Talking Points for Members when Filing Taxes

Tax season is upon us and as we know, it is not uncommon to be anxiously awaiting a tax refund, especially during potential economic turmoil. If your life changed quite a bit in 2020 — you got married, bought a house, had a baby, retired, sold a home — and you’re unsure of how that affects your tax situation, you may want to consult with a tax professional for advice.

Below are important tips to consider when filing 2020 taxes

  1. Direct deposit is a convenient and safe option to receive a tax refund quickly, rather than waiting for a check to be mailed. However, if a you choose direct deposit, providing the IRS with the correct account information is important.
  2. Always double-check the WCU routing number and your account number before filing your return. If you provide only the account holder name on your tax return, your refund will not be deposited into your account.
  3. Members should never authorize the deposit of a tax refund into an account on which they are not listed as an owner.
    1. You cannot be given access to funds in an account that is not in your name, which can lead to delays and/or loss of funds if the owner of the account will not reimburse you, or the funds are no longer available. This includes any tax preparer used.
  4. If you receive someone else’s tax refund in error, please contact us immediately and follow these IRS instructions.
  5. In an effort to combat fraud and identity theft, the IRS limits the number of direct deposits into a single financial account or prepaid debit card to three refunds per year. Taxpayers who exceed this limit will receive a notice and a refund check instead, which may take up to 10 weeks.

Steps to Ensure Your Tax Refund Goes to YOUR Account

  1. Locate the refund section of your tax return.
  2. Enter the Wauna Credit Union Routing Number: 323274209
  3. Enter your Wauna Credit Union Account Number. There should be no dashes, symbols, or letters in your Account Number.
  4. Before filing your taxes, double check that you typed the Routing Number and Account Number correctly.
  5. Never direct your tax refund to someone else’s account.
  6. File your return on time — this year’s deadline is: April 15, 2021.
  7. To check the status of your refund, go to www.irs.gov/refunds and select “Where’s My Refund?” You can also check the IRS2Go mobile app or call 800.829.1040.

Lost or Stolen Checks

If a member believes their tax refund check has been lost or stolen, please click to visit the IRS “Where’s My Refund” tool or call 800.829.1954. The tool provides the status of the refund and, in some cases, instructions on how to resolve delivery problems. It will typically have information about the member’s tax refund 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of the member’s e-filed return, or three to four weeks after the member mails a paper return.

Members in Delinquency

In some cases, a portion or all of a member’s tax return will not be delivered to the member, but rather allocated toward a delinquent amount owed by the member for such things as state income tax, back child support, or delinquent non-tax federal debts, such as a student loan. The Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service (FMS), which disburses IRS refunds, will deduct the delinquent amount from the member’s refund before any monies are disbursed by check or direct deposit. In such cases, the FMS provides a letter to the member explaining any offset amount, the agency receiving the payment, the address and telephone number of the agency, and amount of refund offset. Member’s wishing to dispute the debt, will have to do so with the agency listed on the notice, not the IRS.

IRS Errors

The IRS maintains a customer service line that members may call to speak to a representative regarding tax return errors. If the IRS has made an error that resulted in the member receiving the incorrect amount returned or no return at all, the member should contact the IRS directly to resolve the issue (800.829.1040). WCU is not responsible for resolving any errors made by the IRS.

Member Errors

The IRS warns members to be very careful when entering their account and routing numbers when they choose direct deposit on their paper or electronic return. In most cases, an error will result in a delay of payment since the IRS issues a paper check instead of the direct deposit. But an error may result in the direct deposit going into an account belonging to someone else. The IRS will automatically issue a paper check if the account and routing numbers do not pass the IRS’ validation check, or if WCU rejects and returns the deposit to the IRS. However, if the member enters the incorrect account and/or routing numbers, and the deposit is accepted, the member will have to work directly with WCU to recover the funds.

The information here is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting advisors for further guidance.

What if my stimulus payment is delayed?

Millions of American are beginning to receive the $600 federal stimulus payment. However, many will have to wait and may even have to file their tax return to collect.

Americans struggle to receive missing stimulus checks
Stimulus Checks Delayed

By law, the IRS must issue all payments by Jan. 15. But beyond then, those entitled to a check, but have yet to receive one, may need to claim it as a credit on their 2020 returns.

