Six Fun Ways to Beat the Heat in Georgia This Summer

With temperatures already climbing well above 90 degrees, it’s safe to say that this summer will be just like all the others in Georgia: Hot. Two easy ways to escape the brutal Georgia heat during the summer are to either hop in your air-conditioned car and go for a drive or jump into the nearest convenient pool.

However, there are also more fun and adventurous ways to beat the heat this summer. As temperatures rise, take a break from your usual activities and cool off by exploring one (or all) of these picturesque destinations in Georgia.

1. LanierWorld

Located just forty-five minutes away from Atlanta, LanierWorld is home to a number of family-friendly water park activities, from the South’s largest wave pool, Wild Waves, to the Raging River, and a collection of other rides, slides, and dining options. If your family loves to spend time cooling off outdoors during the summer, you can purchase day passes or season passes, which come with a number of great benefits for both adults and children.

2. Lake Chatuge

Lake Chatuge is located in Hiawassee, GA, near the North Carolina State Line. If you’re looking for a great reservoir that offers a variety of water activities, then this is the place for you. With 132 miles of shoreline to explore, you have the option to go swimming, boating, hiking, water skiing, and more. Use one of the many public boat ramps to launch your boat for a morning of water skiing before heading over to the Towns County Recreational Beach to swim along the shore, visit the playground, or have a scenic picnic in the cool mountain air.

3. Robin Lake Beach at Callaway Gardens Pine Mountain

Located just over an hour away from Atlanta, Callaway Gardens Pine Mountain is a great choice for family vacations. With miles of nature trails, swimming, world-class tennis facility, golf courses, a butterfly center, and more, there is something for every taste and personality. Plus, this destination boasts a unique attraction with the white-sand beaches of Robin Lake Beach. Between tubing, zip lining, wakeboarding, water skiing, and spa packages, your entire group will have more than enough to keep them busy for a day or weekend trip.

4. Edge of the World

Hidden away along the Amicalola River Trail outside of Dawsonville, GA is a beautiful swimming hole known as the Edge of the World. This picturesque swimming spot has a number of natural water slides and rapids that you can tube down, as well as calm pools of cool, clear water for a relaxing swim on a hot day. When it starts to get sweltering hot this summer, put on your swimsuit, pack up some lunch, and take a day trip with your family or a group of friends to the Edge of the World.

5. Wild Adventures

Wild Adventures is an all-in-one theme park, water park, and animal park located in Valdosta, GA. This park offers a variety of thrilling roller coasters and water rides loved by kids and adults alike. Plus, you can take a break to take in one of the park’s all-star concerts and see hundreds of exotic creatures from around the world. Because it’s also affordable to visit Wild Adventures, this is a great choice for a family activity during the summer.

There are endless ways to escape the heat the summer heat—the Aquarium, the World of Coke, and of course, Six Flags are also great ideas for you and your family! What is your favorite way to beat the summer heat?

Four Educational Museums in Georgia

The great thing about raising a family in Georgia is that there’s never a shortage of fun and educational activities. From the grand and cultural Tubman Museum to the Georgia Aquarium and its aquatic splendor, there are always new, exciting opportunities to learn and grow.

Here are four museums in Georgia to add to your list of family adventures that offer educational opportunities for parents and kids alike.

1. Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Well-known for its delightful exhibits, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta is an ideal museum for children in elementary school. With displays about wildlife, gardens, birds, nature, and more, it offers a captivating experience. Between the world’s largest dinosaurs exhibits and the IMAX theater, there’s something every member of your family will enjoy for hours. Keep an eye on the rotating monthly special exhibits and events.

2. Museum of Aviation

Home of the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins is an aerospace museum with an impressive collection that spans generations and features way more than just military airplanes. Wandering around the four exhibit hangars, you’ll see a World War II B-17 bomber, Vietnam War Huey helicopters, a B-29 Superfortress, and an SR-71 Blackbird that literally flew faster than a speeding bullet. The museum also has many interactive exhibits, giving your kids the chance to experience what it’s like to be inside both historical and modern air crafts—and best of all, this museum has free admission.

