Today, personal finance people from around the country converge for the latest FinCon convention. Due to a pile of unfortunate circumstances, I’m not able to join them. If I were to join them, here’s how I would hack it …
- Open a New Credit Card. Don’t you dare carry a balance on it, but open up a card that offers great mileage rewards to the city where you want to fly and open another that offers travel rewards in the form of a statement credit. I have done this for the past two FinCon conferences and only paid nominal booking fees on my flights and hotel stays. Club Thrifty has the best tips and tricks for credit card hacking, and Holly offers a free one-on-one travel coaching service too.
- Tip: Be sure to open up these cards months in advance of you trip — starting with the airline miles card. You need to book your flight months in advance and you will need a few months to meet the minimum spend requirements on your new card.
- Tip: Don’t open both at once! If they have high minimum spend requirements, you won’t be able to spend enough to get the rewards. Start with the card offering airline miles.
- Speak at the Conference. Many conferences will waive your attendance fee if you are a speaker. Those fees can really add up.
- Pack an Easy Breakfast. My go-to meal when I’m staying in a hotel is instant oatmeal and raisins. You can make it with your in-room coffeemaker and don’t need an extra fridge. If you have a fridge in your room, stop off at a convenience store for cereal and milk after you arrive at your destination. This will save you $10 – $35 a day and still keep you full until lunch.
- Pack Snacks. There’s nothing worse than having to pay $2.50 for a granola bar when you could have bought six for that price at the grocery store. Be prepared for your cravings and pack high protein snacks to keep you going. Not only will it save you money, but it will also save you time.
- Research Transportation Options. If you don’t plan to rent a car, pay particular attention to how you will go from the airport to your destination. This is an area where you can save up to $50 per trip if you find a public transit option. Some hotels offer free shuttles to/from the airport. Otherwise, there might be a bus or a subway, a shared shuttle or an Uber option — all of which will be less expensive than taking a taxi.
- Find Low Cost Activities. Washington D.C. is the prime spot for high quality free activities, from the National Zoo to the National Gallery. Check out my frugal tips for D.C. here. I have written about other ways to find low cost and free activities here and here.