The IRS recently began issuing a second round of stimulus payments to those eligible. Unfortunately, because of an IRS error, which has since been remedied, millions of payments were sent to the wrong accounts and some may not have received their stimulus payment.

As of today, January 8th, delayed stimulus payments are being deposited to accounts. We expect most payments to be available right away, but your financial institution could take a few business days to process. Stimulus checks will be deposited to the same account that you received your 2019 tax refund.
 
Wauna Credit Union understands how important these funds are for so many of our members. We are here for consultation or if you have questions about your accounts.
 
For more information about stimulus payments, please go here.

Easing Children’s Anxiety During COVID-19

As Credit Union Youth Month comes to a close, we thought it prudent to take a deeper dive into not only building the financial futures of your little ones, but also the importance of their mental health, especially during these trying times.

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every corner of the globe and every corner of our lives. It’s changed the way we do things, in ways many of us would have never imagined and it’s not surprising that most of us are feeling stressed and anxious. But remember, too, that our kids are feeling the effects.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to help our youth cope during this stressful time. Children take their cues from the adults who care for them, so if you are displaying outward signs of stress and anxiety, it will be hard to calm your kids and soothe their fears. Dealing with your own anxiety can be powerful in ensuring your kids feel safe and secure.

Here are a few steps you can take to ease the anxiety of COVID-19 for you and your family.

Establish a routine.
Kids need routine. As much as they like to push against it, they actually thrive when a regular schedule is in place. Whatever your new “normal” looks like, structure their day so it involves exercise, regular meals, and a healthy amount of sleep –especially for the teens in your household – as it will help regulate your family’s moods and worries.

Stay connected.
To keep children from feeling alone, use technology to help them stay connected with friends and family. Let them talk with their friends on the phone. Schedule virtual playdates with their school mates and friends. Encourage them play games or eat together.

This holds true for the adults as well. Coordinate virtual meetups and dinner parties with business groups, friends, or family regularly. Social distancing is meant to keep us healthy, but don’t let it keep you away from social support networks.

Get the facts.
Be smart about what you are reading. It’s easy to get pulled into looking at or clicking on every update as it is reported. Consider limiting the number of articles you read or for how long you read about the coronavirus each day. If consuming content about the pandemic causes you to become anxious, take a break. Staying informed is one thing but being overexposed is another.

Stay calm by focusing on mindfulness.
Remind yourself that your family is doing its part to minimize the spread of the virus by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask in public and at small gatherings, and keeping your hands and your home clean. While it’s sensible to prepare for the future, it’s even more important to make sure you’re dealing with things in the present moment.

If you find yourself getting carried away with the “what ifs,” try practicing mindfulness, which is a tool that will help your family stay grounded and calm in the present moment. Focus on the present. Be intentional and thoughtful about where you are and how you are feeling. Sounds simple, but it takes work, especially when concerns about what the future holds feel so heavy.

Some mindfulness activities you can do with your kids include:

Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out, letting your belly deflate.
Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste, and look of your food. Don’t work or watch television while you eat. Focus on chewing your food and think about all of the effort it took to get that meal on your plate. Consider where food comes from vs. thinking food is an end product.
Squeeze Muscles: Start with your toes and pick one muscle group to squeeze. Count to five and release. Notice how your body changes. Repeat this exercise moving up your body.
Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders (and it will wander!), bring your attention back to your breath.
Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colors.
Coloring: Find something to color and focus on the colors and designs.
Listening to Music: Focus on the lyrics of a song or listen specifically to the voice or an instrument.

As we continue to navigate these uncertain waters, remember that your financial well-being is one of our highest priorities. If you find yourself worrying over money, reach out to us right away for a complimentary account review. Stress can be contagious, and if we can help even a little by adding confidence in your financial situation, you’ll have added room to be there for your youth.

Easing Children’s Anxiety During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every corner of the globe and all areas of our lives. It has changed the way we do things in ways most of us never would have imagined. Schools, businesses, sports events, concerts, and movie theaters are closed or operating remotely. It’s not surprising that most of us are feeling stressed and anxious, and our kids, too, are feeling the effects–especially children with an existing anxiety disorder.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to help kids cope during this stressful time. Children take their cues from the adults who care for them. If you are displaying outward signs of stress and anxiety, it will be hard to calm your kids and soothe their fears. Experts say that dealing with your own anxiety can be the most powerful way to make sure your kids feel secure.

