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Frugal Fridays: Awesome travel bargains and more

TODAY financial editor Jean Chatzky shares her tips and deals to help you save money over the weekend and beyond, including deals on package vacations and free eyeglasses and paint.

For Frugal Fridays, TODAY financial editor Jean Chatzky offers up a number of money-saving tips, ranging from free paint for your home, deals for your vacation and how to eat your way to success. 

Researchers over the years have found certain foods affect our behavior. Tuna puts us in a good mood.  Spinach increases our ability to concentrate.  Blueberries boost memory.  Now new research from Babson College suggests eating in general improves our ability to negotiate. 

Professor Lakshmi Balachandra noticed a lot of negotiations don't happen over desks or in offices; they happen over lunch or over dinner. When she tested her theory, she found that subjects who negotiated over food came to resolutions that were significantly more profitable for both parties.  She thinks it's because there's something that drives humans to want to work together when we're eating together. 

The lesson for real life may be to head out for a meal if you're at an impasse with your spouse, or trying to get your boss to give you more flexible conditions - or a raise. 

There are new travel deals this season if you know where to look. The folks at Expedia.com and AirfareWatchdog.com clued us into the fact that package trips -- hotel plus airfare -- are actually less expensive this year than last.  This is happening because packagers are competing with sites such as Sniqueaway.com, which offer "members only" hotel rates. 

Current deals include: 

From New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • Four nights at the 4-star Intercontinental San Juan Resort and Casino
  • Originally: $2,033, now $1,440 or $720 per person -  29 percent discount

 From Los Angeles to Los Cabos, Mexico

  • Four nights in the 4 ½-star Fiesta Americana Grand
  • Originally $1,709, now $924 or $471 per person - a 45 percent discount

From Chicago to Orlando

  • Four nights in the Westgate Palace, a 3-star that has 4-star reviews on TripAdvisor
  • Originally $1,818 now $960 or $480 per person - a 47 percent discount

If you’re in the market for something completely free, and if your house is in need of a pick-me-up perhaps you could use some free paint.  Ace Hardware, over the next two Saturdays, March 9 and March 16, is giving away a free quart of Clark + Kensington paint and primer.  Just print out the coupon and get the free quart as long as supplies last.  (Most stories say at least the first 40 customers will get it.)

Spotlighting A Frugal Viewer

We love it when our frugal viewers share their frugal stories.  Amanda Rosen from Jacksonville, NC shared with us how she maximizes her credit card rewards - and earned $600 in rebates last year. 

From Amanda: "We have four credit cards with different cash-back bonuses (1-5 percent). Each month I put sticky notes on them so we know which card to use at which location. For instance, normally I would use Chase at a restaurant (3 percent), but when Discover gives 5 percent, we know to use that card instead. Everything that can go on a credit card, does. As long as you have the discipline to pay in full every month and pick cards with no annual fees, it works great! We are on a very limited budget and still make $500-$600 a year in bonuses.