I have not flown as much as Jan or some of the others

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so they might have more specifics on that. Remember too that if you use Kayak, as someone else mentioned, or any other service like them (Expedia, Hotwire, etc.) that they won’t show Southwest. SW does not list on them.
Be sure you are comparing apples to apples …. same day or date for flights, same amount of baggage, same airfare class, etc.
Oh, sometimes taking a very early flight such as 6:00 AM or a red eye is cheaper than leaving later in the day. I would suggest you be as flexible as possible with your dates to get the best rate. I checked flights on Southwest and pulled 2 dates out of thin air … Leavng from Seattle (couldn’t remember if that was right) and flying to Midland, was a little over $1800 for 4 with only one layover. That was leaving on 4/12 and returning on 4/20. It is a little better I think than what you found but I am fuzzy on the prices you quoted in a previous email.
It doesn’t sound like driving is a possibility from what you said and that flying can be, especially if you do not have to pay for lodging once you arrive at your destination … if you can find the right price. Just keep looking and I believe you’ll come up with a flight plan that meets your budget.

Check rates

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on Kak.com, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings when airline rates are the cheapest, and then keep checking. If you’re brave, you can try the Name Your Own Price option on Priceline. The problem is, you can have a number of connections and it might be terribly inconvenient, but the price may be right. I use this option to book hotel reservations each week for my sales staff. I don’t have many qualms about doing this because I choose a star rating, or I use Corporate Lodging Consultants to book their hotel stays, but the Name Your Own Price option on Priceline is generally cheapest. I generally go the Kak route for airfare, but if you do find a great rate that way, do call the airline then and book the reservation directly there with them. I have been given upgrades on flights solely because I booked with the airlines themself and not with a discount online booking site.

Something to consider with SW, if you are planning on flying a lot in the future

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If their airfares go lower you can get credit on future flights for the difference, also they are much more flexible on giving you airfare credit if something happens and you have to cancel your flight than most airfares. Be sure and read the fine print on both of these as well.

As others have mentioned check out United’s baggage policy, because I recently compared them for a flight for dh and while United’s tickets were cheaper the luggage cost made them considerably higher. I may be wrong, but I believe they were the airline that even charged you for your carryon luggage.
Also, wait on purchasing your tickets until closer to time because SW’s deals are generally not very far out from a travel date. If you can fly on Tuesday-Thursday do so. It will be cheaper than weekend travel.

You might also want to check on shipping your luggage via UPS if you are flying with a carrier that charges by the bag and you either has a family member that can accept the packages or the hotel will. Then only take what you absolutely need with you to the airport. I know a lot of people do this for trips to Walt Disney World to cut costs.

When we made plans to fly to Denver

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for the western wear market, I checked several airlines and also found SW to be the cheapest. You’re right, they don’t offer frills but they get you from point a to point b. We took advantage of a web only special and got there for $99 each one way … turning it into $198 round trip each, plus just a little in airline fees.
Sometimes the fares may be close at other airlines but the baggage fees are through the roof. That is a big deal to us because there is no way around it. Plus it doesn’t help that we are heavy packers. LOL

I need some really good budget ideas

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as to how to save some money fast! We want to take a trip to Texas at the beginning of April. My husband’s family is there and since his mom died last June he’s really wanting to make a point to see his other family more often. The problem is we live in WA (the state) and for the four of us to fly, it’s close to $2100. Driving isn’t really an option (we did that in June when his mom passed away) and looking back at the totals of gas, hotels, food, etc…it was $1800. I know that’s a $300 savings if we drive, but the mountain passes will be bad still and we don’t have as much time for vacation as he did when his mom passed away. It’s took us 3 days to drive there and 3 days to get home.

We don’t want to use our credit card, since our course we are working hard to get out of debt.

So what are ways you have saved money? I need some new tricks of the trade so to speak.

