Welcome to The MapleMoney Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. I’m your host, Tom Drake, the founder of Maple Money, where I’ve been writing about all things related to personal finance since 2009.
If you travel with any frequency, you know how expensive staying in a hotel can be. To take the sting out of hotel costs, many people are turning to things like credit card rewards, hotel loyalty programs, even third party websites such as Expedia, or Booking.com. But with so many options available, which loyalty program should you choose?
My guest this week knows a thing or two about travel. Lee Huffman is a travel and finance blogger, and founder of the website, Bald Thoughts. Lee shares some of his best tips on finding hotel discounts, and explains why third party websites might not always be the best option. According to Lee, hotel chains tend to cater to members of their own loyalty programs, offering the biggest discounts and other perks to their best customers. Of course, the pricier the hotel, the more perks there are to be had.
On the other hand, if you don’t travel as often, or you prefer cheaper accommodations, the third party sites may be the way to go. The most important thing is to do your research before booking your trip. These are just a few of the tips Lee has for us, on this week’s episode of The MapleMoney Show.
This week’s show is brought to you by Wealthsimple, Canada’s leading robo-advisor. The biggest myth about robo advisors is that they are all tech, and lack the personal touch. If you’re curious about moving over and have questions, you can now book a 15 minute call with an experienced Wealthsimple portfolio manager. Head over to Wealthsimple Chat, and book your appointment today.
- Where to start when booking a hotel room
- Hotels reserve their best discounts for their own loyalty programs
- Always check with the hotel directly before using a 3rd party site
- Booking through websites like Expedia can often be better for lower priced hotels
- Finding hotels that serve breakfast can be a great time saver
- The location of a hotel can save you money in other areas
Do you have travel plans in the near future to take the sting out of hotel costs? Many people are turning to things like credit card rewards, hotel loyalty programs and even third party websites such as Expedia or booking.com. With so many options available which loyalty program should you choose? Lee Hoffman is a travel and finance blogger and founder of the website, Bald Thoughts. Lee knows a thing or two about getting a great deal on a hotel and joins us this week to share some of his best tips.
Welcome to the Maple Money Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. The biggest myth about robo advisors is that they’re all tech and lack the personal touch. If you’re curious about moving over and have questions, our sponsor, Wealthsimple, now lets you book a 15 minute call with an experienced portfolio manager. Head over to maplemoney.com/wealthsimplechat to book your appointment today. Now, let’s talk with Lee…
Tom: Hi Lee, welcome to the Maple Money Show.
Lee: I’m happy to be here.
Tom: You travel around the world so you’re really one of the guys I know that really knows this travel stuff. And one of the things I feel I don’t know much about is hotels. I got most of the airplane game down, but hotels are something I want to look into. He just kind of set us up a little bit on how much you are traveling in a year and how many hotels do you think you’re staying at.
Lee: Well, I think I’m afraid to look at to do the math and look at it all. But I do travel quite a bit. Over the next six weeks I’m going to be going to Orlando, Belgium, D.C., Montana, and then right after that going to Amsterdam, Denmark, Boston, Chicago. So it’s going to be a busy fall for me.
Tom: That’s more travel than I’ll do all year. So go on.
Lee: Honestly, the vast majority of all those hotel stays are all hotel points.
Tom: When you say hotel points do you mean hotel loyalty programs or some other credit card points?
Lee: It’s primarily the hotel loyalty programs. You’re going to get huge bang for your buck. It some ways it’s easier to earn those points than some of the other ones. And some of the other points like Chase Ultimate Rewards or City Thank You Points; you’re getting better value by using those points to book flights instead of hotel rooms.
Tom: We don’t have those exact credit cards but we do certainly have the option on some cards to transfer them into points. Most hotels that you’re aware of also certainly apply to Canadians whether they’re in Canada or not. Otherwise, the only one that comes off the top of my head in Canada is Best Western’s. It’s one of the hotel programs that have points here. But everything else is pretty similar—the Marriott’s and Hiltons and everything like that. Can we start going through some of the perks we should look for? When you’re going to book a hotel room, do you simply go to that hotel site and look for the lowest fare?
