Luxury homes for sale in McHenry

It’s unusual to find a resort style property located in an opulent, tree-shaded country setting just a short drive away from Chicago, Illinois. Luxury homes for sale in McHenry, illinois are beautiful, but there’s no doubt the Lazy Willow property is one of a kind. Visitors to the beautiful Lazy Willow estate are often amazed at the incredible natural beauty of the 14.63 acres surrounding this estate, which includes a 1/4 mile driveway (adding extra privacy) with a charming wood planked bridge. The surrounding property also includes eight beautiful acres of woods, plus a 6 acre lawn that’s perfect for recreational sports.


Water is a big part of the attraction of this lovely estate,too. The area offers a gorgeous 30 foot waterfall, a pond for swimming with a 100 foot beach area, plus a swinging rope and a floating raft. This estate offers every opportunity for outdoor fun and recreation.

The main house at Lazy Willow, in Crystal Lake, IL, is a stunning French Country-style Chalet, with five bedroom suites, six full baths, and four gorgeous fireplaces. This home has 5400 square feet of finished living area, and also has 1300 square feet shelled out and ready for expansion. Every type of relaxation and entertainment is available here, as this home also offers a spa room, two quaint screened-in porches and two lovely outside decks with waterfalls that overlook the backyard and the 200 acre conservation area. A three car parking area is also available inside the property.

The upper room at Lazy Willow offers 1600 square feet of meeting and recreation area, with a kitchenette and bathroom for added convenience. The downstairs area below this offers a 1600 square foot shop area plus a two car garage.

In addition, an outdoor shed (formerly a one bedroom guest house ) is also available for storage or garage use.

This beautiful property has been used for many conferences and meetings for large organizations, as the area offers a wealth of space and recreational possibilities.

The surrounding area here is close to a golf course and elementary and business schools. The property is a 40 minute drive from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, and just 13 minutes from the Chicago Commuter Train Station.

The Lazy Willow property is a special one indeed. Come pay a visit soon to see all that it has to offer.

Checklist for Choosing the best Share Market Mobile App

We all know that mobile apps are the present and the future of share market trading. Today, we have less time and more complex lives than we ever did before. Probably you already own and use a stock market app. However, did you ever feel the need of conducting a reality check and see if your app has enough resources to earn space in your android phone? Here are a few key things that your app must have, and if it doesn’t, then its time that you changed your app.

  1. Watchlists: Every good share market app must have provision to allow you — its user — to keep a close eye on the portfolio. This will give you a sneak peak to your favorite quotes, even if you don’t own them, and are considering it for future purchases
  2. Notifications and Triggers: Let’s be practical. We don’t open all of our apps frequently. And if you are a passive investor, the probably of you doing it is far less. But what if during that time your favorite stock is hammered in the markets? You’d like to be notified, and since you probably use your phone daily — like most do — you would appreciate inbuilt notification and trigger ability. This will make your overall trading experience better, and you can concentrate on another important task while delegating triggers to your app.
  3. Mobile Trading: A share market app would be nothing more than a mere aggregator without this feature. Why even bother about downloading one if it doesn’t allow you to trade? You can rather use a browser and dig into some of the finest websites which are perfectly mobile friendly. If an app doesn’t allow you to trade through your mobile, then it isn’t really a share market app.
  4. Multimedia: Any stock market app must have videos, and other multimedia content in addition to other information. Because often, markets are impacted due to global situations etc. and tuning into a show casting a stock market expert can help you figure that out. So any app should, by the rule of thumb, have multimedia content.
  5. Incentives: This isn’t essential, but is important. This is for two reasons: Once to get the most out of our available space, and the other to determine the seriousness of the developers. It is important to note that not everyone puts in the considerable amount of resources in building an app. If you think that an app is everything that is installed on your phone, then you are wrong. For, there is a backend infrastructure and a huge commitment of resources that separates the best from the rest.

There are numerous stock market apps available in India today, and you can try them and see which one fits the bill. However, as far as these six pointers are concerned, only a handful of apps match the criterion. One notable app is IIFL Markets, that have all the first four features and attractive incentives like free access to quality research reports for its users. So evaluate your app now and see which one resonates the most with your needs.