I have usually been a frugal one

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Right now, I am mid-divorce, and have one16 year old son left at home. I have also taken in a frugal (and fabulously sweet) friend of mine from college. So, in my late 40’s, I am restarting with a household of 3 people. Luckily, we are all reasonably frugal. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that when I dated this fellow back in college, that we never went on a paid date.
I was a single mom, working my way through college, thus, I was broke. My son spent every hour that I was in school, and at work, at the sitter’s, so our dates were always just my fellow coming over to my home. Now, 20+ years later, he’s living with me, and we eat together. Oft times, the three of us cook together. We, all three, do volunteer work together. My fellow goes on some of my contracting gigs with me. We have gone to his parent’s house a couple of times. This weekend, we went to a local ice-fest and looked at the sculptures, all for free.
We had gone to half-price day at the discount theater during the summer, before he moved in. Now, it’s library DVD ‘s. We tossed in some music CD’s, and did my clumsy version of slow dancing. (An added plus to staying home, no witnesses to my ‘dancing’!) I can’t imagine how throwing money at a date would have improved our evening. My fellow, and my son are willing to eat cheaper foods. My soon to be ex, and the other juvenile son, who is with the soon to be ex, are more prone to being spoiled brats.

You can’t imagine it?

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I still can’t imagine it! It has been more than 24 hours and and I still don’t know how we got there. Well, really, I do but it doesn’t seem to be possible. I knew we had it split between an IRA for each of us and then the joint account (non retirement) but I had never sat down and totaled up the 3 accounts. We have been fortunate to be able to max out an IRA for each of us the last few years. With this account we will be moving, we will finish maxing out 2012 and be able to do most, if not all, of 2013. I told dh I just wanted to put it where we are getting the best return right now. He said that we would do IRAs first to take advantage of the tax advantage, even though later in the year we could still do the IRAs.
Jane, twelve or thirteen years ago I never imagined we would be where we are today. Do NOT give up hope. You are not stuck forever where you are now. Keep plowing forward (no pun intended! LOL) and you’ll make it past BS2. If you are like me it is hard to see your progress when you are still in the trenches but as long as you are clawing and scratching your way forward, you will make your goals.

I just about choked when I saw that dollar amount.

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I’m only now barely able to imagine seeing a day when I won’t owe the world something. I haven’t yet started to stretch my imagination far enough to envision a day when I’ll have any sort of account with six figures in it. That’s awesome! I may have to take your word for it that “if you can do it, anyone can” because that sort of nest egg is a darn big egg in this household. But if you say so, I’ll try to stand on tippee-toes and see that far down the road once in awhile. Dang, that’s great news!

Back in September

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when my mom passed away my dad gave me two of her rings, her wedding band and her sapphire. I knew we needed appraisals for insurance and finally got around to it. I took them in a couple of weeks ago and got to pick them up today. Wow! I knew they were valuable but now I almost feel I cannot wear them out of the house! They came back appraised much more than I anticipated. I guess that is a good problem to have. Now to just get a rider on the policy for them.
We had an account with Morgan Keegan (now bought out by someone else) that we had kinda forgotten about, silly I know, but true. Well, we got a statement in the other day and I told dh, we really need to move this over to the place where we moved everything else and let Don handle it. So dh called Don who handles our IRA’s (all in mutual funds) and non-retirement mutual funds. He came by and picked up the last statement to look over it. When he came back he had a letter with him for us to sign. Where we have our money parked, when you get to $100,000 total in all your accounts, you get a price break on the fees they charge, of 1% off the fees. He said since we will be there in a short time, he wanted to get the ball rolling to save that 1%. Now, to many of you $100,000 is not a lot of money and may very well be “walkin’ around money”. However, to us, 12 years ago, it was inconceivable that we would have that much in this amount of time. I don’t know if I am more excited about the total in our accounts or to be saving 1%!

I just had to share the good news. For those who are still in BS2, there is hope and it’s on its way. Just keep working the baby steps and you’ll be putting away money for a rainy and and retirement as well. If WE can do it, anyone can do it.

