Money-saving tips for the wealthy
Everyone loves a deal, especially the rich.
Why pay full-price for a weekend jaunt to the Caribbean
or be subject to retail pricing on a case of exquisite French Bordeaux?
Surely, you can do better.
We've gathered some frugal-living-for-the-upper-crust
tips from travel agents, wine sommeliers and other experts around
the country to guide the bargain-hunters with a little extra in
And don't worry. Even if your annual income is equal
to the yearly "mad money" budget of a CEO, you can travel
or dine in style if you're willing to be flexible and plan ahead.
Don't mark your calendar, just
The more flexible your window of travel -- when your trip starts
and how long it lasts -- the more options there are for savings.
Supply and demand affect travel costs, says Fred Snow, a travel
associate with TravelWizard.com. For instance, if you want to take a cruise
and insist on traveling in June, you'll pay more. Cruises that cater
to families will be more expensive in June when school breaks for
the summer. But if you can go in May instead, it's less expensive
and the weather is the same. The same principle follows
the winter and spring breaks.
Let the professionals be your
Take advantage of services offered by travel agencies. Their contacts
and professional knowledge allow them to custom-build your itinerary
and set a smooth course.
But don't assume that an agent's services are free.
Traditionally, travel agencies made their money through suppliers,
not from consumers, but that is changing. Airlines have cut travel
agent fees, so an increasing number have responded by charging fees
directly to travelers.
Plus, travel agencies that belong to a travel consortium
have increased buying power and can offer complimentary tours, room
upgrades and extra amenities at no additional cost. Remember, if
you plan on your own, you're on your own if glitches take place
or you have questions.
Time is of the essence
Every region has a peak season and a shoulder season. For the best
deal, travel off-season. Typically, the peak season for Europe and
the Mediterranean is summer. Winter and summer are peak for the
Caribbean. Expect prices to be inflated as much as 30 percent to
60 percent in peak seasons, says Shel Horowitz, owner of FrugalFun.com and author of The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with
a Peasant's Pocketbook.
Likewise, it's cheaper to travel midweek than over
Early bird gets the deals
Cruise lines offer many early-booking specials, and you'll save
more on air fare if you book early to get to the port city. While
you may be able to net a low-priced, last-minute cruise deal, the
last-minute air fare is more expensive, Snow says.
Stay, eat, play -- for one price
Check out an all-inclusive resort for savings. One price includes
your accommodations, meals, snacks and entertainment. This is a
great family deal, especially if complimentary lessons and kid's
activities are part of the package deal.
Cash in on credit card air miles
Use your credit card to make monthly purchases and pay that balance
off every month. The benefit: You'll accrue air miles faster. Cash
them in for ticket upgrades and free travel.
Try the art of negotiation
Travel with the principle that it never hurts to ask for a little
more. You can always ask for upgrades, whether it's a hotel or transportation
costs. Often you'll actually pay less for the upgrade than you would
had you bought first class originally, according to Horowitz. Save
your negotiating for those in management; you'll be more successful.
Rental cars for less
Shop early over the Internet. You can book a rental car in the low
season for less, even if you'll be using it in the peak season,
Avoid using your hotel long-distance service, as up to $3 to $4
can be tacked on to each call.
Avoid tourist traps
Research places of interest to visit before your trip, or visit
the local visitors' center. By traveling off the beaten track, you'll
avoid the money-consuming tourist traps. Plus, you're often treated
to a more interesting vacation, highlighted with personal glimpses
of the local culture.
Online travel agency cautions
Many online travel agencies offer great last-minute deals for cruises
and other vacation packages. Before you purchase a package deal,
shop and compare.
Verify the information by speaking directly to a representative
at the travel agency to confirm all the details. If you're unable
to get someone on the phone, forget it. The potential for frustration
is not worth the potential savings.
Other online travel agency tips include -- watch for
restrictions in the fine print and budget for hidden expenses, such
as taxes, surcharges, valet service and gratuity not included in
the package price. Finally, make sure the online agency is licensed
to operate in its state and belongs to a travel association.
Dining deals on the town
Enjoy fine cuisine without forking over your bank account. Peruse
the food sections of the local newspaper to find weekly restaurant
promotions and specials. Take advantage of two-for-one dining deals
and coupons. Check out new restaurants. Often, the new eatery will
offer special pricing during its first few days of business.
When you're traveling or even in your own town, take
advantage of the visitors center. You'll find great restaurant discount
Enjoy Florida's state bird --
the early bird special!
While the "early bird special" is predominantly a Floridian
special, it's starting to migrate to other U.S. cities. Restaurants
encourage patrons to eat dinner before the evening rush by offering
a special, although more limited, menu for a cheaper price. Generally,
the special pricing includes an entire meal from salad to dessert.
Time to eat
Do lunch. Go to the lovely French bistro or seafood cafe you've
been longing to check out. Lunch menus usually offer the same entrees
as dinner, just smaller portions and a smaller check.
Another cost-cutting palate pleaser: Dine out during
the week, rather than the weekends. Often, the menu prices climb
over the weekend.
Share an appetizer
Normally it's too much food for one individual to enjoy both an
appetizer and an entree, so share the appetizer. A good rule of
thumb is to buy one fewer appetizers than dinners, or to buy a combination
appetizer for the table.
A frequent diner?
Join a diner's club, and save on more than meals. The International
Diners Club lets you accumulate points for airline, hotel, car
rental, merchandise, retail and restaurant expenses. And redeem
these points for the same expenses, plus U.S. savings bonds or charitable
Picnic on local fare
"One of my most memorable meals was when traveling to Mexico,"
says Horowitz. "My wife and I purchased freshly made tortillas
still warm from a local vendor, bought perfectly ripened avocados
from the market, and had a picnic. The total cost was about $1.50
per meal. Not to mention the relaxing, fresh atmosphere is free."
Prix-fixe when abroad
Make lunch your big meal of the day with the prix-fixe --
a fixed-price menu. This meal includes up to four courses for one
price, lower than meals on the regular menu. When traveling abroad,
this is a great deal. In America, it tends to be higher priced.
And, for the wine connoisseur
Shop regularly with a retailer that you like and trust. Retailers
will give long-term customers good deals on great wines. Plus you'll
develop a "taste rapport" with the retailer, says master
sommelier Evan Goldstein of Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines in
Napa, Calif. The retailer will carry wines that satisfy your tastes.
Guard your liquid investment
Proper storage of fine wines is a must. Goldstein recommends placing
your wines in a cool, dark place where the air temperature is between
55 to 60 degrees. Wine thrives best in an area with little vibration,
balanced humidity and consistent temperatures. If you enjoy collecting
or buying cases, you may want to consider a wine storage appliance
unit such as those from Subzero and Viking to preserve your investment.
Buy what you like, like what
Experiment with red and white wines of different varieties from
different regions to discover the types of wines you like. Buy to
your taste, Goldstein encourages. Don't stock your wine cellar with
wines just because they're reputed to be collector bottles.
-- Updated: May 2, 2005