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Zima is ready to make a comeback

For those waxing nostalgic for the 1990s, a clear blast from the past may reappear soon at bars and on store shelves.

MillerCoors will bring back Zima this year, according to a Crain’s report.

The clear malt beverage debuted in 1993 and was a popular fixture of the nightclub scene, but sales declined over time, and the company discontinued Zima production in the U.S. in 2008.

>> Read more trending stories

"If you're one of the zillion fans who have missed Zima, the answer should be clear," MillerCoors said in a statement.” It is unclear when Zima will return, but it is expected to be sometime in 2017.

Zima is a clear, citrus-flavored beverage with a 4.7 percent alcohol-by-volume level.  Its advertising slogan at the time of its 1990s debut was, "Zomething different.” Because of the recent success of hard lemonades and hard soda beverages, MillerCoors believes that Zima may enjoy a second run at success.

Zima never totally went out of style. It continues to be popular in Japan.

Mortgage Rates Friday, Feb. 17: Steep Drop; Building Permits Up

Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates plunged 11 basis points today, while 15-year fixed loans and 5/1 ARMs dropped by four and three basis points, respectively, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage interest rates published by national lenders Friday morning.

The sharp drop in mortgage rates is a sign that investors are losing some confidence about economic growth in 2017, says Michael Fratantoni, chief economist and senior vice president of research and industry technology with the Mortgage Bankers Association.

MORTGAGE RATES TODAY, Friday, FEB. 17

(Change from 2/16) 30-year fixed: 4.34% APR (–0.11) 15-year fixed: 3.71% APR (–0.04) 5/1 ARM: 3.80% APR (–0.03)

Get personalized mortgage rates

 

After the election, mortgage rates rose by 75 basis points on expectations of faster economic growth and somewhat higher inflation, Fratantoni tells NerdWallet. Those expectations drove increases in both the Treasury and mortgage rates, he said.  Since then, rates have stayed in a narrow range between 4% and 4.3% for 30-year fixed loans, he adds.

“Within the last week, we’re hearing more commentary from investors that they’re less confident in items like tax reform and infrastructure moving as quickly as they thought, so they’re pulling back a little bit,” Fratantoni says. “Overall, we’ll see a pullback in the stock market and the trends in mortgage rates.”

It’s unlikely the drop in rates will spur much refinance activity among homeowners, he adds, because many of them refinanced when rates were below 4%. On the purchase side, rates have less of an impact on the decision to buy, which is more dependent on consumers’ confidence in their own economic reality, housing conditions, and signs in the job market, than rate fluctuations, Fratantoni says.

Housing starts dip; building permits up in January Housing starts began the year with little change; however, building permits increased, which is good news for markets with tight inventories, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Privately owned housing starts dipped 2.6% to 1.25 million in January, from 1.28 million in December, according to a joint press release from the Census Bureau and HUD. In comparison with a year ago, housing starts were up 10.5% from the January 2016 rate of 1.13 million.  Furthermore, building permits also rose month-over-month by 4.6% in January and 8.2% year-over-year, signaling that homebuilders are “[hitting] the ground running in 2017,” wrote Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist with Trulia, in a blog post Thursday. “The big uptick in permits should be good news for inventory-constrained home buyers, as permits eventually become starts, which in turn become new homes for sale,” McLaughlin wrote. “As a result, we shouldn’t be surprised to see a strong increase in starts in mid-2017.” » MORE: Calculate your monthly mortgage payment Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here. NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published annual percentage rate with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. APR quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay. Deborah Kearns is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: dkearns@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @debbie_kearns. Mortgage Rate Newsletter Get daily mortgage rate updates delivered straight to your inbox! * Sign me up Should be Empty:

Ask Brianna: How Can I Stay on Budget and Still Hang Out?

“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 don’t have a lot of spare money, but I still want to socialize and travel. How can I live within my means without becoming the annoying broke friend?

First, take a breath. You will not lose friends — real friends, at least — because you can’t swing a girls’ trip to New Orleans this year. You also might want to remember that appearances can be deceiving. Your buddies may go to happy hour three times a week, but that doesn’t mean they can afford to.

Take one measure, student loan debt, for example: About 7 in 10 graduates of public and nonprofit colleges left school with debt in 2015, according to The Institute for College Access & Success, at an average of $30,100 per student. You may feel alone and broke, but in reality, you’re in good company.

