How to Find Cheap Hotels

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How to Find Cheap Hotels
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Need to get a cheap hotel for an upcoming work trip or family vacation? In this post, I walk you through my hard-won strategies for finding great hotel deals and give you some cheap hotel alternatives. Our Bad Experience With a Cheap Hotel I’ll never forget the experience. Jesse and I had only been married a few years and we decided to splurge on a “big family trip” to San Antonio, Texas for a conference. It was something we had planned for quite awhile and we had scoured the internet to find deals. We ended up finding a crazy good deal on a flight, hotel, and car rental package. It was dirt cheap and we felt like we had pretty much won the lottery! Even on our small budget, we figured out a way to make this crazy cheap vacation happen! Be Wary of One-Star Hotels! We were so excited about the deal that we didn’t really take the time to think through the fact that it was a one-star hotel. Ahem. Well, fast forward to our trip. We flew to San Antonio, picked up the car, and met up with friends. Time got away from us and pretty soon it was after 1 a.m. in the morning. We realized we’d better head to our hotel… and that was when the whole reality of a one-star hotel began to hit us. The hotel was in a very sketchy party of town. We didn’t really even feel safe getting out of our car at 1 a.m. in the morning. But what other choice did we have? We got checked in and got to our room to discover it was dirty and had roaches and the door barely locked because it was somewhat broken. Since we didn’t have the money to switch to another hotel, we decided to just suck it up and stay there. We cleaned the room as best as we could, barricaded the door, and went to bed. It was a good thing that we barricaded the door because in the middle of the night, someone started trying to get into our room. They jiggled the door handle multiple times and tried unsuccessfully to unlock it. It’s very possible that they were disoriented at 3 a.m. and thought it was their room, but it seemed pretty aggressive for someone who was just trying to get into their hotel room. Gratefully, after a few minutes, they finally left and they didn’t come back. But you can imagine that we felt pretty shaken by it! Don’t Make the Cheap Hotel Mistakes We Did! As you can likely imagine, after that, we decided we would do our research before jumping on some crazy cheap hotel deal again! We also decided to never stay in a one-star hotel if we could at all help it! 🙂 Whether you have had a bad experience with a cheap hotel site, or whether you’re just scared that you will, or maybe you just wish someone who has had a lot of practice getting great deals on hotels could be your guide and help you learn how to find the best hotel deals, this post is for you. I’m going to break down my best advice for finding good deals on hotels, walk you through what you need to know to stay away from the scary one-star experiences, and help you save time and money on booking hotels. So, let’s jump right to it… 1. Travel off season. First things first, the best way to find a deal on a hotel is to travel off-season. I know this is not always possible, but if you can swing it, you’ll save so much money. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t travel in the summer; it just means you should choose places to go in the summer that aren’t the vacation destination of everyone else! I love to use the search feature on Skyscanner if we have somewhat flexible dates and locations. You can search by locations or by dates or by budget to find flights that are often incredibly affordable. I love to look on there to get ideas of the best times of year to travel where… because typically if flights are really inexpensive to a location, there’s a chance that hotels will be, too! In addition, if you plan your trip during the middle of the week, you’ll often find cheaper hotel rates than if you are booking your stay on a weekend. Again, this isn’t always feasible, but it’s something to consider — especially if you have a bit of flexibility. 2. Search multiple travel sites. There are a number of places online where you can find cheap hotel deals. Some of our favorites to use are: Groupon, Hotels.com, Travelocity, Hotwire, Expedia, and Priceline. If you’re willing to be adventuresome, you can purchase your hotel “blind” through Expedia and get a great deal. You’ll save at least $15 or $20 — often more! — if you’re willing to purchase the hotel room without knowing what hotel you are staying at. You can search by lowest price and star rating to see what prices are for the area you’ll be traveling to. We are typically able to find a three-star hotel for around $50-$60 per night this way. Note: Because of our awful one-star hotel experience, I wouldn’t suggest getting anything less than a three-star hotel. Two-star hotels can be hit and miss and, in our experience, one-star hotels should be avoided altogether. 🙂 Reader tips: Hotels.com offers stay 10 nights, get one free. They also have discount codes. We always stay in hotels that offer a good breakfast because it saves us $$. -Quintana Try to stay at the same hotel chain using their rewards program. My favorite rooms include breakfast, a sink, fridge, and a pull out couch. -Kelly If you want to get to pick your hotel before you purchase or be able to get a refund if your travel plans change, I’d recommend going through Orbitz. They have great deals, they show you the price including fees, and they do not charge you if you cancel your reservation. Usually, their prices are a little higher, but it might be worth it to pay a little to know what hotel you’re reserving ahead of time, and to not be charged if you cancel your reservation. Pro Tip: Check Out Express Deals From Priceline Jen shared this in a comment on a post not too long ago: Priceline offers “Express Deals” which provides basic information about a hotel – neighborhood, amenities, star level, and guest rating (in most cases). They also tell you the percentage discount you’ll get by using the Express Deal, plus the price you will pay for it. Most people don’t take advantage of Express deals, because they don’t like not knowing which hotel they’re booking. (And once you purchase an Express Deal, there is no backing out. You get what you get at that point.) With the information they provide, however, you can filter hotels offered by Priceline to figure out what hotel you are going to get! As an example: a hotel is listed as three star, in Times Square, offers free internet and a gym, has a 7+ rating by guests, and is available for $145 (a 39%) savings. To figure out what this deal is, you back out of Express Deals and go back to the section that lists all of the hotels on Priceline. You filter your search to only show hotels in Time Square which are 3 star and have free internet and a gym. It might pull 4 matches, so you next look at which hotels are rated 7-7.9 by guests. Let’s say there are two hotels left at that point. Then it’s simple math to figure out which hotel is a 39% savings from the price listed on the screen. Make sense? Hopefully! It takes a little practice, but with this method I’ve always been able to figure out what hotel I will get (and usually at a huge savings!). I have successfully done this over three dozen times. 3. Look for a coupon code. Many cheap hotel sites regularly offer coupon codes. These coupon codes usually have some restrictions, but it’s still worth checking to see if they have a coupon code that will work on the hotel you’re wanting to book. Tips for Finding Travel Site Coupon Codes: My favorite site to find online coupon codes is RetailMeNot.com. They have a very robust database of coupon codes for [...]
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12 Ways to Get Cheap Photo Prints

