20 Secrets To Booking Cheap Flights in 2017

20 Secrets To Booking Cheap Flights in 2017

Booking cheap flights today is almost like a science. You may see a good rate in the morning, and within a few hours it can quickly double in price. In fact, airlines often fluctuate their prices throughout the day to help fill empty seats.

As a frequent traveler and having handled the corporate travel bookings at my previous job, I’ve picked up a few travel tricks and money-saving hacks along the way.

Here are 23 secrets to booking cheap flights.

 

1. Plan ahead and be patient

20 Secrets To Booking Cheap Flights in 2017

Planning ahead is the first step in finding cheap flights. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find last minute discounts, but you’ll have more options and flexibility to score cheap flights when you plan ahead.

This means that if you wish to travel in spring, you should start checking prices in the fall or winter season.

Tips for planning ahead:

  • Check travel websites for prices first thing every morning (around 9:00am) and in the evening (after 6:00pm).
  • Sign up for email alerts. I like using Skyscanner for this tool as this allows me to see how the price fluctuates (up or down) and know when the cheapest fight is available.
  • Start your search three months before your trip. As a general guideline, the cheapest flights can be found at least 47 days before the departure date.

 

2. Search incognito

Always search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to get the lowest price.

Sometimes there is no difference in price when searching in incognito mode, however I always recommend comparing rates before booking your flight.

 

3. Search tickets one at a time

Even if you’re traveling with a group, sometimes airlines can sell multiple airfare classes at different prices.

For example, if you’re traveling as a pair and there is only one seat left in the lowest fare class, the website will usually show the highest fare class for both tickets.

However if you search each ticket separately, the website may show a cheaper rate. This can help at least one person – if not both of you – save money on your flights.

 

4. Delete your browser history and cookies

20 Secrets To Booking Cheap Flights in 2017

You’re not crazy if you’ve seen the price of a flight change after searching it a few times. Travel websites and airlines will remember your search, and this might cause prices to actually increase.

Always delete your browser history and cookies before searching for flights. Your best bet is to search in incognito or private browsing mode (as mentioned in tip #2).

 

5. Check the airline’s direct website

While third party travel websites can be great, sometimes the best unadvertised deals are found directly on the airline’s website.

 

6. Join the email list of your favorite airline and third party travel website

I recommend signing up for email promotions offered through your preferred airline and third party travel website. This allows you to receive special offers as soon as they go live online or exclusive offers for email subscribers.

 

7. Check departures/ arrivals from alternative airports

20 Secrets To Booking Cheap Flights in 2017

Some major cities have multiple airports within close proximity. For example, New York City has three main airports which visitors can choose from: LGA, JFK and EWR.

Prices can vary significantly based on which airport you choose, so it’s important to always compare rates.

One thing to keep in mind though is to determine if flying into an alternative airport is worth the savings.

For example, if you’re traveling to New York City and fly into EWR, you will have to pay for New Jersey transit (or taxi) to get to Manhattan.

The savings that you got from flying into EWR may quickly disappear by the time you factor in the ground transportation costs to get into Manhattan.

 

8. Follow airlines and third party travel websites on Social Media

One of the great features about social media is that airlines can use these platforms to share special travel promotions with their followers.

Sometimes an airline will offer a special promotion code through their Twitter or Facebook page, so it’s important to follow along with them online.

 

9. Bundle your flights, hotel and car rental

Bundling your trip on websites like Expedia can help you save up to $300. These savings can provide more room in your travel budget for sightseeing, entertainment, dining out and shopping.

 

10. Or don’t bundle your flights, hotel and car rental

While great deals can be found when you bundle your trip, sometimes this is not always the case. Always compare prices to determine if bundling or booking separately is more cost effective.

 

11. Mix and match airlines

20 Secrets To Booking Cheap Flights in 2017

Sometimes booking a round trip or multi-city trip with the same airlines can save you money, however this is not always the rule.

Always compare prices to determine if you’re getting the cheapest flight when you book with one airlines vs. multiple airlines.

The easiest method to compare prices is using a third party website, such as Skyscanner, which will list the cheapest flight combination for your chosen dates.

 

12. Fly on the cheapest day of the week

Traveling on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are usually the cheapest days of the week. Also, searching mid-week for flights produces the best deals too.

From my personal experience, I also find that Thursday can sometimes offer a good price as well.

