Author Archives: Daniel Packer

How To Save Money By Negotiating When Using Airbnb

Update: The credit for signing up has been increased to $50!

Lauren and I are taking our first big vacation since our honeymoon two years ago. After going through all our options for a November vacation, we settled on a 10-day trip to Italy and Israel. Lauren is about to finish her master’s degree in speech pathology and will start working once all the paperwork goes through, so this is our last chance to go a big vacation before scheduling and vacation time gets even harder.

This trip is not going to be cheap. We knew that going in, but that didn’t stop of from getting the best deals we could. First, we started with flights. We found flights that fit our schedule, and then I tracked them for a few weeks to find the patterns when they were cheapest and most expensive. When I found a price we liked, I pounced. Putting down three thousand dollars on plane tickets alone was a bit nerve-wracking, but knowing that I had 24 hours to cancel if necessary made it a bit easier (if you didn’t know, you have 24 hours to cancel with no fee on all U.S. flights).

Hotels vs. Airbnb

Once we had the flights booked, we moved onto hotels. To put it lightly, hotel rooms in Italy are neither cheap nor large. In most places, the room consists of a bed, which rubs up against a chair and table. If we’ll be traveling for a 10 days, that type of cramped space might not be enough. It would be nice to relax on a couch as we plan out our next day’s activities, and a fridge to store some food would be very convenient. Unfortunately, hotels don’t offer those types of amenities.

Enter Airbnb. For those who are unfamiliar, Airbnb allows people with houses and apartments to rent out their spaces for a price they set. This can be a great way to earn money from an otherwise dormant apartment, and for those looking to travel, can be a cheaper way to find places to stay (and in a more home-like environment in many cases). We have never tried it before, but with a $25 promotion, it made even more sense for us. Plus, we could look for all the amenities that were important to us: free wifi, and a washer and dryer in Florence so that we can pack a little lighter. For everything we were looking for, it was about half as much on Airbnb as it would be to be in hotels. And more comfortable for us!

Negotiating for Even Better Rates

In each city, we picked out our 2-3 favorite apartments that had the amenities we wanted and were in our price range, and I contacted the hosts asking if they could be flexible and offer a slightly lower rate since we’d be staying 3 nights. Some could not discount the rate further, but some were willing to offer a discount for us. In Rome, instead of $364 (including all fees) for 3 nights, we were offered $335 for a very modern 1-bedroom apartment that we are really excited to stay in. Add in the $25 credit we were given being referred, and we paid just $310 for it. What a deal!

In Florence, we went from $358 (including all fees) all the way down to $316. That’s $42 in savings just for asking! Add in the $25 we got because I referred Lauren (and now I have a $25 credit in my account, too!) and we paid just $291 for a really fantastic 2-bedroom apartment.

Lessons Learned

Once again, it never hurts to ask. In this case, we saved $71 just by asking for it. And it feels especially good since we got another $50 off with the referral credits (get $50 off your first stay here). We booked about 7 weeks in advance, so if you are not in a rush like us to book something (the more time the better), I highly recommend not only checking out Airbnb, but also asking for discounts from any properties that you’re considering. There is really no downside, and the upside is tremendous. The longer the trip, the better deal you can get!

If Speed Matters, Consider IBM For Your Business

By now, everyone is familiar with the advantages of using the cloud. It’s economical, fast, and provides tons of flexibility for business. This can be especially important in fast-moving industries where getting innovative applications to market first can be the difference between beating and falling behind the competition.

If this describes your business well, you need to check out IBM’s PureApplication Service on Softlayer. Imagine being able to deploy new applications faster than ever, and being able to seamlessly move applications across off-premises and on-premises cloud options.

Check out the video below to learn more:

Long-Term Personal Finance Plans

Hard-working individuals who’d like to build wealth should work closely with financial advisers who understand the modern global economy. Wealth management begins with relatively small investments and minor steps that could grow gradually into significant profits. Professional financial advisers often encourage clients to build diverse investment portfolios.

Diversity in the financial world refers to placing money into different markets that would not affect each other in major ways. Although there is no fail-proof investment plan, there are ways to minimize risk of personal assets by diversifying funds.

There is tremendous flexibility in gaining some major profits from retirement plans. Over the course of decades, hard working folks could watch their specialized pension plans grow in assets. Mutual funds and hedge funds are often linked to retirement-based investments that are managed by employees and employers. IRA and 401k accounts can be customized according to specific retirement goals of people. Over the years, there is some margin for losses due to fluctuations in the economy. However, general prospects for retirement plan investments are positive over long terms.

Investing in stocks should be considered as a viable option within a diverse portfolio. Individuals who seek quick returns can set aside small amounts of money to test the stock market that is often saturated with new and emerging high-tech companies. However, stocks are considered to be risky investments, so financial advisers may not incorporate them into long-term wealth management plans.

Investments in precious metals are considered safe and reliable over a long term. Gold, silver and platinum are very liquid as they could be sold to jewelry stores and even banks or private coin collectors. Investors could simply buy certificates of ownership of precious metal bars that are securely stored in vaults. These official documents could be redeemed for cash at any time, especially during tough financial times like recessions. Long-term wealth building could also be slightly enhanced with the purchase of government bonds in large quantities. After about 10 years, significant returns can be generated from municipal bonds. Services such as JP Morgan wealth management and other financial brokerage options are examples of entities that provide long term planning for personal finances.

Wealth management also has some important legal components. Individuals with a lot of money should make sure to hire lawyers who can properly create estate documents, wills and prenuptial agreements.