Lee: It all depends, really. Unlike airlines, hotels have really kind of clamped down on how you can earn some of those miles and points for their programs. If you’re booking through a third party, a lot of times you’re not able to earn things like Marriott points because they want you to book direct. That way they’re not paying commissions. The make you choose “either” “or.” Are you going to book through an online travel agency? Or as they call it in the vacation world, OTAs. Or, are you going to book direct and get the miles from them as well some of the perks from the status you have. When you book directly with the hotel you’re going to have a lot more choices. They have a lot more promotions. Again, like you said, they may have the lowest price which overall is good because you’re trying to keep money in your pocket and pay them as least amount of money as possible. But sometimes you’re actually better not paying the lowest one by actually doing some of the package deals. If you’re renting a car or you want some breakfast and maybe don’t have status or some of these other benefits, if you pay just a little bit more money a lot of times you’re getting better value because maybe the hotel is $150 and the parking is $40 but they may have a package that’s hotel and parking for $160.
Tom: So it might take a bit of research then. Obviously, that’s a great example of simple math. But if it’s giving you a package that includes car rental access or something like then I guess you’ve got to kind of shop around a bit?
Lee: Absolutely. Always shop around. Sometimes it makes sense to bundle everything together like Expedia and some of these other online travel agencies. They give you discounts on the rooms or some portion of the vacation if you’re able to book multiple aspects of the vacation through their site. They’re just happier because they’re getting more of your money and high revenues of which they can then negotiate better deals with these airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. But don’t just blindly go in there and buy a package. Do a little math yourself and do a little research. That way you can look to see what the best hotel option is you can find for yourself, what’s the best flight that works for you. Maybe it’s a direct flight. Maybe it leaves at a certain time of the day. Maybe it arrives a certain time of the day. Then look at the car rental agencies as well. Do the math. Figure it out to see if makes sense to do a package or to piece it all together personally.
Tom: You mentioned Expedia. I use Expedia a lot when I’m booking hotels or flights. But one thing you mentioned is that you don’t normally get the hotel points. That concerns me a bit because I assumed I did, and like I said I don’t know my hotel point balances well enough to know if I’m getting them or not. So, if I’m not, that is a problem. I have been kind of focused on rates. I’ll do a look on Expedia. I figured I was at least being smart enough to know to check the hotel site as well just to make sure I’m getting the best price. But yeah, it’s pretty common then, if you book through Expedia, that you’re not getting hotel points?
Lee: That’s correct. Everybody has different circumstances. Sometimes it’ll go through anyways and you’ll get those points. Or you’ll get your upgrades and some of the other perks there based on your status. But based on their rules, they don’t have to give you points. They don’t have to give you your perks and your upgrades and of the benefits that if you book direct you would otherwise get.
Tom: Okay. So I probably do have some more research to do to see the value of those points over what I might possibly not see through Expedia.
Lee: Exactly. And again, you have to do the math and say, “Okay, if I book through Expedia and get all these other discounts and I’m getting the points towards future stays or future discounts with Expedia, does it make sense to give up the perks?” If you’re booking a luxury resort where you’re going to get incredible perks and have great opportunities for nice upgrades from say, a base level room to something that’s more premium—maybe it’s a suite or has a deck (or whatever) it makes more sense to book direct there because that way you can be assured you’re getting your upgrades. Whereas, let’s say you’re staying at the Holiday Inn Express near the airport, you’re not really getting any upgrades there. In that case maybe you’re willing to forego the points towards your elite status by getting a better discount by booking through one of those online travel agencies.
Tom: Yes, I’m going to be much more cautious in the future. Some of the things that I know enough to look for are my free breakfast. I really like my free breakfast even if it’s just a continental breakfast. It’s not just the fact it’s free, it’s also just normally a huge time saver. We were at Disneyland recently and the hotel had a breakfast where you could just get up, eat and get out. It’s just more efficient as well as money saving.