Days that tend to be the most expensive are Mondays, Fridays and sometimes Sundays. Airlines know that most business trips take place between Monday and Friday, which is why it tends to be more expensive to depart Monday and return on Friday.

However, business travelers have started to recently fly out on Sunday, rather than Monday to try and get a better rate on airfare, but this isn’t always the case.

13. Fly during off-peak hours

Sure you may already know that flying after 8:00pm is usually cheaper than flying during the day. But you can also score a deal by taking an early morning flight as well (between 5:00am and 7:00am).

 

14. Fly indirect

While nonstop flights are usually preferred, sometimes you can save a significant amount by choosing a 1-stop flight.

A 1-stop flight may also give you more options.

For example, I just recently booked flights to Victoria, BC and the only direct flight from Toronto arrives late at night. Instead, I picked a 1-stop flight that arrives in Victoria by noon, which also saved me over $100.

You may also decide to choose a flight with a long layover, which can allow you to explore the city as an added bonus.

 

15. Fly during the shoulder or off-season

Flying during the shoulder or off-season can lead to significant savings.

I was able to score a great 7-day vacation package to Paris in February for only $1,000 CAD (which included flights, hotel and taxes).

This was a lot more affordable than traveling during the summer months and traveling during the off-season tends to be less busy too—which is a win-win for me.

The take-home point is to be flexible with your travel dates, as prices can fluctuate significantly throughout the seasons.

 

16. Save money on checked baggage

Most airlines now charge you $25 each way to check your luggage, and they will also charge you extra if it’s over the weight limit.

You can avoid this by packing lightly and wearing your heavier items on the plane.

If you’re traveling with a close friend or significant other, consider sharing a suitcase with them. This can save you $50 together on baggage costs ($25 each way).

Another option is to bring carry-on luggage only if you’re going on a short trip, such as a weekend getaway. Most hotels offer basic toiletries, and you can bring travel-sized items with you on the plane (provided they meet the TSA liquid guidelines).

 

17. Bring your own food

20 Secrets To Booking Cheap Flights in 2017

Many airlines now charge for food on board. Save money by bringing your own snacks from home instead of buying them on the plane. I promise that your own food will taste a lot better too.

 

18. Shop around for travel & health insurance

I always recommend having travel or (extra) health insurance for your trip, however the one offered when you book your flights isn’t always the best rate.

Sometimes your work place might offer travel or health coverage, which is included in your benefits package.

You can also purchase insurance through your bank for the year — which is what I currently do.

Since I travel multiple times per year, an annual insurance plan is more cost effective for me (instead of having to pay separately for each trip).

If you are over 40 years old (or have a history of health issues), I recommend purchasing extra health coverage (even if you’re already covered through work).

Unfortunately we can never predict what might happen while we’re traveling, which is why it’s always important to be prepared.

 

19. Avoid paying for seat selection (if possible)

While advanced seat selection is sometimes included in your airfare, some airlines charge a fee to select your seats.

Unless you’re particular about where you sit on the plane, I recommend skipping this step when booking your flights.

Instead, check-in 24 hours before your flight, which allows you to make your seat selection for free.

 

20. Sign up for a frequent flier program

Frequent flier programs are great for scoring free flights and upgrades.

Even if you’re not a frequent flier I recommend signing up for an airline rewards program. You can earn points by shopping at partner stores, taking advantage of special email offers (sign up for their newsletter) and by flying of course.

Scary Halloween Hacks for Kids and Parents

Most people think of orange and black at Halloween—but you can think green too. Costumes, candy, parties, and decorations are tons of fun, but they also effect the environment by creating extra waste and using more energy. Halloween can also come with a hefty price tag—in 2015, Americans spent nearly $7 billion to celebrate it. Tap into your creativity with these five ideas, which will save you money and protect the environment.

Check out our Halloween infographic below!

Hand out Fun Alternatives to Candy

Packaging makes up nearly 30 percent of our trash, including those little individually wrapped treats given out on Halloween. Often, candy comes in packaging that is not recyclable, although you can check with your local solid waste service provider. Instead of handing out individually wrapped candies, try handing out treats that are useful and have minimal packaging. Here are a few ideas for fun things to hand out, which you can often buy in bulk:

  • Halloween themed crayons, pencils, pens, erasers, markers, cups, stamps, or notepads.
  • Small games, puzzles, activity pads, or bookmarks.
  • Barrettes, costume jewelry, baseball cards, coins, or mini cookie cutters.