3. Center for Puppetry Arts

Located in Atlanta, the Center for Puppetry Arts is not only an educational museum for families with young children in elementary school, but it’s also incredibly fun. Through a mixture of educational resources, performances, and storytelling, children learn about different types of puppetry from around the world. Museum-goers have a host of puppet shows and educational performances to choose from that are sure to entertain. In addition to housing most of Jim Henson’s beloved Muppets, the center also offers a film series to enjoy with the whole family.

4. Savannah Children’s Museum

With plenty of outdoor space and interactive exhibits, Savannah Children’s Museum is a great place for kids to learn and discover. The little ones will love the exploration maze and the sensory garden. Housed next to the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah’s Tricentennial Park, the children’s museum offers daily and weekly rotating themes, such as weather, space, plants, vegetables, and local history. Once the kids have sufficiently explored the exhibits, the entire family can sit down together to listen to good story in the reading nook.

This is just a small sample of the many museums in Georgia. Be sure to consider one of these options the next time you’re looking for a fun and educational experience to share with your kids.

Emissions Testing in Georgia and South Carolina

If you currently live in Georgia or South Carolina but are relocating between the two states, it’s important to be aware of the differences in the requirements for your car’s emissions testing.

If you live in Georgia but are moving to South Carolina, you’ll be happy to know that South Carolina does not require testing. However, if you live in South Carolina or a Georgia county that does not require testing but are moving to a Georgia county that does, you may need to set a reminder to go in and have it done . Here’s what you need to know.

Age and Location Matter

As of 2016, if your vehicle is a 1992 model year or newer and is registered in certain counties, you’ll have to have it tested. Counties that require emissions testing include Rockdale, Henry, Paulding, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Fulton, DeKalb, Coweta, Cherokee, Douglas, Cobb, Fayette, and Clayton, according to Georgia’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you live in one of these thirteen counties, your vehicle must be tested every year before you can register it. In the event that it does not pass registration, it’s a good idea to have it inspected four to six weeks prior to the registration date, which is the date of your birthday.

If your vehicle is a 2014 model year or newer, or if your vehicle is a 1991 model year or older, you are exempt from testing in Georgia, regardless of which county you live in.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles and other Exemptions

If your vehicle runs on E85 or gasoline, it’s a Flex Fuel vehicle and it must be tested. You must also have 100 percent regular gasoline in the tank. Additionally, hybrids such as the Ford Escape and Honda Civic must be tested since they run on gasoline when they reach the limit of the electrical power.

Vehicles that run on 100 percent battery electricity, natural gas, hydrogen, or propane are exempt from being tested, notes the DMV. Additional exemptions include RVs, motor homes, motorcycles, and diesel vehicles.

Vehicle Failure

The inspector will use the vehicle’s data link connector to read the codes it stores in the computer. If the check engine light is lit, for example, the vehicle will fail the test, as an illuminated check engine light tells you that the vehicle stored a code. These codes let you know that something in the system is not working properly. If you have a soft code the check engine light will reset itself.

The only code that does this is an oxygen sensor, which means the oxygen sensor is sensing a rich or lean condition in the exhaust—too much or too little oxygen. It’s not the oxygen sensor that’s bad though; it’s something else causing the mixture to be considered incorrect. This could be a multitude of problems, including a bad spark plug, bad plug wire, a malfunctioning coil, or any number of things that affect the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust.

Buying a Used Vehicle

If you buy a used vehicle in one of the thirteen counties that require testing, the seller must ensure the vehicle has passed the test. The Georgia Vehicle Emissions Inspection Report is used for the initial registration and, if still valid, for one registration renewal. The inspection report is good for twelve months. The seller does not need to provide the buyer with a copy of the report; however, the report is on file at the tag office.

There are many differences in emissions testing across Georgia and South Carolina. It’s a good idea to stay informed when you’re in the process of relocating between states.

Four Reasons to Visit South Carolina on Your Next Road Trip

South Carolina is a state brimming with Southern charm and character. As a road-trip destination, especially from Georgia, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Palmetto state.

Of course, Charleston is a popular destination for travelers from all over the country, but there are other little-known spots where you can also get historic charm and unique experiences. Here are just a few of the places that should give you reason enough to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and visit South Carolina.

