For those of us who travel infrequently, taking a flight can be a budget minefield. It’s not just the constantly rising price of airline tickets, either. If you don’t plan ahead the next time you fly to Aunt Sylvia’s for the holidays, you may find that the associated costs of flying — from checked luggage to parking to food — may just put a big hole in your travel budget. Here are the ways frequent flyers keep their costs low:

1. Travel light. Airlines charging for checked bags are nothing new anymore, but the extra charges may still come as a nasty surprise to an infrequent flyer. Make sure you know your airline’s checked luggage guidelines, including the weight limit and number of bags you may check for free or for the lowest price. Knowing what to expect ahead of time will allow you to decide what needs to be packed and what can be shipped ahead (or left behind altogether).

There are also ways to reduce (or eliminate) the fees. You can usually get a cheaper rate if you pay for it before you get to the airport, and you may even have a credit card that will reimburse you for checked baggage fees.

Want to learn how to pack lighter? Here are some tips.
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Most of us know that one of the most important steps to build wealth over the long term is to invest our money, but the idea of investing, for many, is scary. The memories of the last financial crisis may finally be starting to fade, and anyone who remembers that time can tell you of someone they know who had their entire retirement accounts chopped in half. In fact, it was so painful people started calling their 401ks 201ks. Many people had to put off retirement because of the decline, and that’s if they are lucky to still have a job.

While stock market valuations are much higher now, some people are still concerned about what could be coming next. The economy may be doing better, but the headlines are as scary as ever. War, brexit, and the Fed raising interest rates too fast all seem to be just around the corner. In these types of conditions, it’s hard to remain calm when it comes to your money.

Before you panic, though, it’s a good idea to step back. Often, the solution is not to unceremoniously dump your investments, especially stocks. It’s better to have a measured response to the issue. Here are a few things you can do to in order to help you remain calm when you aren’t sure about the market:
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cable tv

Cable companies are a supreme example of a natural monopoly. They’re the easiest example for economics professors to use, because, due to structural conditions, only a few competitors can exist in any cable market. Often, there is only one option that consumers can choose. The consumer has no leverage and is thus at the mercy of the cable company.

Over the years, the price of cable has increased significantly. Luckily, other forms of technology and media have grown as well, leading to a shift in favor of the consumer.

If your cable bill is too high, you now have options. 
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money buys happiness

“Money does not buy happiness.”

How many times have you heard this? Lots of times, I am willing to bet. Our culture sends us two very conflicting messages about money. The first, a message that tells us money is everything. Celebrity culture, the rich and famous, Wall Street greediness, the twinge of jealousy we feel when we see a house bigger than ours, a car newer than our car.

Then, there’s the completely opposite message, the one that treats wealth – and the wealthy – with suspicion, that works hard to teach us NOT to envy them, to see the limitations that wealth has and the potential trouble it can cause. In some families, it gets to the point of feeling that money is somehow dirty, that it’s not a proper topic for conversation, that flaunting what you’ve got is tacky and that being poor is almost a virtue.
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There are a number of unscrupulous types out there, waiting to take your hard earned money. One of the most common ways criminals try and scam you is to “phish” for your information. In these types of scams, you are asked to reveal personal financial information. This information can then be used to commit identity fraud — and can cost you in time and in money.

Consumer Reports Money Adviser has issued a warning about three different scams that have been circulating recently. While the affected areas, so far, are rather small, you never know when something will spread. Here are some scams to be aware of:
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buying a house
My entire family got involved when I first considered buying a house, since I have the luck of being related to real estate agents, investors, and other experts that are more than happy to give advice about buying a property — even before I ask.

The first thing they asked me was exactly how long I expected to stay in the house. Though I didn’t know the exact amount of time, they wanted to make sure that I’d own the house for at least five years.

Why’s that? What’s the five-year rule for buying a house? 
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