The 100 Best Moves You Can Make With Your Money
OUR ANNUAL BEST 100 LIST
- INVESTING PAGE 84
- REAL ESTATE 88
- TECH 90
- RETIREMENT 92
- BANKING & CREDIT 94
- CAREER 96
- SMART CONSUMING 98
- FAMILY &
- MONEY 100
- TRAVEL 102
Your goals are simple: Protect your family; educate your kids; retire comfortably. It’s executing those goals that can be so darned complicated. While MONEY can’t turn you into the financial equivalent of Garry Kasparov, you don’t need to be a world-class strategist to get where you want to go. What you do need is a guide that will help you control the board no matter what unforeseen events — crashes, recessions, layoffs — may strike. Our annual Best List gives you 100 great ideas for a winning game plan.
1-4. Best Growth Stocks
Cocktail-party chatter about the next hot stock is back. Ignore that tipster with the margarita and check out the picks below. Experts say they have good growth prospects as the economy strengthens.
|Stock||1-year total return||Projected earnings growth||Why to buy|
|Applied Materials (AMAT)||27.7%||12%||Paul Larson, an equities strategist at Morningstar, pegs sales of semiconductor equipment (which suffered mightily during the recession) to get a major boost soon.|
|Brown & Brown (BRO)||-3.7||14||This insurance broker has “an excellent niche” serving smaller businesses, says Brad Hinton, a portfolio managerat Weitz Funds. It’s positioned to buy competitors on the cheap.|
|Lowe’s (LOW)||35.1||12||The stock of the big home-supply chain is priced as though today’s anemic housing market will last forever. “That’s highly unlikely,” Larson says.|
|WMS Industries (WMS)||100.6||26||Robert Stimpson, a portfolio manager at Oak Associates, expects spending on gaming equipment (WMS makes it) to pick up as casinos expand and replace old machines.|
notes: Data as of March 31. Projected earnings growth is over five years, annualized. SOURCES: Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters
5. BEST BUY-AND-HOLD BLOGGER TO READ
You can learn a lot about stocks — painlessly — from longtime investor Eddy Elfenbein (crossingwallstreet .com). One memorable post: what March Madness pools can teach us about value investing.
6. Best Financial Amateur to Heed
Whoopi Goldberg has become famous for asking The View guests penetrating money questions and offering tough-love advice, as the blog WalletPophas noted. “Tell me you have been putting money away,” she demanded of the Jersey Shore cast. When Heidi and Spencer Pratt admitted they sign contracts without reading them, Whoopi blurted: “You better get yourself together or you’re gonna be in the street!” Who needs Suze Orman?
7. Best Strategy for Rebalancing
To maintain your target asset allocation, you know you should periodically sell some of what’s become overweight in your portfolio and buy what’s underweight. Most people use the calendar approach — rebalancing every January, for example. But if the markets are moving significantly (and you’re a hands-on investor), you’re better off using the trigger-point approach, says Seth Masters, a chief investment officer at AllianceBernstein. Anytime the percentage of an asset in your portfolio rises, say, five percentage points above your target, rebalance. That way if the market makes any more quick and crazy moves, you won’t be waiting for months to get your portfolio back the way you want it.
8-10. Best ways to stop shredding your money
Once an investment has gotten trendy, chances are it’s no longer a great buy. Here are better alternatives to three current hotties.
|DON’T BUY THESE||BUY THESE||WHY|
|Treasuries||Ginnie Maes||A three-year T-note yields 1.7%. Ginnie Maes — mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by the feds — have returned about half a percentage point more over the long term, points out Colorado financial planner Allan Roth. Buy them through Vanguard GNMA (VFIIX).|
|Chinese stocks||Stocks of exporters to China||Sure, the Chinese economy is on a tear, but Chinese stocks have gotten pricey. Invest in companies that export to the country via a fund such as Oakmark International (OAKIX). You’ll still have a stake in the China boom but get better value.|
|Energy stocks||Canadian stocks||Popular energy-sector ETFs are full of large U.S. companies you probably already own. A back-door play: iShares MSCI Canada Index (EWC), which tracks the Canadian stock market. Nearly half of that market is composed of energy and materials stocks.|
11. BEST NEW METHOD FOR INVESTING IN MUNIS
Buy maturity-date municipal bond ETFs. Unlike other fixed-income funds, these innovative offerings, introduced by ¡Shares in January, hold munis until their end date. So you get diversification plus the return of your principal, barring default—as long as you don’t cash out before maturity. ¡Shares’ six such funds have maturities ranging from 2012 (MUAA) to 2017 (MUAF).