Here are a few steps you can take to ease the anxiety of COVID-19 for you and your family.

Establish a routine.
Kids need routine. As much as they like to push against it, they actually thrive when a regular schedule is in place. Whatever your new “normal” looks like, structure their day so it involves exercise, regular meals, and a healthy amount of sleep–especially for the teens in your household. It will help regulate your family’s moods and worries.

Stay connected.
To keep kids from feeling alone, use technology to help them stay connected with friends and family. Let them talk with their friends on the phone. Schedule virtual playdates with their school mates and friends. Let them play a game or eat together.

This holds true for the adults in the home as well. Coordinate virtual meetups and dinner parties with business groups, friends, or family regularly. Social distancing is meant to keep us healthy. Don’t let it keep you away from your social support networks.

Get the facts.
Be smart about what you are reading. It’s easy to get pulled into looking at or clicking on every update as it is reported, so consider limiting the number of articles you read or for how long you read about the coronavirus each day. If consuming content about the pandemic causes you to become anxious, take a break. Staying informed is one thing but being overexposed is another.

Stay calm by focusing on mindfulness.
Remind yourself that your family is doing its part to minimize the spread of the virus by practicing social distancing and keeping your hands and your home clean. While it’s sensible to prepare for the future, it’s even more important to make sure you’re dealing with things in the present moment.

If you find yourself getting carried away with the “what ifs,” try practicing mindfulness, which is a tool that will help your family stay grounded and calm in the present moment. Take time to focus on the present. Be intentional and thoughtful about where you are and how you are feeling. Sounds simple, but it takes work, especially now when concerns about what the future holds feel so heavy.

Some mindfulness activities you can do with your kids include:

Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on
your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out, letting your belly deflate.
Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste, and look of your food. Don’t work or watch television while you eat. Focus on chewing your food and think about all of the effort it took to get that meal on your plate. Consider where food comes from vs. thinking food is an end product.
Squeeze Muscles: Start with your toes and pick one muscle group to squeeze. Count to five and release. Notice how your body changes. Repeat this exercise moving up your body.
Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders (and it will wander!), bring your attention back to your breath.
Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colors.
Coloring: Find something to color and focus on the colors & designs.
Listening to Music: Focus on the lyrics of a song or listen specifically to the voice or an instrument.

Identity Theft: A Survivor’s Guide

Identity theft is a crime with many faces: from the thief who your skims your card info at the ATM, to the hacker who assumes your persona and opens accounts in your name.

Today is Data Privacy Day. And though most if not all of us will experience identity theft, we are all able to survive it.

Unfortunately, rectifying identity theft damage can be like untangling a wet knot. You can do it but it will require patience and perseverance. There is hope!

Start by committing yourself to becoming and remaining organized. Keep copies of letters and emails. It doesn’t hurt to maintain a verbal correspondence and/or other logs. File paperwork immediately and store everything in a safe, accessible place.

Step One: Creditors and Financial Institutions

If accounts are abused or opened illegally, contact your creditors ASAP. Ask for fraudulent transaction documentation as you’ll likely need to file a police report. Add “non-guessable” passwords to replacement cards and all existing accounts.

If a collection agency attempts to collect on a fraudulent account, explain (in writing) that you are a victim of identity theft and not responsible for the debt. Ask they confirm in writing that you do not owe and that the account has been closed.

For checking account fraud, contact your financial institution to place stop payments on any outstanding checks that you did not write. Report the crime to check reporting agencies. If the fraud is extreme, consider canceling your checking and savings accounts. Obtain new account numbers and passwords. Monitor all future account statements carefully.

Step Two: Legal and Government Agencies

Report the crime. File a report with your local police or sheriff’s department (or wherever the identity theft took place). Request a copy of the report. Additionally, keep the phone number of your investigator handy.

Create an Identity Theft Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This is the combination of the Identity Theft Affidavit. You’ll file this with the FTC, and the police report. For additional documentation you may pursue a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigation.

Notify your local postal inspector if someone else has used your address. The social security administration should be alerted if your social security number has been fraudulently used.