Lee: For sure, especially when you’re going to something like Disneyland. It makes sense especially when you’re there with young children. You want to get there as early as possible. That way you can be there and minimize your time waiting in lines. Get into the park before everybody else that slept in gets there. And maybe that way, because you’ve been able to do more rides without having to wait in lines, you can take a little bit of a nap if your children are really young. Or maybe you can head off site from the park to go explore something else like a nice restaurant or something. Then be able to go back in the evening when it’s maybe a little cooler (if you’re traveling doing the summer) for the fireworks or whatever. But, if you’re wasting a lot of time in the morning going to Denny’s or someplace else to get breakfast, no matter what you do, Denny’s is going to be an hour or more and that’s just going to eat up your time. If you want to be there when it first opens, trying to get your kids up early enough so you can go get breakfast someplace else is just going to be a major struggle. One thing we do when we travel sometimes is one of us will go down and get breakfast while the other one is showering. Then when my wife’s done showering and I’m done with breakfast we swap. That way she’s down there getting breakfast and I then take my shower. The kids are still sleeping at that time so we bring some breakfast back up to them. And while they’re changing into their clothes we’re shoveling food into their mouth, just trying to be as efficient as possible.
Tom: Speaking of perks actually and Disney, I would say the Disneyland hotels are a little pricey. But at Disney World, they’ve got the value hotels where you get early access to Disneyland. Of course, you have to wake up even earlier to take advantage of that but it’s something to consider compared to just another hotel.
Lee: Whenever we go to Orlando what we’ll do is plan on certain days to go to Disneyland. And on other days we’ll plan on going to Universal. Luckily, my wife is really cool and is okay with this, but we’ll sometimes hop between different hotels to get the benefits we want. Maybe we’ll stay at something a little bit more budget friendly when we’re not going to go to Disney or someplace that has just a really awesome pool slides and other fun things you can have at these resorts. That way we’re going to spend time at the resort those days. And on the day’s we’re going to go to Disney we’ll transfer hotels and stay there for those early access hours. And maybe we’ll switch to a different hotel for the early access to Universal.
Tom: Yes, Universal in Orlando does have the Loews Hotels which I’m a big fan of to get out into the park earlier as well—into the Harry Potter section I believe it was.
Lee: Yes, absolutely.
Tom: Another thing I recently saw as a perk that I hadn’t really seen before was when I was in San Diego. I was a Kimpton Hotel—I hope I’m saying it right.
Lee: Kimpton’s my favorite.
Tom: I saw you post about these but I had never been to one. But, when we got there they were having this free beer and wine happy hour in the lobby. That was quite different to me. Then in the morning they also had a social coffee. You could make your coffee up in your room but they had coffee fresh down there and you could kind of sit in the lobby with other people and do that as well. So that was definitely a new perk I hadn’t seen before. I’ll keep that in mind in my future booking as well.
Lee: Yeah. I mean one of the good things I love about Kimpton is every one of their properties is unique. Each one of them has almost its own personality. It’s not like a cookie-cutter type of chains where you can’t tell if you’re picking Kansas, L.A., New York, Florida or China. You have no idea based on just being inside the property. Whereas, with Kimpton each one of them has a local theme. And at the wine hour that’s every day from five to six, each one of those hotels within the brand, offers (generally) a red and a white wine. Some of the properties will have a local beer or a local drink that kind of pairs with the local area. For example, in Austin they have a Van Zandt that has Margaritas everyday also during that hour. I definitely love having some of the margaritas. Whereas, in the Buchannan in San Francisco in the Japan area of town, they have a sake drink. They kind of infuse their local flavor into things which is like a nice little treat. And what I like about the way they’ve structured it, the evening wine hour and in the morning coffee social gives you the ability to maybe talk to other guests who might be locals or traveled there from another place like you have. You can talk to them to see what they’re doing, what they’ve experienced and what they like most about the town. Maybe you’ll learn something new that you may not otherwise have thought about.
Tom: Yeah. And like I said, it was totally new to me but it won me over.
Lee: So that Kimpton does that every day from five to six. Another one that I really like especially when you’re traveling with your family is Embassy Suites. They have an awesome breakfast. It’s a full buffet breakfast including made to order omelets. And I think pancakes as well. And they have their evening wine hour or manager’s special social where the bar is basically open. You can walk up and pretty much order anything from their bar. A lot of times it’s house wines, well drinks and domestic beers, but still, you can get pretty happy over the course of an hour with some light snacks and some free drinks.