It is a little easier for us

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because when we dine out we don’t get sweet tea because seriously I have yet to find a decent sweet tea in a restaurant. In fact I usually have water with lemon (free) so the segue here at home was easy. Now you will notice I said nothing about totally giving up Pepsi YET! We have cut down to one 20 oz glass a day each, The further we go into this challenge, the more likely it is to go entirely as well.
Today, besides the using the hotel shampoo I decided to see how long we could go without purchasing meat. I’m not saying we are going vegan, I’m saying we are going to use up all the bits and parts of meat I have canned, frozen and dried. I know I’ll eventually have an omg moment where I will have to purchase meat again and the price will make me physically ill, but I’m hoping to kill BOA no later than April 1, it’s currently on track for Dec 18, so I’ll have to come up with a lot of “extra” cash, after I replenish the bef from the truck repair to get that nearly $2,000 that quick. So any suggestions would be welcome. Jan who got a huge $10.50 check today that will go directly to the bef replenishing in OK

It’s getting to the voters to understand the situation

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I know families like ABCD all four registered voters “like” the status quo if they were to change anything they’d want MORE government coming their way. So they are not about to vote for someone with an ounce of common sense.
Another friend is from South African—naturalized citizen here now, came quite legally, she says we should all quit belly aching and just leave matters alone. That what the folks on capitol hill are doing is the right way to go. She is definitely not a math nerd and comes from a country where corrupt government is the norm.
Then you have the vast majority of the population whose eyes glaze over when you start speaking numbers or politics to them and try to hit them with both and well, the logical politicians are going to seem like the “weirdos” to them and we all know that anything/one that is different is therefore evil and must be done away with. (sic)
It is these type of registered voters that will not keep a sensible balanced budget type of politician in office. They all think they will get a piece of the pie if the government is handing out “free” pie. They don’t understand that the pie is shrinking by the day and only the lead dogs of the pack will eat and the rest will starve. We have a gentleman from here in OK Sen. Tom Colburn, who works tirelessly pointing out government waste and tries to get it dealt with and he gets no where. He does get re-elected every go around, because there are enough of us that want waste cut here in OK. Dr. Colburn ran his own business for years before getting into politics so he knows the ins and outs of budgets, but to get a majority of senators and congressmen like him in office all at the same time is nigh on to impossible. It’s a scratch my back world upon capitol hill and if you aren’t in the in crowd your bill is never going to be seen by the senate, little on a balanced budget. How long has it been now since Harry Reid has allowed a vote on anything but the bills by his good buddy’s?
Mary who thinks the very first step is to refuse to pay ANY politician, including the president, their salary until they pass a balanced budget after all we don’t get paid if we don’t do our job in OK

While I agree with the idea that “we should have a balanced budget”

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100%, there is a fundamental difference in job description and mission between a CFO and a member of Congress. The CFO of a company has his/her job to keep that company in the black. Each member of Congress was elected on the hope and/or expectation of providing what their constituency wants. That isn’t the same thing. If the majority of the households in the country don’t have zero-based budgets, apparently it’s not a priority. So why would it be a priority for those they elected? I’m afraid that until/unless the populace spontaneously develops a dramatically stronger sense of fiscal responsibility, Congress won’t be balancing the national checkbook anytime soon. In fact, I suspect that any Congressperson who tried to spearhead such efforts, wouldn’t have a job very long. Their constituency would replace them with someone who gave them what they wanted, not what they needed.Now I need to go re-read my email about being contented. I feel sick every time I think along these lines

So, in the last two weeks

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we had the garbage disposal and pipe below it wear out and today, my left tire had a flat. We took 451 from our joint Emergency Fund to pay for the repairs in the sink. I’ll find out tomorrow about the cost for my tire. Luckily, I have 3100 in my personal emergency fund that I can use for that.
I’m not happy about the cost, but at least we have money saved to pay for it. It will not be added to our debt.

