Archives For Frugal

Keep a Secret

Shh… American Airlines has a secret program for expired miles. Credit Daniela Vladimirova

Do American Airlines miles expire? Yes, If you have no qualifying activity in an 18 month period those miles are toast.

BUT I can show you how to restore those “lost” miles on the cheap with a secret program.

My wife and I racked a good number of AA miles flying from California to visit family and also flying around the world when we were single.

Due to Southwest’s Bags Fly Free program and generally cheaper prices we’ve stopped flying American Airlines and our accounts became inactive.

Thanks to my wife’s persistence we learned about one of their secrets. (Side tip: Marry a frugal spouse!)

They have a secret program code named the American Airlines Re-engagement Challenge that can’t be found on their website.

American Airlines Re-engagement Challenge

You’ll have to actually call their hot-line and talk to a real live person. (1-800-882-8880)

Explain the situation of your lost miles and ask if there is any way to revive those miles. If they aren’t helpful ask about their Reengagement Challenge.

They might be shocked that you are such a knowledgeable insider–just don’t tell them where you heard about it or they might come after me and my AA miles. 🙂

ReEngagement Challenge Details: How Does it Work?

Simple really. I’ll share the bullet points. If you want to see the details click Reengage AA Miles.

  • Agree to sign up for two email lists for the length of your re-engagement challenge without unsubscribing.
  • Pay $30 over the phone.
  • Fly on 1 round trip flight on American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, or Japan Airlines within 6 months OR
  • Earn 5,000-7,000 base partner miles to revive up to 50,000-75,000 expired miles. (This seems tricky since many programs for earning are exempted from the Re-Engagement Challenge)
  • To restore 75,000+ miles you’ll need to fly on 2 round trip flights in 6 months or earn 10,000 base partner miles.

If you have enough miles to redeem American Airlines miles for a free ticket (12.5 one way for EconomyMileSAAver program, 25K miles for round trip), AND have a plan for earning the miles–Only then you should consider coughing up the $30 for the Re-Engagement Challenge. 

We both have near the 25K needed for a free flight and an upcoming AA flight will push us over the ledge, so we choose to pay $60 total to reactivate both accounts.

On a side note we learned one way to keep your AA miles active is to donate 1,000 miles to one of their active nonprofit listed on their site every year.

Have your American Airlines miles expired? Will you start the Re-Engagement Challenge to revive those expired miles? 


scrabble board money

Photo Credit Philip Taylor PT.

There are many ways to save money. The problem is actually doing them. Take this list and starting doing one item per week and you’ll begin to see your financial situation improve.

I’m sure you’ve thought about or heard of all these savings strategies, but the problem is you haven’t started them yet. There is no better time to start saving than today.

1. Cut the cable– If you don’t want to go cold turkey, then at least call and negotiate a better deal. My wife got us from $49.00 a month to $29.00 with just a 5 minute phone call.  That was $240 savings in one year!

2. Shop with a list and a menu in mind at the grocery store– It takes planning and time, but you’ll see the savings roll in. If it’s not on the list, you can’t buy it.

3. Cut the amount of sodas and alcoholic drinks when you’re out– The markup on those drinks are astronomical! “Just a glass of water with lemon please” is what you’ll be saying.

4. Shop generic. Name brands are expensive. Take the generic box of cereal for much cheaper price.

5. Refinance your home at a lower rate– Did you know that interest rates are still at rock bottom prices if you have equity in your home? Shop around and lock in a fixed rate before they start going up. Remember always avoid the ARM!

6. Brown bag it and make that coffee at home. Everyone knows its cheaper to take your lunch and make your tea/coffee at home, but are you doing it now? Time to get out the ole’ lunch sack and pack an apple and turkey sandwich. Don’t forget to set the timer on the coffee pot the night before!

7. Blow some money– Yep you heard me right. Blow some money! We all need a release to spend some money on frivolous items and impulse. The only trick is to work that blow money into your budget and limit it. Blowing a little money each month will help act as release valve, so your spending kettle doesn’t boil over.

8. Sell something– It can’t all be about saving right? You know you don’t need it anymore. It’s that thing in the corner of your living room, closet, or garage. Go ahead sell it and take that old thing in the coat closet too! eBay and Craigslist = money for your emergency savings or debt.

9. Insurance– Yep there are all kinds and many are overpriced. If you have universal or variable life insurance, then it’s absolutely overpriced. Get term life insurance and then cancel your old policy. For car insurance, if your car is worth around 3,000 or less then think about going with only liability and your state min. requirements.

10. Balance your checkbook– Do you really know how much money you have in that account? If you haven’t done it in 5 years…it might take a while. Time to reconcile your account. Here is a video and an outline of the basics.

*Bonus: Start using the Envelope System– stuff envelopes with cash for a few budgeted categories like food or entertainment and only use the envelopes for that spending. When the money runs out, you’re done eating out for the month.

What are other simple ways to save money? 

Radar detection

Can you detect free stuff? Credit Ѕolo.

I’m a sucker for free stuff and have learned to spot a good freebie. Remember “Radar” (Corporal Radar O’Reilly) from M.A.S.H. that could hear the helicopters before they arrived? I’d love to have this skill for anything free.