1. Edisto Island, SC

Nestled in the Lowcountry between Hilton Head and Charleston you’ll find the beautiful Edisto Island. This is a great destination for short weekend road trips since it’s under 300 miles from Atlanta and will only take about five hours. This secluded spot is a laid-back destination with a picturesque landscape. The island has a rich cultural history and offers plenty of outdoor activities, not to mention some fantastic seafood.

2. Beaufort, SC

Beaufort is not only the second oldest city in South Carolina, but it was also named by National Geographic as seventh best waterfront adventure town. During your visit, you can soak up the beautiful waterfront views and take advantage of a variety of different festivals and cultural attractions. Located just off Hilton Head Island, this is a great road-trip destination since it’s just about 270 miles from Atlanta, which you can do in about four and half hours.

3. Georgetown, SC

Brimming with shops, historic attractions, and more than fifty antebellum mansions, Georgetown is a delightful look into a different time, making it a great place to escape modern life. Each antebellum home offers a unique experience for visitors. Plus, you can enjoy a day of golf, sailing, deep-sea fishing, and historic sight-seeing.

The other benefit to road tripping to Georgetown is that you have easy access to Charleston, which is only sixty miles away and takes about an hour and half, and you can easily visit Myrtle Beach, too, as it is only about thirty-five miles away, which is less than an hour drive.

4. Greenville, SC

Boasting two beautiful state parks and plenty of shops and restaurants, Greenville is a great town to visit for a quick getaway. Between the Reedy River Falls and the Greenville Zoo, this city will make wonderful road-trip choice for families and outdoorsy types alike, especially considering it’s only about 160 miles away from Atlanta.

Next time you’re looking for a last-minute weekend road trip from Georgia, consider the Palmetto State. Of course, there are many more attractions and towns that give people reason to visit South Carolina, offering a range of options for every taste and traveler.

Increase Your Fuel Mileage With These Easy Tips

Most drivers would love to improve their car’s fuel mileage and save on the monthly gas bill. Fortunately, this is something you can accomplish by making only a few small changes in your personal-driving habits. It doesn’t matter whether you have a small car like a Chevy Cruze or a large SUV like a Jeep Grand Cherokee, there’s always a way to squeeze out a few extra miles per gallon (mpg).

Check out these four easy tips to improve your daily mpg.

1. Go Easy on the Throttle

One of the biggest drains on your fuel tank comes from hitting the gas pedal a bit too enthusiastically when pulling away from a stop. Sometimes you’re caught in traffic that’s moving intermittently and you’re only heading from one red light to the next. Smooth throttle application that gradually accelerates rather than so-called jack-rabbit starts will save you gas in the long term.

2. Lighten the Load

This tip is especially true for anyone who drives a larger vehicle like a Dodge Grand Caravan or a Honda Pilot, where kids and other passengers can leave items behind that accumulate over time. Or maybe you have a trunk full of items you’ve wanted to empty out into the garage for a few weeks, but simply haven’t found a spare minute to do so. Whatever extra weight you’re carrying around in your car impacts your fuel mileage, which means it’s worth keeping your vehicle spic and span to save in the long run.

3. Use Cruise Control

The key to getting the best fuel mileage on the highway is maintaining a steady speed and avoiding the small accelerations and slow-downs that can creep in after an hour or two of driving. By setting the cruise control on your vehicle you can let the computer worry about the throttle and virtually guarantee a constant speed at all times. Some modern cars even come with predictive cruise control systems that use the automobile’s navigation system to tell them when there’s an uphill or downhill section approaching and to prepare accordingly.

4. Consider a More Fuel-Efficient Car

Changing your driving style is even more effective if you opt for an automobile that’s more efficient right out of the box. Consider trading in your current vehicle for a smaller compact car like the Honda Civic or the Hyundai Elantra. Less size equals less mass to move, which combined with a more modest engine adds up to a cheaper fuel bill.

Taken together, these four tips will go a long way toward boosting your fuel mileage. Small changes in behavior translate into large benefits over time, so make sure you give each one a month or so before you decide whether it’s making a difference in your gas costs.

Good First Cars: Safe Choices for Teenagers

Searching for good first cars for teenagers may not seem like an easy task, but the current car market takes a fair amount of pain out of the process. Why? Because many of today’s cars are safer than ever, notes nonprofit Consumer Reports.