If you want to hand out candy, look for candy that comes in recyclable containers, such as cardboard boxes or foil.

When Trick-or-Treating, Walk Rather Than Drive

Rather than driving your kids around the neighborhood for trick-or-treating, walk with them. Walking saves fuel and produces no vehicle emissions. When you drive around from house to house, you’ll spend a lot of time idling, which can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour. So leave the car at home, and get some exercise with your family. You’ll burn off some of those Halloween calories and tire out your kids.

Make or Exchange Costumes

Host a Costume Swap

A costume swap is a get-together where everyone brings old costumes and accessories that they no longer want and exchanges them with other costumes. Make the atmosphere fun by putting out some refreshments and playing some tunes. Lay out some ground rules, such as the first person to touch an item gets the item. Separate kid and adult costumes and set up a dressing room. Ask guests to bring their own bag to carry home their loot. Have a plan for any unwanted costumes. You could ask guests to take their costumes home with them or donate unclaimed items to a thrift store.

If a costume swap sounds like more work than you want to take on, then keep it simple by just trading costumes with a friend.

Make Your Costume

A brief Internet search can give you some inspiration to make your own costume—there are a lot of do-it-yourself ideas available on Pinterest and other websites. With all the activities kids are involved in, chances are, you have some of their old uniforms, costumes from school plays (or a previous Halloween), and props. Take parts from these items, which are already cluttering your closets, and make a brand new costume. Often, you can also find what you need at thrift stores.

If you decide to purchase a costume, save it for another use or donate it to a second hand store after Halloween.

Consider Your Environmental Impact When Shopping for Decorations

  • Avoid buying decorations that can only be used once before you throw them away. Instead, shop for those that you can reuse each Halloween.
  • Look online for DIY projects to make your own decorations from things you already have around the house or that you buy from thrift stores.
  • Purchase fall-themed decorations, which can be put up for Halloween and used through Thanksgiving.
  • When purchasing Halloween lights, look for LEDs with the ENERGY STAR label and set them on a timer to turn on at dark and off at bedtime. LED lights last 20 to 30 years, and require 90 percent less electricity than conventional lights. The ENERGY STAR label is a simple way to identify energy efficient products.

What is Bankable and How is it Used in Real Estate? Local Records Office

LOS ANGELES – Webster dictionary defines the word Bankable as – bank·a·ble: 1. Acceptable to or at a bank; 2. Guaranteed to bring profit

 

As investors, we hear and see all of the opportunities related to owning rental property: rents are up; prices, vacancies and rates are down. We are being told that there has never been a better time to buy real estate, with lending guidelines changing drastically from just a few short years ago.

 

That being said, it is now incredibly important to stay “Bankable”. When I first heard this term it made perfect sense to me. As investors, we often need to borrow money meaning that, in our everyday lives we needs to keep control of debt to income ratios, claiming enough income on tax returns to qualify for loan programs and keeping a safe amount of reserves available. I have said it before and still truly believe that the most important piece of the investing puzzle understands the financing. Once you understand how to leverage your money, acquiring properties becomes much easier.

 

Most of the topics I will touch on are more stringent in the long-term financing world and not always true for hard money. We have been able to close deals while facing over 200% DTI, unemployed or 550 credit score; because other qualifying factors in each case allowed us to get comfortable with the borrower.

 

When we think we have seen it all we take an application from a client that surprises us. One of my best client’s tax returns show year-over-year losses in excess of $100,000 and this particular client hoped to acquire some buy-and-hold properties. When I told them it wasn’t going to work and why, they explained they worked their entire life to not have to pay taxes/show income and now I am telling them that they need to show income in order to buy rental properties.

 

I have seen applicants that hope to buy and hold rentals as an investment when they are in foreclosure on their own home and taken phone calls from individuals that want to get a loan but all of their cash is in the sock drawer because they do not believe in banks. Some pretty extreme examples, but the point is that staying bankable is important in a lending environment where it takes more than a pulse to obtain a loan. Here are some tips to staying Bankable:

 

Income is Important When Being Bankable

 

Income: For some, income is much easier to verify than others. Namely, W2 income vs. self-employed. A borrower with decent W2 income that does not take a lot of deductions is typically the easiest borrower to approve for long-term financing. Because the income can be verified so easily, with one piece of paper, these borrowers can find out “how much they can borrow” with little hassle. For those who are self-employed however, a trip to the dentist might be more enjoyable than proving income. Keeping good books and not writing off everything under the sun will make documenting your income much easier. The easier your income, not losses, can be seen, the less trouble you will have obtaining financing.