Tom: Yeah, that’s great. It’s definitely something to keep in mind. Again, this idea that it’s not always the lowest rate that’s going to give you the best value. It depends on what you doing. If you’re getting the cheapest hotel and you’re spending way more than that in drinks somewhere else, at the end of your day, overall, it wasn’t the best deal.
Lee: Absolutely. And like you said, you want to factor in things like meals, whether it is breakfast, light snacks, etc. Maybe you have status with one of the hotels that has a lounge area where you can go in throughout the day and get some snacks and/or beverages. Also, one of things you want to watch out for is if you’re trying to book the lowest price hotel just because you want to be budget friendly or that hotel is a bit further away from the areas that you want to be at, versus getting a hotel that’s a lot closer. This way you’re saving not only your time but also the potential of having to rent a car or having to take an Uber or Lyft back and forth between your destinations that are a little outside of where you want to be, versus something that’s really close nearby. You’ve got to take a look at that differential. Maybe it’s $30 a night extra but you don’t have to spend $20 on Uber back and forth, or renting a car, paying for parking and all those things because that really adds up quickly.
Tom: You mentioned the idea of going to a lounge based on status. Can you go into that a little bit? What is this and how do you get this mystery status?
Lee: Sure. A lot of the hotels have loyalty programs. The more times you stay, the more nights you stay or the more you spend with them, elevates you up the chain. Basically, every rung on the ladder you get additional benefits. For some of them, like the World of Hyatt, you’re going to get free breakfasts even if they don’t have a normal breakfast that’s free for everybody else. Because you’re at that top level status, you’re going to get a free breakfast. And you can basically order anything you want off the menu and just charge it to your room and gets wiped away. Things like got a really cool. But some of them, like Hilton for example, they’ll have an allowance that’s just for gold and diamond members where you can go into that lounge. They’ll have a fridge with some drinks. They have some light snacks lying around. You just go in there and kind of enjoy the perks and it doesn’t cost you anything extra.
Tom: In general, if someone’s not traveling a lot would it make sense to try to stick to one hotel chain to get this? On average, how often does someone have to go to work their way up these rungs?
Lee: Both with airlines and hotels, unfortunately, if you’re just doing it through your normal stays, the average family that travels twice a year maybe, they’re generally not going to get any sort of status unless they get a credit card or they do something else that’s going to elevate them up that ladder. That’s just the unfortunate reality of things today. I’m not familiar with all the different credit card programs available in Canada but I know some of them do offer status. Just by having the card you get elevated status. It may not be tops in your status but even if it moves you up a couple rungs, you’re that much closer to getting some status especially is you do travel a little bit and stay loyal to that one loyalty program. Now, between the credit card benefits as well as your 10 or 14 nights worth of stays over the course of a couple of weeks, that combined it may bring you up to that status and you can start enjoying some of those perks.
Tom: We definitely do have those cards in Canada. I can’t think of one off the top of my head but there are some that they’ll automatically bump you up to that next level kind of thing. And you earn points through the credit card spending. Another thing that I remember always being a perk before and maybe it’s just more common now is, Internet. Is it basically covered everywhere now? I don’t see it coming up as often as this huge selling feature—free Internet.
Lee: I think a lot of hotels nowadays just realize it’s a connected world. So based on that, they have to provide a base level of internet access to just about anybody. Especially when there are more and more international travelers. You don’t want to get all those roaming fees on you on your cell phone for accessing the Internet from your phone so they’ll give you base level access. But now they’ve segmented it where you get a base level which has pretty slow speeds. Most likely, you’re not going to try to stream Netflix or anything like that off of it. But if you want the premium speeds, there’s an up charge for everybody else. But, if you’re at a certain level of status, you’ll get that high access for free.
Tom: Oh, nice. Once again, if you get that status everything seems to open up.
Lee: To your point earlier, if you’re just traveling just a handful of times, I definitely recommend staying with one brand. Maybe it’s not the lowest priced hotel. If it’s something that’s going to get you that much closer to a free night then it’s worth it to pay a little bit extra to stay at that hotel versus someone that’s a little bit cheaper but they’re not going to give you any points at all, or is going to give you points in some other random program that you’re never going to have enough points to be able to redeem before they expire.