Thanks to government mandates and market demands, just about every new vehicle, regardless of price or type, comes with a full complement of airbags, anti-lock brakes, and traction and stability control systems. Today’s teens have more safety features available to them than previous generations did. Parents can rest assured knowing that safety is more of a priority than ever for manufacturers.

The three vehicles below offer a great combination of safety, space, and fuel efficiency. And none will break the bank, even when properly equipped.

Ford Focus

The Ford Focus is a popular pick in the compact-car class. Available as a sedan or hatchback with two engine options, a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder for power, as well as three transmissions to choose from and an optional electric-vehicle form. The Focus can achieve up to forty-two miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway, and both the sedan and hatchback versions earned five stars in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) overall crash-testing, which is the top score.

Chevrolet Malibu

The Malibu is a roomy sedan with start/stop technology as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems. Perhaps most attractive to parents will be the Teen Driver system, which mutes the audio of any paired device if those in the front seats aren’t wearing seat belts. It also sends out audio and visual alerts to the driver when the car is traveling faster than predetermined speeds. Additionally, parents can track their teen’s behavior with downloadable stats such as top speed, distance traveled, and use of active safety features. The Malibu gets up to thirty-seven mpg on the highway in nonhybrid form and also earned NHTSA’s top overall crash-test score of five stars.

Honda Civic

Another great buy for teens also comes from the Honda family. It’s a well-known nameplate, and the most recent Honda Civic model just so happens to be the 2016 North American Car of the Year. It’s available as both a coupe and sedan, with a hatch on the way. Depending on engine and transmission, it can get up to forty-one mpg on the highway. Available safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision alert.

Safety Considerations

What separates some vehicles from others is the availability of certain active and passive safety features that aren’t yet standard across the industry. Although features such as a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and various collision-avoidance and collision-mitigation systems are becoming quite common (along with telematics systems that can aid in the event of an accident), they aren’t always available in some less expensive cars that might be purchased for a teen. Additionally, the explosive growth of the crossover SUV, especially in compact and subcompact sizes, gives you even more options when searching for good first cars for your teen.

The goal is to find the right balance between price and safety features before purchasing a vehicle. Buying a car that’s right for a teenager has never been easier thanks to ever-increasing fuel economy and safety standards, but a few options still stand above the rest.

South Carolina Attractions: Hidden Gems

Burn enough gas throughout the expanse of South Carolina, and you’ll soon discover it teems with unique attractions. Yet even natives of the Palmetto state may not be familiar with some of its most glistening hidden gems. So roll out your map and get ready to stick pins in the following not-to-miss South Carolina attractions.

Boneyard Beach

Hop aboard the Bulls Island Ferry in Awendaw for a quick jaunt to Bulls Island. This South Carolina barrier island, known for its untouched environs and thriving wildlife, lays claim to Boneyard Beach, located on its northeast end. Call it a Gothic paradise, the three-mile sandy expanse proves to be what some people describe as a “Dali painting come to life.” Thanks to the island’s changing shoreline, hundreds of oak, cedar, and pine trees have been frozen in twisted webs. Bleached by the sun and saltwater, the trees have been smoothed by the ocean tide. While kids often take to the climbs of this natural playground, seabirds can be found perched high above for a literal bird’s-eye view of their next potential meal. Make sure to arm your camera with a fully charged battery as photo-ops abound.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Columbia — 280 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 360 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 160 miles round trip

Congaree National Park

Just outside of Columbia, Congaree National Park may not be the most high-profile among South Carolina’s array of national park attractions, but its collection of natural wonders certainly demands a visit. More than twenty-five miles of hiking trails and over two miles of boardwalk allow visitors the chance to soak up picturesque surroundings. The forest offers up its star attraction: primeval old-growth trees known as the champions. They make up the tallest deciduous forest in the country and loom high above the winding trails. Keep an eye out for massive turtles, deer, river otter, and sizable spiders. You might even gander at a gator or two. The park allows camping, in addition to canoeing and kayaking in the adjacent Cedar Creek.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Greenville — 260 miles round trip
  • Charleston — 220 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 190 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 280 miles round trip

Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden

Topiary artist Pearl Fryar regularly wows visitors who peruse his handcrafted garden. More than 300 plants, many plucked from the compost pile of area nurseries by Fryar himself, serve as living works of art. With clippers in hand, Fryar has a penchant for turning shrubs, trees, and more into abstract shapes that look as if they sprang from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book. His found-object statues, made from discarded metal, glass, and more, display messages of love, unity, and peace.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Columbia — 100 miles round trip
  • Greenville — 310 miles round trip
  • Charleston — 250 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 250 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 210 miles round trip

H.L. Hunley Submarine at Warren Lasch Conservation Center

Have you ever been curious about what a submarine that was used in the Civil War might be like, look no further than the H.L. Hunley. It holds the distinctive honor of being the first combat submarine to sink a warship. The USS Housatonic took the hit in Charleston’s outer harbor; the Hunley, however, sunk shortly thereafter. Yet it wasn’t until 1995 that researchers recovered the vessel. In fact, some of the same folks involved in recovering the Titanic helped snag the Hunley. Today, visitors can take a look at the Hunley as it sits inside a conservation tank located at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center on the old Charleston Navy Base.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Columbia — 240 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 310 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 210 miles round trip

Next time you’re planning a road trip, check out one of these four South Carolina attractions, which are so hidden some Palmetto state natives don’t even know about them.

Does Car Leasing Make Sense for You?

Car leasing can be an attractive option for vehicle shoppers. The idea of a monthly payment that lets you swap into a new vehicle every two or three years is tempting in itself, and lease payments are typically cheaper than loan payments. But does it make the most sense with your specific financial situation?

What Is a Car Lease?

There are some people who equate leasing to renting a new car. You agree on a monthly payment and a length of term with the dealer. When the time is up, you have the option to either purchase the car outright or return it. At that point, you can also choose to start over with a new lease on a different vehicle.

Car Leasing Pros

One of the pros of leasing a car is that you won’t have to pay for long-term car maintenance. Additionally, you won’t worry about the reliability of your car or truck, presumably because it’s new and in good condition.

Leasing a car can be a good option for a business owner. As long as you can prove the vehicle was used for business purposes, you can write off the lease payments as tax deductions.

Car Leasing Cons

All car leases come with a yearly mileage restriction. Your commuting must fall within the range proposed to you by the dealership when negotiating your monthly payment. Consider the distance you plan to drive over the next few years. For instance, if you have a job that requires you to drive from place to place, or you already planned a long road trip, it might not make sense for you to lease a car.

The dealership will also likely try to sell the car secondhand to you upon the termination of your lease. You’ll also have to account for any damage done to the vehicle while in your care. Each lease agreement deals with nicks, scratches, and worn-out components differently, but you could be required to pay for some repairs out of pocket.

Important Considerations

If you decide to lease, be sure to read the fine print on your agreement. If you plan to do a lot of driving, you need to understand what kind of per-mile penalties you would face if you go over the limit.

Unlike a car purchase, a lease doesn’t build equity in the form of a vehicle you can keep driving or choose to sell yourself after the last payment is made. This doesn’t sound so bad at first—after all, you get to drive home in a new car at the end of the term. But it’s important to consider, for instance, the cost of two three-year leases versus a single six-year vehicle loan. While a monthly lease payment may be cheaper than a monthly loan payment, it might work out that paying back the loan is cheaper in the long run.

It often makes more financial sense to buy rather than lease. The fact that you own the vehicle at the end of your payment term makes up for lower monthly lease payments that allow you to drive a more expensive car. Do the math. Know your financial situation and then make the right call for you.

Preventative Car Maintenance to Increase a Vehicle’s Lifespan

When it comes to vehicles, doing preventative car maintenance is typically far less expensive than paying a mechanic for parts and repairs. In addition to the cost of repairs, you may have to spend money on a rental while your car is in the shop. A great way to avoid some of these expenses is to keep up with your car’s maintenance.

Here are six ways to keep your car running and in healthy condition.

1. Keep Fluids Fresh

Changing your engine oil is probably the most important step you can take, because it keeps engine components working smoothly together and at optimal levels. Low or old oil can cause major damage to the engine itself, which means expensive repairs and time without your car.

Other fluids, such as transmission fluid, coolant, and gear oil should also be refreshed, but these depend on your vehicle. Check the owner’s manual for the right time or mileage to have these changed as well as the right oil viscosity to keep things running smoothly.