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12 Ways to Get Cheap Photo Prints
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Looking for the best online photo printing deals? If you love to order prints online but hate paying full price, check out these tips for getting cheap photo prints! {Looking for all the latest photo deals? Go HERE.} Reader Kara wrote in with this great question: “Hello, I was wondering what is the least expensive way to print pictures? I used to wait until Shutterfly did their free prints deals but last time I did that it seemed that their shipping fees had gone up. Any other suggestions?” How to Get Cheap Photo Prints I know many of you are probably like Kara and on the hunt for cheap photo print deals! So I decided to take this question to the readers on our Facebook page to see what their best tips were (thank you to those of you who commented!). They came up with a lot of great suggestions, but these were the top companies! Before you go to order prints online, be sure to check out these tips for getting cheap photo prints: 1. Shutterfly While shipping costs have gone up slightly over the years, Shutterfly is still a go-to option for discounted photo prints because of the amount of coupon codes they offer on a regular basis. In fact, Shutterfly regularly offers free print deals to new and established customers. New customers receive 50 free prints and select free products when they sign up. Shutterfly also has prepaid print plans that can give you photos for just 9 cents each. To keep shipping costs lower, try ordering 95 prints when a free print deal is going on. The shipping fees can be up to $4.00 less by simply decreasing your order by a few prints. Or, consider doing in-store pickup instead. During the checkout process, click the “1-Hour Pick Up Available” link under eligible 4×6 prints to search for your preferred local Target, Walmart, or CVS store by zip code. The Shutterfly app offers unlimited free 4×6 and 4×4 prints. You only have to pay for shipping. The app also regularly offers free deals and you’re able to edit within the app. 2. Snapfish Snapfish offers standard 4×6 prints starting at 9 cents each, plus shipping. They regularly offer free and discounted print deals to new and established customers. New customers receive 100 4×6 prints when they join. Sometimes they even offer deals where you can get FREE prints with FREE shipping! If you choose to pick up your prints in-store from participating CVS or Walgreens stores, you can see the cost difference on the order screen. For instance, you can get up to 49 prints from CVS at 29 cents each. If you get 50 or more prints, the price goes down to 19 cents apiece. It might end up being cheaper to choose this option instead of paying for the 9 cent prints plus shipping. The Snapfish App gives you 100 free prints each month for the first year you sign up with the app. You only have to pay for shipping and one reader reported her shipping was only $2.95. Shipping costs may vary according to where you live. You can edit photos within the app and see how they will print. 3. Amazon Prime Photos Amazon Photos offers 4×6 prints for 9 cents each with free shipping. Members receive 5 GB of storage free but after that, you’ll need to choose a digital storage plan. If you’re a Prime member, you get unlimited storage for free! They do occasionally offer free prints. Note: If you’re not a Prime member, you can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial! 4. FreePrints App Customers receive 85 free 4×6 prints per month and only need to pay for shipping. You can get up to 1000 free prints in a year! If you need more than 85 prints, you can pay for those. Shipping starts at $1.99 and is never more than $9.99 no matter how many prints you order. There’s also a FreePrints Photobooks app, which will give you one free photo book per month. There are not subscriptions and no commitments. 5. Walmart Walmart offers 9 cent 4×6 prints for home delivery, plus shipping. If you do the 1-Hour Rollback option in the store, it’s 25 cents per print for 74 photos or less and then 15 cents apiece for 75 photos or more. They offer free shipping on orders over $25. 6. Adoramapix Readers really loved Adoramapix’s photo quality, especially for photo albums. 4×6 photos are currently 29 cents each and economy shipping is $5.95. (See their price list.) They also offer a full range of photo sizes so keep them in mind if you need a non-standard print. You can sign up for special deals on their website. And if you’re a new customer, you can get 15% off your first order with coupon code Pixnew15 at checkout. They also have an app for Apple products. 7. Mpix People who prioritize photo quality will also want to take a look at Mpix, a service even photographers recommend. Readers are impressed with the quality, as well as the care they take in packaging your products. 4×6 prints are 29 cents each. Economy shipping is $3.95. They have a Reward Program where you can earn points toward discounts and special offers with every purchase you make. You can earn 100 points just for signing up for a Mpix account. 500 points can earn you free shipping or a $5 off coupon. 8. Costco Prices start at 17 cents for the first 99 4×6 prints at Costco with warehouse pick-up and decrease to 14 cents for 100 or more prints. 4×6 prints are 9 cents if you opt to have them shipped to the warehouse instead; shipping costs vary but it is free if you opt for standard delivery. 9. Sam’s Club 4×6 photos are 10 cents each for 1 Hour Photo. They are 8 cents each if shipped to your home. They regularly offer special deals and you can upload your photos on their app. New customers get 50 free prints when they sign up for an account. 10. Walgreens The first 74 4×6 prints from Walgreens are 33 cents each. 75 or more prints are 23 cents. The price is the same for in-store pickup and mail delivery. Standard shipping costs start at $0.99 and go up to $5.89. Many readers report they’ll place their order through the app or website and pick it up at the store an hour later or at their convenience instead of having it shipped. Customers can sign up to receive special deals by email. The Walgreens app allows you to print the photo off your phone. Readers report they regularly receive free print and coupon deals, along with earning Balance Reward points. One reader went so far as to say she’s saved more money than she’s spent! 11. CVS As a competitor of Walgreens, they have a very similar pricing structure. The first 74 4×6 prints from Walgreens are 33 cents each and 75 or more prints are 23 cents. 12. Groovebook Groovebook is a unique option that lets you create a 4×6 “photo book” with between 40-100 pictures each month. The photo are perforated, so you can tear and share them just like regular photo prints. Subscriptions cost $3.99 per month — so it’s like paying just under $0.04 per print! You can get your first Groovebook for FREE with code MYFREEBOOK at checkout. If you have fewer than 100 photos that month, they’ll fill the rest of the book with duplicates. The app seamlessly integrates with the photos on your phone and is available for iPhone and Android. I’ve heard from a lot of people who use and love Groovebook! Bonus Tip: You might also try your locally owned photography shop, because they typically offer coupons and have some of the best quality around! While this will vary by location, it’s definitely an option to look into! Do you order prints online? What are your best suggestions for getting cheap photo prints and finding the best online photo printing deals? [...]
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15 Ways to Eat Out on the Cheap

