A few months ago, I wrote about some random ways I had made money all within the same month. This last month has turned into a similar experience. I’m not talking thousands of dollars, but every little thing helps, right? [Read more…]
I’m generally not a fan of talking in terms of savings rates. There are just too many variables to make fair comparisons. I do, however, still urge people who qualify to take advantage of a foolproof method to save over 50% of their income. [Read more…]
I recently announced that I would start featuring some of the budget profiles submitted to my site, including those of fellow bloggers. For those of you who may be new to this site, I encourage others to bare their budgets so we can all benefit by seeing how everyone else is (or isn’t) making it.
It has been an eye opening and uplifting experience to feature other bloggers through interviewing them and posting their budgets. There is so much we have to learn from each other and so much we might never know if we didn’t ask.
Last week I flew from Chicago to Charlotte, rented a car, and stayed in a Marriott hotel for 3 nights—all for free. On top of that, I accumulated 35,000 flight miles and got a free rental car upgrade. Some people think free trips are beyond their reach, but it is surprisingly simple to do.
I did something completely uncharacteristic of myself by leaving the family behind for a solo weekend trip to FinCon, a conference for financial bloggers, freelancers, & businesses. Though I had a bit of a rocky start, it turned out to be an amazing experience.
Here’s what I mean by rocky start. [Read more…]
Last year I wrote an article called The Power of Asking, which is still one of my all-time most popular posts. I gave examples of how we have received thousands of dollars’ worth of free stuff (and partially eaten hamburgers) as a result of simply asking.
There have been several things we’ve asked for just this month that will save us well over a thousand dollars. I will discuss in order of awesomeness.
We are meeting my parents, my 3 siblings, and my 9 nephews and nieces in Yellowstone next week for a family reunion. I am super excited. Ping pong with the bros, my kids get to play with their cousins, late nights laughing about all the stuff we used to get away with, and food! I’ll be done with my 30 day no-sugar diet and ready to eat my mom’s amazing home cookin!
Because of scheduling conflicts, we had booked our flights to come home one day earlier than the rest of the family. I was bummed not to get the extra day since we are traveling all the way across the country. But due to a change of plans, our schedule was freed up. The only problem is that United charges a $200 flight change fee per person, and there are 5 of those in this family.
We’re talking ONE THOUSAND dollars, just to change a flight. Generally I fly Southwest, which makes it so easy to change flights, so the fact that United wanted me to pay ONE LARGE just to move the flight really irritated me. I scoured the web to see if anyone else had successfully gotten one of these other airlines to waive flight change fees.
After a while of searching, it seemed like the answer was a general resounding no. Airlines might give exceptions for things like funerals or death-bed sickness, but I was not very encouraged. Nevertheless, I dialed up the old United Airlines customer service hotline.
The customer service rep answered, and I tried to sound as friendly as possible. I told him that the 5 of us were booked to return at 5:50am on a Tuesday but that we actually wanted to come home at 5:50am Wednesday. I told him I knew there was a change fee associated with this and asked if there was any way to waive it.
He repeated my question to me to make sure he understood what I was asking, and he told me that he’d see what he could do. Hey, I’ll take it! I was probably on hold for 7 or 8 minutes during which time I literally said a prayer.
He came back on and said that he would grant me a one-time courtesy waiver of the change fee and that in the future I would have to pay. What!? What a total surprise! The internet said it couldn’t be done, but I just did it…for 5 people! And I didn’t even have to fight or ask twice!
I don’t think it’s common, but at least I know it’s possible. So what is the secret? I really have no idea, but here are a few of my best guesses.
So there you go. It is possible to have your nonSouthwest flight change fees waived. The stars might have to be perfectly aligned, but I’m proof that it can happen…times 5.
Similar to how we asked for and got free cello lessons, we finally thought to ask our homeschool partnership if they would cover our soccer season fees that we’ve purchased for several seasons now. (We are part of a county home school partnership that pays for some community classes.) The lady sent back an email saying that would be fine. Send me my refund baby!!
We recently had to get a prescription filled, but insurance only covered a certain quantity over a 30 day period, which would not be sufficient. We read online that buying the extra quantity out of pocket would likely cost hundreds of dollars and that many people had faced a similar problem. Amanda talked to the pharmacist, and she actually turned out to be very helpful and is in the process of working with the doctor and the insurance company to see if she can hook us up. I think it will come through.