Step Three: Credit Reporting Bureaus

The most arduous task in this process may be ensuring that your credit report lists only factual information. Obtain your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (if you are married, your spouse should also check their report).

If the fraudulent information hasn’t yet appeared on your credit reports, be proactive. Report the crime now. Contact one of the bureau’s fraud departments to request an extended fraud alert be added to your file for seven years rather than the normal 90-180 days. Confirm that the bureau you’ve filed the fraud alert with will contact the other two bureaus and to place the fraud alerts.

Write a victim’s report. This is a brief statement describing the details of the crime. Send your report to the bureaus. The first credit reports with fraud alerts are free and are sent automatically. Next, check your credit report every three months to ensure accuracy.

Healing the wounds of identity theft will take time and work. The sooner and more aggressively you deal with the problem, the faster you will see results. Remember, Wauna Credit Union is also a fantastic resource and we are here for you!

The Power of Giving

The Power of GivingWhat better way to recognize the holiday season than to give back?

We’ve decided that a history and love of our communities coupled with our passion for helping others deserves something a bit more. For the third year in a row all credit union employees are participating in our Power of Giving program.

This December, each and every staff member of Wauna Credit Union has been allotted $50 to give back as they see fit. At over 100 strong, we are a force – a force for good.

Perhaps you’ll find one of us buying groceries for a person at the supermarket or maybe you’ll see us donating to a local charity. But no matter where or how we give, it won’t always be about random acts of kindness. Because while we are giving back to these communities, we also belong to these communities.

One Wauna CU employee,  Kailynn, used her power of giving last year to help a family at a local grocery store:

I purchased a $50.00 Safeway gift card and was carrying it in my wallet for a few days until I got the chance to give it away. While picking up some groceries after work I saw a man and his two small children doing the same. We crossed paths a few times in the store and each time all three of them were smiling, chatting, and just seemed to be enjoying their time even though they were only at the grocery store. I approached him and let him know I work for Wauna and we would like to help him with his grocery bill. He was confused at first thinking there was a catch, but after I explained to him what we were doing and why we are giving back to the members of our community he opened up to me. He let me know that he only gets to see his children every other weekend and with the limited time he has with them he always tries to make it memorable and fun for them, on his tight budget. He was so thankful and let me know that he would be taking his little ones on a movie date with the money that he would have spent on groceries.

Giving back generates purpose, and meaning, and positive reinforcement. Our communities have given us so much over the years, and we make a living off of what we get. But as Winston Churchill said, “We make a life by what we give.”

This month, keep an eye out for The Power of Giving, as Wauna CU’s force of do-gooders covers our communities, making people’s days brighter, and returning some of the love that all of you have brought to us.

How to keep your holiday budget merry and bright

Peruse the aisles of most stores, online or otherwise, and you’ll see it: holiday deals.

Yes, whether or not you’re ready, the holiday season has officially begun. And while this time of year can be a great opportunity to connect with family, it can also be traumatic for your finances…if you’re not careful.

So, how do you buy for everyone on your list without slaying your budget? Try these tips:

Make a game plan with your partner

Communicating about finances is key, and it’s especially important around the holidays. For couples who share accounts, make a gift list and set spending limits. This way you can avoid those tense conversations about dipping too deep.

Also, review your checking and credit card accounts so that you don’t get too wrapped up in the holiday spending spirit. Set realistic goals. Can’t pay off purchases immediately or in a short amount of time? Re-assess your plan.

Comparison shop online

One of the perks of online shopping is the ability to research. Before you click “buy now,” compare by checking the price across different retailers. It might be listed full-price on one site, but on-sale on another.

Also look for free shipping. If you spend enough time researching different retailers, you may find a discount on delivery.

Rewards points to the rescue

If your credit card has a rewards or points program, check the rules. You may be able to apply your earned points towards purchases at major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Macy’s and more. True, you’ll give up the points, but avoiding holiday debt might be worth it. Take a peek at our Rewards card and the amazing promotion going on through the holiday season.

Experiences may mean more

Whether or not you’re on a tight budget, sometimes the best gifts are low-cost, personal gestures. After all, it’s hard to find presents for people that they’ll actually love. So, rather than spending a ton of cash, give a framed photo or cook a delicious meal for a family member or friend. A one-of-a-kind experience is more memorable than a gift you can easily buy from a store.

