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How to Find the Cheapest Flights

How to Find the Cheapest Flights

Have you ever experienced this scenario? You’re talking to a friend or colleague about the flights you’ve just booked to some exotic destination for your next vacation, only for them to turn around and tell you that they’ve booked flights to the same destination for hundreds of dollars less! It can be infuriating; just think of all the things you could spend that money on when you arrive at your destination.

This doesn’t have to happen to you ever again! With the tips below you can ensure that you always get the cheapest flights in any circumstance.

1. The early bird saves money.

It’s not really a secret but, as with most things, the earlier you book, the more you can save. The magic number is 60. Prices rise on average about 60 days before the departure date. But don’t book too early. FareCompare research shows that airlines don’t release their cheap seats until about four months out.

2. Being flexible pays off.

If you’re not picky about the exact date that you fly, you could slash a huge amount off your fare. Mid-week flights are less popular than weekends, and Wednesday is historically the cheapest day to fly. Catching the red-eye will also save you a packet. Consider traveling to destinations in their off-peak seasons; his is will vary by location, but a quick Google search usually reveals the answer. Not only will everything be cheaper, but you will get to experience a different side to your destination that most people never see.

3. Size matters.

The nearest airport to you may not be the best one to fly from if you’re looking to save some extra spending money. Bigger and busier airports often have cheaper flights, as there is more competition between airlines and a higher frequency of flights. Compare the price of taking a cheap domestic flight to a bigger airport versus flying straight from your local airport. In my case I was able to fly to another domestic airport for $59, and the international leg was over $200 cheaper from there!

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Try using a website like Adioso to compare the price of flying into different airports near your destination. As you can see below, it was $400 cheaper for me to fly into LA instead of San Francisco–something that can make a huge difference to your hip pocket (plus maybe you could fly to LA and then take an awesome road trip to San Francisco in a rental car).

adioso

    4. Short trip? Save even more.

    Most of the budget airlines charge a low base rate, and then charge for add-ons like checked luggage. If you don’t need to take much with you, you could save quite a bit by only taking carry-on luggage (this is usually included in the cost of all tickets).

    5. Take advantage of historical price data.

    Using some great historical pricing tools like Kayak’s Price Forecast, you can work out whether the ticket price for your flight is more likely to rise or fall. This tool will show you whether to book immediately or if you’re better off waiting.

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    kayak-price-forecast

      6. Compare the comparisons.

      All comparison websites are not equal. Some have access to airlines and fares that others don’t, and booking fees can vary greatly between them. Just because two sites compare flights from the same airline doesn’t mean that the prices will be the same! From experience, there’s no one site that’s better than any other. The one that has the cheapest flight this time may not be next time, so it pays to compare at least two of them.

      Some comparison sites to consider:

      7. Go direct.

      Just as some comparison sites get access to fares that others don’t, there are many special fares that the airlines save for their own customers. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars by booking with the airline direct; signing up to their mailing lists is an easy way to be notified of specials as they come up. Be aware–the really cheap ones are usually limited and go quickly, so be prepared to book as soon as you see them!

      8. Remove pre-selected items.

      Websites often try to make a few extra dollars by pre-selecting certain items and hoping that you don’t notice. Seat selection, various insurances, “green” options are some of the usual culprits and can add $20 or more to your ticket if you don’t un-tick the boxes.

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      finding cheap flights
        photo credit: Doug Waldron

        9. Avoid booking fees.

        Booking fees are fairly standard on most websites (even the ones that say no booking fees will often build them into the price) but you can sometimes avoid paying any booking fees depending on the payment method you use. Payment by direct deposit/bank transfer, PayPal or Poli are often cheaper or free.

        10. Cheap flights can become expensive.

        When looking at budget carriers, make sure you add in all the items you need before comparing the price. Flights that are a little more expensive but include things like baggage or meals may actually end up cheaper by the time you add them on to a budget flight. Also make sure you’re aware of how inflexible some cheap flights can be. If your plans change, or something comes up and you can’t make it, the change fee can often be as expensive as the actual tickets. If you’ve got good travel insurance, this may not be an issue.

        11. Call in an expert.

        FlightFox is a great service that will connect you with travel experts to help find the cheapest flights for your needs. They’ll do the hard work and then tell you how to book the flights, or they can arrange to do it for you. At just $49 it can quickly pay for itself many times over, especially for international or complicated trips (multi-stops, etc).

        12. Use your points.

        Perhaps an obvious one, but if you have frequent flyer points, you can use these towards your flight cost, or to upgrade to a better seat. Many airlines have partnerships with credit card providers where you can earn frequent flyer points for every dollar you spend. It’s a great way to earn points for things you would be buying anyway (groceries, gas, etc.) as long as you pay it off on time.

        13. Get your money back.

        Have you ever been bumped off a flight? Did you know that you may actually be eligible for some compensation from the airline? New website AirHelp can advise you of any potential compensation and help you apply for it. You may even be eligible for a refund if your ticket price drops after you purchase! Another website, Yapta, will track your flight details and let you know if it drops after you purchase.

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        There you have it! Want to save even MORE on your trip? Check out our tips on how to get the best hotel deals, and car rental hacks.

        Do you have any other tips? Share them with our readers in the comments below!

        Featured photo credit: Traffic/Don McCullough via flickr.com

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        Last Updated on June 26, 2020

        25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

        25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

        “How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

        If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

        You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

        Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

        As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

        And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

        But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

        • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
          • food
          • rent/mortgage
          • cell phone
          • insurance
          • socializing/entertainment
          • transportation
          • hygiene products
          • household bills
        • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
          • travel
          • clothing
          • medication (*depends)
          • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
          • gifts

        Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

        Save Money on Food

        1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

        Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

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        Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

        2. Buy the store-brand version

        Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

        3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

        Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

        4. Have group dinners

        If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

        Save Money in Transport

        5. Get a bicycle

        Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

        6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

        Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

        7. Find the cheapest gas

        Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

        Save Money in General Shopping

        8. Shop online

        Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

        9. Sell your old stuff

        Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

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        Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

        10. Bulk buying stores

        For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

        Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

        11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

        You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

        12. Generic brand medication

        More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

        13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

        It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

        Cut Down on Household Expenses

        14. Printing

        Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

        e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

        Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

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        15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

        A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

        16. Shop around for insurance

        Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

        Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

        17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

        If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

        18. Don’t get a TV

        Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

        19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

        My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

        Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

        20. Have house parties

        Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

        For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

        21. Open festivals, meetups and events

        It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

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        22. Volunteer

        If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

        23. Housesit

        There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

        Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

        24. DIY beauty

        French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

        25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

        If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

        Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

        Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

        • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
        • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
        • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
        • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
        • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
        • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
        • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

        Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

        What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

        Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

        More Tips for Personal Finance Management

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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