Tom: That’s why they call these, loyalty programs. They want you to be loyal to one thing. If you’re kind of dipping into everything, it’s probably not going to work out so great.
Lee: Yeah. Definitely.
Tom: With some of these perks, the thing that’s kind of been grinding my gears lately has been resort fees. I’ve seen everything from $5 to $25 at places I’ve been visiting. There are these mandatory fees—it kind of does cover the free Internet, the pool and things like that. But what’s the deal with these? I think I saw recently and in the States that they’re actually talking about a class action lawsuit about these fees; that they should be built into the price that’s being displayed at the time.
Lee: Basically, it’s like a truth in advertising type of thing. Just like airlines have unbundled things where they says, “Okay, here’s your price but if you want to check your bag it’s going to be X, Y, Z extra dollars.” Hotels have looked at that model and said, “Wow, we can do that too by segmenting out certain portions. They do it for two different reasons; one so that way they can advertise a lower rate and also, now when somebody books a room through one of these online travel agencies they’re paying them commissions on a lower number. The fees for resorts and all these other different fees are they tack on, that’s not commissionable. It’s basically trying to get more business and trying to reduce your costs. That’s really the reason they do that. Some hotel programs—I’m have spiral elite status with IHG and effective this year I’ve been given elite member status where they now waive the resort fees. So that helps. For example, you say some of the fees were up to around $25. I think the one I was at in the Grand Caymans with my son a couple of years ago, those fees were around $40 to $45 a day. It’s pretty crazy how expensive those can get. And, when you’re looking at trying to compare between one hotel and the other, if you don’t have that full information then that’s really difficult. You thought you’re going for the lower price option but ultimately, by the time you get those fees racked in there, you actually paid more than the other hotel.
Tom: That would make the comparison hard. In Canada we still have the baggage fees separate but a few years ago in Canada there were airport fees and local city fees that weren’t being included and they mandated that they had to include that. It sounds like they’re starting to do the same thing in the States. So maybe that will become a thing where they say “no” to that.
Lee: Absolutely. Right now I think the Marriott and Hilton are both getting sued by different states attorney generals to try to mitigate this issue and make it better for us consumers.
Tom: That might have been what I read. It was literally while I was staying at a hotel complaining about the resort fee that I read the news story and said, “Oh, okay.”
Lee: So did you show your phone to them and say, “Look, people are suing you for this! You had better waive this fee for me.”
Tom: No. I wasn’t complaining to them. I was complaining to someone I was with. I wasn’t actually complaining to the hotel. I just sucked it up and paid my fees.
Lee: Every thing is negotiable. When you book online, obviously, there’s no way to really waive that fee. But when you’re there at the hotel, and especially if you’ve spent a lot of money at the hotel restaurants. You’ve been there for a number of days and they can see you’re loyal to that hotel chain, talk to the front desk and say, “Look, I’d really like to see if you can waive this for me.” It doesn’t hurt to ask. Spend five minutes of your time. Depending on how long you’ve been there it may save you $200.
Tom: Great point. The last thing I want to cover in regards to free stuff at hotels is people take like the shampoos and stuff like that. What other things can you ask for? I sometimes see these cards that say, “If you need anything, give us a call.” How does that work? I assume some things they just let you keep; like a razor probably. But if you need a phone charger I assume they want that back.
Lee: Yeah they’ll definitely want the phone charger back. But in the worst case, if you forget to give it back to them, most of time (that I’ve seen) they’re not going to come after you asking for it back. And besides, they’re going to get other people leaving them and they’ll be able to replenish their stock pretty soon anyways. Again, depending upon your elevated status, you have a little bit more latitude than somebody that has only stayed there once and will never stay there again.
Tom: Fair enough.
Lee: Especially things that are definitely hygiene related like razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes, you don’t have to give those back. It’s just things that somebody else can use without having to really disinfect it. Things like irons, phone chargers and those types of things. Just ask for it. They’ll let you borrow it. Then just be kind and leave it there.