Financial Literacy and Education for Children

It’s back to school time…so how do you teach your kids dollars and sense?

Are your children prepared to manage money and save for the future? Do you take the time to teach them about the value of a dollar and the difference between needs and wants?

According to the Council for Economic Education, despite the recognition that financial literacy is critical to succeed in modern society, study after study show that many Americans continue to lack basic understanding of financial concepts, often resulting in dire consequences. Yet there is hope for improvement if we work to make financial education a priority in our schools.

With little financial education in schools today, the role of financial educator generally falls to the parent. So, be prepared! Be sure to look into the financial education services offered at Wauna Credit Union.

A recent article in Parents Magazine states that “5- and 6-year-olds are starting to develop the cognitive skills necessary to understand basic monetary concepts, such as identifying coins, figuring out how to count change, and matching small amounts of money to items they want to buy.” How do we start teaching our young ones about money?

Meet one father of four and a financial planner with CUNA Mutual Group, Phillip Hansen, who says the earlier you start educating your children, the better. He has some great advice for teaching young kids the value of physical money, setting goals, earning enough to reach goals, as well as the concept of opportunity costs. An ‘opportunity cost,’ for example, is if you spend time and money going to a movie, you cannot spend that time at home reading a book, and you can’t spend the money on something else.

“One of the first things I’ve taught my 5-year-old twins is that money is an actual, physical thing that they can earn and save and choose how they want to spend,” says Hansen. “It’s confusing for kids to see us plop down a plastic credit or debit card, as it creates a false sense that money isn’t real and if I want something, I just pull out the piece of plastic. So, we teach our kids that they can do chores around the house to earn money and then save it for items they are passionate about.”

Hansen recommends:

  • Talking to kids about the physical concept of money and handing money directly to the cashier when buying something
  • Allowing them the opportunity to do small, age-appropriate chores around the house to earn money
  • Giving them a glass jar to save money and watch the savings grow
  • Helping them set goals for their money, like saving for a special new toy
A little WCU member saving $$

Understanding the concept of opportunity costs, where they understand you may have to choose between things like a new toy or going to the movies

“Learning opportunity costs is one of the most important life concepts; opportunity costs are in everything in life—if I buy these really cool shoes, then I cannot have that new video game; or if I choose this college degree over that degree, will it bring me as much enjoyment?” says Hansen. “Teaching the value of money, goal setting, and helping kids understand what’s important to them is really Financial Literacy and Education for Children How to teach your kids dollars and sense to life in general. It’s the first step to helping them succeed and make informed decisions.” So, what else can parents do to teach kids about the value of money and making choices?

We’ve made a list:

  • Discuss what money is and how it works
  • Engage in family discussions about how you want to spend the money, where to vacation, and what to give up to get there
  • Look for teachable moments
  • Give an allowance or let them earn money
  • Start a savings account at a credit union
  • Set a savings goal
  • Teach them to budget—how do I make it until my next allowance?
  • Visit a credit union with your child
  • Let them struggle a bit
  • Be a good example

“My kids are still very young but I’ve already started helping my 5-year-olds understand the value of an hour of work—they cannot really understand the concept of a dollar, but if we talk about how many hours of chores it would take to buy a certain toy, they get it,” says Hansen. “I help my clients understand this notion as well—and whether they can really afford to buy that new house or if they should hunker down for a few more years and save up for the dream home with a little more planning.”

Hansen also says he helps a lot of parents understand that they don’t need to pay for everything for their kids—it’s so important to teach them responsibility and discipline around money and having a little ‘skin in the game.’ What is the difference between your wants and your needs? He says without a good, solid grasp of the value of money and its power, kids have a sense of entitlement that could become the root cause of struggle and brutal reality checks when they hit the real world.

“It simply is never too early to prepare your children to understand money, how it works, and all of the opportunity costs associated with making decisions and life choices,” says Hansen. “Those lessons provide the foundation for a happy and fulfilled life.”

