How I Lost $400 in One Minute.

I did a stupid thing at the airport last week.

I approached the staff working at the gate counter and asked – as I always do – “Is there any chance this flight might be overbooked, and needing volunteers to be bumped off the flight?”

“Actually, yes,” the man replied. “If you agree to get bumped, I’ll give you a $400 voucher for a future flight. Where’s your final destination?”

“I’m heading to Cincinnati,” I said.

He frowned. “I can’t get you there,” he said, “but I can get you on a flight to Dayton, Ohio by 5 pm.”

Dayton, Ohio is only an hour from Cincinnati – and my boyfriend, who’s driving into Cincinnati from the far north, has to pass through Dayton en route regardless.

What I should have said is: “Sweet! I’ll take it!”

Instead I said: “Let me call my boyfriend to make sure he can pick me up from Dayton. I’ll give you an answer in 2 minutes.”

Of course he would say yes. He’d be passing through Dayton anyway. Asking him was a mere formality – a way to be polite, before committing myself to a permanent flight change.

Big mistake. Those 2 minutes cost me $400. By the time I returned to the counter to tell the man my answer is yes, he no longer needed volunteers.

Lessons Learned?

Be Decisive.

In the world of airlines (and in the world in general), you must be decisive. When a great opportunity presents itself, pounce. The world does not reward wafflers.

Be okay with big wins and big losses.

Okay, so I lost $400. While negotiating for a car, saying the wrong thing could lose me $4,000. Negotiating for a house, saying the wrong thing could lose me $40,000. The world is filled with big gains and big losses. You’ll experience both. In the long run, you simply have to win more often – and win bigger sums – than you lose.

Take Initiative.

The staff didn’t ask for volunteers – I offered. As a result, I received an opportunity I otherwise never would have had.

Be Persistent.

I had a layover in Charlotte, en route from Atlanta to Cincinnati. At the gate in Charlotte, I asked again if the airline is looking for volunteers. Again, the man at the gate said yes.

He said could get me on a flight to Dayton by 5:40 pm. I accepted immediately. The route was shorter, so he offered me a smaller voucher – only $225 in flight credit instead of $400. Still, that means my flight to Cincinnati would be effectively free.

Cash FLOWS – easy come, easy go.

As I sat in the airport waiting for my now-later flight to Dayton, I heard my name being paged over the intercom. I went to the gate desk, where I learned that my second attempt at volunteering my ticket – and collecting $225 – also failed. The airlines no longer needed my seat.

In the blink of an eye, hundreds of potential dollars can come and go. That’s why it’s called cash “flow.” Understanding the ebb-and-flow of money is key to not taking it too seriously. Don’t pinch pennies; look for big opportunities instead.

I may have lost $400 – but can I get you to subscribe for free?

How I Booked a $12,000 Biz-Class Ticket for $75

Note from Paula: Today’s post was written by Mike, the blogger at Renting out Rooms, who scored a $12,000 business-class airline ticket to Easter Island (a Polynesian territory of Chile) for $75. Find out how! He includes screen shots of his ticket for added inspiration.

How I Booked a $12,000 Business-Class Ticket for $75

We all have hobbies in life that we spend money on – some people collect antiques, some people go fishing. We spend money on our hobbies to the extent that our income allows us to do so.

But there’s always something we want to do that might not be within reach on our current income and we say “someday, I’ll do whatever is that I want to do.

If you think creatively, you can achieve your “someday” goal. I love to travel abroad to foreign countries, for instance, and it’s safe to say that I spend a fair amount of money on it. I don’t know why I love to travel, but perhaps it’s the experience of seeing the culture of a foreign land in person.

Whatever the reason maybe, I have a whole bunch of places on my bucket list. One of the places I would love to visit is Easter Island, but due the isolated location and the fact one airline company flies there, the round trip flights are downright expensive. An economy class ticket from North America costs around $3,000. The same ticket in business class – forget about it. At $12,000 it’s wayyyy more than I’m willing to pay.

So instead of looking at these prices and say “Someday I’ll go to Easter Island” and looking at cheaper travel destinations, how about looking into alternatives to getting there or paying for it? (Legal ways, of course!)

I looked into alternate ways of getting there: boats just take too long. So I chose to look for creative ways to pay for it. I wound up paying a little bit over $75 for the same $12,000 business class ticket! Huh? How is that possible?

How I booked a $12,000 Flight for $75

While surfing the internet, I came across this:

The banner is advertising 100,000 British Airways miles as a sign up bonus if you get approved for their credit card, which is a load of miles for doing relatively little work.

Geographically speaking, Great Britain and Easter Island are very far apart, so what do they have in common? Even though British Airways doesn’t fly there, their partner airline does. By getting 100,000 British Airways miles and using the miles to book on their partner airline, I was able to book a business class ticket to Easter Island for nothing more than taxes and fees: $75.

“Someday, I’ll ….”

Now I’m not saying everyone should sign up for credit cards to get free flights; it’s just an option to access some far and hard-to-reach places. In short, the “someday, I’ll (fill in the blank)…” is a lot more reachable than most people think.

I’m going to be able to cross off Easter Island from my bucket list later this year because I found an alternative way of getting the same thing I otherwise couldn’t afford.

If you think you can’t do something or get something, be creative and think outside the box. I would love to hear about what you’ve been able to do by thinking outside the box.

More about me: My name is Mike, I blog at which is my creative story of renting out my two spare bedrooms to accelerate my mortgage payments. I also blog at, a travel blog that highlights two things: a way to keep track of my work outs and a travel blog show casing the different Crossfit affiliates I visit while traveling.