7 Tips for Saving Money on Airplane Tickets and Airfare

One of the most expensive parts of traveling these days has to be the cost of airplane tickets. It’s pretty easy to shop around and find deals on hotels but what about saving money on your airfare costs? There are a few ways you can save money on airfare and I am just learning this as I am trying to book a flight for any upcoming trip.

  1. Sign Up For Alerts – If you know which company you want to fly with or have narrowed down a few sign up for their loyalty program or their mailing list and they will send you notifications for seat sales or even codes for discount airfares.
  2. Fly Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday – It’s agreed upon that these are the cheapest days to fly on. Nobody wants to fly midweek and airlines don’t like empty seats.
  3. Fly Off Peak Hours – Search the available times for the day you want to fly and you will see that off peak hours are cheaper. This usually means later a night or very early in the morning but if you can do it you will save on airfare.
  4. When to Buy – I have read a lot of different things but most experts agree that buying four to six weeks is the cheapest time to book  your flight.
  5. Clear You Cookies – I actually watched a co-worker do this. As she searched for vacation packages from her computer the prices constantly changed and they were going up. It’s called dynamic pricing. The more demand the higher the price. So if you clear your cache, clear your cookies or use and incognito browser you will probably see cheaper prices.
  6. Join Loyalty or Rewards Programs – I signed up for an airline specific credit card. I was given a number of airline rewards dollars I can use towards a flight, free checked bags and a voucher for a flight. I realize that this isn’t for everybody but it saved me money of an upcoming flight.
  7. Watch Hidden Fees – A few things can add up like checked bags. Know what you can bring for a carry on. Usually a small travel suitcase and a personal item. I try to get as much out of this as possible. On my last two flights once inside the airport the company checked my carry on for free because they have room.

Saving money on your airfare or airplane tickets isn’t hard but it takes some work and research on your part. Do a little digging and put a plan together and you should be able to save money on your next flight.

airfare photo

Photo by Mike Miley

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Save Money on Back to School Shopping

So the kids are heading back to school or the your young adult is off to college. It can be an expensive time for many households but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways you can save money on back to school shopping.

Save Money on Back to School Shopping

  1. Make a list and stick to it. This is important. You don’t want to be flying all over the place buying randomly. Make a list of what you need and then go after those items and cross reference your list with sales, coupons and cheap places to get those items. A list will help you itemize what you need and help you find the most inexpensive place to get them.
  2. Buy used text books.  I rarely bought brand new books when I was in college. There are lots of places to buy used text books. Find out if there are used books stores nearby or start a search of websites like Amazon.
  3. Take an inventory at home before you shop. Chances are  your closets are filled with pens, crayons, markers, pencils and more. There is no need to shop for more supplies if you already have the supplies at home.
  4.  Make use of the dollar store. Most of the supplies you need are probably things you can find at a dollar store like pencils, paper, notebooks and even computer supplies. You don’t need to brand name shop for supplies.
  5. Garage sales are a great source for furniture and other dorm room essentials for your college kids. You will probably be able to find cooking supplies, furniture and computer essentials at any garage sale.
  6. Watch for sales and cut coupons. Start doing some comparative shopping and start cutting coupons or search for online coupons.
  7. Enlist social media. Join a Facebook group in your local area that trades, gives away freebies or sells children essentials cheap. You can also start following the major stores you shop at on Twitter or Facebook for coupons and sales.
school supplies photo

Photo by Lyn Lomasi

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Review Your Credit Card Statements Weekly

You learn by experience and this week I learned a hard lesson about credit cards. I used a credit card for some entertainment expenses online and was surprised at the end of the month to see a cash advance charge and an interest charge for that advance that had been adding up all month.

I take responsibility for the letting this slip by me. I wouldn’t have had this charge I had been checking my credit card account online on a regular basis. If I would have seen it I would have paid it off immediately and not had an interest charge. I hate interest charges.

I have now made it part of my weekly plan to check my active credit cards for anomalies and charges.

credit cards photo

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Tips to maximize your heating system this winter

It is estimated that heating your house can account for upwards of 50% of a family’s winter energy bill.  This number is too high to ignore. A furnace that is not operating efficiently can have a drastic effect on a persons heating bill.

Every year before the winter season starts it is recommended that you have a tune up scheduled with a licensed heating technician. You want to make sure that all of your wires are connected properly and that all of the various electrical components are in good working order. If any of these are not it is going to cost you extra money to heat your house.