12-14. Best Buffett Stocks to Buy
Revere the Oracle of Omaha? Then you know he’s concerned about the market’s increasingly lofty valuations. (The price/earnings ratio of the S&P 500 is 17.9.) We pored over the stocks he holds through Berkshire Hathaway — which itself has a P/E of 25.0 — to identify three that offer the best values now.
Notes: Returns for the 12 months ended March 31, P/Es are trailing 12-month ’Percent of Berkshire’s publicly traded portfolio, which does not include wholly owned companies such as Geico. SOURCES: Bloomberg. Baseline. 2009 Berkshire Hathaway filings, and shareholder letter
15-18. Best Steady Eddies
These four no-load funds, which hold both stocks and bonds, have proved themselves
paragons of consistency that regularly outperform their peers over the long haul. Buy one and you just may sleep a little better at night.
Mairs & Power Balanced (MAPOX)
- 3-yr. ann. return: 1.6%
- 10-yr. ann. return: 5.9%
- Managers of this small Minnesota fund favor stocks of Midwestern companies “that they know well, which has obvious advantages.” says Morningstar analyst William Rocco.
Oakmark Equity & Income (OAKBX)
- 3-yr. ann. return: 4.5%
- 10-yr. ann. return: 9.8%
- This balanced fund is known for protecting investors during bad times: In 2008 it was down less than most competitors, thanks to a heaping helping of Treasuries. It’s currently about 60% in stocks.
Parnassus Equity Income (PRBLX)
- 3-yr. ann. return: 4.4%
- 10-yr. ann. return: 6.1%
- Manager Todd Ahlsten looks for stocks that have a dividend yield of 1.5% to 4%— “not so little that [the payout] doesn’t matter, but not so much that the company can’t grow,” he says.
Vanguard Wellington (VWELX)
- 3-yr. ann. return: 1.8%
- 10-yr. ann. return: 6.7%
- This venerable fund keeps 60% to 70% of its assets in stocks and favors companies with solid balance sheets and attractive P/E ratios. Its fees run 0.34% a year, about a third what its peers charge.
19-22. Best Home-Selling Ideas You Haven’t Thought Of
Hire a professional photographer to shoot the place once you’ve staged it.
High-quality photos will get your listing noticed online, which is where most homebuyers start their search these days.
Create a website for your house.
Put the URL out front so that passersby can look it up instantly on their smartphones, advises Louis Cammarosano, general manager of real estate site HomeGain. Post it on Facebook too.
Have your agent call everyone who toured your place but didn’t bid and ask, “What were the deal breakers for you?”
If most people answer. “The kitchen looked really tired.” then you know what to do.
Monitor traffic on any websites that list your house.
If the volume of hits falls by more than 50% from the first week, the listing is already getting stale, says Ellen Klein, a New Jersey realtor— and you may need to drop the price.
23. BEST MORTGAGE TO GET RIGHT NOW
A 15-year fixed, if you can swing the payments. You’ll score a rate of 4.5% or so, more than half a point better than for a 30-year. And you’ll save more than $165,000 over the life of a $300,000 loan.
24. Best way to save $100 this spring
If your lawn mower sputters as if it’s having an allergy attack the first time you rev it up this year, you need to pay for a professional tune-up, right?
Wrong: The gas is probably just stale. Try topping off the tank with fresh gas and letting the mower idle until it’s humming smoothly, says Chris Kiser of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.
25. Best places for renting
The price-to-rent ratio — the price of a home divided by the annual rent you’d pay on a comparable home in a given metro area — shows that it’s still a much better deal to rent in certain places. Here’s where the ratio skews most in renters’ favor. (The national average is 10.9.)
- HONOLULU 34.6
- SAN FRANCISCO 30.1
- BRIDGEPORT, CONN. 28.3
- PORTLAND, ORE. 26.1
- SEATTLE 25.8
NOTES: As of third quarter 2009. Covers 57 large markets. Limited to one city per state source: Moody’s Economy.com
26. Best way to feel better about the value of your home
At least you’re not Nicolas Cage. Despite pulling down millions per movie, the actor recently lost homes to foreclosure in Las Vegas and in New Orleans.
27. Best Places for Buying
We divided the country into four parts and asked: Which three metro areas in each region are expected to see the best home-price increases over the next couple of years? See the map for the winners, with projected two-year appreciation for each.