“The people that you think are having these great lives on Facebook and Instagram, they’ve probably got student loan debt,” says Ben Graney, an actor and writer who co-founded the Artists Financial Support Group in New York. “They’re probably feeling the same anxiety and the same fears,” he says — they’re just not showing it.

Instead of hiding away in shame or constantly complaining about your rock-bottom bank balance, use these strategies to budget — and socialize — with confidence and control.

First, make a basic budget

Whether you’re in grad school, stuck with massive student loans or living on an artist’s erratic income, the first step is to own where you stand financially. But to do so, you need insight. A budget helps you determine where your money is going and where you want it to go. Without one, you may have only a vague sense that you should limit your spending, using scary clues like a maxed-out credit card or late rent payments.

To create a basic budget, you don’t need to catalog all of your expenses or commit to using an expense-tracking app — unless you want to, of course.

“Budgeting is not about perfection. It’s about creating awareness,” says Matt Cosgriff, a certified financial planner at financial advisory firm Lifewise in Minneapolis.

Look at your bank account and write down your take-home pay from last month. Subtract your fixed monthly costs: rent, utilities, insurance, groceries, debt payments (including credit cards) and transportation. Aim to save 10% to 20% of any remaining amount for emergencies and retirement. The rest is for fun or other long-term goals.

If your fixed costs take up all, or nearly all, of your income, look for ways to free up cash. You can lower federal student loan payments with an income-driven repayment plan, hunt for cheaper car insurance or cancel subscriptions you don’t need.

Transparency is the best policy

Deciding to stick to a budget might put you in a different financial position from that of your friends or family. Tell them.

You don’t have to craft a sob story to win their sympathy; instead, clearly and honestly share your current priorities. Let them know whether your strict spending plans are short- or long-term so they’ll know whether to keep inviting you to those pricey concerts.

And instead of turning down invitations, turn them around. You could say, “Theater tickets are beyond my budget right now. But I’d love to get together. Let’s go to free-admission day at the museum and pack a lunch to eat in the park.”

Plan (very far) ahead

These changes may feel small at first, but in time you’ll see a difference in your checking account — especially when you sock away manageable amounts for expenses or events on the horizon.

Even though Graney earns an irregular income as an actor, last year he saved an attainable $20 a month for holiday gifts. By December, he had $240 to spend on friends and family, and he didn’t have to take on credit card debt.

You can do the same for that trip to New Orleans. Pre-empt your most organized friend by suggesting a date far in advance and scouring flight deals. Living frugally doesn’t mean avoiding your social circle; it means taking on a more proactive and creative role.

