as high.

You don’t have to settle for the advertised membership fee. Consumer Reports recommends negotiating the price. For instance, ask the gym to give you a free trial month or waive the initiation fee. The fitness center may be more willing to work with you if it’s behind on new customer sign-ups.

» MORE: What to buy every month of the year in 2017

Skip: Brand-name clothing

If you’re a fan of designer clothes, shoes and purses, you’ll want to wait another month before overhauling your wardrobe.

Designer clothing sales will be great in July, in large part due to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. During this high-end department store’s once-a-year sale, shoppers can save hundreds of dollars on top brands. In the past, the store has discounted items from labels such as Tory Burch and Marc Jacobs. This year’s sale begins July 21.

Buy: Movie tickets

If you’re looking to go to the movies for less, June is a perfect time. Each summer, movie theaters offer programs that let kids beat the heat and see children’s movies at discounted prices.

Check with your local theater to see if it will offer such a program. We’ve already spotted the Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse, where participating locations will sell a $5 punchcard pass for 10 movies while supplies last, or $1 per person, per movie at the box office. Harkins Theatres, too, has a Summer Movie Fun offering for kids with 10 movies over 10 weeks for less than $1 per movie.

Bonus: Father’s Day sales

Father’s Day is June 18 this year, and if you need just the right present to show dad how much you appreciate him, retailers will be there to help you out.

In the past, we’ve spotted Father’s Day deals at places such as Sears, Harbor Freight Tools and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Many of these Dad-oriented sales will happen in the days leading up to the holiday, so in this case it can pay to procrastinate.

Bonus: Freebies

Father’s Day and the first day of summer always June highlights, but there are some lesser-known occasions that happen during the month as well. Mark your calendar for the following days, which could offer discounts or freebies: National Doughnut Day on June 2, and National Sunglasses Day on June 27.

More: Hear what to buy (and skip) in June

In an interview with WDUN radio station in Gainesville, Georgia, NerdWallet discussed the products consumers can save money on during June.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.

Updated May 22, 2017.

6 Smart Ways to Travel Cheaply

Memorable vacations can come with a price tag you’d rather forget. But with proper planning, smart research and a flexible attitude, you can travel cheaply and still have an experience worth remembering. Here’s how.

1. Cut transportation costs

Before planning your trip, have a rough budget in mind. A vacation calculator can help. If you know how much you’re willing to spend on airfare, this map can give you ideas for destinations that are within your budget.

Traveling cheaply isn’t just about cutting costs — it’s also about getting the most out of what you spend. You may discover, for example, that the $400 you thought could pay only for a flight within the U.S. can actually take you to Paris and back.

If your travel dates are flexible, you may find an even bigger selection of places you can afford to visit. If you’ve already picked a destination, changing the departure dates could lower your airfare.

Setting up alerts for when prices drop should also be a part of your strategy. Try apps such as Yapta or Hopper, which will send you price notifications on flights you’re tracking. (Booking fees may apply.) You can also follow Twitter handles like @theflightdeal or @FareDealAlert for limited-time deals. If you find a price you like, scrutinize the airline’s baggage policy before booking. Some offer cheaper ticket prices, but have strict carry-on requirements or tack on sizable fees for overweight and oversized luggage.

If your destination is within driving distance, consider hopping in a car instead of on a plane. Use a trip calculator, like this one, to make sure it’s worth the tradeoff. Add in the cost of renting a car, if necessary.

2. Compare lodging options

Finding a cheap hotel room can be tricky and takes a bit of effort. Start by shopping around on sites like Expedia, Priceline.com and Kayak to find hotels in the area, and then search for hotel promotion codes online. Contact hotels directly to negotiate a lower price. Also consider staying in a hotel outside the center of the city and looking for last-minute deals.

If you’re open to alternatives, skip the hotel and book a room through a site like Airbnb, Homeaway and OneFineStay. Not only could those be more affordable, but often you’ll stay with a local resident who can point you to cheap restaurants and activities that aren’t in travel guides. Hostels can also be a money-saver if you’re OK with bare-bones accommodations and potentially sharing a room. Keep in mind that they may have age restrictions.

3. Eat wisely (and not just healthy)

Many travelers underestimate the costs of meals, snacks and tips, says guidebook author James Kaiser. He advises bringing your own food or buying it at a store when you arrive at your destination to save money.

That doesn’t mean you have to skip restaurants altogether and haul groceries around. Dining out is one of the most enjoyable parts of travel. The trick is knowing when to indulge and when to save.

Start by looking at your itinerary. Break down your meals each day and identify the times you want to splurge. Then look for ways to save money on the other meals. For example, you can avoid inflated prices at the airport by bringing food and an empty water bottle that you can fill once you’re past security (passengers are prohibited from bringing more than 3.4 ounces of liquids, per container, in carry-on bags at U.S. airports). For breakfast, pack energy bars so you can save time and money in the mornings.

Your spending will likely fluctuate from day to day, so remember to adjust your budget to avoid overspending.

4. Research your currency options

If you’re traveling abroad, find out if the country you’re visiting is plastic-friendly. If so, a debit or credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees could be your best bet. Otherwise, research your currency exchange options to avoid the poor rates and numerous fees common at airport kiosks. Those will shrink your vacation fund before you’ve even had the chance to unpack.

Visiting your bank or credit union to exchange money before you leave may be the best option. Assuming it has that currency, you’ll likely get better exchange rates and lower fees. And, just in case you end up needing more cash once you’re abroad, ask if your financial institution has international branches or a partnership with a bank overseas. If so, you may be able to withdraw cash from those ATMs with low or no fees.

5. Get a prepaid phone or SIM card

A cell phone can be useful for navigating new cities, as well as staying connected to travel companions and life back home. But for international travelers, it may also come with data roaming fees. You’d save the most money by ditching the phone during your trip, but that may not be realistic. Your best option will likely be buying a prepaid phone once you arrive or having your carrier unlock your phone, if possible, so you can use a foreign SIM card when you land.

6. Keep souvenir spending in check

Like everything else, set a budget for souvenirs. Also consider doing some research on the best souvenirs and shops, so you’ll have a sense of what you might buy and the prices to expect.

If you find yourself on the verge of an impulse purchase, try an abbreviated version of the 72-hour shopping rule, in which you put off buying something for three days to see if you still want it. That amount of time is probably impractical when you’re on vacation, but if your schedule allows you to return to the store the next day or even later that same day, you may find that you can easily live without that $150 wool sweater from Iceland. You were only going to wear it once, anyway.

Devon Delfino is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ddelfino@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @devondelfino.

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