Factors You Should Consider While Online Car Valuation in India

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaArticle Body: When you sell or buy a car, it is very important to think about the important confronting factors of the car which may lead you to a best buy deal. You must figure out various factors that have an effect the business of Online Car Valuation in India. We all are not automotive experts so we do need to have someone to assist to get a broadways of factors while buying or selling a car to get a best price in accordance with its configuration, tuning and running status. So Let us help you with the correct direction of factor with smart home technologies. As a seller, he’ll try to grab out maximum profit from buyer and as a buyers one is determined to negotiate a master piece in less price. The only way to hold up your own is to be prepared. Start analyzing about the factors which determine the best buy in Online Valuation of car in India.

Brand: The brand of the car is one of the factors that have a bulky impact on the resale/sale value, regardless of the condition and quality of the car. The fact is that big-name brands and models sell better with second-hand buyers, so it makes nice sense for you to select such a car yourself when it comes for buying.

Performance and External Accessories: The car equipped with latest and greatest equipment’s like high end stereos, supercharger kits, custom rims, custom hoods, stickers equipped, etc. or any other accessories would lead to end up with high margin cost. Those who are old drivers always prefer to have an original equipped master piece with high upkeep cost along with warranty coverage.

Condition: Condition is more subjective factor than mileage.

  • External Condition: Someone with a scratch less well maintained with no damage to the car has a positive impact on the car. So it must be under consideration to have/get the car professionally washed, with repaired accidental damages, fully dented and painted in order to have an outstanding deal.
  • Interior Condition: If the interiors of the car are choosier, clean, polished and well maintained it is obvious to have a good cost. But the car with unpleasant odor or with dirty seats and smell to make believe it had been not under care irrespective of a brand it would not be preferable for selling and purchasing.
  • Mechanical Condition: While having an online valuation of car in India one should be equally aware with the great running shape of car proving to be under regular service. If a car is under consideration of being regularly and authentically serviced then it would increase the value of used car.

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Mileage: As with time, mileage is a leading decider in establishing the resale value of the car. A car with a great mileage will be more ‘wore down’ than a car with hardly made to off drive distance. Hence your car may be in mint condition but good mileage is equally important.

Drivetrains and Seasonal Demands: Typically automatic transmission cars are preferable with the average used common cars. At some places manual transmission are also popular.

In accordance with seasonal demands, cars like convertible are more demanded in summer months. So one must wait for the right time to sell/purchase car.

After Market Options/Personalization can be bad: Aftermarket enhancement of cars like oversized and custom wheels, stereo speakers, or rear spoilers, rarely raise the price but more work to lower it as original modification of car are considered more valuable that the after marker modifications.

 

Researching over Internet and other sources for best deal: Research over internet for similar vehicles comparing other to determine best quote for yourself at a best bargain. Try to get the best idea of the price by adjusting to the environment of similar cars available.

How fast you want to sell your car: You have to determine how fast you need to sell your car. If you have less time then you must adjust the price lower than the cost available with more bonus and offers to attract more clients on the other hand if you more time they don’t rely on buyers be specific and stick to its perfect modulation. The fact may be replenished that the buyers will have less negotiating leverage, provided with the seller ability to get an offer on their vehicle much sooner.

Appreciable Certitude of Online Valuation of Car in India: Online Valuation of a car must be entertained by each and every buyer that is very helpful in confronting the buyer to get the actual negotiation as well as intercept the seller from being extracting unreasonable profit from the buyer. This will be a serenity deal.

Thus the online valuation initiates both buyer and seller enjoys the satisfactory deal with every bit of information associated with car and hence proving to be the decent workout.

GE Further Slims Finance Business With $12 Billion Deal

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NEW YORK — General Electric (GE) will sell its private equity business in a deal valued at about $12 billion as it refocuses on its core businesses and exits a banking sector now under stricter oversight.

The U.S. Sponsor Finance business, which includes Antares Capital, GE Capital’s lending business to private equity-backed middle market companies, will be sold to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, alongside a $3 billion bank loan portfolio.

GE is looking to sell most of the assets of its $500 billion GE Capital over the next 18 months, but plans to keep the financing components that relate to its industrial businesses. The Fairfield, Connecticut, company is transforming itself back into an industrial conglomerate that makes large, complicated equipment for other businesses.

