How to Properly Use Airline Miles

How to Properly Use Airline Miles

Airline miles are a great way to save money while you travel. They are especially helpful if you are a frequent flyer. Once you join a membership program, you can begin earning airline miles towards free flights and other rewards. However, there are a few rules and regulations that you need to be aware of. Before you book your award travel, here is what you should know about how to properly use your airline miles.

Earning Airline Miles

The biggest mistake people make when booking airline reservations is not including their membership number. The easiest way to ensure you receive your miles is to book your flights online. Once you sign into your account, your membership number and personal information automatically attach to your reservations. In addition to having your information on file, you have the added bonus of instantly knowing if the fares are eligible for airline miles. My carrier even includes how many miles you will earn for each leg of your trip.

Most airlines also offer dedicated credit cards to help you earn miles even more quickly. This can be a huge benefit to you if you are planning several trips in the coming months. Not only do they come with free miles once you reach their spending limits, but they also accrue every time you use the card. If you use it to book your initial flights, you will usually receive enough for a free flight. Furthermore, most airlines offer double miles for purchases made directly through their company. This is a great way to earn extra miles and flights each year.

Understanding the Terms and Conditions

Learning how to properly use airline miles requires you to read the fine print. Since you are not paying the full airfare, there are terms and conditions that apply. First and foremost, you can only earn miles when you book an eligible fare. This excludes bookings through third party websites like TripAdvisor and Agoda or discounted rates. As a former customer service agent, this was the most common obstacle people experienced when they did not receive their airline miles or points.

Secondly, when you book award travel, the seats are limited based on availability. Just because a flight has open seats does not guarantee that you can redeem it using your airline miles. Each flight sets aside a certain percentage of seats for each reward type. Once they are booked, you will either have to wait for a cancellation or find another flight route. Before you make your travel plans, make sure that you have secured the flights for the dates you need.

Purchasing and Redeeming Rewards

After you find the flights that work for you, the booking process is straight forward. It will immediately deduct the points from your account and issue the award. Most airlines will even allow you to purchase additional miles if you are short of the required amount. Often times it is still cheaper than paying for the full fare.

You can also peruse promotional offers to buy discounted miles for even more savings. Moreover, these offers are not limited to the airlines. Airlines have a number of partners that allow you to redeem rewards by transferring your airline miles. You can use them for hotel stays, car rentals, wine clubs, insurance, and other online vendors. There are numerous ways for you to enjoy the benefits of your airline miles.

Transferring Your Airline Miles

The last point to consider is transferring your airline miles if you don’t intend to use them. If there are no partners that meet your needs, consider giving them to another member. For a small fee, you can give them to as a gift to save someone money on their next vacation. If there is no one specific in mind, you can also gift airline miles to charities.

Airline miles are an extremely useful and adaptable benefit of joining an airline’s membership program. There are a variety of ways you can make the most of rewards program. When you learn to properly use airline miles, you can save a ton of money in travel expenses.


Read More

How to Sell a Home Without a Realtor

How to Sell a Home Without a Realtor

In today’s market, some homeowners are opting to sell a home without a realtor. Since listing agents usually take 3% commission, choosing to do it on your own can save you a lot of money. If you decide to sell without a listing agent, it is what realtors call ‘for sale by owner,’ or ‘FSBO’ for short. Thanks to numerous listing platforms, it is now easier than ever to get a good price without using a realtor to sell your home. Here’s what you need to know if you will be acting as your own agent.

1. Prepare It for Potential Buyers

Before you allow anyone into your home, you should take some time to de-clutter and remove personal elements. Take those family photos and personal items out of view so buyers can see themselves in the space. This is also a great time to get rid of items you don’t use or need anymore.

Once you have organized your belongings, it is time to scrub the house from top to bottom and make necessary repairs. You may also want to ask for a second opinion from someone with real estate experience. And don’t forget the exterior curb appeal. The more inviting your home is, the better your chances for a quick sale.

2. Do Your Research

Once your home is ready for the market, look at the listing prices of homes in your neighborhood. A quick comparison will give you an idea of a realistic asking price. Look for homes with similar finished square footage, number of bed and baths, and lot size. If you are still uncertain what your home is worth, this handy tool can help you. The HPI calculator from the Federal Housing Finance Agency can give you a better estimate to get the most out of your home.

3. Post Your Listing

The next step is to compile all the information you will need to create your listing. Include quantitative data that is pertinent to buyers. Be sure to list the year your home was built, finished and total square footage, lot size, number of bed and baths, and relative details that make it more appealing to buyers.

In addition to the home data, take photos of every room and exterior areas. You want to emphasize natural light and sweeping views of the spaces. For the best results, use editing software for higher quality pictures. Finally, add an enticing description to grab potential buyers’ attention. Once you have gathered all the data, you are ready to post your listing.

4. Advertise Everywhere

The best way to sell a home without a realtor is to get the word out. There are dozens of ways to reach homebuyers, especially in the age of the internet. Multiple listing services (MLS) offer an extensive database that connects brokers, homebuyers, and sellers. It is an easy and cost-effective way to get widespread exposure. You should also consider other real estate sites such as, Zillow, and Trulia where you can post listings for little to no cost.

