Why Now is the Time to Use Your Airline Miles

Why Now is the Time to Use Your Airline Miles

If you have been banking your airline miles to save for a special trip or to use them towards upgrading to first class, this could be a great time to book your award travel. The first reason is availability. The number of award seats has gone up in 2019 across most airlines –especially with United and Alaska Airlines. The second reason is price. The number of miles needed to book a flight has actually decreased over the last five years. The average miles needed for an awards ticket (domestic economy) was 18,243 in 2019, down from 22,002 five years ago. We all want to the best price for a flight, whether redeeming miles or paying cash so it’s important to understand the math. Before you book your tickets consider the amount of the ticket in miles. Simply divide cash price of the ticket by total miles (points) used. This will give you the value per mile. Here are two examples: $400 ticket costs 25,000 in miles equates to 1.6¢ per mile. $300 ticket costs 25,000 in miles equates to 1.2¢ per mile. A good rule of thumb is 1.5¢ per miles for a coach ticket. When is the best month to use your reward miles? Not necessarily summer or Christmas vacation. Reward availability is lowest during July and December holidays, and best in September / October (when the kids are back in school). My personal preferred travel months as the beaches are always less crowded.
These 6 Cities Will Pay You Thousands to Move There

These 6 Cities Will Pay You Thousands to Move There

Before you say something like ‘I wouldn’t move there if they paid me’ consider this; some US cities are literally offering to pay you. If you have ever thought about making a move to a more affordable city to make a new start, now might be the time.

Living in a large city like Los Angeles certainly has its perks and opportunities, but it also comes at a high cost. LA, as an example, has a cost of living 48% above the US average, and the median home value is just at half a million dollars. Combine that with jammed freeways that drives transportation costs 25% above the national average it’s smart to consider alternatives -especially when the alternatives are paying you money to move there. Here are six:

1. Grant County, Indiana

Through Grant for Grads, a housing assistance program created by the Grant County Economic Growth Council, you can receive up to $5,000 for the down payment (and closing costs) on a home purchase. If home ownership isn’t your thing, Grant County is offering a 20% reduction on monthly rent payments. The program is designed to attract graduates with an associate’s degree or higher who are choosing to work and live in Grant County.

2. Baltimore, Maryland

Further east in Baltimore, home of John Hopkins Hospital, is the Buying Into Baltimore program which offers home-buyers a $5,000 forgivable five-year loan. In an effort to help gentrify older areas of town, there is also the Vacants to Value program offering up to $10,000 towards a down payment for buying an abandoned home. 

3. North Platte, Nebraska

Head northeast of Denver International Airport on a three and half hour drive and you will find North Platte, Nebraska. This low populated area with open spaces is seeking those skilled in areas from factory work to health care. Their website states “The WORKNP.com program offers local employers up to $5,000 per open position (in the form of matching funds) for the purpose of creating a robust, attractive worker incentive package to help fill a job.”  If you take a position with say a $4,000 sign on bonus, the program will match it. 

4. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa has an attractive offer of up to $10,000 cash, work space at a trendy shared office in downtown Tulsa where you can work alongside entrepreneurs, remote workers and digital nomads, and a three month housing stipend for those who qualify. To be considered for the Tulsa Remote program, applicants must meet four eligibility requirements: You can move to Tulsa within 6 months. You have full time remote employment, or are self-employed outside of Tulsa county. You are 18+ years old and eligible to work in the United States. tulsaremote.com lays the program out in an easy to read format.

5. Marquette, Kansas

If you’re looking to escape the rat race and build your own home, this small Kansas town has an offer you just don’t see these days: free land. Marquette is offering free lots and will waive all utility hook-up and building permit fees. All utilities, including natural gas, will be on the property. The website states Marquette offers “a lifestyle where neighbors know neighbors and parents feel comfortable letting kids play outside, take a bike ride and walk to school.” To qualify for this program, you must agree to begin construction on the home within 120 days and finish building the home within one year.

8. New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven, the fastest growing city in Connecticut, is offering up to $80,000 in incentives for first time home buyers. Receive $10,000 in interest-free loans for down payments or closing costs and $30,000 in energy-saving upgrades for the home. If you have school age children the offer is even more attractive. The city is guaranteeing free tuition to any in-state college for students who graduate from New Haven public schools in good academic and behavioral standing. 