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Investors had long pushed for GE to get rid of its finance unit, though it had been extremely profitable, as federal regulations and tough market conditions made it less lucrative and at times, more risky.

GE spun off its consumer credit card business, Synchrony Financial, into a separate publicly traded company in July. It sold a 51 percent stake of NBC Universal to Comcast (CMCSK) for $13.75 billion in 2011. Two years later, Comcast bought GE’s remaining 49 percent stake in NBC Universal for $16.7 billion.

General Electric Co. spun off its insurance business into a separate publicly traded company, Genworth Financial Inc. (GNW), in 2004. It sold its reinsurance business to Swiss Re in 2006, and a year later sold its plastics business to Saudi Basic Industries Corp. GE sold silicones to private investment group Apollo Management for $3.8 billion in 2006 and sold its security business to United Technologies for $1.82 billion in 2010.

GE said Tuesday that it is on pace to execute sales of $100 billion by the end of the year.

The U.S. Sponsor Finance transaction is targeted to close in 2015’s third quarter.

How Millennials Define Frugality Differently

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With millennials surpassing baby boomers as the nation’s largest living generation and approaching the precipice of their prime spending years, retailers are scrambling to figure out what makes members of Gen Y open their wallets to spend.

Recent statements from Macy’s (M) and Whole Foods Market (WFM) announcing plans to open off-price counterparts to their current operations suggest that retailers understand the reality of a shifting consumer value system taking hold in this younger generation. But is slashing prices the solution to winning over millennial business?

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If it were, we’d probably see millennials flocking to Walmart (WMT) in droves — and that’s just not happening.

With record student loan debt and an entry into the workforce characterized by vast un- and under-employment courtesy of the Great Recession, millennials have less spending power than previous generations. As such, they tend to be frugal shoppers. But what retailers seem to be forgetting is that frugality isn’t just about the bottom line, it’s about maximizing total value.

To capture the millennial consumer, retailers need to look beyond price and ask themselves how millennials define and assess value.

“Millennials value access over ownership,” says Joan Kuhl, founder of Why Millennials Matter. Kuhl cites the rise of popular services like ZipCar, AirBnB, Uber and Rent the Runway as evidence of millennials’ “restless quest for efficiency.” These companies have “served them a whole new, on demand, experiential style of living,” Kuhl notes.

The Value of Experience

The prioritization of experiences over traditional products is a theme noted by many experts. “They are far more likely to spend money on an international trip with their friends than designer clothes. They value how something will make them feel over stuff,” says Christine Hassler, author of “20-Something Manifesto.”

Jason Dorsey, lead millennial researcher at The Center for Generational Kinetics, attributes this behavior to the ongoing financial recovery and lack of firm financial footing millennials face. “Experiences are more financially accessible than say buying a house or fancy car,”Dorsey explains.

This kind of cost consciousness also affects how millennials shop for the products they do purchase. Millennial Chelsea Krost notes how her gen Y counterparts “take the extra step to research an item” before buying.

[Millennials] want to build relationships with brands that are honest and open.

A 2015 millennial consumer study conducted by millennial expert Dan Schawbel, in partnership with Elite Daily, confirmed the gen Y tendency to rely on peer reviews before making a purchase, with 33 percent of millennials using blogs as their primary research resource. Millennials look to peer content and social media over more traditional media outlets for an authentic look at what’s going on in the world.

“[Millennials] want to build relationships with brands that are honest and open. Part of how millennials define value is by the utility they get for what they purchase and how socially acceptable it is for them to be using the product or engaging in the service. You know if they find a product socially acceptable when they take a selfie with it and post it publicly,” says Schawbel.

Reflecting Values

Millennial CEO of Findspark Emily Miethner also notes how millennial value assessments extend beyond utilitarianism. “Millennials consider how the things they buy reflect on them and want brand values to reflect their own values,” Miethner says. It’s not just about the product and what it does, but how it identifies the individual to others and how that identity makes them feel. That explains the popularity of brands that make outreach part of their business model, like Tom’s and Warby Parker.

