Using The MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard To Earn Nearly Free Flights Fast

flying for freeA few weeks back, I mentioned booking a pair of flights to Los Angeles for my wife and I using rewards points as a way to save money on our vacation. At the time, I indicated I would follow up with more details on exactly how we did it and, although it took a little longer than expected, here are said details:

What Would These Flights Normally Cost?

Before I go into all the details about the rewards points, you should first know the stakes. How much exactly would the flights have cost us if we were to have booked them through regular means without spending many hours hunting down a once in a lifetime seat sale?

Well, seeing as this is pretty much a coast to coast flight across North America, these tickets do not come cheap. Comparable seats were going for $856.50 per person including all taxes and fees. For both of us, that works out to be $1713.00 – clearly a lot of money!

How Much Money Did We Save By Using Airline Miles?

Most people know that booking reward flights is not 100% free. There are always taxes, fees, and the odd surcharge that has to be paid on top of the actual fare for the ticket. Also, when dealing with rewards points, there may be some costs associated with obtaining the rewards. I’m not talking about spending money you would have spent anyway to earn rewards on your credit card, but instead additional costs associated with obtaining the reward miles or points.

In this particular instance, I calculated the final cost of our flights including all taxes, fees, surcharges, and rewards acquisition costs to be $323.76, which is a savings of 81.2%.

What Steps Were Taken To Make These Cheap Flights Possible?

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Is This Morally Wrong?

Cold-FX and The Scream III by Chealion, on Flickr When it comes to saving money, there are lots of grey areas and retailer policy loopholes to be taken advantage of that can help you save a few extra dollars on your purchases. I’ll be honest and admit that I have taken advantage of some of these loopholes myself over the years. However, at the same time I do aim to conduct myself with honesty and integrity but now and then I still catch myself wondering if I have gone too far or compromised my integrity in some way in an attempt to save a few dollars.

Here’s the situation. About a week ago I came down with a cold and, although I rarely take medication of any sort when I’m sick, I decided to buy some Cold FX to try and ward off the sickness a little quicker. I was short on time so I went to the nearest store to buy the Cold FX where I know the prices are often significantly more expensive than, say, Walmart. I was proven right as I ended up paying about $28 + tax for the 60 pill bottle. I didn’t know what the standard price for Cold FX was at the time, but I knew it must be significantly lower than that!

Fast forward to today, and I was perusing the flyers and planning to do some shopping at the very same store where I bought the Cold FX because they happen to have excellent sale prices even though their regular prices are almost like extortion. While flipping through the circular I immediately noticed that Cold FX was on sale for $10 less than what I had paid for it just one week ago. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if said store had a price protection policy that would allow me to get my purchase price adjusted to the lower sale price, but they don’t.

Most people would just chalk this up to rotten luck and move on. However, knowing the ins and outs of retailer policies combined with the fact that I was going there for a scheduled shopping trip anyway, I had to do something about it!

Fabricating A Price Protection Policy At Stores That Have None

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Four Frugal Foods That Should Be A Staple In Every Home (And They Are Healthy, Too!)

Potatoes

This is a guest post written by Denise from The Single Saver, a single woman herself who grew up in a small family. A reformed spend-a-holic, she now enjoys the challenge of finding new ways to live a frugal yet very comfortable lifestyle. When not saving money, she is usually spending it on food for her two greyhounds and two cats.

Food – it is one expense that, no matter how much we would like to, we can never completely eliminate. And for most of us, a big chunk of our budgets are eaten up (pun intended) by food in one form or another. Reducing your grocery bill can help free up money for other purposes. But how? One way is to buy foods that are filling, nutritious, have long shelf-lives, and are cheap.

The four foods I am about to tell you about should be staples in every home due to their many excellent qualities. First off, they are all very inexpensive. Secondly, they all offer excellent health benefits. Third, they have long shelf lives, meaning costly food waste is kept to a minimum. Fourth, they are filling foods than can be combined with other ingredients to make a large variety of dishes. Oh, and did I mention they are super INEXPENSIVE?

As an added bonus, each of these items can be prepared in as large or as small of a serving as is needed, making them ideal for singles and smaller families to have on hand.

And now, without farther ado, here is the list: Keep reading » about Four Frugal Foods That Should Be A Staple In Every Home (And They Are Healthy, Too!)

Shopping At Costco: The Lazy Way To Save Money On Almost Everything

shoppingatcostcothelazywaytosavemoneyonalmosteverything.jpgWhen it comes to everyday shopping value, Costco truly is the cream of the crop and it is very hard for them to be beat in regards to value because they have great prices on above average quality products. Most people have shopped at Costco at one time or another, so I may be preaching to the choir here, but there has to be at least one person out there that still hasn’t given them a chance!

What do I mean when I say it is the lazy way to save money? Well, you definitely aren’t going to get the absolute lowest price when shopping at Costco. If you look out for amazing loss leader sales, you will often be able to beat Costco’s prices just by doing that. Then, if you combine a good manufacturer’s coupon with said sales, you are practically guaranteed to get a better deal elsewhere. However, finding cheap prices that way requires vigilance and dedication as well as potential trips to several stores with a lot of time wasted and money spent on gas!

When you shop at Costco, you are almost always guaranteed a more than competitive price and a selection of products that is heavily screened for quality. It is very rare to find an inferiour product at Costco as it seems every product has been hand picked to the highest quality and even products you see in other stores often come with an added feature or bonus to make them just a little bit better. But more importantly you will save yourself a whole lot of research and time making Costco the perfect choice for busy people focused on advancing their career (i.e. making more money) and their family or even those just looking to maximize their efficiency and free time while still saving money.

Shopping at Costco is actually almost too easy as you always find so many great products that you never knew existed before, so you may end up spending much more than you originally intended to. To stay on budget, it is important to go in with a list of things you need and then stick to it religiously. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Keep reading for pros and cons of shopping at Costco, a list of good things to buy there, and some tips and tricks to save even more money on your Costco adventures!

Costco Pros

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