I’d call it my freedar.

The art of free isn’t difficult to develop, yet like any skill takes time to hone to freedar status. I’ll share some places to help you on your journey of free stuff.

Where to Find Free Stuff Online

Let’s go hunting for free loot! Free is all around the interwebs just waiting to be found.

Giveaways – There are thousands of sites that offer giveaways and raffles. Your odds of winning vary on the contest, but if you do win–heck it’s free!

Do a quick search for #contest, #free, #giveaway on Twitter or do a Google search for the past week. Here is a list to get you started:

Craigs list- Craigslist is like the wild wild west, you never know what you’re getting in to, but you really can get free unwanted items if you’re willing to go pick them up.

Free Cycle – We had friend get mounds of free kids stuff from Free Cycle. It’s not only for taking, but giving away too!

Free Stuff Offline too!

Life does happen offline. I know it’s hard to imagine. Here’s a few ideas for free stuff in the land of flesh and blood.

Yard Sales- A lot of garage sales will have a free box, will give their stuff away at the end of the day, or even just set it on the sidewalk at night–ripe for the picking.

Dumpster Diving– Who knows what you’ll find? And it’s all free (Legality is up to your city). There are even dumpster diving meetup groups to show you the ropes.

More Help to Find Free Stuff

All You Have to do is Ask on Daily Money Shot

How to Win Cash and Prizes and Free Stuff from Bible Money Matters

Free Swag– a Squidoo Page

6 Ways to Win Free Stuff from Blog Giveaways by Wise Bread

Do you love free stuff? Where do you get your swag? Come on share your secrets below. 

icecream truck

What is your favorite from the ice cream truck?

Summer is officially here! The kids are out of school, the ice cream truck is making the rounds, vacations are beginning, lazy pool days, the NBA season is finally over (good try Thunder) and baseball can carry us through to the Olympics.

Summer is here and it’s time to let the fun begin. You work too hard, relax a bit–but keep an eye on your dollars or they might slip and slide down the wet banana to the mud pit at the end.

Good clean frugal fun is what I’m talking about. Save money, have fun, and enjoy your summer with this collection of articles I’ve read this week.

Frugal Vacation and Travel Savings

Pack Right and Save on Baggage Fees– I’m sure you hate bagge fees too. Learn how to be a better packer and avoid paying those fees.

A Simple Way to Save Big on Traveling This Summer – Blowing money while on vacation is easy, but MoneyNing has some frugal tips for vacation.

How to Travel Cheap at the London Olympics– There is still time to go to the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Frugal Toad proves you can have affordable lodging in London and other advice for the 2012 Olympics.

Fun fact: I was an escort runner to 3 torch runners for the 1996 Olympic games. I didn’t get to hold the torch, just run beside the torch for several miles while it traveled though Birmingham, AL.

Frugal Summer with Children

Get Your Kids to Read and Save– Reading and Saving? Wow! Sounds like millionaire bootcamp by Enemy of Debt.

Summer Reading Activities and Reading Lists– Great reading lists and printable rainy day activities.

Stay Cool in the Summer: 5 DIY Popsicles by ImpusleSave- My favorite is the Oreo! Yum.

More Summer Frugalness

Great Summer Reading for Your Summer Solstice Weekend by Young Cheap Living

BBQ on a Budget– Grill + Meat by the pool is my idea of a good summer day. (no offense my veggie eating readers-tofu burgers too!)

6 Tips to Rockin’ Yard Sales This Weekend– I love a good bargain and the trill of finding something I need at a garage sale. Great tips and funny article from Budgets are Sexy.

10 Cheap Summer Dates in Los Angeles– In Los Angeles and on a budget, no problem!

What are your summer plans? What frugal summer tips do you have? 

Photo credit Leap Kye (Creative Commons)

I’ve been thinking about carry a $100 bill around with me. Risky? I could get mugged and loose all that cash. I think overspending is more risky than the chances of getting mugged (even though I’ve been I-phone jacked).

Did you know that breaking a $100 bill is a difficult thing to do? That bill is just so-perfect. It represents the largest note you’ll ever hold. $100 is a a lot of money, especially holding it in cold hard cash.

Save Money By Holding a $100

Let’s use the fact that it is 48% harder to break a $100 bill than spending $100 of smaller bills to our advantage. There are also studies that show spending cash is more difficult than using credit cards and debit cards; let’s use that fact to help us save money.

Spend $100 in Your Mind

If you have to go to the store to get an item, pack ‘Uncle Ben’ with you to the mall and spend it all. Then spend it again. Yeah! Go crazy with that money. IN YOUR MIND. Don’t cash it. Don’t even touch that bill.

Spend that $100 on items over and over in the mall. By spending the money in your mind, it will help get that spending bug out of your system. Plus, you’ll have spent not even a dime of that one hundred dollar bill. Try it. Better yet, spend $100 on paper 20x.

If you are in debt and being forced to be frugal, then you need a creative outlet for spending. If frugal isn’t in your nature, you need to spend without anyone getting hurt–especially Uncle Ben.

Have you ever tried this $100 bill spending trick? Would it work for you? 

Photo Credit AMagill (Creative Commons)