You also want to make sure that the system is clean and that you proper airflow. Improper air flow will cause a large strain on your system and not only increase your heating bill but also cause the system to fail sooner than it should. Furnaces are expensive you want to get as much life out of them as possible.

Don’t forget to either clean or replace your furnace filter. A dirty filter will make the system work harder and cost you more money in the long run.

furnace filter photo

Photo by G & A Sattler

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Four Money Saving Mistakes and How to Fix Them

If you find yourself getting farther behind then ahead when it comes to saving money you could be committing a number of mistakes that are costing you. Lets look at four common mistakes people make when it comes to saving money and how to fix them.

  1. Ignoring Small Purchases – Small purchases can add up in the long run and not keeping an eye on your small purchases can really put a dent in your wallet. Correct this by keeping track of your small purchases and see if you can cut them back. For example, if you buy several coffees at a shop everyday this will add up. Try bringing your own in a thermos. If you spend a great deal on fast food try packing a lunch instead.
  2. Ignoring  Your Balances – If you are have having a problem saving money chances are you are not on top of the balance in your bank account and you are not watching where the money is going. This relates back to point number one but on a bigger scale. I constantly watch my bank account balance to see where my money is being spent and try to find ways to budget better and spend less.
  3. High Interest Loans – If you are constantly running over in your bank account, using cash advances on credit cards or high interest debt loans like payday you are not going to get far ahead. You have to start to make changes in your spending habits and do two things. Fix your spending so you are not doing this and get those debts payed off. Start with the higher interest loans first and work your way down.
  4. Denial – Denial is bad in anything you have a problem with and denial that you are spending too much is a bad way to be. By accepting the fact that you have to save or that you have to stop spending the way you currently are the faster you will get out of the hole you are in.

I realize this all sounds easier said than done and it is. I am not going to lie but if you can start to get a grip on your spending habits, start budgeting, stop borrowing and realize you want to do better, you can.

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How to Save Money on Gas in the Winter

How to Save Money on Gas in the Winter

Many of us may not realize that we use more gas in our car during the winter time. Your gas efficiency can drop as much as 20% when the weather dip below freezing. There are many reasons for this such as a cold engine takes longer to reach maximum efficiency, cold air causes more drag and people let their cars idle or warm up for too long. All of these have negative effects on your gas mileage and bill.

If you want to save money on gas in the winter time follow these tips:

  • Don’t let your car warm up for too long. It will warm  up faster while driving. You are getting zero miles to the gallon while it is warming up in your driveway.
  • Don’t  use defrosters or seat warmers when not necessary they use too much power.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly to maximize your ride. You should do this all year round.
  • Remove any roof racks or anything else that might promote air drag.
  • Park your car in a warm place like a garage or where it might get the benefit of full sun during the day.
  • Use a cold weather oil.
  • Drive reasonably. Jack rabbit starts and stops waste fuel.

Follow these simple tips and you will be well on your way to saving gas money for your car and putting a little extra in our pockets.

gas saving tips

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Small Expenses Can Add Up

Small expenses can add up to be a big expense in your life. When you talk to most people you will hear them grip about the large expenses in their lives. How much a new tv costs, a car or their heating bill for example. On the same page these same people will spend a large amount of money on small expenses and not even notice it.

Take for example buying a large coffee everyday which may cost  you $2. That could be $60 a month. Or consider buy a $10 fast food meal once a week. That’s another $40 you spent without realizing it.

Small expenses are the ones that typically do not give you anything in return. A large expense like an energy efficient appliance at least helps you save money and performs a task. Small frequent expenses or purchases often do neither.

If you want to start saving a bit of money each month then make a list of your small expenses. Getting your monthly bank statement is a good idea. Then start looking for where you can make some cuts. Make your own coffee. Buy in bulk. Buy generic brands. Bring you own water to work. There are lots of ways to shed some of those $5 and $10 expenses each week.

expenses photo

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Money Saving Myths That Cost You Money

Saving money is one of the most important challenges that most of us face on a daily basis. Yet many of us do things in our attempts to save money that end up costing us money in the long run. I think sometimes we get lost in the idea of trying to save money that we forget to look at what we are actually doing to save.

Here is a perfect example. An acquaintance of  mine would often come back from lunch with shopping bags full of “good deals”. The problem with the good deals is that is was mostly stuff she didn’t need and she was spending money needlessly while thinking she was saving money.

