Sunday, June 27, 2010

Credit cards

To help simplify my life and make it less stressful, I have canceled all of my credit cards except for one, Chase Freedom.  The two cards that I canceled (mainly because I wasn't using them) were Discover and Costco's American Express.

The customer service of these two companies were very pleasant and the Discover company even told me that this may affect my credit score by closing the card and suggested I maintain it even though it's inactive.  They also informed me the obvious that there is no annual charge and that it wouldn't be closed due to inactivity unless I was at risk and since I wasn't, they would keep it open for me.  Thanks Discover, but no thanks.

I have a lot less to worry about now that they are out of my wallet and mind.


I'm sorry to hear/watch that the USA lost yesterday.  However, I'm very excited to see Germany (my other favorite team) to win and go to the next challenge!  Yay Germany!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saving money while traveling Part 2 - Packing Light

Some people love to over pack their suitcases while traveling.  But lets look at simplifying that and packing light!  What are some of the benefits of traveling, specifically packing with just one bag?  How about security because it never leaves your side and isn't checked; economy because you can hull it around without paying someone else or getting one of those funny carts; flexibility because you can go places a lot easier with just one bag than with 2 or 3 (or more!), energy because lets face it, 1 bag is a lot easier to carry than 2 or 3 physically; and peace of mind because you wont be paranoid making sure no one is stealing or pick pocketing your other bags; and finally, ecology, less stuff = less materials needed to produce = less energy needed to produce = less machinery = less fuel = less greenhouse gasses.

So now that I've hopefully convinced you pack with only one bag (preferably carry-on), let figure out a way to make this happy and what type of restrictions you'll have.

  • Size: most airline companies restrict you to only 45 linear inches in combined length, width, and height.  This usually equates to 22" x 14" x 9" or about 1.6 ft3. This is not much space if you think about it but we can still fit enough stuff in there for at least a week if packed properly.
  • Weight: Many companies have a weight restriction of 40 pounds but some as little as 25 lbs.  Luckily for me, and you, they frequently don't weight them.  
What you need to bring:
Obviously this isn't the universal list that you'll use for every trip on every occasion, but there are some suggestions/reasons on things to bring with you.
  • SIM card based cell phone - Acts as a watch, alarm clock, cell phone, calculator, flashlight in a pinch, & music player (if it's allowed.  Not to mention, if it uses a SIM card, it's usable in most of the world and you wont have to rent a cell phone!
  • 3 or 4 pairs of undergarments & non-cotton socks (cotton is known for being horrible and completely useless if wet and do feet sweat? Yes they do.  So if you're planning lots of walking on your next trip, you might want to reconsider.
  • Safety Razor - Safety razors are the best way to go, the blades are incredibly inexpensive, require no electricity, minimal maintenance, and once you're good, can provide a very close and smooth shave with little effort and time.
  • Day Bag - to hold you stuff with while you're on the go around town.
  • Digital Camera - Waterproof camera's now are becoming more popular.  Those are the ones that I'd really recommend you don't need to worry if you spill something on it, the weather around you, swimming, etc.  Not to mention, they usually handle sand & dirt better.

What are some things that you always pack with you when traveling?  How have you saved money while traveling?

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Saving money while traveling Part 1 - Search Engines

    This coming winter I'll be going on my usual trip to Europe. As I'm planning my trip to Germany, I'd figure it's a good time to let my readers know what places to search as well to save some money!

    First of all timing is the most important. If you're flexible and willing to go off-season then you'll be saving the most right there. It's important that these prices can literally drop hundreds just by offsetting the date by one week or to the weekend. So I ask, are a couple of days worth hundreds to you? It sure is for me!

    Here's an example. If you're planning a 4 day - 3 nights trip for 2 adults and 2 kids to Disney's Park Hopper staying at their Paradise Pier Hotel from August 27 to the 30th, you'll be booking it for $1540.06 but push that back not even one weeks to Sept 1 to the 3rd and you'll be looking at $1253.04, a huge savings just because it's no longer the peak season come the 1st.

    Similarly for flights, the cheapest time both international and domestic flights are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Where the most expensive is Saturday for international and Sunday for domestic flights. Also usually early morning or late evenings are the cheapest as well, while afternoons are the most expensive.

    There are tons of website search engines out there to look for tickets. But the list below are the best ones I've found for both domestic and internationals with some small comments.

    Kayak - A really fantastic website, originally you could only search flights and hotels but they seem to be continually broadening now including vacations, deals, car rentals, etc. They will search hundreds of websites (including other search engines) for the cheapest flights and can show you in a couple of different views with great filtering options. I usually find my cheapest deals here.

    Expedia - This website is similar to kayak where they will search about several website and give you the cheapest around, however, from my experience, they'll give you the same or slightly more expensive flights than kayak.

    Orbitz - What can I say, we all know orbits.

    Travelocity - Dito

    Bing - Bing is becoming a lot more popular now, I don't use them too much but they're great for domestic flights because they can show you how the prices have been fluctuating!

    Ebookers - Because I mostly travel to Germany, this is a great website, sometimes they'll have flights a tremendous amount cheaper than kayak.

    ITA software - ITA software is a little bit unusual, it'll give you flights that are available and prices, but working it is a little bit tricky to get the most out.

    Once you have your flight booked, you'll probably want to head over to Seat guru to pick out the best seat around!

    Net debt - June 2010

    Student loans: -$82,171.95 (+397.19)
    Car loan: $0.
    Revolving Credit card debt: $0.
    Net debt: -$82,171.95

    Alexa ranking: 5,270,321

    Gah, so my networth didn't break the mark I wanted to this month of 70k, but there's good reason!  This past month there were many large purchases, one was the my fiancee's wedding band, a years worth of unlimited world via skype, parts for my car so it's finally fully functional, and my years worth of insurance (both auto and renters).  So although I didn't make it this month, I'm sure I will coming months.