28-30. BEST THINGS TO SAY… TO SCORE A LOWER REAL ESTATE COMMISSION
“You charge 6%? Your competitor told me she would take 5%.”
WHY: Five percent commissions are no longer unheard of, so the agent knows she may lose your business if she won’t match that rate.
“I’d like to work with you to buy a home after we sell this one.”
WHY: The prospect of another commission may give her good reason to bend on the sell side, says Kurt Gleeson of RealEstate.com.
“My pal Fred just sold his house himself.”
WHY: Implying you’re open to bypassing a realtor entirely may provide the final nudge she needs.
31. BEST EXPERT TO FOLLOW ONLINE: Jonathan Miller
Looking for smart updates on housing nationwide? Zip to this appraiser and real estate adviser’s terrific blog (matrix.millersamuel.com).
100 BEST MOVES TECH
32-34. Best Things to Cancel and Replace
REPLACE THIS… Cable-TV service, which averages $71 a month (more with premium channels)
…WITH THAT… PlayOn (playon.tv), a $40 computer app that lets you stream TV shows and movies from Hulu .com, Netflix, and more to your TV. (You’ll also need broadband Internet and a media-streaming or gaming device such as Xbox.)
…AND SAVE THIS MUCH IN THE FIRST YEAR $512
REPLACE THIS… Your landline calling plan, which probably costs you about $48 a month
…WITH THAT… Vonage (vonage.com), a service that lets you make unlimited phone calls across the U.S. and Canada, plus 60 other countries, via broadband Internet. Cost: $15 a month for the first six months: $26 a month thereafter.
…AND SAVE THIS MUCH IN THE FIRST YEAR $330
REPLACE THIS… Your home’s old thermostat
…WITH THAT… A programmable thermostat such as the Lux Products TX9000TS ($82). It lets you control your home’s heating and cooling systems via a touchscreen, lowering your energy bill when you’re at work or asleep, for example.
…AND SAVE THIS MUCH IN THE FIRST YEAR $98
NOTES: Assumes you already have broadband Internet service and own a media-streaming device and that you’ll spend $300 a year on paid movies, TV shows, and other programming. Assumes you already have broadband Internet. A programmable thermostat saves the typical household $180 a year
SOURCES: Centris. Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Department of Energy. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. MONEY estimates
35. BEST NEW HEALTH GIZMO
If you need to monitor your blood pressure, you’ll love the supercool Panasonic EW-BW30s ($90). A built-in LCD screen delivers not only your current reading but also graphics that show how it stacks up against previous readings. The gizmo hits stores in September, but you’ll soon be able to preorder at panasonic.com.
36. BEST EXPERT TO FOLLOW ONLINE: David Pogue
This veteran journalist/ blogger (pogue.blogs.nytimes.com) breaks news you should know — such as details of a new app that allows iPhone users to sidestep AT&T and make calls over Wi-Fi.
37. BEST THING TO DO WITH YOUR OLD ELECTRONICS
Yes, you should recycle them, but why not make a few bucks while you’re at it? A company called Gazelle will pay you (typically about $20 to $150) for each camera, cellphone, computer, gaming console, or the like, as long as it’s not too old. Enter the gadget’s model and condition on gazelle.com to calculate your payment.
38-42. Best Places to Retire If You Really Hate Paying Taxes
NORTHEAST: Lewes. Del.
- State income tax: 6.95%;
- Social Security income and some pension income exempt 1
- Sales tax: None
- Med. property tax: $582
- Med. home value: $310,000
- The scoop: This tiny (pop. 3.000). historic waterfront town abuts a state park.
SOUTHEAST: Fairhope, Ala.
- State income tax: 5%;
- Social Security income and some pension income exempt 2
- Sales tax: 8%
- Med. property tax: $481
- Med. home value: $149,000
- The scoop: A charming town on Mobile Bay. Fairhope lures boaters, artists, and golfers.
MIDWEST: Sioux Falls, S.D.
- State income tax: None
- Sales tax: 6%
- Med. property tax: $2,031
- Med. home value: $144,000
- The scoop: Sioux Falls offers residents a strong economy and all the amenities of a big city — its population is 155,000. But it retains a small-town vibe.
SOUTH CENTRAL: Austin
- State income tax: None
- Sales tax: 8.25%
- Med. property tax: $3,831
- Med. home value: $190,000
- The scoop: With a bustling all-ages music scene and scads of outdoor activities, the Texas capital is becoming a big draw for many retirees.