 

Debt to Income is Crucial

 

DTI: Debt-to-Income is the most important part of obtaining long-term financing because it includes two parts of the equation that you have some amount of control over. Conventional financing requires a DTI ratio of 45% or less and, in some instances, up to 50%.

 

Every mortgage, loan, credit card, student loan, and time-share on your credit report stacks up against your income to create this ratio. If you want to acquire rental properties or financing, think twice before opening that Best Buy card for your new 100” flat screen TV and understand where your DTI stands. The good news is some debt, like mortgage on a rental property, can reduce your DTI because it creates income past the monthly amount owed. For example, let’s say that you purchase a property and the monthly PITI is $500 per month and you have it rented for $1,000 per month.

 

Conventional financing is going to count 75% of gross rent towards your income, so after debt service your monthly income increases by $250 per month. It is very important to understand your DTI ratio and where it needs to be to achieve your real estate goals.

 

If You Are Self-Employed You Have to Read This

 

Self-employment: Most investors and real estate professionals are self-employed, which creates challenges in lending if not done correctly. Trust me, I do not enjoy paying taxes any more than the next person, but it is a necessary evil in qualifying for long-term financing. Investors cannot expect to write off all of their income and obtain a mortgage. In fact, I have seen a married couple where one has W2 income and the other is self-employed but the self-employed spouse writes off so much that they show a loss large enough to eliminate the W2 income.

 

Typically, when self-employed, the lender takes a 2-year average so unless this couple amends taxes and belly’s up to the tax payment, they might be 2 years away from obtaining financing. I do not want to discourage any self-employed borrowers because there is financing out there, as evidence by the two rental properties that I just refinanced out of hard money. Just note that there are additional hoops to jump through and it’s up to you to decide how difficult it will be.

 

Dealing With Liquid Reserves

 

Liquid Reserves: Reserves is the number one most important qualifier for our hard money loans, also important in conventional financing and should be a priority for all borrowers. In this business, we all know some properties can be challenging, and as a hard moneylender, we want to know you have reserves available in case your project costs run over or it takes longer to sell or refinance than expected. In the conventional world, the underwriters assume that at some point all of your properties are going to be vacant for the same 6-month period, and they require reserves to handle such a phase. Once an investor has four or more mortgages, the requirement is 6 months of payment reserves for every property.

If you have 6 properties, all with a $1,000 per month mortgage, you need to have $36,000 in reserves. Check with your mortgage professional to see what they can qualify as reserves, 401k, HELOC, personal line of credit, etc., and how long the funds need to be seasoned. As an investor, everyone should find the value in having funds readily available as we never know when the buyer’s inspector will find that the sewer needs replaced or an appraisal comes in low requiring you to bring a chunk of money to closing. Although some deals are no money down, it doesn’t mean you qualify with no money in the bank.

 

Keep Your Paper Work Organized

 

Be Organized: I am often surprised at how unorganized investors can be. At the end of the day, we are running a business, or at least hoping to, so having the right documents in order makes life easier for everyone. Let’s remember we are obtaining loans for hundreds of thousands of dollars sometimes with no money down, so having your taxes in a place they can be easily accessible is probably a good idea.

 

I joke about this, but ask any loan officer which loan is on the top of their priority list and it will be the one in which they have what they need to complete the file. Most of the documents required for a loan can be stored electronically and very easily emailed. If you are actively doing deals or looking for financing, build a package and update it monthly to give your lender what they need when requested. This will keep your loan moving through the process and the lender won’t bother you for missing pages.

 

Banks Around Your Area

 

Local Banks: Occasionally, investors can find funding through local banks, either through lines of credit for operating capital or financing non-owner-occupied properties. Freddie and Fannie, the largest buyer of conventional loans, will only allow a borrower to obtain 10 mortgages but your local bank does not have a limit other than their own risk tolerance.

 

The terms are different from 30-year-fixed so you should expect to pay a slightly higher rate and with shorter terms such as 5, 7 and 10-year balloons. Depending on the bank, they may be more interested in the property than the borrower, but most cases will also require a banking relationship (deposit accounts).

 

I hope you find this information valuable and can better plan ahead for your real estate investment goals. If you have any questions about the article please feel free to contact us at our office.

 

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