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

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

Refinance 101

MoneyTips

Are you considering refinancing your home? You may want to act before interest rates rise. The refinancing plan that's right for you and your family depends on your current financial situation. Is your home underwater (that is, you owe more on your home than it is currently worth) and you need to secure a lower monthly mortgage payment to avoid foreclosure? Are you in a stable situation, but want to take advantage of lower interest rates? If so, generally a .5 to .625 (1/2 to 5/8) of a percentage point lower interest rate recoups most of the refi costs. Would you simply like to shorten the term of your loan to pay it off faster? "Rate isn't the only indicator of when it's a good time to refinance," explains Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate.com. "There are also other instances, changes in your life circumstances - maybe you got divorced; maybe your family is growing; or you have to add an in-law suite, in which case you may be looking at doing what's called 'cash-out refinancing': you refinance and borrow a little bit more money to pay for whatever upgrades are needed to the home." Regardless of the path you choose, the steps involved to refinance your home are similar to the steps you took when first buying your home. First, there will be an assessment of your ability to repay the loan. This will involve a credit check, and an evaluation of your outstanding debts and assets, so take these into consideration. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. Generally, there will be an appraisal of your property, a home inspection, title search, and a survey —all items that add up to extra costs on the front end. An estimate of your refinancing costs include: Application Fee: $100-$300 Loan Origination Fee: Up to 1.5% of principal Points (up-front money to reduce interest rate): 0-3% of principal Home Appraisal: $400-$800 Home Inspection: $200-$350 Attorney/closing fees: $500-$1000 Homeowner's Insurance (if required): $300-$1000 Title Search: $700-$1,000 Survey: $150-$400 This doesn't consider any prepayment penalties on the existing mortgage or fees for any federally backed assistance programs such as FHA or VA loans. Once all costs are factored in, a typical refinance cost is about 3-6% of the principal. So-called "no-cost refinancing" still has costs — they are either rolled into the principal, or the lender agrees to pay them upfront for an increase in the interest rate. With all these costs, why bother? Because, in the long run, you may be able to save a significant amount of money by switching from a fixed-rate loan to an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or vice versa. Changing the duration of the loan can also save you money. Consider the following: dropping a fixed rate from 6% to 5.5% on a $200,000 loan will lower your monthly payment (principal and interest) from $1,199 to $1,136 per month. Over one year, you will save $756, or $11,340 over 15 years, or $22,680 over 30 years. If you can handle higher payments, shortening the duration of the loan has an even more dramatic effect. That same fixed 30-year, $200,000 loan has a total of more than $231,000 in interest costs over the 30-year life of the loan. If adjusted to a 15-year rate at 5.5%, the total interest drops to around $94,000. What kind of rate should you seek? Current fixed rates are at historical lows and are hard to beat, but you may want to consider an ARM for an even lower rate if you know you will not be staying in a house for very long (or can find affordable refinancing before the adjustment period of the ARM kicks in). Make sure to compare the annual percentage rate (APR) with the interest rate. The APR takes into account other costs. A large difference may mean excessive fees or unusual rate adjustment assumptions. Check with your lender and make sure you understand the implications. If your home is underwater, you may consider the government's HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program). If you have kept up with payments and meet certain qualifications, you can refinance for more than the value of your home. Refinancing your home can cost thousands of dollars, so do your homework. It can also save you thousands of dollars in the end. MoneyTips is happy to help you get free refinance quotes from top lenders. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/cacaroot

Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/refinance-101

How To Prepare For Refinancing Your Home

How to Refinance With a Low Appraisal

The Home Appraisal Process

Refinance 101

MoneyTips

Are you considering refinancing your home? You may want to act before interest rates rise. The refinancing plan that's right for you and your family depends on your current financial situation. Is your home underwater (that is, you owe more on your home than it is currently worth) and you need to secure a lower monthly mortgage payment to avoid foreclosure? Are you in a stable situation, but want to take advantage of lower interest rates? If so, generally a .5 to .625 (1/2 to 5/8) of a percentage point lower interest rate recoups most of the refi costs. Would you simply like to shorten the term of your loan to pay it off faster? "Rate isn't the only indicator of when it's a good time to refinance," explains Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate.com. "There are also other instances, changes in your life circumstances - maybe you got divorced; maybe your family is growing; or you have to add an in-law sui...

12 Healthy Detox Soups and Smoothies

Cleanse and reset your diet with these healthy and simple soup recipes for everything from breakfast to dessert.

5 Fumbles That Can Seriously Mess With Your Credit

Hate to break it to you, but when it comes to your credit, it pays to sweat the small stuff.

That’s because a first fumble can leave a big old blemish on your credit report. And seemingly small missteps can really swing your scores in the wrong direction. Plus, under federal law, negative information can stay on your credit file for up to seven years — 10 years if we’re talking bankruptcy (you can learn more here on how long stuff stays on your credit reports)— and thanks to the agreements most creditors have with the credit bureaus, it can be hard to get certain line items removed ahead of schedule.

But knowledge is power. So, with that in mind, here are five fumbles you should avoid so you don’t seriously damage your credit score.

1. Taking Your Good Credit for Granted

It’s very easy to turn a blind eye to your credit scores, especially if you were at an 850 last time you checked and aren’t looking for any new loans. But it’s important to check your credit reports regularly since errors can crop up unexpectedly. (Here’s what to do if you find one.) Plus, there could be legitimate line items you weren’t aware of (ahem, medical bill) that’ll need addressing.

You can keep an eye on your credit by viewing your free credit report snapshot, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com. You can also pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find your credit score needs improving, consider paying down any high credit card balances, addressing any delinquent accounts and limiting new credit applications until those numbers rebound.