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15 Ways to Eat Out on the Cheap
Want some tips on how to eat out on the cheap? Here are 15 tried and true ideas to help you enjoy restaurant food — on a budget. How to Eat Out on the Cheap Love eating out? Don’t love how much it can cost? Here are 15 ideas to save money on eating out:a 1. Go out to lunch instead of dinner. 2. Always use restaurant coupons. 3. Order water instead of beverages that cost. 4. Split an entree with someone else when possible. 5. Sign up for Birthday Freebies and use those when you eat out. 6. Go out for dessert instead of a full meal. 7. Use restaurant gift cards that you bought discounted. 8. Sign up for restaurant apps and email lists to be notified of great coupons and specials — or even freebies! 9. Earn free restaurant gift cards from Shopkick, Fetch, and Swagbucks. 10. Go on Kids’ Eat Free nights. 11. Eat a snack before you leave the house so you’re not as hungry. 12. Don’t order appetizers or desserts. 13. Eat out at Costco or IKEA instead of a restaurant. 14. Apply to be a mystery shopper and you could get paid to eat out! (I have done this many times in the past!) 15. Go to a fast food restaurant with a dollar menu and let everyone choose 1-3 items off the dollar menu! What are your favorite tips for saving money on eating out? Share them in the comments! P.S. For more ideas, check out this post on How to Save Money on Eating Out. [...]
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5 Places to Get Free or Cheap Chicken Wings on Monday