The Capitol One hack: What you need to know

Unfortunately, we live in a world where data security simply isn’t as secure as it should be. And this week, we’ve learned of yet another major breach. A hack at Capital One has exposed the information of millions of consumers in the U.S. and Canada. The hack represents another in a long list of data leaks over only a few years. Luckily, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

What we know

  • A 33-year-old Seattle resident, named Paige Thompson, gained access to over 100 million Capital One accounts and credit card applications
    • Thompson worked for Amazon Web Services, the cloud hosting company that Capital One was using
  • 140,000 Social Security numbers, 1 million Canadian Social Insurance numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers, in addition to an undisclosed number of people’s names, addresses, credit scores, credit limits, balances, and other information, have been compromised
    • Thompson was able to gain access by exploiting a misconfigured web application firewall
    • She was arrested on 07/29/19
  • Capital One said the hack occurred March 22 and 23, 2019 and includes credit card applications as far back as 2005
  • The company says it has repaired the exposure and that it is “unlikely the information was used for fraud or disseminated by this individual”

What you can do

  • If you hold or have ever held an account with Capitol One, watch for alerts
    • The company is reaching out to consumers they know have been impacted
    • Do not reply to any emails or phone-calls relating to this breach as they may be phishing scams
    • Contact Capitol One directly
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service
  • Set up fraud alerts on all of your credit and debit cards and accounts
  • Check all of your financial statements regularly
  • View our Identity Theft Toolkit: http://bit.ly/2wO6Dy0
  • Capital One has set up a dedicated web page at https://www.capitalone.com/facts2019/ for information regarding the recent breach

How it happened

  • Thompson claimed to use a special command to extract files in a Capital One directory stored on Amazon’s servers
  • The FBI believes Thompson tweeted that she wanted to distribute Social Security numbers along with full names and dates of birth
  • Someone who saw the information online notified Capital One of the leaked data
    • Capital One notified the FBI, who then searched Thompson’s residence on 07/29/19

The safety and security of our member accounts and personal information is the highest priority at Wauna Credit Union. Keeping member accounts safe and secure is also a shared responsibility. It’s important for members to review their periodic account statements when received and report any suspicious activity immediately to the Credit Union. Working together, we can increase the opportunities to protect the financial interests of our members and the Credit Union.

If you have additional questions or concerns about the security of your information, you are always welcome to contact us at your convenience.

Tips for Scoring Cheap Summer Getaways

Everybody likes a summer vacation, but travel can be expensive. If you’re looking to squeeze one more getaway into your budget before summer ends, our financial aces here at Wauna Credit Union have some tips for traveling on the cheap and getting the best deals.

Go in the Off-Season

During the hottest summer months, business at popular vacation spots like Arizona and New Mexico tends to slow down dramatically. If you can take the heat, you can score some great deals at premium resorts, golf courses, and other attractions during the off-season. Just remember that the off-season is also when many of these places perform annual maintenance and major construction projects. If, for example, a pool is important to you, make sure the resort you’re visiting won’t be renovating it while you’re there.

Buy a Package

When considering a last-minute getaway, travel packages that combine flights, hotel, and sometimes meals, can be the best deals out there. The key is to be flexible on where and when to go.

Get the App for That

These days, there’s a travel app or website for pretty much everything – including the lowest-priced flights, hotels, and travel packages. A few to consider include Kayak, Hipmunk, Momondo, Airfare Watchdog, and Skyscanner. Each has a slightly different focus, so try out several to see which ones work best for your needs. Keep in mind that some of these sites do not carry regional airlines, which often have good deals. And, when you do find a great flight deal, take a look at the airline’s website, since some deals are only available when you book direct.

Get Social

Just as some deals are only available when you book direct, some travel operators offer special deals for those who follow them on social media. The best deals go fast, so follow your favorites on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to their promotional email lists. If you live in a smaller town, you could save by driving to a major city where flights are generally cheaper. By the same token, if you live in or are flying to a metropolis like Los Angeles, be sure to look to smaller airports like Burbank, Ontario and Long Beach. They may be slightly less convenient, but many low fare carriers favor these regional airports because their fees are often lower.

Capitalize on the Strong Dollar

If you’ve avoided historically- expensive destinations like Japan, now’s your opportunity to visit and cross them off your bucket list. The strong dollar means exchange rates are favorable, and your money will go farther. If you want to stay closer to home, travel gurus also recommend Canada, since it’s 40% cheaper than it was a year ago.