Hassler has also observed the influence of brand values in shaping millennial consumer habits. “They value brands that have a positive social and environmental impact over the big brands,” she says. Findings from Schawbel and Elite Daily’s millennial consumer study emphasize the importance of a company’s policy on giving back, with 75 percent of millennials ranking those company ideals and efforts as fairly or very important. For a generation burned by the recession and characterized by Occupy Wall Street, it’s no surprise that corporate greed is unpopular. Millennials are willing to go out of their way to purchase from competitors with a more favorable history of supporting local communities.

So how do these values and priorities play into price and the reality of millennials’ limited spending power? “Less stuff,” Miethner says. Quality, of products themselves, the consumer experience, and company values, paired with a fair price point, will beat out quantity for this new largest generation of consumers.

Stefanie O’Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to “live the dream” on a starving artists’ budget atthebrokeandbeautifullife.com and her book, “The Broke and Beautiful Life,” is now available.

What I Learned From My Soviet Husband About Money

Russia May Day
Communists carry a portrait of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin as they march along Kremlin Towers during a May Day demonstration in Moscow.

By Cameron Huddleston

Remember the Soviet Union? If you grew up in the 1980s, as I did, it’s not just something you read about in history books. You knew the U.S.S.R. as one of America’s greatest rivals. My husband, on the other hand, knew it as home. He was born in Ukraine, then a Soviet republic, and lived there until his senior year in college, when he came to the U.S. as an exchange student.

Although the Soviet Union was a superpower with nuclear weapons, its communist system of state-run industry and collective farms lead to shortages of consumer goods and food. Yes, it’s true that Soviet citizens would stand in long lines at stores that had limited supplies, my husband says. There were waiting lists to buy big-ticket items, such as furniture and cars. And, for the most part, people paid with cash, which meant saving for months or even years to make a purchase.

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Although my husband has now lived in the U.S. for 20 years, he often acts as if he were in the Soviet Union when it comes to spending money — and that’s not a bad thing. As someone who grew up in a country of abundance, I’ve learned a lot from a spouse who grew up with little.

Get the most out of what you have.Because most consumer goods in the Soviet Union were expensive and hard to come by, it was important for my husband’s family to make the things they could afford to buy last as long as possible. For example, his parents spent about 25 percent of one month’s salary to buy a pair of Wrangler jeans for his sister (yes, even off-brand American apparel was a big deal there). Because the jeans had cost so much, they were passed down to my husband. Every time a hole appeared, they were patched until, finally, they were cut off and made into shorts. My husband still will wear things for years. When something can be worn no more, I hear what seems like the sound of defeat when he says he’s going to toss it. With our three children, clothing and toys are passed down from one to the next, though I draw the line at making my son wear his sisters’ hand-me-downs. Every winter when I contemplate replacing my decade-old dress coat, I talk myself out of it because the one I have is still in great condition.

Fix it, don’t replace it. People who lived in the Soviet Union didn’t have much of a choice but to fix things if they broke because it was too hard and too expensive to get a replacement. My husband says his dad could fix almost anything with a pair of pliers and some wire. I don’t doubt him because I’ve seen my husband do the same. My first instinct when something broke used to be to replace it. Now I know I can save money by asking my husband to fix it, which he usually can.

Learn how to DIY. For the most part, people living in the Soviet Union didn’t hire others to do things for them because there wasn’t really a contractor market, my husband says. If you wanted to paint your walls, tile your bathroom, build a table or make curtains, you did it yourself. So when something needs to done around our house, my husband usually will figure out how to do it by searching online or watching a YouTube video. Occasionally, if something is outside the scope of his abilities or will be too time-consuming, he’ll agree to hire someone. For the most part, though, his willingness to DIY has saved us thousands of dollars over the years.

Repurpose what you can. My husband’s family didn’t need Pinterest to prompt them to turn a pallet into a coffee table. They were always repurposing things. And my husband still does. He could buy a set of matching containers for a few bucks to store miscellaneous items on his workbench in the garage. But why waste the money when a few sturdy boxes lying around from other purchases will do the trick? That repurposing mentality has rubbed off on me. When my husband cut down a dead tree in our yard recently (that DIY skill), I had him cut the trunk into equal sizes to use as rustic side tables for chairs we have around a fire pit. Yes, I can repurpose with the best of them — and save