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5 Places to Get Free or Cheap Chicken Wings on Monday
National Chicken Wing Day is right around the corner — Monday, July 29. And several restaurants will be serving up free or cheap wings to celebrate. Buffalo, New York, Mayor Stan Makowski declared the first National Chicken Wing Day on July 29, 1977, and people have been partaking of the bird on that date ever since. Following are a few restaurants where you can get a deal on wings on Monday. [...]
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How to Get Free or Cheap Museum Admission

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How to Get Free or Cheap Museum Admission
A trip to the museum can deliver a much-needed dose of history and culture; after all, you can’t get up close and personal with dinosaur bones or Vincent van Gogh’s expressive brush strokes just anywhere. Accessing precious artwork, artifacts and experiences might seem like it could put a strain on your budget, but there are... Lauren Schwahn is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn. The article How to Get Free or Cheap Museum Admission originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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How to Homeschool for Free or Cheap

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How to Homeschool for Free or Cheap
Interested in homeschooling but afraid it might break your family’s budget? Read this post for some really great tips on how to homeschool for free — or very close to free! {Don’t miss our weekly round-up of all the best FREE homeschool curriculum & resources! And you can also check out my Top 10 Favorite Free Homeschool Sites here.} Guest post from Jessica of Where’d My Sanity Go: Yes! It is possible to homeschool for free or cheap! Once you dig into all the homeschool curriculum products available, it can be overwhelming. When you check out the prices on those bad boys, it can get scary. Don’t worry though, there are a lot of ways to give your child a great education at an affordable price. Some of the homeschool lessons and curriculums we use are completely free! So if you’re wondering how to homeschool for free, here are my top tips… Use what you’ve got: Search your home for any books you may have forgotten about. When I started out, I had no idea how I was going to afford all the things I thought I needed. Luckily, my son had a ton of nature and science books already. I used these to build a few of my lessons for him, and we had a set of dictionaries we used for spelling lessons and other subjects. Borrow: If you already know of other homeschool families in your are, ask them if they have any old schoolbooks or homeschooling curriculum books they aren’t using and that you might borrow for a while. If you’re not familiar with any other homeschool families in the area, look on Facebook for local homeschool groups or ask your friends and family, your church, or even your local schools. When I pulled my son out of public school, they were kind enough to give me some information about local homeschool programs. Shop for used books: Check local garage sales, used bookstores, and other local stores for discounted items. Join a few Facebook groups where people are selling their used homeschool books for dirt cheap. I have saved so much money by doing this and hardly ever purchase anything brand new. Before buying anything, I always first search for used homeschool supplies or books. Utilize free homeschool resources There are tons of free online homeschool curriculum options out there. You don’t have to stick with just one either, you can take different lessons from multiple online curriculums to fit your educational outline. A few popular free curriculums: Easy Peasy – All In One Homeschool – 180-day lesson plans for PreK-8th. (this is one of our favorites) Khan Academy – Free online lessons for just about any subject. K12.com – Independent teacher-led courses for homeschoolers. YouTube — there are a ton of educational YouTube channels out there that are perfect for supplementing your homeschool curriculum. You can find different channels that range from preschool to high school subjects. Finding affordable or free homeschool educational materials or curriculum is not as hard as you think! I recommend scouring the internet to find out what’s available. Join local homeschool groups, find local Facebook groups, etc. Several of our local homeschool families often get together for different field trips — many places even offer homeschooling families a discount on tickets! Do you have any other advice on how to homeschool for free? I’d love to hear in the comments! Jessica Fuqua is the owner/editor of Where’d My Sanity Go, where she often writes about family, parenting, and homeschooling. [...]
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9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care for Your Pet

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9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care for Your Pet
One day I noticed my puppy was acting strangely. She walked a few steps, stumbled, fell over and slowly got back up, only to fall over again. I realized her tummy was extremely bloated. I rushed her to the vet. The vet examined her for a few minutes and started to chuckle. Then my puppy let out a bellowing burp, and the vet actually started to laugh. When he asked me if I had left dog food out... [...]
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How to Build a Backpacking Trip on the Cheap

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How to Build a Backpacking Trip on the Cheap
You might be looking at your belongings in your new backpack and the balance in your bank account with the same question: Is this enough for the weeks- or the monthslong journey ahead? In all likelihood, you overpacked and you’ll ditch half of it at the next hostel. Then, a week into your life-changing trip, you’ll realize... Meghan Coyle is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mcoyle@nerdwallet.com. The article How to Build a Backpacking Trip on the Cheap originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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