2. Missing Just One Loan Payment

We’ve said it before, but given how important payment history is to credit scores, we’re going to say it again: A first missed loan payment can cause a good credit score to fall by up to 110 points and an average score to fall by up to 80 points. That’s why you’ll want to set up alerts or automatic payments for those monthly bills and, if you do accidentally miss a payment, give your lender a call ASAP. They may be willing to forgive the fumble “this one time.” (P.S. See if they’ll let you skip the late fee, too. Most issuers will accommodate previously perfect customers.)

3. Your Recent Shopping Spree

Retail therapy isn’t going to help your credit much if you charge all those purchases to your credit card — particularly if you can’t even come close to paying them off anytime soon. Credit utilization is the second-most-important factor of credit scores, and, if you’re using more than 10% to 30% of your total available credit limit(s), you can expect your credit scores to take a hit. Keep in mind, too, that credit card interest can quickly accumulate, and the higher your balances climb, the bigger that hit will be.

Be sure to keep your credit card charges to a minimum. And, if you do rack up a big bill, be sure to come up with a solid plan to pay it off. Strategies for getting rid of credit card debt include prioritizing payments (usually by smallest balance or highest annual percentage rate), drafting a new budget to find funds you can put toward your debts or looking into a balance-transfer credit card or debt consolidation loan.

4. An Unpaid Medical Bill

We know. Medical bills are the worst. Half the time you don’t know you have one and the rest of the time, the cost can be hard to cover. But leave any medical bill unattended long enough and it could wind up going to collections — which can end up on your credit reports and do big damage to your credit scores. The same goes, incidentally, for unpaid parking tickets, lapsed gym memberships and even outstanding library fines, so be sure to keep a close eye on your mail. And, if you get an unexpected bill, see if you can negotiate with the creditor or collector before they report it late on your credit reports.

5. That Boatload of Credit Card Applications You Just Filled Out

Sure, credit card churning sounds great in theory. Just think of all those points you can readily rack up. But each credit card application likely generates a hard inquiry on your credit report — and while each one should only cost you a few points, a whole bunch of inquiries in a short time span can really add up. Plus, points aside, the mere presence of too many inquiries can lead to a loan denial. Lenders see it as a sign of money troubles to come, meaning you’ll want to apply for credit cards (and those all-too-alluring signup bonuses) carefully.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

2017 Started With Fewer Homes in Foreclosure

The share of U.S. homes in foreclosure fell slightly in January, down 3.55% from December and down 12.94% from January 2016. The figures come from real estate data company ATTOM Data Solutions, which bases foreclosure rates on the portion of residential properties in any of the three stages of foreclosure: default, auction and repossession.

Much of the decrease came from a decline in foreclosure starts (default), which fell 11.55% from December and 20.11% from January 2016. A great deal of foreclosure activity came from banks purchasing foreclosed homes — the end of the process.

The overall decline indicates fewer American homeowners are falling behind on their mortgages and, as a result, avoiding foreclosure and credit damage. (You can see how your mortgage and other accounts affect your credit by reviewing your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) The list of states with the highest foreclosure rates includes most of the same states that were on it in past months, though most of them saw declines, as well. Here are the 10 states that had the largest portions of homes in foreclosure in January.

10. Ohio

January 2017 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 1,289 housing units Change from December 2016: up 0.55% (No. 11) Change from January 2016: down 20.83% (No. 6)

9. New Mexico

January 2017 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 1,288 housing units Change from December 2016: up 21.1% (No. 15) Change from January 2016: up 31.72% (No. 22)

8. South Carolina

January 2017 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 1,228 housing units Change from December 2016: up 0.11% (No. 10) Change from January 2016: down 1.94% (No. 9)

7. Connecticut

January 2017 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 1,216 housing units Change from December 2016: down 10.76% (No. 7) Change from January 2016: up 11.65% (No. 14)

6. Florida

January 2017 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 1,161 housing units Change from December 2016: down 18.54% (No. 5) Change from January 2016: down 31.72% (No. 4)

You can see the full list of states with the largest portions of homes in foreclosure in January 2017 on Credit.com.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

The Credit Card That Can Help You Save for Retirement

If you’re serious about long-term savings — whether for your retirement, your child’s college fund or both — you already know you need to do more than just save your pennies. You need dollars, and lots of them.

So, what if you could put a percentage of every purchase you make on your credit card into one of those investment funds? Would you do it? If your answer is yes, you may want to take a look at the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card from Fidelity Investments, because that’s exactly what this credit card does.