WEST: Henderson, Nev.
- State income tax: None
- Sales tax: 8.1%
- Med. property tax: $1,761
- Sales tax: None
- Med. home value: $165,000
- The scoop: The housing bubble burst painfully in this desert town minutes from the Vegas strip and the Hoover Dam. That means bargains for buyers.
NOTES: Income tax level assumes annual income of $75,000. Sales tax is state plus local Median property tax numbers are for the county. ‘Taxpayers under age 60 can deduct $2,000 in pension income per year; those 60 and over can deduct $12,500. Income from defined-benefit pension plans is tax-exempt
SOURCES: Tax Foundation, CCH, local realtor associations, Truha, MONEY research
43. Best way to protect yourself when buying an annuity
Adding an immediate annuity to your portfolio gives you a guaranteed income stream, raising the odds that your money will hold out as long as you do. But there are risks you must avoid.
Be picky. If your insurer goes bust, its “guarantee” isn’t worth much. Buy only from an insurance company with a high financial-strength rating — at least A from A.M. Best (ambest .com) or AA from Standard & Poor’s (standardandpoors.com).
Spread your money around. You know how the FDIC insures your bank deposits up to $250,000? Similarly, state guaranty associations protect you if your insurer goes bust — but only up to $100,000 in most states. (Find your state’s limit at immediateannuities.com.) To be super safe, divvy up your investment among different insurers to stay below the limit for each.
Get your terms straight. One typical and potentially costly goof, says Michael Kitces, director of research for Pinnacle Advisory Group: confusing “life and 10 years certain”—an annuity that pays for 10 years or until you die, whichever comes second — with “10 year certain,” in which payments stop after a decade no matter what. You want the lifetime deal.
44. BEST RETIREMENT-PLANNING WEBSITE YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT
Run by syndicated columnist Mark Miller, retirementrevised.com offers everything from health care news to Social Security guidance—even job-hunting advice for people unable or unwilling to ditch work completely.
45-48. Best Jobs for Retirees
These four gigs welcome older workers, have strong growth prospects, don’t require years of training—and pay enough to plug many people’s retirement-savings shortfalls.
- The scoop: They analyze homes’ energy efficiency, helping owners cut carbon emissions and utility bills.
- Job growth to 2018: 13%
- Median pay: $42,000 to $66,000
- Training: If you have engineering or construction know-how, you need just a short training course for state certification.
- More info: aeecenter.org
- The scoop: You’ll help fill prescriptions, file claims, and arrange rides to doctor appointments. “It’s so rewarding,” says Lynn Sprafka. an advocate in Loveland, Ohio.
- Job growth to 2018: 16%
- Median pay: $36,000 to $52,000
- Training: Typically a year-long program.
- More info: nahac.memberlodge.com
- The scoop: You can use the same skills you did in the corporate world—and feel good about what you’re doing.
- Job growth to 2018: 14%
- Median pay: $40,000 to $69,000
- Training: None, assuming you have management experience.
- More Info: bridgestar.org
- The scoop: Demand is especially intense for science, math, and special-ed teachers, says Elizabeth Foster of the National Commission on Teaching.
- Job growth to 2018: 13%
- Median pay: $47,000 to $52,000
- Training: Some alternative certification programs for older workers last just a year.
- More info: teach-now.org
NOTES: Job growth is projected Training assumes you already have a bachelor s degree. Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, MetLife Foundation, and Civic Ventures
BANKING & CREDIT
49-51. Best Reward Cards
52. Best Way to Get Even With Your Bank
Move your checking account to a credit union. These nonprofit, member-owned institutions almost always offer lower fees and better customer service. (Credit unions blew away big banks on a recent customer satisfaction index.) You must be a member of a particular group or community to join, but there’s a good chance you’ll find one for which you’re eligible. Go to findacreditunion.com.
53-55. BEST THINGS TO SAY… To Negotiate a Better Credit Card Rate
- “You know my credit score is well above 700.” WHY: Issuers want to cut risk, so an excellent score is good leverage.
- “I’d like to make yours my primary card, but I have better offers.” WHY: The more you charge, the more the issuer makes in merchant fees, says Bill Hardekopf of LowCards.com.
- “May I speak to your supervisor?” WHY: She’ll have more authority to cut a deal.
