Searching for the Cheapest Airfare: Is There a Silver Bullet?

At one time or another, we've all been a day late and a few air miles short when purchasing a plane ticket. So we turn to the internet. But with all the bargain travel sites out there, which ones truly offer the best deals on a consistent basis? Surely, there must be a spectacular site out there that's going to get me the cheapest flight every time, right?

Testing the Premier Airfare Sites
I thought it would be fun — and educational — to actually go through a real-life example with a test flight that:

  • Departs Atlanta, non-stop flight to L.A. (LAX) at any time on March 8.
  • Departs L.A. (LAX), non-stop flight to Atlanta at any time, March 13.

So let's dive in and take a look at the different types of airfare sites out there to see how they perform. The first step to finding the best deal is knowing what the business models are for the sites offering these tickets. Knowing this will result in some time savings and myth busting.

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More about...Travel

How to lower your Comcast Xfinity bill by 33% (without losing any service)

For the third of the country who has no choice but to turn to Comcast for cable television, the thought of price haggling is about as appealing as a root canal. Comcast has a notorious reputation for being unwilling to make their customers happy. Customers of other monopolistic cable outfits across the nation know the feeling.

However, the potential savings that can come from limiting a monthly subscription expense can be enormous - that's money that goes straight to your online savings account. What's a frugal person to do?

Dealing with your local cable superpower doesn't have to be an intimidating process. And as evidenced by the ease in which I recently cut my cable/internet costs by a third during a short online chat without losing any service whatsoever, you may have similar success.

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More about...Frugality

6 must-have characteristics to look for when buying a home

With home prices down, foreclosures up, there's an influx of great homes on the market with less competition vying for them. The next year or so may present some prime buying opportunities for those willing to do some homework, and who meet the prerequisites of home ownership. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, one of the most important things to ask yourself when you start looking for a house is: "How easy will it be to sell this thing?"

Sound personal finance decisions usually involve thinking one step ahead. You should not be content just to get into a house that you emotionally fall in love with; rather, you should be looking to buy a house that you can get out of quickly, easily, and at a profit should life happen to throw you a curveball that will force you to move.

What characteristics lead to a house being highly "marketable"? Granted, there's not an exact set of criteria that will be ideal for all people in all situations and markets, but the more factors you have working in your favor the better. We're not talking about buying a house for the purpose of flipping it. We're simply talking about buying a house that you can live in, put some sweat equity into over time, and then sell for a profit.

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More about...Home & Garden

The Compound Return Marathon: Which Retirement Strategy Will Win?

Before we fire off the gun to start the 'Compound Return Marathon', let's cover some basics on what compound returns are and why you should care.

What is compound interest?

You probably became familiar with the term 'compound interest' when you first started placing money in your bank accounts. Most of us recognize compound interest as the interest we receive from holding money in a savings account, certificate of deposit, or other low rate of return investment at the bank. Any form of compound interest is great, but this post isn't about avoiding depreciation in cash value by earning just enough to out-pace inflation with low rate returns (which is about all no risk interest accounts are able to do). Let's discuss a different type of compound interest.

Compound returns

When you purchase index or mutual funds, you are often asked what you would like to do with any dividend or capital gains disbursements from that particular investment's holdings. When you select that you would like to 're-invest', you are, in effect, compounding your returns. The same goes for dividend producing stocks. You are offered the choice of receiving your dividend in the form of a cash payout, or re-investing the amount into more stock.

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More about...Investing, Retirement