Be mindful of your spending. As my husband sees it, most Americans aren’t mindful of their spending. Credit has made it easy for us to buy things without putting much thought into how much use we’ll really get out of what we buy or whether that money could be put to a better use. His family — like most families in the Soviet Union — didn’t have access to credit and had little money to spare. So every purchase that wasn’t a necessity had to be weighed carefully. He still agonizes over whether to buy things both big and small. Admittedly, his reluctance to spend money can drive me, a personal finance journalist who writes about saving money, a little crazy sometimes. But it’s good to have that voice of reason reminding me to question whether I’m always making the right decision when it comes to spending money. And our kids are picking up on that mindset — at least our oldest is. We need to work a little harder with our middle child, who’s a natural spender. And our youngest is just 3, so we consider ourselves lucky when he doesn’t have a meltdown if we tell him no (which, trust me, is often).

 

The 4 Best Investments for Lazy Investors

blonde mature man sleeping in hammock

 

Here’s good news for time-strapped investors: You can ignore your investments and still get rich.

You don’t have to spend endless hours conducting research, developing watch lists, trading shares, monitoring performance and rebalancing your portfolio. Fortunately, there are investments that require minimal upfront work and even less maintenance on an ongoing basis. Here are the four best investments for lazy investors.

Robo-Advisory Portfolios

Portfolios created and managed by robo-advisers require minimal involvement beyond signing up for the service. They are diversified among various asset classes and market segments, such as U.S. stocks, stocks of emerging markets worldwide, U.S. corporate bonds, international bonds, etc. Depending on the adviser’s approach, portfolios may be tilted toward small caps and value funds.

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Robo-advisory portfolios often contain commission-free ETFs, which tend to be low-cost and tax-efficient. Generally, rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting are included in the services provided to investors (or are available for a nominal fee).

Choose an adviser based on the firm’s investment philosophy, account minimums, asset-under-management fees, other investment fees (if any) and unique features, such as Betterment’s goal-setting emphasis or Wealthfront’s direct indexing service.

To invest your money, respond to prompts regarding your time horizon and risk tolerance. Typically, you’ll enter your age or number of years until you reach retirement (or other financial goal), and choose among conservative, moderate, and aggressive portfolios.

Target-Date Funds

Target-date funds, or life-cycle funds, are often “funds of funds” comprised of passively managed (index) and/or actively managed mutual funds. These typically give investors a balanced portfolio that adjusts from riskier, growth-oriented holdings like stocks toward safer, more stable ones such as bonds as you get closer to the target date associated with your financial goal.

Generally, target dates are aligned with the investor’s expected year of retirement. For example, if you are 35 years old in 2015, you may consider purchasing a fund with the target date of 2045 — the year you turn 65.

To choose a fund, consider the target date, investment-related fees (such as sales loads), expense ratio, mix of underlying funds and glide path, which describes the rate at which the portfolio moves from more aggressive to more conservative investments.

Blue Chip Stocks

Blue chip stocks represent well-established, nationally recognized, financially stable, and reliable companies, typically with consistent business performance. Definitions vary, but experts name the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) as blue chips.

Companies with household names such as Nike (NKE), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Intel (INTC) are part of the Dow. Often, blue chip stocks pay dividends, which can boost overall performance when reinvested.

To build a portfolio of blue chip stocks, accumulate shares of individual stocks through your brokerage firm or purchase a Dow index fund, such as iShares Dow Jones U.S. ETF (IYY).

Alternatively, create a blue chip motif at Motif Investing, where you can buy up to 30 stocks for $9.95. Weight your stock positions according to your preferences, such as market capitalization. Periodically, rebalance using this broker’s tools.

Lazy Portfolios

Lazy portfolios typically consist of a few to several handpicked mutual funds or ETFs that represent the broader stock and bond market domestically and worldwide. These portfolios are diversified, low cost, and minimalistic. Their purpose is to deliver reasonably consistent returns in varied market conditions.

Choose among portfolios with as few as two or as many as 10 funds. For example, you might adopt the Coffeehouse portfolio as specified by Bill Schultheis, author of The Coffeehouse Investor. Accumulate shares in these funds to create an investment portfolio that mirrors the percentages indicated by the model portfolio. This particular portfolio contains Vanguard funds that you can purchase free of commissions with a Vanguard account.