56. BEST SAVINGS ACCOUNT
Banks sometimes offer a high rate to attract deposits, then reduce it once they’ve raised enough capital. Choose one that offers a competitive rate consistently, such as Ally Bank (ally.com). Its savings and money-market deposit accounts both pay 1.29%, vs. a national average of 0.22%.
57-61. Best Places to Get Work
Just because there are a lot of jobs somewhere doesn’t mean they pay well. Here are the only sizable metro areas in the continental U.S. with unemployment below 8% (the national average is 9.7%) plus mid-career pay for college grads above the §75,000 national average.
Jobless rate 6.6%
Pay (OOOs) $81
Jobless rate 6.9
Pay (OOOs) $93
Salt Lake City
Jobless rate 7.1
Pay (OOOs) $78
Jobless rate 7.6
Pay (OOOs) $80
Jobless rate 7.7
Pay (OOOs) $80
NOTES: includes metro areas with populations of 200,000-plus. Metro unemployment rates as of January. Pay is median tor four-year college grads with at least 10 years of experience.
SOURCES: PayScale.com, Bureau of labor Statistics
62-64. Best high-tech tools
Business card exchanger from Linkedln.com:
This free iPhone application eliminates the need for paper cards. Just aim your phone at that of another user and zap a Linkedln connection. “You’ll always have updated info on where people work and how to contact them,” says Adam Nash, who helped develop the mobile app.
Salary negotiation helper from PayScale.com
How does your comp stack up? PayScale’s salary charts let you compare it using a variety of factors, including your years of experience, location, employer type, even certifications you hold — giving you ammunition when it’s time to lobby for your next raise.
Interview prepper from Glassdoor.com
This website has collected 15,500 evaluations of job interviews at 5,500 companies nationwide. Go to a firm’s profile page and click the Interviews tab. You’ll see a rating of how difficult the employer’s questions were, examples of frequently asked ones, and other key info.
65. BEST EXPERT TO FOLLOW ONLINE: Alexandra Levit
Does office popularity matter? How do you explain a layoff? This career expert, book author, and former corporate marketer, who blogs at alexandralevit.typepad.com. is a helpful and engaging guide.
66-68. BEST THINGS TO SAY… TO LAND A RAISE
- “That new vendor I found is saving us $5,000 a month.” WHY: A hard number makes it easier for your boss to justify more dough for you, says Roy Cohen, an executive coach in New York City.
- “Since Sue left I’ve doubled the number of people I’m managing — and we’re still hitting our quotas.” WHY: Reminds him you’re doing the job of two people on one person’s pay.
- “I love my job, but I’ve been getting calls about betterpaying ones.” WHY: Shows you know your value in the marketplace — and therefore might just decide to walk.
69-73. Best Cars to Buy — and Trade In Later
Resale value is arguably the most important piece of data to look at before buying: Other things that make a car desirable, such as fuel economy and reliability, are reflected in that number.
74. BEST EXPERT TO FOLLOW ONLINE: Kim Danger
For a gold mine of coupons, freebies, and bargains on everything from groceries to designer goods, check her site, mommysavers.com.
75-77. BEST THINGS TO SAY… TO LIGHT A FIRE UNDER A CUSTOMER SERVICE REP
- “What’s your name or ID number?” WHY: Shows you’re holding the rep to account and may call again…and again…
- “You’re so helpful. How can I let your boss know?” WHY This makes him want to help you, says Scott Broetzmann, CEO of customer-service consultancy CCMC.
- “I hope I don’t have to post my song about your poor service on YouTube.” WHY: Complaints on social media can easily go viral. (Go to youtube.com and search for “United Breaks Guitars.” It’s been viewed more than 8 million times and caused a barrage of damaging PR.)
78-81. Best Times to Skip Big Brands
Many store-brand (a.k.a. private-label) products are virtually indistinguishable from their better-known counterparts, says University of North Carolina marketing professor Jan-Benedict Steenkamp. Buy ’em and save.
82. BEST WAY TO GET CHEAP STUFF (AND A CHEAP LAUGH)
Go to fiverr.com, where enterprising souls advertise their willingness to do just about anything — from designing your business card to writing a love letter to your girlfriend — for just $5 a pop.
83. Best app to click for scoring a bargain
Groupon. Every day this free iPhone app serves up one amazing deal — typically 50% to 90% off a product, service, or event in 45 cities. Want in? Click “Buy.” If enough users do the same that day (they nearly always do), the deal becomes active and you get a coupon via e-mail. Be sure to sign up for daily alerts.