Another option is to use local classifieds like Craigslist and Nextdoor which receive tons of internet traffic. For a more personal touch, you can create a virtual walk through with YouTube, or host a dedicated website. Don’t forget to advertise locally in papers and around your neighborhood. Never underestimate the power of social media, mass emails, and flyers to create a buzz and get people interested in your home.

5. Host an Open House

Once your home hits the market, an open house is an excellent way to attract a large number of people and competition. Before you set the date, visit other open houses and take notes of what people respond to. Then, create a sales sheet for homebuyers to take with them and review later.

Try to schedule it on weekends when more people are available. The late morning or early afternoon are usually the best times to hold an open house. Make sure both you and your home look their best. You want to make a good impression and be the perfect host to help you sell a home without a realtor.

6. Show Your Home

While you are selling your home, you must be ready for walk-throughs. Agents will contact you and usually ask that you are out of the house so as not to make potential buyers uncomfortable. You will usually have enough time to ensure you can have your home spotless for their visit. It is also a good idea to prepare spare keys in a lockbox with a basic multi-code lock for agents. Attention to details makes walk-throughs less disruptive and problematic.

7. Field and Negotiate Offers

It is also a good idea to brush up on negotiation strategies and skills. Since you are not using a realtor to sell your home, it will be up to you to handle all offers. However, you are not obliged to respond to insincere or extremely low offers. If time allows, be patient and wait for the right homebuyer to come along.

8. Hire a Professional to Close the Deal

After you have accepted an offer, the final steps require signatures and paperwork. At the very least, you will need an escrow agent to facilitate the process. Real estate laws vary between states, but your agent may be a real estate attorney or title company representative. Your agent will be the main point of contact during the closing process.

Although it is an escrow’s agent job to ensure you are in compliance, you can do your own research. It does not hurt to know the local and state laws governing real estate transactions. If you are still having doubts, consider hiring fee only broker to make sure paperwork is in order. They are significantly cheaper than using a realtor and help prevent anything from jeopardizing or delaying the deal.

Final Thoughts

Selling your home will be one of the largest and most complex financial transactions in your life. If you choose to sell a home without a realtor, you will save a lot of money. However, you will also be giving up many conveniences and sacrificing a lot of your time. Make sure you understand the complexities of selling your home and that you are up for the challenge.  It may be a huge commitment, but your dedication could be rewarded with huge payouts.

Read More

How Eating Less Meat Can Increase Savings

How Eating Less Meat Can Increase Savings

With an expected inflation in the cost of basic necessities, families across America are looking for ways to save money. Industry executives have been warning the public to expect huge inflation, especially in the price of meat products. It may be time to consider how eating less meat can increase savings for your family.

Plant Based Diets and Eating Less Meat Increase Savings

While only about 5% of Americans claim to be vegetarian, a Gallup poll revealed that approximately 23% are already eating less meat in their diet. There are a number of reasons why people choose to become vegetarian, but let’s focus specifically on the financial benefits. It’s no secret that meat-free products are less expensive than their counterparts. According to a study in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, you can save $750 a year by switching to a plant-based diet or meatless alternatives. You can maximize your budget even more by choosing seasonal vegetables and using dry goods such as beans or lentils. When planning meals for a family, eating less meat can increase savings in the long run.

Increasing Price of Meat

Customers in the United States can soon expect to pay more for meat at local grocery stores. Some experts are predicting a 20 percent increase in the price of beef and pork from 2019. This is largely because of recent meatpacking plant closures due to coronavirus outbreaks. Widespread factory shutdowns have halted meat production in the livestock supply chain. In addition, many agricultural states across the Midwest experienced devastating flooding last year that wiped out millions of heads of livestock. This has all contributed to the meat shortage industry executives have been warning the public about for weeks.

All of these industry setbacks have also put additional strain on both farmers and local grocery stores. Producers are cutting their losses by aborting pregnant livestock. National grocery stores such as Costco and Kroger have also implemented a purchase limit for meat products. Grocers were prepared to see their meat supplies shrink by 30 percent following the holiday weekend as well. Despite the president’s urging to reopen, it seems the meatpacking plants will remain closed until workers no longer fear for their safety.

Making the Choice to Eat Less Meat

Limiting the amount of animal protein in your diet is beneficial for your wallet, your health, and the environment. Reducing our consumption on a national scale also has important economic effects. Meat and dairy cost more because raising animals is much more resource intensive than other sources of proteins. Beef and lamb are the most resource intensive meat sources. Pork and poultry have a mid-range environmental impact while seafood is relatively climate-friendly. Bivalves such as oysters, scallops, clams and mussels are the most sustainable animal proteins.

However, adopting an all-or-nothing approach to eating less meat could be setting yourself up for failure. If you are like me, denying yourself something makes you want it even more. That is why I started simple by tweaking my diet. While I still consume meat, I try to eat vegetarian at least once a week.  I also reduce the amount of meat I use when I am cooking, choosing to add more vegetables and grains to the meal. The meat is now a source of flavor rather than my daily caloric intake. In addition to costing me less money, it has also helped my lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Choosing a less meat-dependent diet does not need to be about deprivation; it can be a delicious way to experiment with new ingredients while reducing your carbon footprint.

Read More