Periodically, rebalance by buying more shares of funds that lag percentage-wise in the portfolio.

There are no guarantees that investments for lazy investors (or diligent ones) will deliver positive returns, year after year. But after making initial purchases, you can minimize the time spent on managing your investments and enjoy other pursuits.

The key to building a healthy portfolio is consistency, rather than finesse. On a regular basis, invest your money, avoid withdrawals when you are in a crisis or panic mode, and keep contributing to your investment accounts in all market conditions.

Are you a lazy investor? What investments have you discovered to be easy to manage?

Don’t Touch the Minibar! How to Avoid 10 Annoying Hotel Fees

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It’s easier than ever to find good deals on hotel rooms online, but the actual price at the check-out counter is often higher due to fees and charges that are tacked onto the bill. In 2014, hotels made $2.25 billion in revenue from extra fees and add-ons, according to a study by a researcher at New York University. Travelers can be nickel-and-dimed for just about anything, and the most frustrating part is that many of the fees aren’t clearly disclosed ahead of time. Cheapism.com found 10 such fees and offers tips on how to avoid them.

Minibar. It’s not a secret that items in the hotel minibar have huge markups. Avoiding minibar charges should be easy: just don’t eat or drink anything. But it’s not always that simple. Some hotel minibars have sensors that automatically charge guests for items that are simply picked up or moved, even if they are put back. The front desk should remove these charges, but you have to notice them on your bill and ask. Some hotels may charge guests to store their own items in the minibar, up to $50 a night. Read the fine print on the refrigerator to avoid this aggravating fee.

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Parking. Often buried in the booking agreement, parking can cost an extra $20 to $30 a day, even for self-parking. Avoid this fee by parking in a nearby lot or on the street. Even if you don’t have a car at the hotel, give the final bill a quick check. Some hotels automatically charge the parking fee, and you’ll have to ask to remove it if you didn’t use the parking facilities.

Wi-Fi. With free Wi-Fi available at just about every McDonald’s and Starbucks, you’d think hotels would offer the same. But an extra charge for using in-room Wi-Fi is common at business and luxury hotels, and the fee can be $20 a day or more. The easiest way to avoid this fee is to stay at a hotel that offers free Wi-Fi, or to limit Wi-Fi use to the lobby or business center that offers a free connection.

Resort Fees. Hotels in popular tourist destinations such as Las Vegas often tack a resort fee onto the bill. The fee covers the use of the pool, lounge chairs, beach umbrellas, and fitness and business centers, and it’s mandatory even if you don’t use those amenities. The advertised price rarely includes the resort fee and the extra charge can catch guests off guard. Some travel sites and hotel chains list the fee before you book, but that’s not always the case. Annoyingly, the fee can be charged even if you book a free room using points in the hotel’s loyalty program. There’s no way to avoid this charge aside from reading the fine print ahead of time and opting for a hotel that doesn’t charge a resort fee.

Early Check-In and Late Check-Out. Some hotels charge guests for arriving early or leaving late. Asking politely at the hotel desk to skip those fees can pay off. Alternatively, ask to store your bags at the hotel desk before checking in or after checking out.

Third-Party Reservation Fee. This is the easiest fee to avoid if you catch it in time. Some online travel sites, such as Priceline (PCLN) and Orbitz (OWW), charge a fee for booking select hotels. Avoid this fee by booking directly with the hotel.

In-Room Safe. The extra charge for an in-room safe is usually small, just a few dollars a day, but some hotels don’t disclose the fee up front. If you didn’t use the safe, ask the front desk to remove the charge. Alternatively, call ahead when booking and ask the hotel to remove the fee if you don’t plan to use the safe or ask for a room that doesn’t have one.

Fitness Center. A charge for use of the hotel fitness center may be added to your bill automatically even if you didn’t use the facilities. Ask the hotel to remove the fee when you check out.

Automatic Gratuity. You may have planned to tip housekeeping anyway, but check to see if a gratuity has been added to your bill so you don’t tip twice. The same goes for services you received during your stay, such as a massage at the spa.

Telephone Surcharge. Using the phone, even for local calls, can result in extra fees at many hotels. This is easy enough to avoid by using your own phone, but what if you’re traveling overseas? Sign up for a Skype subscription and for $2.99 a month you can make unlimited calls to U.S. and Canadian landlines and mobile phones. Or check with your cellphone provider about local service plans to avoid big fees on international calls.

