Discounts

Why You Should Buy Thanksgiving Tickets Now

It’s October! There’s a nip in the air, a gourd on every doorstep, a scarf round every throat. And you know what that means: it’s time to go broke paying for holiday travel. Except maybe not this year. Maybe you can get it together to buy tickets in advance and not have to shell out an extra $300 for the privilege of visiting your Aunt Ellen in Milwaukee and listening to your relatives try to explain Twitter to each other for the fourteen-thousandth time.

We tend think that maybe tickets will get really affordable at the last minute because airlines will get desperate, like bar patrons still lingering on their stools at Last Call. This is a myth. MYTH. According to CheapAir.com:

For most domestic trips, we found a similar pattern. The worst time to book your trip was the last minute. No big shocker there. The day before was the single worst day, two days before was the second worst, etc. etc. all the way up to 13 days in advance. Our data completely debunks the myth that if you wait until the last minute, there will be big price reductions to take advantage of, as airlines dump empty seats. That simply doesn’t happen, and buying a flight with less than two weeks advance purchase is the last strategy we would recommend.

When is the optimal time, then? So glad you asked:

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My Hopeless Love Affair With Craigslist

In my younger days, I was cursed with an undying and irrational optimism in matters of the heart. Although I was neither very attractive nor particularly charming, I managed to cling perennially to a wisp of hope that some clearly unattainable object of my affection might, against all odds, choose me. The trouble was, my unrealistic hopes were realized, not frequently, but frequently enough to keep me optimistic in the face of repeated failures. This was sporadically wonderful and mostly sad. My experience with Craigslist has been the same, although, happily, the effect on me has not been nearly as depressing.

Generally, for the things I most covet and hope to get cheaply, Craigslist is unavailing and labor-intensive: I have pored over hundreds of listings in search of a ride to Philadelphia when everyone, inexplicably, was driving to Montreal. When I desperately needed a serviceable four-door car, I could find nothing but awful, rust-eaten, homemade-spoiler-bedecked coupes. In short, the ‘list is often better for idle browsing than for targeted searches. (I love idly browsing Craigslist.)

But! Craigslist has its treasures, and every now and then, when I want something so odd and generally expensive that I know with near certainty that I won’t find it within my price range—that it doesn’t even exist nearby—it appears. For example:

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“I’ll Have a Venti Skim Half-Cap Frappucino and a BA, Please. No Foam.”

Amazon wants you to win you back. In addition to a new Prime Music Streaming service and a deafening whisper campaign about the super secret mystery Kindle smartphone it might have up its sleeve, it is also launching Smile, a program that allows you to choose a charity the store will support. Thanks, guys! But wouldn’t it be easier to treat authors, publishers, and maybe even employees a little better?

Starbucks, another massive corporation that has gotten flak for taking over the world and putting the little guy out of business, is trying to drum up some goodwill of its own in a very unusual, but more direct, way: subsidizing undergraduate education.

Starbucks will provide a free online college education to thousands of its workers, without requiring that they remain with the company, through an unusual arrangement with Arizona State University, the company and the university will announce on Monday. The program is open to any of the company’s 135,000 United States employees, provided they work at least 20 hours a week and have the grades and test scores to gain admission to Arizona State. For a barista with at least two years of college credit, the company will pay full tuition; for those with fewer credits it will pay part of the cost, but even for many of them, courses will be free, with government and university aid. …

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement. But those programs usually come with limitations like the full cost not being paid, new employees being excluded, requiring that workers stay for years afterward, or limiting reimbursement to work-related courses. Starbucks is, in effect, inviting its workers, from the day they join the company, to study whatever they like, and then leave whenever they like — knowing that many of them, degrees in hand, will leave for better-paying jobs.

Investing in your employees as a business strategy happens to be good PR. Win-win-win. Is Bezos taking notes?

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The Cost of Things: Beer for Life, $1000

Help crowdsource funding for a bar and in return, get free beer for life. Crazy? CRAZY LIKE A FOX. The strategy worked brilliantly for Northbound Brewpub in Minneapolis:

Amy Johnson and her two business partners needed to raise $220,000 to secure a bank loan and fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant that served beer brewed right there at the pub. They went to investors who offered to give heavily for a voting share in the restaurant. But since the potential investors had no experience in the restaurant industry, the owners backed away.

And then came the idea from some friends and family who wanted to help out. “They were, like, ‘I’ve got a few grand, but I don’t have too much money,’ ” Johnson recalls. “And people kept saying this over and over, and we latched onto the idea. Why not just take a couple grand from everybody and then we’d have all the money we’d need?”

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The Art of Asking for a Discount

In January, This American Life aired a segment in which reporter Ben Calhoun went to a few stores and tried asking for a “good guy discount” at the register. Here’s how Calhoun explained it: A friend of his named Sonari Glinton was interviewing a negotiations expert from Columbia University Business school who described a technique where you ask at the register, “Can I get a good guy discount on that? You’re a good guy, I’m a good guy—come on, just, you know, a good guy discount.”

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Loose Change

He was a hunter of Presidents, a flipper of couch cushions.

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Pizza Hut Manager Honors 22-Year-Old Coupon

I know this video is supposed to be how funny it is for someone to try to use an old coupon from an unopened VHS copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which I loved watching when I was a kid), but for me, it’s all about that manager. That manager is terrific. I’d like to give that manager a hug. [via]

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‘J-E-L-L-Oh No,’ A Poem in Free Verse About a Bill Cosby Groupon

Groupon inspires poetry.

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Y’all Come Back Now

I feel like this is thing that occurs a lot, and that people get tricked into coming back to spend more money.

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