Sunday, June 17, 2012

Free E-Cards for Dad

Thanking your dad on Father's Day does not have to be an expensive proposition.  You can customize a free e-card (egreetings has some good ones, too) and make sure your dad knows how much you appreciate him!  Or put together a coupon book using one of these handy templates.  Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

365 Ways to Save - June

With Memorial Day behind us and months of warm weather ahead, June brings thoughts of fun, sun and vacation.  A memorable getaway can certainly cost a lot -- but it doesn't have to!  Here are some ideas for minimizing the costs -- but not the benefits -- of a great trip:
Planning Your Trip
127. Consider your destination carefully: you can save lots of money -- and avoid the crowds -- if you look for summer alternatives to places like Disneyworld (and other theme-parks), the major capitals in Europe, etc. Think instead about visiting ski resorts for hiking and water sports this summer (many were hard-hit by the warm weather this past winter, and so will be eager for guests).
128.  Make airline and hotel  reservations via sites like lastminute.com and lastminutedeals.com which match you to airlines that have unsold seats and hotels that have unsold rooms.  You'll get deals at just a fraction of the usual price.
129. Check out these free travel ideas -- if you aren't frightened off by the idea of house sitting or otherwise working through your vacation, you might not have to spend any money at all on your vacation this year.
130. Although you usually really have to plan quite far in advance to use frequent flyer miles (earned from other travel or credit card use) to fly, these miles are good often also good for hotel charges, and there is often more flexibility there.
131. If you are not already a member of the frequent traveler programs associated with your airline, hotel, or rental car company, sign up right away, and then look into immediate perqs such as use of airport lounges or free upgrades.

If You'll be Driving
132.  Before you head out on the road, check the pressure of each of your tires against the guidelines listed in your car’s manual; add air if needed. Doing this can improve mileage (and thereby save you money at the pump) by about 3 percent.
133.  It takes more fuel to move a heavier car around, so you'll also want to lighten your load by removing snow shovels and the like from your trunk.  Remember that even the little things add up, so pack carefully -- don't use the excuse that you are driving to bring everything you own with you on vacation.
134.  Clean the air filter before your trip to keep your engine running efficiently -- and save on energy and costly repairs.
135.  Driving 10 mph above 60 is like adding nearly 50 cents to the price of a gallon of gas because your car must use more gas at higher speeds.  So slow down, enjoy the view, and save a few bucks.  Other money-saving benefits include avoiding speeding tickets, and saving stress, wear and tear on your car's tires, brakes, and transmission.
136.  Similarly, if you keep your speed steady and avoid making lots of quick starts and stops, you'll use less fuel.  To help you maintain a consistent speed, use cruise control if you have it.
137.  At speeds of less than 60 mph, you'll save gas by cooling off with a breeze from an open window; at 60 mph and above, it is better to use your car's air conditioning system to reduce drag.
138.  You'll also save money on gas if you don't drive extra miles by getting lost.  So use a GPS device to ensure that you're always on the right route.
139.  Similarly, check out web sites like traffic.com to avoid detours and traffic tie-ups that would otherwise cost you extra time and fuel.
140.  Throughout your trip, seek out the gas station with the lowest price at GasPriceWatch.com and GasBuddy.com.  You can also check out mobile apps like Where and Poynt (check out the New York Times round-up of these money-saving apps).

If You'll be Flying
141. Sometimes finding the cheapest airfare is a matter of timing. For the greatest choice of low-cost flights, go online early in the morning. Airlines often reset their discounts at night, and you'll find the widest selection before East Coast workers get to the office. Avoid flying Monday mornings and Thursday evenings when flights are crowded with business travelers; instead think about flying on Saturday morning.
142. You can avoid the now-standard $25 fee that most airlines for checked luggage when you fly JetBlue or Southwest Airlines, neither of which has yet adopted the fee. Or you can shave a few dollars off (usually $2 or $3) by checking in online. 

Save on Hotel Costs
143. If you'll be at one location for more than a few days, book a condo instead of a hotel room so that you can make your own meals and save on dining out.
144. If you are traveling with kids, look for places that welcome them with wonderful freebies. For example, Loews Hotels allow kids to stay free, eat free, and see a movie for free; Holiday Inns lets kids stay and eat free.
145. Many hotels offer freebies for adults, too. Look for free parking, free newspapers, free Internet, free gym and pools, and best of all, free meals, like the cooked-to-order breakfasts offered by Embassy Suite Hotels.
146.  Finding really inexpensive accommodations when you travel can be a real challenge. But with some creativity, it is possible to see the world on a very limited budget. You'll find some ideas for very low cost lodging by clicking here.
147. Don't let your hotel overcharge you! Read The Insider Travel Guider's tips for avoiding the extra fees that hotels may try to add to you bill.
148. Get more for your money by asking the hotel if they will upgrade your room for free.

If You Rent a Car
149. Take advantage of insurance programs offered by your credit card company or existing insurer for rental cars and other travel expenses before purchasing separate policies for your car rental.
150. Follow frequent renter's guidelines to avoid the extra charges that rental companies sometimes tack on.

Throughout Your Vacation
151. Use online coupons from sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Zozi to save big (often as much as 90%) on right-now deals at restaurants, spas, theaters, activities and events, and so forth.
152.  Find out if the attractions you want to see have times when the admission is free or discounted. For example, admission to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City is free on Fridays between 4 pm and 8 pm. Since the cost is usually $25 for adults, these savings are quite significant.  To find out if the sights you want to see offer special savings, all you need to do is call them or poke around on their web site.
153. Make lunch your big meal of the day since most restaurants have a lower priced luncheon menu (but the food is often the same).
154. Consider using a restaurant discount card to save money when you eat out.
155. Whenever possible, bring your own refreshments into theme parks, museums, circuses, etc.
156. Skimp and splurge strategically at restaurant meals: for example, order tap water instead of soda or fancy bottled water, share an appetizer, but order the most fabulous dessert on the menu if desserts are your thing (you are on vacation, after all!).
157. Walk around whenever you can instead of taking taxis -- you'll get a better sense of your surroundings. Better yet, take public transportation like the locals.
158. Always ask about discounts you may get as a student; senior; or member of AAA, AARP, the military, or any other group.
159. If something goes wrong (as it invariably does when you travel a lot), take action quickly and politely and you may be compensated for your trouble (see online tips on lodging a complaint).

Want to see more of our 365 ways to save? Check out the list of tightwad tips from January, February, March, April and May.