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For hotel deals: Know patterns


The calendar can be your ally when you’re planning travel in an era when hotel prices are expected to be high for the foreseeable future.

People love to go to New York City in the fall, but they’re appalled by the hotel rates. However, there are certain times in New York that are cheap, according to a new study from Hotwire.com and USA Today.

Try going after the first of the year in January or February. Few tourists go then and the rates are at the lowest. The Fourth of July is another great time to go.

When it comes to Las Vegas, the cheapest prices are found through the summer when it’s boiling hot — barring a giant convention being in town. My wife and I go during the summer and have gotten good rooms for under $40 a night.

For a lot of other big cities, the lowest rates are from October through March and the highest rates are in the summer.

These patterns really matter. I know most people find a deal on airfare and then start looking for a hotel. But remember that airlines are required to allow you a full refund on tickets within 24 hours of when you buy them. Use that 24-hour period — and not a minute more — to shop for the other elements of your trip.

If you don’t find a deal, it’s no harm, no foul; you call and get a refund. They can’t charge you a penny for that. And if you do find a hotel deal, well, then you’ve got a deal all around.

For coffee drinkers

This year is going to be the year of the coffee drinker thanks to an oversupply of fancy coffee beans. Prices for arabica beans are down by about 40 percent on a bumper crop.

So what you pay for fancy coffee — not the junky robusta beans they give you free at work — should be going down. But beware of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

If you buy your joe at a fancy coffee shop, you’ll miss out on all the savings. Just be sure to buy it in the supermarket and fix it for yourself. Keurig machines are particularly popular for brewing fancy coffee at home.

In my house, my wife buys her fancy coffee from Costco. The Kirkland Signature private label works out to be about 37 cents a cup. That’s a deal.


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