What Is the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card?

The Fidelity Rewards card offers cardholders a very straightforward 2% back on all purchases, simple as that. Your reward is then deposited directly into a Fidelity account. For every $2,500 spent, a deposit of $50 is made into the investment account of your choice, and you can choose from a variety of accounts that meet your savings goals. Want your money deposited directly for retirement? Fidelity can put your 2% right into a traditional, Roth, rollover or SEP IRA. (Not sure what an IRA is? No worries: We have a full explainer on individual retirement accounts right here.) You can’t deposit directly into a 401K, however.

Prefer a brokerage account? No problem. For certain cardholders, there’s also the option of depositing your rewards into a 529 college savings account.

Of course, you can choose to spend your rewards instead of investing them, but the redemption value is lower if you choose to redeem your points for other rewards. The exact redemption rate varies, depending on how you cash in, a Fidelity spokesperson said. For instance, if you redeem rewards for retailer gift cards, the rate is .5% (10,000 points for $50 gift card).

No Spending Categories & No Limits

Not only does the Fidelity Rewards card making saving easy, there are no special spending categories and no limits or caps on the amount of rewards you can earn. Plus, the card’s variable 14.99% annual percentage rate means carrying a small balance every now and then won’t necessarily wipe out the rewards you earn. (Friendly reminder: It’s still important when using a rewards credit card to try your very best not to.)

New cardholders can get a $100 bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, but the funds must be deposited directly into a qualified Fidelity account. Qualifying accounts for both the regular rewards savings and signup bonus include:

  • Fidelity Cash Management Account
  • Fidelity-managed 529 College Savings plan
  • Retirement account
  • Fidelity Go account 

The Fidelity Rewards card also comes with all the benefits provided through the Visa Signature platform, including:

  • Auto rental collision coverage. Rent your automobile with your Fidelity Rewards card and you can waive the rental agency’s collision coverage.
  • Emergency assistance while traveling. Find the help you need when you’re on the road.
  • Purchase protection. Extra coverage for the things you buy with your card, including reimbursement for damage or theft.
  • Warranty manager service. This service helps you keep track of the warranties on the items you purchase with your card.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement. This service covers lost or stolen baggage.
  • Travel accident insurance. This coverage will help if you’re injured while traveling.
  • Roadside dispatch. Need a tow? Locked yourself out of your car? This pay-per-use service offers many benefits, including emergency roadside assistance.
  • Visa Signature Concierge. Access to 24-hour complimentary assistance with everything from booking travel to getting concert tickets.

Is the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card Right for You?

Even if you like the idea of of a card with no annual fee that lets you earn 2% on every purchase you make and then directly invests that money toward your savings goals, the Fidelity Rewards card isn’t for everyone. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you weigh your decision:

  1. Do you have a Fidelity investment account? If you don’t, you’ll want to keep in mind that you can’t use your rewards as a deposit to establish a new Fidelity account. Rewards can only be deposited into existing accounts.
  2. Do you have excellent credit? To qualify for the Fidelity Rewards card, you’re going to need excellent credit. If you don’t know what your credit score is, you can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com using our free credit report snapshot. It provides personalized details on how you can improve your scores, including a timeline of how long it will take to do so, across five key areas affecting your credit scores. It also provides you with a personalized list of some of the credit cards you would qualify for.
  3. Do you prefer investing over perks or cash back? If you travel a lot, whether for work or play, you might prefer some of the benefits that travel rewards cards offer, like free upgrades, free hotel stays, waived baggage fees and other non-monetary perks. Likewise, if you’d like more flexibility in what your rewards can be used for, a cash-back rewards card might be better for you.
  4. Can you get higher rewards with another card? If you want more flexibility than the automated investing inherent with the Fidelity Rewards card allows, there are cards that offer higher rewards (for example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred gives a whopping 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in purchases per year at U.S. supermarkets), so the automated investing aspect should be particularly important to you.

Remember, whenever you’re shopping for a rewards card, it can really pay to keep your spending habits and rewards goals in mind as you compare cards. To get started, you can check out our list of the best cash back credit cards. And, no matter what type of plastic you’re on the hunt for, you can reference our expert guide to getting the best terms you possibly can on a credit card.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

5 Cost-Conscious Tips for the LGBTQ Traveler

The queer community has close to $1 trillion in disposable income and many of us don’t have children. That’s a lot of money and not a lot of responsibility. So how are we spending our discretionary income?