Get Status. One way to avoid extra fees is to have elite status in a hotel chain’sloyalty program. Depending on the chain, the higher status can include extras like free Wi-Fi, breakfast, bottled water in your room, early check-in or late check-out, health club access, and upgraded rooms. Some credit cards automatically give you elite status just for being a cardholder. The cards may have an annual fee, but the perks can more than offset the cost in just a single trip.

5 Cool Electric Vehicles That Won’t Break the Bank

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Electric vehicles are growing in popularity, but so far, outside of Tesla Motors’ (TSLA) Model S, there haven’t been a lot of attractive electric vehicles for consumers to choose from. The Nissan Leaf was an uninspired design and the Chevy Volt didn’t bring much in the way of sexiness to EVs.

But recently automakers have been investing heavily in making EVs people will actually want to buy. Here are five that will look good in your driveway without leaving you broke.

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The Chevy Volt wasn’t a head turner when General Motors (GM) launched it, but the Chevy Bolt might be. The sleek, compact design is highlighted by an all-glass roof and a minimal dash that seems like it was designed by a startup auto company rather than Detroit’s old guard.

What’s equally as impressive is the 200-mile range and a $38,000 price tag, even before tax incentives. The Chevy Bolt won’t go on sale until about a year from now, but it could quickly become the best-selling electric vehicle on the market when it does.

Tesla Motors’ Encore

The Model S is now the benchmark for electric vehicles, but the Model 3 is really when Tesla Motors will prove its mettle. This will be the third mass-produced vehicle for Tesla Motors (after the Model X launches later this year), but it’ll be the first to be within reach for the mass market.

Current plans are for the Model 3 to have at least 200 miles in range and a price tag of $35,000 before tax incentives. Styling will be similar to the Model S, so Tesla isn’t taking too many risks there. With a price tag that’s more in reach for consumers this could be a defining product for Tesla Motors’ future and could make or break the company financially. The most recently reported launch date for the Model 3 is March 2016.

Germany’s Best Shot at Electric Vehicles

Tesla Motors and Chevy get a lot of the attention in the EV market, but BMW has come out of nowhere to take the No. 3 spot in U.S. EV sales so far in 2015. The i3 may be the most ambitious EV we’ve seen yet with a chassis built of carbon fiber and an all-electric design from a company known for luxury, high-performance vehicles.

The $42,400 price tag is expensive to be sure, but it’s not much more than other EVs and among the least expensive vehicles BMW makes. The 81-mile range of the i3 isn’t the industry leader in range, but this is also the first crack at EVs for BMW and I think that will improve dramatically given its success out of the gate.

VW Makes EVs Affordable

If you want an EV on a budget, the VW e-Golf is a great place to start. The car is available for $25,950 after the $7,500 federal tax credit and gets up to 83 miles on each charge. VW claims you can get up to 66 miles of charge from fast-charging stations that are popping up around the country.

The e-Golf will also perform nearly as well as gasoline-powered competitors in VW’s line. It has just one foot pound less torque than the Golf TSI, due to a natural torque advantage electric engines have over gasoline power. The e-Golf should be fun to drive and at an affordable price it could be a worthy competitor to other compact EVs hitting the market.

Ford Has Gone Electric

A relative late comer to the EV party was Ford (F), but it has managed to learn from mistakes manufacturers like GM and Nissan made to bring an EV to the market that could appeal to the masses. The Ford Focus Electric has 80 miles of range in a hatchback design that starts at just $29,170.

Unlike the original Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt, the Focus Electric is a sleek design that doesn’t scream “electric” as it’s driving down the road. At under $30,000 it looks like Ford is also trying to see if there’s mass appeal for future electric vehicles.

It’s Not So Crazy to ‘Go Electric’

Just a few years ago, it would cost a fortune to buy an electric car and if you got one it was hard to feel “cool” driving it. But automakers have upped their game when it comes to styling, range, and affordability. Today, it’s possible to find an attractive electric car without breaking the bank.

Motley Fool contributor Travis Hoium owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends BMW, Ford, General Motors, and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.