2. Warm Up Engine

Hard acceleration and braking are not good for a cold engine. Start your car a few minutes before your trip, and don’t take off until the engine reaches an appropriate operating temperature. Get familiar with your temperature gauge so you can be aware if there is a problem, such as the engine overheating.

3. Wash Regularly

An important part of car maintenance is keeping your vehicle clean. Not only will it look better, but a clean surface will also help prevent rust. Washing off road grime and salt prevents damage to the metal surfaces of your car and wheels. Consider applying a coat of wax twice a year to minimize dirt buildup and keep your car looking its best.

4. Check Tires

A spike in the temperature, either hot or cold, can cause your tire pressure to change, which can result in less gas efficiency or more unnecessary wear on your tires. Be sure to check the tire pressure with each drastic change in the weather or temperature. Additionally, you can extend the life of your tires by regularly rotating them at home or having a mechanic do so.

5. Be Diligent

Pay attention to any new or strange noises, vibrations, lights, or warning notifications in your vehicle. Don’t assume issues will resolve without assistance, and report anything out of the ordinary to your mechanic so the problem can be solved before it becomes a major repair.

6. Find a Trustworthy Mechanic

A mechanic with a good reputation is vital—look for one before your car actually needs work, and then take your car in for yearly checkups. Especially with older vehicles, this type of preventative car maintenance can save you money down the road if you can catch issues before they spiral out of control.

It’s important to stay ahead of potential problems rather than waiting until the engine light comes on. To save money, time, and headaches, stay on top of your car maintenance.

Four Steps to Creating a Financial Plan You Can Stick To

A financial plan shows you what you need to do in order to pay your bills and meet financial goals. Without a plan, you may spend too much on nonessentials, such as eating out or new gadgets, leaving you without enough money for bills or rent at the end of the month. Consider creating and following a plan that prioritizes bills and savings while limiting extra spending. This plan will help you figure out exactly how much money you need to set aside to reach your goals, such as paying off credit card debt or saving for a new car.

Ready to create a plan of your own? Here’s what you need to do.

Set Your Goals

Before you begin, you should have a total of your essential monthly expenses: rent or mortgage, bills, food, clothing, and so on. Once you have this information, total your take-home earnings for the month. Then, you can begin to work on your goals.

A good time frame for your plan is six months: enough time to make progress, but short enough that you can realistically predict your financial circumstances. Think about your current and future expenses over the next few months. One goal might be to open a savings account and create an emergency fund if you don’t already have money set aside to cover living expenses for a set period.

Another goal may be to pay off debt. Let’s say you have high balances on two credit cards and a student loan. For six months, you can set a goal of paying one-fourth of the total you owe on the highest-interest credit card while continuing to make minimum payments on the other two debts.

Consider setting up an automatic transfer to a savings account to help you stick to your goals. You don’t have to use automatic transfers in your financial plan, but it’s convenient to set up and makes following through easier.

Crunch the Numbers

Once you have your goals in mind, you need to figure out what to do to reach them. For example, if you’re planning to buy a car, your goal may be to save up enough money for a down payment. To save $1,200 over six months, you must set aside about $200 a month.

Take a look at your current income and expenses to make sure your plan is doable. You may need to increase your income, if possible, by working extra hours or getting a part-time job. You may need to cut back on spending, for instance, by bringing lunch to work or canceling your streaming music subscription.

Always keep in mind that it’s okay to adjust a goal if you realize you won’t be able to meet it within six months.

Plan for Setbacks

The next step is to plan for setbacks. Don’t give up on your plan when something goes wrong. Instead, have alternate ideas ready to help you get back on track. For example, if your hours are suddenly cut at work and your monthly income turns out to be lower than you were counting on, plan on borrowing DVDs from a library instead of going to the movies.

Setbacks are a normal part of pursuing goals, so it’s best to expect them and be prepared.

Evaluate Your Progress

After you create your plan, put it into action. Look back at it every month to check your progress. Adjust the numbers accordingly, and make any necessary changes. Reviewing your goals and observing success will motivate you to keep working toward them.

Improving your finances without a financial plan is like taking a road trip without a map. You’ll go further with a plan to guide you.