It’s so common it’s cliché: Queer people love to travel! According to 2015’s 20th Annual LGBT Tourism & Hospitality Survey, “the annual economic impact of [American] LGBT travelers is over $75 billion per year in the U.S. alone.”

Now is when we’re trying to get away from the cold or plan our summer vacation. If that sounds like you, here are five cost-conscious tips for queer travelers to get your travel on right.

1. Use Travel Sites

We’re super fans of websites and apps that make our travel planning and budgeting easier.

One of our favorite apps is Rome2Rio. It maps the most efficient routes to get from one location to the next in terms of time and cost. If you’re in Brussels and want to get to get to Cape Town, for instance, Rome2Rio will get you there.

Another favorite tool is Skyscanner, which searches the sky for the cheapest flights to get from one location to the next. Skyscanner relies completely on its algorithm to find flights, and not its relationship to airlines, so its recommendations are unbiased.

Our friends Stefan and Sebastian, who blog at the The Nomadic Boys, say, “Our starting point for planning our travels is Booking.com. It not only shows the best prices for the filters entered, but after using them for a while, you’ll receive discounts.”

2. Less Is More

In 2012, we spent a month Down Under. For 30 days, we traveled to Sydney, Australia, to be tourists; Cairns to snorkel The Great Barrier Reef; Sydney again for Mardi Gras with Kylie Minogue as Grand Marshal; Melbourne to eat up its foodie scene; Auckland, New Zealand, to be tourists; Waiheke Island for wine; Kaikoura to swim with dolphins; and then Rotorua to sit in hot springs.

With all that travel, we each had one medium-size suitcase full of clothes. What at first seemed impossible was a lifesaver. When hopping from planes to trains to automobiles, elevators, steps, sidewalks and, yes, sand, we were all the better for our lighter load. This will also save you money because many cost-conscious international airlines charge for luggage over a certain size or weight.

3. Stay Off the Beaten Path

Sometimes the best way to contain travel costs is to take the road less traveled. Below are some LGBT-friendly destinations that are uncommon and cost-conscious:

Costa Rica is a Central American country with coasts in both the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans. Costa Rica is known for being very queer-friendly, with the heart and soul of its queer community in Manuel Antonio. In addition to seaside activities, Costa Rica boasts beautiful volcano parks, rivers and waterfalls that are great for hiking, playing and exploring.

Latvia’s coast is on The Baltic Sea and boarders Estonia and Lithuania. Latvia prides itself on “green tourism” and hosts many natural and manmade wonders. It started warming to the queer community in 1992, when it broke from the Soviet Union. While same-sex marriage is still illegal, the country does prohibit discrimination against queer people.

Belize is another Central American country on the Caribbean Ocean. Belize has amazing marine and coral life, especially where we traveled, in San Pedro, which makes it great for snorkeling and scuba diving. It includes hundreds of small islands called “cayes.” Though Belize is accepting of gay people, it is very much a conservative country and frowns on any public displays of affection.

4. Search Gay Travel Sites

With the popularity of travel sites, it was inevitable that the queer community would get its own.

One popular site that you’ve probably seen on your Facebook feed is Misterb&b. Misterb&b is not related to Airbnb. Misterb&b connects travelers with locals. You can rent the home of a queer peer while they’re away or sleep on their couch while they’re home. In most cases, doing so is cheaper than hoteling it.

Another travel site is Ebab.com, which stands for “Enjoy Bed & Breakfast.” Ebab was the very first queer travel site, originally founded in 1996, when queer rights weren’t what they are today. Ebab was founded on the principle that “everyone has the right to travel freely and without discrimination.”

5. Stay Out of Trouble

Even though the queer community has made much progress in the last 20 years, especially in the U.S., homophobia still exists. Even the U.S. State Department publishes a useful page with LGBT travel information. As you’re planning your next vacation alone, with your partner or family, consider these cost-conscious tools, tricks and destinations to help you save money — and stay safe.

Looking for more money-saving reads? Check out Credit.com’s personal finance learning center.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners. Related Articles

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

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