How to Get 23 Months of Free Flights with the Southwest Companion Pass

Act by 10/4 (ideally *on* 10/3) to Maximize the Best Deal in Travel, Worth More than $1,800

The Southwest Companion Pass is arguably the best deal in travel. It allows a companion to fly for free with you on any Southwest flights you book. The pass is good from the time you earn it until the end of the following calendar year. The opportunity has arisen to enable a companion to fly for free with you for 23 months: most of 2018 and all of 2019. But you have to act by October 4, 2017 (and, ideally, on 10/3) to take advantage of this opportunity.

The Southwest Companion Pass works on all Southwest flights.

Following is more about the Companion Pass and exactly what you need to do by October 4th in order to score 23 months of free flights for your companion (and a lot of free flights for you as well): (more…)

How to Decide Which New iPhone to Get

And is the iPhone X worth $1,000 -- $300 more than the iPhone 8?

Last week, Apple announced three new iPhone models: the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone X. (The “X” is pronounced “Ten,” in commemoration of the iPhone’s 10-year anniversary, but probably only “I in X” people will pronounce it correctly.) My first reaction to the X was this well-thought-out response: “I want.” I still do. But I’ve stopped drooling long enough to ask myself the question: is the iPhone X worth its $1,000 price tag? More specifically, is it worth $300 more than the also brand new iPhone 8? At least one person on Twitter thinks maybe not:

Funny picture suggests the iPhone X will cost one human life

In this post I’ll compare the three new iPhone models. My aim is to help any of you looking to get one of them to decide how best to spend your money. (more…)

Why I was Totally Wrong about the Total Eclipse

And What My Mistake Teaches about What Matters Most

A few weeks before the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, a friend asked if I was going to drive 4 hours north into Wyoming to see it. That’s the first I’d heard of the eclipse. I replied that if a 4-hour drive would allow for a total eclipse, then I had to imagine that no drive at all would allow me to see most of it.

Sun's corona during total eclipse

The moon, with the sun’s corona around it, during a total solar eclipse

A little research confirmed that I’d be able to see 92% of the eclipse from where I live. It couldn’t possibly be worth an 8+ hour round-trip drive just to see 8% more of the eclipse. Or so I reasoned. (more…)

Last Chance for Merrill+ Card, Worth $500 – $1000

The Generous/Easy Bonus on this Card is Rumored to End “Mid-September”

One of the best credit card offers on the market—the Merrill+ card—will be discontinued by September 18-19 at the latest. The card has no annual fee and comes with 50,000 bonus points. Those points are worth $500 in cash or up to $1,000 in airfare.

Sarah's Merrill+ card

My wife’s Merrill+ card

In this post I’ll cover the basics of the card and how to apply for it. But if you’re interested, you should act fast. A source told Doctor of Credit that the card will be discontinued on September 18 or 19. But another source told Frequent Miler that the card will be discontinued “mid-September,” which means it might not last until September 18. (more…)

Money Can Buy Happiness? It’s About Time.

New Research Reveals a Previously Unexamined Route to Happiness: Spending Money to Buy Time

If you were given $40 on the condition that you had to spend it, what would you spend it on? What type of purchase do you think would increase your happiness?

Man holding money and smiling, symbolizing his happiness

If you’re like 98% of people studied, you wouldn’t choose to spend the $40 on time-saving services such as someone else cleaning, shopping, or cooking for you. But new research suggests you might want to rethink that decision. (more…)

How to Blow $4,000 on a $56 Vacation

It’s All Too Easy to Do

When people go on vacation, they often pay face value. According to Forbes, the average vacation costs $1,145 per person or $4,580 for a family of four. I love family vacations because I like going on an adventure with my wife and kids. But I would never consider paying over $4,000 for a vacation. And I don’t want you to, either.

The three kids and I on the beach during our vacation to San Diego

On my last two family vacations combined, I spent less than $100 total on hotels and flights. Earlier this year, we took a $5,000+ vacation to Cabo San Lucas for $42. Last week, we took a short (2 night) vacation to San Diego for $56. Had we paid face value, the hotel and flights would have cost $4,012.

If vacations are part of your life—or if you’d like them to be—you should seriously consider a total paradigm shift in terms of how much you think they need to cost.

In this post I’ll share how we spent so little on a great vacation. And I’ll show how you can do similarly. (more…)

How to Save Money on Rental Car Insurance

Car Rental Insurance is Confusing and Expensive. But Should You Get It?

You just landed at the airport, ready to start your beach vacation. You can’t wait to change your sweaty clothes for a swimsuit. So you head to the car rental agency to grab your car and be on your way. But first, you must make a series of important decisions that you feel completely ill-equipped to make. Do you want collision coverage on the car? What about liability insurance? Seems expensive. But the agent swears you’d be crazy not to purchase the coverage he’s selling.

Long lines at rental car agencies as renters contemplate what rental car insurance to purchase

Your eyes begin to glaze over. You quickly initial here, here, and there. Depending on your decision, you either just forked over a bunch of cash or waived coverage. Either way, one thing is likely: you don’t have good reasons for the decision you made.

I know, because I’m right there with you. Or at least I was until last week.

Over the past week, I’ve done a bunch of research to try to answer the question: When renting a car, should I buy rental car insurance?

Following is the fruit of my research. It will shape whether I accept or decline rental car insurance moving forward. (more…)

Want What Matters Most? Waste Time on It.

The Importance of Wasting Time, Part 2 of 2

In my previous post, I argued that in certain situations wasting time can, paradoxically, lead to greater efficiency. But there are higher goods than efficiency. And those goods often cannot be obtained in any other way than by wasting time on them.

My daughter and her great grandma, my dad’s mom

In this post I’ll provide examples of such goods and a principle for when to waste time in their pursuit. (more…)

Why Wasting Time can be More Efficient

The Importance of Wasting Time, Part 1 of 2

It is important to waste time. Yes, to waste it. Probably not what you’d expect someone who loves efficiency as much as I do to say. But there are two good reasons to waste time. First, sometimes wasting it is, paradoxically, more efficient. Secondly, some things in life are more important than efficiency. Wasting time can honor those things.

Baby falling asleep

In this post I’ll show how wasting time can sometimes be more efficient. In my next post in this two-part series, I’ll argue for wasting time in certain circumstances where it doesn’t lead to greater efficiency. And in each post I’ll provide a framework for helping you decide when to waste time vs. when not to.

Here’s why wasting time can be more efficient: (more…)