I am not sure I have advice

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I am still figuring it as we go.Here lately I am focusing on rewarding good behavior and letting my kids make more choices. I am trying to teach them when to spend and when not to. Until now we have run a tight budget. Now everybody is burned out and I am hoping this helps. I think letting go more is actually gaining more contentment as strange as that seems.

You all know our story

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some of you all too well because you have lived or are living it too. Sailing along, tinkering with the idea of trying to get debt free, and sort of half way doing it, but not really and then your income vanishes on you. It would have been so easy for us that Feb in 2009 to run wailing into the woods to never be seen again, but I put on my big girl panties, handed the guys there big boy briefs and passed out Pollyanna Pills. I declared that day and many a day there after it was the best thing that ever happened to us. Yes I truly believe it was because of what it gave us. A unified family.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve always been a “normal” family (whatever that is). The three of us coexisted in the same house, we fought (and still occasionally—but rarely do) we shared good times and bad, but we were not a cohesive unit.
It was tough at first, still is sometimes, but over this last nearly four years we have grown into shades of our contentment. Each of us has adopted our own special role. Dh is the strong one that has been my rock as I battled the evil cheetah pack that chased us so hard those first two years. He’s worked the overtime that has helped kill them off one by one. Often getting little to no sleep. He’s supported me and even reminded me of my financial decisions, often making those decisions for me when I couldn’t decide. This is a new role for him in his life.
I’m the math and grocery nerd. I work the numbers and squeeze the pennies so hard Lincoln can’t even open his eyes. I have came up with new recipes and menus out of what’s on hand more times than we can count, no cash, no groceries are being bought and we eat off what we have. The guys say we are eating better since 2009 than we ever have before. I am also in charge of the Pollyanna Pills.
The “Enforcer” is my son. He is debt free except for his mortgage size Sallie Mae and it is going down quickly. He keeps dh and I on the straight and narrow when he sees us waffling on our spending, but he is also the first to say ‘You’ve worked so hard you need a break” and hand us money on the condition we take a short trip to “give him a break.” He generally does this around special times like birthday’s anniversaries, Mother’s day, or similar events. The condition of the money is we must spend it on ourselves for a little R&R. God bless him, for traveling free spirits like us it is often what rejuvenates us and makes us come home that much more determined to get debt free as fast as possible.

Preventative Care

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I’m so frustrated with my pediatrician and the insurance company. Every year, I have to call the insurance company and get a claim reprocessed. It seems they don’t know how to process a preventative medical visit with a copay. Every year, they want to charge me the balance not covered of around $70 and I have to call and say “no, it’s a $35 copay and that’s it!” Now I realized that two of my three kids got an additional “medical visit” charge of $147 each on the same preventative care visit. Does that mean the doctors comes back into the room at the end and says, yep they are good to go?!!! And charges me another $147!!?? Bleh! I hate having to chase doctors and insurance companies down!

Anyone else have this problem with their preventative maintenance visits?

I went to Milwaukee this past weekend for the yearly Rush TabCon

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I heard a radio commercial for an auto dealership that promised you a lower car payment than what you’re paying now, no matter what it might be. Let’s think about this. They want you to buy a new(or newer) car, even though you’re still paying on your old one. Which means they’ll have to roll the balance into the new purchase. And since they say your payment will be lower, the only way they can do that is to stretch out the repayment duration. So you’ll owe MORE money, for LONGER than you do now, and will probably still need another car by the time the term is up – rinse, repeat. Pure stupidity, IMO…
The second was a billboard for some company called Zingo Cash, or something like that. They claim that their loan is the solution to break the cycle payday loans. Say WHAT?? You’re going to borrow money from them so that you can pay off another loan. I was curious, so when I got back home I looked them up. The idea is that people with credit so bad they can only get payday loans can get a loan from Zingo, and pay it off over time as opposed to having to pay it back in 1 or 2 weeks. Nevermind that someone who needs a payday loan in the first place likely already has poor financial habits, not enough income, or BOTH. Which meas they’ll probably still have problems paying back THIS loan with its undoubtedly higher interest rate. And the poor keep getting poorer…sigh.