November 19, 2018

A 20% Pay Cut? How We Can Avert the Coming Social Security Nightmare

A 20% Pay Cut? How We Can Avert the Coming Social Security Nightmare

What percentage of your retirement income will be from Social Security? It’s a question most of us haven’t thought about, but chances are if you have, you certainly factor in Social Security as a large contributor to your monthly retirement and with good reason; you’ve paid into it your whole life and are entitled to it.

Here’s the scary part: the Social Security Program in it’s current state will not be able to meet it’s requirements within 15 years. Worse, nearly 50% of American’s are not participating in their employers retirement plan –which means they may not have a retirement plan at all.

This spells impending disaster for Americans when they eventually realize they will not be able to retire as planned. They may have to spend their golden years working and scraping by instead of enjoying a life of leisure and travel enjoying time with family or exploring new hobbies.

Currently there are over 10,000 baby boomers hitting retirement every single day, and half of all retiree’s receive more than half of their monthly income from Social Security, with an average benefit around $1,200. If changes are not made to the program, “people are going to have to take a 23% cut” from their monthly Social Security says former North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad. Conrad co-chaired a 19 member bi-partisan commission on retirement who’s analysis found that in order to prevent this future breakdown it’s going to take ‘many steps’ to correct –including adding new revenue along with benefit savings.

As we stand by and watch the slow deterioration of this important social program, we have to remember that we’ve been here before.

The net cash outflow in 1975 confirmed the Social Security program was in trouble. It wasn’t until 1983 when Ronald Reagan passed the Social Security Amendments which created of the taxation of Social Security benefits, as well as increased the full retirement age. It was an unwelcome band-aid that has so far kept the program going until now. The year 2034 is currently the program’s expected cash exhaustion date. I know. Yikes.

Our lawmakers have 16 years to find a solution to repair Social Security according to the 10-year model found in the 2018 Trustee report. You see, the money we pay into Social Security isn’t immediately paid out to benefit recipients, but rather invested in safe, interest-bearing bonds which creates income on the reserves. Interest earned on Social Security asset reserves has so far kept the program alive, but not it’s not enough for 2034 and beyond.

What can be done?

Support fundingourfuture.us, an organization that works with individuals and our policy makers in Washington to  strengthen retirement policies and bring attention to the needs of current and future retirees. 

You can and should write your representatives, and let them know they need to be working on this now, not waiting until the last minute. You can find yours here   

Most importantly make a plan for your retirement that doesn’t include social security, the earlier in life the better.

Personal Capital is a fantastic tool that gives you the ability to track your net worth, manage income and expenses, find hidden fees in your investments, and run various calculations to plan for different retirement scenarios. For example, run a scenario that would what would it take to be able to retire 5 years early. 

Save More with Airfare Price Tracking

Save More with Airfare Price Tracking

There are more options and tools than ever to help you time when to buy your airline tickets at the lowest price (as we have written about before). Now there’s a service that allows travelers to track the price of their booked flights and receive alerts when the price drops, so they can re-book their seat and save.

Yapa, a free service that’s been tracking airfare since 2007, let’s users track airfares on desired flights and sends alerts for the best time to purchase. “Get the best fare, even after you buy,” is the headline that greets you on their website.

If you have already purchased your seat you can also track the flight and receive price drop alerts. Their system takes into account rebooking fee’s prior to issuing an alert preventing any rebooking disappointments. Forward your itinerary confirmation email to trips@yapta.com to begin the price tracking service.

According their website, Alaska Airlines offers refunds for any price drop; Jet Blue and Virgin offer refunds for price drops of $75 or more; Hawaiian Airlines will refund any price drop greater than $100; and United, Delta and American will refund any price drop more than $200. They claim to have saved users over $3.5 million, and an average of $334 per user.

  

5 Travel Apps to Help You Save on Your Next Vacation

5 Travel Apps to Help You Save on Your Next Vacation

Summer and summer vacations are just around the corner. While roughly 50% of us say vacations are ‘extremely important’ over 50% of Americans leave unused vacation time on the table at the end of the year. Don’t be one of them! Taking time to rest and renew is important for our health, so here’s 5 travel apps that can save you money and time when traveling.

