Business Briefs


POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2008


How to save on business travel

With fuel surcharges, baggage fees and rising ticket costs, flying employees around the globe is more expensive than ever. American Express Business Travel has cash-saving tips for companies and road warriors:

» Confirm travel plans before booking; airlines often charge $150 or more for flight changes.

» Check as few bags as possible: Overnight delivery of presentation materials may be more cost-effective than checking an extra bag.

» Keep passports up to date and make sure you have all required visas for foreign travel.

» Check flights to all airports in a region, not just the one closest to your final destination.

» Coordinate car service or taxis to save on expense costs if several employees are traveling to the same place at the same time. Some companies now require traveling workers to share hotel rooms.

» Book flights for the lowest fares. Stay on top of hotel and airfare prices: If you see a price lower than the one you paid, ask for a discount.

» Extend a midweek trip over a weekend to cut down on airfare costs.

» Choose “;offseason”; destinations if the location is up to you—for instance, a group meeting in Las Vegas during the summer.


What to do if you lose your job

Layoffs are piling up, and Americans who have lost their jobs can look to government and non-profit programs for temporary relief. The AFL-CIO has these tips for the newly unemployed:

» File for state unemployment insurance. The U.S. Department of Labor has a “;One-Stop”; page on its Web site linking to different states' unemployment benefits sites at http://www.doleta.gov/usworkforce/onestop/onestopmap.cfm.

» If you are 62 or older, you can start drawing Social Security early retirement benefits—but your benefits will be permanently cut. If you wait until full retirement age, which ranges from 65 to 67 depending on your birth year, you can collect 100 percent of your Social Security stipend. If you find a new job while drawing Social Security, you can take it and keep collecting benefits—but a full-time job will likely mean your benefits will again be reduced until you reach your full retirement age.

» The United Way is a network of about 1,300 community organizations across the country. Enter your ZIP code at its Web site, http://www.liveunited.org/, to access local job-training, food banks and other services.


Consumers curtailing spending

Stay home, drive less and shop on the cheap.

That's what consumers are doing to deal with shrinking savings, declining home values and rising unemployment, according to a recent survey of 995 randomly selected Americans by the consulting firm Booz & Co.

  In the past six months, about 35 percent of Americans surveyed said they have curtailed spending on restaurants, vacations and entertainment and are choosing to stay in. More than 55 percent said they plan to stay at home more in the future.

Survey respondents said they have replaced going out with home entertainment. About 27 percent say they are watching more television, while 25 percent are going online more.

Even when Americans do go out, they try to consolidate their trips and spend less.

Demand for sale items has increased, and nearly a third of those surveyed said they are buying store-label groceries, while about 32 percent use coupons.