Which Airlines Have Seats Open for Your Rewards?

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Membership has its privileges but cashing in on those privileges is another story.

If you’re a traveler but you don’t fly enough to get in to the extra special diamond, platinum, or other private group of the most elite airlines, you know that amassing frequent flyer miles or points is easy but using them to get a better seat or a free flight might be exceedingly difficult.

The problem is simple: airlines save money by offering fewer flights which means less seats available.

Even worse, when an airline merges with another airline, the amount of people in the frequent flyer problem doubles but often, the amount of flights taking off and landing doesn’t.  More people but less seats doesn’t make you happy.

Finally, if that isn’t enough frustration, in order to make money, airlines sell points and miles to credit card and other companies to offer to their loyal customers.  Some of those people sitting in the first class seats that should rightfully be yours may hardly ever fly.  Go ahead and get a little frustrated!

Ideaworks knows how you feel and that may be why they conduct the Switchfly Reward Seat Availability rankings report (click here to see the report pdf.) Continue Reading

Reflections on a Frugal Japanese Life

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It is no secret that Americans are not good at saving.  

In fact, before the economic downturn, Americans were only saving 1% of their income according to The Atlantic.

Compare that to the Japanese, who save 25% of their income, down from a high of 30 to 35% according to Maki, the Japanese woman behind the blog Just Hungry.

My husband was born in Japan and lived there the first 25 years of his life, so I asked him about his experience growing up.  He was at first hesitant to share because he is nearly 40, so he doesn’t feel his family is representative of the way things may now be in Japan.  Still, this is his family’s experience, which I find to be in stark contrast to many American households, even 30 years ago.

His Parents’ Backgrounds

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Use Alternative Housing Arrangements and Save on Your Next Vacation

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The family vacation is pricey.

According to Free Money Finance, in 2007, the average American spent $1,654 on their summer vacation.

If the vacation is a week long, that is approximately $236 a day, of which I am guessing accommodations are a large portion of the expense.  If you are a family of four, you may be able to stay in cheaper hotel accommodations, but if you have three or more children, hotel stays get to be tricky (and expensive) because most hotels will only sleep 4 to a room and want you to buy two rooms or a suite, both expensive options.

If you would like to minimize your expense for accommodations on your next vacation, there are several hotel alternatives.

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Earth Day Freebies and Deals – and a Little History Too

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Earth Day was first held on April 22, 1970, and it was lead by Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin.

Nearly 20 million people participated and today, 42 years later, we still celebrate Earth Day, but now, 175 countries celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day 2012 will also be celebrated on April 22nd (and will be celebrated on that date at least until 2015).

The primary purpose of the day is to bring awareness to environmental issues as well as to focus on reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Of course, proponents of frugality recognize that the things we do to keep Mother Earth healthy are the same things we can do to keep our finances healthy.  By reducing, reusing and recycling, we become more financially conservative.

When you buy a used car, shop at garage sales or your thrift stores or hold your own garage sale or donate items you no longer use, you are saving money and keeping items out of the landfill, which is a win-win.

To celebrate Earth Day this year, several retailers are offering freebies or discounts.  There are plenty of great offers to take advantage of:

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7 Online Service Alternatives that Save Money

It seems you can do everything online these days except wash your clothes — and some genius will no doubt figure that out fairly soon.

One of the great benefits of the Internet is the many ways it helps us save money.  From tax filing to wedding registries, the World Wide Web has a lot to offer.

Consider the following seven ways you can save with a computer, tablet or smartphone.

1. Online Car Insurance

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Ten Quicks Tips to Save on Gas Costs for Your Car

Gas prices!

Everyone loves to comment on the rising prices of gas including politicians, the media and the guy who took my order at the coffee shop this morning.

The process behind determining the price of gas is one that most of us will never understand.  Some people just accept that prices are high and they have to pay it, but there is something you can do:

You can choose to save money on the high cost of gas.

Extreme Measures

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What About a Gift-Less Christmas?

It’s quite possible, even though we are well into December, that you have not started your Holiday gift shopping.

You are probably wondering who should be getting a gift, what budgets you are expected to spend, and who should get what exactly.

What about the notion of not buying anything for anyone?

I’m sure the word ‘Scrooge’ comes to mind but bear with me here.

Christmas and the whole holiday season has become the season to consume, over-consumption is absolutely rampant and your nephews request for a new Wii controller may make you his worst aunt or uncle — but standing up to it all and bucking the system may well be the most refreshing move you ever make.

The symbols of celebratory holidays shouldn’t be $10 board game deals at Walmart or Target’s Christmas Eve sale.  The emphasis should be on the people we are supported and surrounded by and how much we appreciate each other.

Each year, and especially in this economic climate, families are guilt-tripped into loading up their credit cards and depleting savings to keep up with what the holiday season expects of them.
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