HotelTonight

I’ve been using HotelTonight for 5+ years and have saved a ton of money while getting some fantastic rooms from NYC to Laguna Beach. Initially the app only allowed same day bookings at hotels with unsold rooms, but now allows future bookings at great prices. Download the app from your app store, or directly at https://txt.hoteltonight.com/2qpjHQXCEM  

Tip: Use promo code DBAKER89 and you’ll get $25 off your first booking of at least $135 (excluding taxes and fees).

Service

Service not only makes sure you get the lowest hotel rates possible, it also will file a claim on your behalf when you experience a flight delay of 90 minutes or more, or a flight cancellation. Compensation with airlines is usually vouchers or miles, which is fine by us. Simply synch your email with Service and the app will monitor all booked hotel reservations and flights, future and past, to find your savings. They claim their service can save you up to $300 a year, while reducing traveler frustration. 

Tip: Sign up here and get $20 off your first charge

 

GetaRound

The Airbnb for cars (much like Turo and Car2Go) allows you to search for available cars in the area from budget to luxury, starting at $30. Rates are generally 30% less than big name car rental agencies and come with 24 hour roadside assistance and insurance baked into the cost. And since you’re traveling and will not need it, you can rent out your own car on the app. Some users are earning hundreds of dollars per month renting out their car, and covering the car payment this way.

 Tip: Unlock the car right from your phone with the app’s key-less software

Hopper

Clean interface and easy to use, Hopper will watch a trip for you i.e. Seattle to Miami, and send you notifications when  prices drop. Hopper also shows you flight price by day and allows you to book in just a few taps. Hopper also predicts future price movements with 95% accuracy, and will display insightful recommendations such as ‘Wait for a better price, but buy before XX date”, or ‘Buy now, prices are unlikely be any lower.’

Tip: Save your payment and passenger information to make future flight bookings even faster. 

GasBuddy

This free app has been around for years, but did you know you can use it to pay for a fill-up? Get a discount of 10 cents per gallon on your first fill-up, and 5 cents on every gallon after that. Users update gas prices daily which allows you to find the cheapest fuel in the area. There’s also the Trip Cost Calculator if you want to know how much you might spend on gas on a specified trip after entering in details such as car type, tank size, etc.

Have a travel app savings story to share? Let us know, we would love to hear it!

Costco Savings and Secrets

Costco Savings and Secrets

Oh, Costco. How we have a love hate relationship with you. We love the high quality selection, the savings, and of course the free samples throughout the warehouse. We hate the crowded parking lots, long lines, and the fact we can’t leave there without spending at least $100, and entering another small line to have you highlight our receipts.

While these are things we know about Costco, today we will share some fairly unknowns about the big box retailer including ways to shop at Costco without having a membership. Yes, you can still shop at Costco without a membership under certain conditions. 

Use a Gift Card

You can shop with a Costco gift card. According to Costco.com  “Members and non-members may use the Costco Cash Cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and online at Costco.com.”

Fill a Prescription at the Pharmacy

Like many products and services, Costco frequently has the lowest prices on medications and you don’t have to be a member to use the pharmacy.

Test Your Hearing or Vision 

No membership is required to use Costco’s hearing and optical services for screenings or examinations. Actually purchasing the hearing aids or glasses, however would require a membership. Find a friend who has a membership and they can purchase them for you, or use the costco gift card.

Even frequent Costco shoppers may not be aware of some other fairly unknowns, such as pricing structure and coupons. Costco coupons come out every Thursday. And you might not be aware that while most regular priced items are priced ending in .99, if a product ends in .97 you know it’s most likely been marked down. Other prices ending in .49, or .79 is sometimes a signal that it was a special buy for Costco and might be the lowest price you can find for that item.

At themoneybeat.com we love our red wine, and recently found a bottle that is priced the same as wine club members get for that particular winery from Paso Robles, CA.

Sometimes you may also see  “” in the upper right-hand corner of the price tag. Most likely, this is an item that is limited and you may not see again as it isn’t going to be reordered.

Have a Costco secret you would like to share? We would love to hear it!

 

google706540412d33ec26.html