I have not gone out to eat much this month due to my temporarily restrictive diet. But the first time I did, I asked them if they would replace the rice and beans with salad & avocado for the same price. The avocado is usually extra, and those things are not cheap. No problem. Done!
Food is one of the easiest things to get for free. A little bit of small talk and courtesy go a long way for someone who is used to dealing with impersonal or even rude people all day. Just the other day at my work cafeteria I smiled and said “How’s it going Susan?” She lit right up and piled on those side dishes. Everyone comes away feeling better from interactions like that.
As you can see, simply asking can yield you a whole spectrum of benefits, from the substantial to the simple.
One of my readers turned me on to a book called The Aladdin Factor. It talks about this very thing and teaches everything you’d ever want to know about the right way to ask for something.
How has asking been going for you? Have you ever gotten your change flight fees waived?
For the past two weeks I have been abstaining from processed sugar…and grains…and dairy…and legumes. I have passed over free brownies at work, I stuck with veggies at a work barbeque, and I have even stayed away from pizza (my favorite). It hasn’t been as painful as it might sound though.
It’s actually been a very eye-opening experience. I have more energy, I think I’m appreciating natural foods as God intended (who knew almond butter tasted so good!), and it’s helped me to be more disciplined in other areas of my life. [Read more…]
If you are new to BareBudgetGuy.com, you probably don’t yet know that I am in love with Latin America. I lived in Mexico for a few years and haven’t been the same since.
A few years ago, I started reading a lot of expat blogs and thinking these people were so lucky. I was in dream mode. As time went on though, the conversations between my wife and I transitioned from “what if” to “when.” [Read more…]
Yes, you read that correctly. And it’s true…within a certain context that is. Context is critical when discussing personal finance. Let me explain. [Read more…]
Today I welcome my lovely wife Amanda. She recently read an article about a woman who obtained the necessities in preparation for a baby for “only” a few thousand dollars. This led her to reflect on her own experience and whip out this insightful glimpse into how she did it for a few hundred…
Some say that everything you need for your first baby could cost you well over $5,000. Even the “frugal” plans I’ve read suggest about $1,000 as the bare minimum. I seemed to remember spending much less, but I wasn’t sure, so I decided to take a look to see if it’s really possible to prepare for a baby for under $500. [Read more…]
I’ve always been just slightly paranoid about my hairline. My dad doesn’t have much on top anymore, and neither did his dad. When I was 27 and couldn’t take the uncertainty anymore, I broke down and bought some Rogaine.
Hair loss prevention products are sneaky. It’s hard to know if the fact that I still have my hair can be attributed to using them or not. I finally discovered I could get a 6 month supply of the Costco brand that is just as effective (they all use 5% minoxidil…if you were wondering). I’ve spent at least a few hundred dollars on it over the years. And good news! I still have my hair at 32!
Though my dad may have given me a receding hairline, he’s more than made up for it with everything else that he has given and taught me through his example, finances included. [Read more…]
A few days ago, we had a $5,000 surprise in the mail. It was a check from my 92-year-old grandmother (my “Rich Grandpa‘s widow”) with my name on it. Having never had experienced anything like this before (except for the one time I received a big wedding gift that ended up losing half its value during the financial crisis), I had to stop and think about what we were supposed to do next. [Read more…]
People evolve, and so should their budgets. I use the term “budget” loosely. It could apply to the type of budget you use, your budgeting habits, or the actual dollar amounts within your budget. As my circumstances have changed throughout my life, I have tried to improve my budgeting habits as well as to use more effective types of budgets, a few of which I shall discuss. [Read more…]
The “seven baby steps” have become fairly well known thanks to Dave Ramsey’s rising popularity and common sense financial approach. They are at the core of his philosophy and provide an excellent framework to guide you in your financial endeavors. They lay out a path toward financial independence that applies to everyone, regardless of their level of wealth. [Read more…]
I’ve been using mint.com to track my account balances for a few years now. I love being able to see all of my accounts in one place. Despite the love I have for the service, there is one thing I find annoying. Every so often, Mint prompts me with this reminder: You’re paying over 20% more for auto insurance than most Mint users. Get a quote and compare you’re rates. Do ya think!? Don’t they realize I KNOW THAT!? I live in THE most expensive state for car insurance. [Read more…]
After putting together my personal profit plan for this year, I can really tell a difference in my mentality. I can tell I am more frugally minded and have a clearer vision of my financial goals. I’ve saved over $300 and received over $200 worth of extra perks within the last 2 weeks, and it all required minimal effort. [Read more…]