84. Best use of your beer money
Jump on the brew-it-yourself trend. The All World Apprentice Kit ($57.95, windriverbrew.com) includes the equipment and ingredients you’ll need to produce 48 12-ouncers (except bottles); the makings for later batches start at $20. Your creation can be just as good as fancy microbrews, says Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer-. “You have access to the exact same ingredients as the pros.” You’ll save up to 75% — plus get major bragging rights.
FAMILY AND MONEY
85-88. Best Steps to Help Your Kid Master Credit
The new ban on plastic for people under 21 (unless they have an adult cosigner or the means to pay) aims to protect them from debt disasters. But Sharon M. Danes, a family economist at the University of Minnesota, says you can teach your child good credit habits well before drinking age.
89. Best way to preserve long-term family harmony
Read a first draft of your will to your loved ones. Yes, you’ll have an awkward debate over who inherits the cabin on the lake. But that’s preferable to the pain you’d unleash by springing the news from the grave. “I’ve seen families spend 60% of an estate in litigation,” says Vic Preisser, co-author of Preparing Heirs. Talking about who will get what — and, just as important, why — lessens the chance of future conflict.
90. Best argument for a good prenup
91. BEST NEW COLLEGE-PLANNING TOOL
Nearly all colleges and universities will be required to include standardized net price calculators on their websites — making it much easier for you to compare estimated costs among schools after accounting for financial aid — by August 2011. But many schools, including Lafayette, Rutgers, and Yale, already have them up and running.
92. Best Way to Avoid Air Rage
Flight fees are getting out of control. Here’s how you can sidestep or minimize some of the most egregious. (And get ready for this: Starting Aug. 1, Spirit Airlines plans to charge you up to $45 to put a carry-on in the overhead bin.)
- Blanket and pillow fee. American Airlines and JetBlue now charge you $7 to $8 for the soft stuff. Tote your own instead. (Chances are it’ll be cleaner too.)
- Seat-assignment fee. AirTran and Spirit extract $6 to $15 from your wallet to let you choose your seat before the day of the flight. Stick with carriers that don’t.
- Ticket-booking fee. Most airlines now ding you $15 to $45 to book with an agent on the phone or at the counter. Order online and you’ll escape the pain.
- Overweight-bag fee. Such fees have ballooned to as much as $125 for a bag over 51 pounds and $175 for a bag over 71 pounds. Weigh before you go.
93-96. Best Tricks for Snagging an Upgrade If You’re Not Him
Being a super-frequent flier like George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air isn’t the only way to land a discounted business-class seat.
- Look for last-minute bargains. Airlines offer day-of-travel upgrades on many flights; look for them when you check in online or at an airport kiosk. COST: From $50 to several hundred dollars — significantly less than regular freight for those seats.
- Shop eBay and Craigslist. Many frequent fliers sell off airline upgrade vouchers and certificates there.COST: A few hundred bucks each.
- Ask the airline’s airport club manager, who has lots of pull in granting upgrades. COST: About $50 for a day pass to the club.
- Search for a business-class-like seat. Some coach seats have almost as much legroom as business-class ones. Go to seatguru.com to find them, then try to switch to a better one 24 hours in advance (when prime seats held by fliers who get upgraded are usually released). COST: Zero.
97-99. BEST THINGS TO SAY… TO TALK A HOTEL CLERK INTO A LOWER RATE
- “I’m in town fora conference.” WHY: Business travelers tend to rack up big bills for drinks and food.
- “I’ve been a member of your loyalty program for five years.” WHY: Hotels want to keep such customers happy, even if those customers don’t actually stay at the place that often.
- “My family is considering booking an upcoming reunion/ bar mitzvah/ wedding here.” WHY: Multiple rooms later would more than offset a small price break now.
100. BEST EXPERT TO FOLLOW ONLINE: George Hubica
At airfarewatchdog.com, he regularly shares deals — such as $10 each way on JetBlue from Boston to New York recently — that are nearly impossible to find anywhere else.
by CAROLYN BIGDA, BETH BRAVERMAN, JENNY EVERETT, RIK FAIRLIE, DAVID FUTRELLE, JOSH GARSKOF, ISMAT SARAH MANGLA, GEORGE MANNES, SARAH MAX, DONNA ROSATO, AND PETER VALDES-DAPENA
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY WES DUVALL: PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHAEL TRAN (CLOONEY). COURTESY OF GEORGE HOBICA (HOBICA)