I have no need for extra bath towels right now. Why would I go out and buy a bunch of them just because they are on sale. It’s not a very wise way to save money if I am spending it.

If found this article which documents seven myths of saving money that actually cost you. The article goes over sale spending,  credit card rewards and the pitfalls of buying in bulk.

As frugal-minded individuals, we love to find ways to save money. Saving money can be a good thing to do as the funds can be used in other areas of your budget to help you live the life you want. However, there are times when what we believe to be saving us money is actually costing us in the long run. – Source

money photo

Photo by 401(K) 2013

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DIY Storm Window Projects Saves Money

One sure fire way to save money on your energy and heating bill is through the addition for storm windows. Leaky windows let the cold air in during the winter months and let the hot air in during the summer. Either way you are just throwing your money out the window with your heating and cooling bill. That is why I decided to try a DIY storm window project to help save money on my heating bill.

A couple of notes on this project. I am not very handy at all. It really looks like a bigger project than it really is. Trust me. You just need a couple of tools like a miter saw, square, measuring tape and drill. Pretty basic stuff. Most instructions I found on-line involve using plexi glass, this method uses shrink wrap and is easy to build.

I estimate that each window probably cost around $30 at a maximum to make. To save money I bought a bulk package of the plastic shrink wrap as I was making a few windows and you can save by buying larger pieces of wood and cutting them yourself into the fitted pieces. The more expensive item was the weather stripping which you shouldn’t cheap on but I will talk about that in a bit.

Finally this is by no means my creation. I just basically followed a five part youtube series which was easy to follow and easy to reproduce. I will link the series after I go over my process a bit.

The process basically involves building a wooden frame, adding shrink wrap to each side of the frame, using the blow drier to tighten it, tape down the edges and add weather stripping.

Here’s the finished project fitting nice and snug in my basement window. This window is warm and dry. No leaks and no condensation on the window at all.

Here is a photo showing the open cell weather stripping. I used the foamy type that can squeeze in order to fit. I tried the closed cell type and there is no play on it meaning you have to be exact in your measurements.

Here is the link to the start of the series on Making Storm Windows. It is a five part series of instruction and you can find each link to the next video in the index. Follow along it’s really easy.

A couple of tips:
1. The double sized tape will pull and maybe pull off the wood frame a little. Just make sure you use a packing tape on tape down the frame where the double sized tape it. He goes over taping the corners down. I tape the entire frame down.

2. Leave yourself lots of overlap when cutting and applying the plastic wrap as it pull and shrinks. If you don’t it will pull and shrink right off of your frame.

3. When he says to drop an inch on each side so your window fits, do it. You will be filling any gaps with the weather stripping and you want to make sure it fits. I put my frame together and tested it to make sure it fits loosely before adding the wrap.

4. He uses a dowel to put the frame together. Too much for me. I used Gorilla glue and then a nail gun and let it sit for a couple of hours for the glue to dry. This was easier for me. I also pre-drilled holes used a small screw on one of my windows.

Have fun saving money on your heating bill. My basement has never been warmer and drier. Before putting these windows up I would get ice on my windows. Not any more.

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Quick Tips to Save On Your Winter Energy Bill

Of course we all want to lower our energy bills this winter. It’s not a hard thing to do but take a little bit of elbow grease but with a bit of effort your can lower your winter energy bill.  Follow these steps to save money on your energy and heating bills this winter.

Quick Tips to Save On Your Winter Energy Bill

    • Turn down the thermostat at night or when you’re not home.
    • Add a programmable thermostat to control the temperature for home and away times. Check with your energy company, some offer them for free to help you save energy.
    •  Open blinds and curtains in the day to let the sun heat your home and close them at night to keep the warm air in and cold air out.
    • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater to 120 degrees. We are on a plan that lets the Utility company control our water heater and it saves us money.
    • Consider buying and insulation wrap for your water heater. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to put on.
    • Clean your furnace filter monthly, we just vacuum ours out and replace it annually.
    • Check your outer doors to see if you can see light coming through, if so add weather stripping.
    • Consider buying a plastic shrink wrap kit to cover breezy windows or patio doors.

These are just a few quick tips that will help your save money on your winter energy bill. They are for the most part inexpensive to do and you will see results on your heating and hydro bill. On the reverse they will also help you with your air conditioning bill during the summer months.

Room Thermostat

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