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Keeping expenses down during the holiday travel period


Thanksgiving is just three weeks away, marking the start of the holiday season.

But with inflation impacting your wallet, how can you make your dollar stretch to cover booking flights, filling up your vehicle with gas, and buying gifts?

As a driver, there are a few things to keep in mind.

"There actually is a pretty strong correlation between the way you drive and the fuel efficiency of your vehicle," said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs at AAA. "If you're driving very aggressively and driving, you know, over the speed limit especially on the highway, you are typically going to burn up to 20 to 30 percent more gas than if you're driving at or below the speed limit and driving a little more conservatively and less aggressively."

The benefit of that goes far beyond money.

"You're going to potentially save lives as well as saving gas," said Jarmusz.

For those flying to their destination, booking early is not always going to come with the best deal.

"If you're looking to save money, the ideal time to book is about seven to fourteen days before your travel period," said Jarmusz.

The trade off booking that close to your planned departure is that you might find yourself with fewer options.

"Flights that are already fully booked, so you may have to be more flexible with the departure and arrival times or the necessity for connections or things like that."

If you are flying out of Central Wisconsin Airport, you may want to book sooner rather than later.

"We've seen a lot more demand than we really have capacity for. So, the best prices are well in advance of even some recommended travel times," said Brian Grefe, airport director at CWA.

With travel covered, what can you do about buying gifts for everyone on your list?

Black Friday is a commonly known day to get some deals, but some retailers are rolling out deals sooner.

"Whether or not those will be, you know, the same low low prices or maybe they'll drop more on Black Friday, we tend to see that happen. On Black Friday, on that weekend, on Cyber Monday, even on Thanksgiving, we'll see a dip. It really depends on what kind of thing you're shopping for," said Mary Beth Quirk, shopping editor at Consumer Reports.

But if it's a very anticipated gift that's high in demand, she said that's probably not going to drop in price.

"So if you see any kind of discount on that from usual, you should get it as early as possible," said Quirk.

If you are not quite ready to buy an item, she said you could track the price.

"You could put it in your shopping cart, make sure you don't accidentally buy it, but put it in your shopping cart or maybe save it in a book mark and check on it and see if the price is changing at all from day-to-day, even. That might sound like a lot of work, but if it's a big ticket item it's really worth it to put in the research. Set a price that you're comfortable with and if it gets to that price, you might want to strike, you know, while the deal is hot."

But of course remember the old saying, it's not how much you spend, it's the thought that counts.

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