Tom: The reason I bring this up is because it’s just one of the things I’ve never thought to do. First of all, 95 percent of the time I’m prepared enough that I’ve actually brought everything. But there have been times I have forgotten a charger and I just buy one at the airport. I’m really bringing it up just to remind people that this is a thing. You can get your hotel to help you out when you’re missing out on something.
Lee: I have some friends that are extremely frugal. There’s always somebody that abuses the system which, quote, is why we can’t have nice things. Every day they’ll as for shaving cream, toothpaste, a toothbrush or whatever. And then next thing you know they haven’t used them; instead, they’ve stockpiled these little samples that they’ll take with them on their next vacation.
Tom: Wow. That’s extremely frugal. I could see you doing it once but to do it every day is really pushing it.
Lee: Yeah, yeah. Some of my friends—I question why we’re friends.
Tom: I’ve got to admit though, if there’s something that’s not shampoo and conditioner (the usual bottles of stuff) I’m more likely to swipe it if it’s a shoe polisher. Sometimes they’ll have these little wipes or something like that—something a little more unique that I think I’m going to need in the future so I’ll throw it in my travel kit because other hotels don’t do that. Even something as simple as a sewing kit nowadays seems to be 50/50 on what hotels will provide that up front. But I’m assuming, again, if you actually contact the front desk they might actually hook you up anyway when you really need something.
Lee: Yes, they will, for sure.
Tom: This has been great. It’s definitely going to change how I look at hotels when I’m booking them. I like the idea of sticking to one or two brands as much as I can and building up the status because it seems to be the biggest takeaway for me.
Lee: For sure. One thing I would say though is, for people that aren’t really traveling much, before you pick a brand; take a look at the places you’d like to travel to. Again, this could change over time. I just went to St. Kitts earlier this summer with my family and the only hotel chains there are the Hyatt and Marriott. That’s pretty much it. So if you’re a big Hilton person, you wouldn’t be able to use your points when you travel there. Take a look at the places you want to travel to over the next year or two years and then say, “Okay, what hotel chains are in each of those different locations?” Also, which ones should you really be focused on for earning points. That way I can either get some free stays or elevated status and essentially get some nice freebies, potential upgrades, late checkouts, and everything else.
Tom: With the status upgrades, is that all within the calendar year? Does that ever wipe out?
Lee: Generally what you do is, when you earn it in this year it’ll reset. Basically, it’s a year and a half that you have that status. So you’ll have it for the remainder of the year that you earn it and then it’ll reset the following year. You basically get a year and a half if you’ve achieved it mid-year. In some hotels chains it is December 31st. Some of them roll into February or March and for whatever reason. That’s just the way they’ve done their calendar. But, it’s approximately the year end.
Tom: Yeah, that’s good to know. Like you said about finding hotels that have the places you want to go, you could revisit that every year or two really. If you’re hitting certain ones you’re going to stick to this hotel chain and then two years from now you’re going to switch chains when you decide on those vacations.
Lee: Sure. And again, say you have your bucket list with the top 10 places you want to travel to. Unless you’re really crazy you’re not going to be able to hit all 10 of them in one year anyways. What I recommend people do is to look at all the different hotels. Maybe they have a hotel there but it’s lower end and it’s your anniversary so you want something that’s a bit more special. Obviously, you’re not going to earn points because you don’t want to stay the Motel 6. You want to stay at the Waldorf or whatever. Take a look at your top 10 and kind of group them together as much as you can. Say, “Okay, these three are have really great properties for Marriott. And these four are really great with a Radisson or a Hilton. And these three are with Hyatt.” What you want to do now is try to work your plans so you can take advantage of the status you’ve earned either from the credit card or from your stays and you can bunch it up together to get towards that free stay and be able to have the benefits of the elevated status. Then once you’ve hit the top three places you want to go in Marriott’s, refocus on going to the other locations with brands that have really great hotel options in that destination.
Tom: Perfect. I like it. Can you let people know where they can find you online?
Lee: Yeah. So I’m at baldthoughts.com. And you can find me on all the different social media channels with the same handle.
Tom: Let them know about your podcast too.
Lee: I have a podcast called, We Travel There. It’s not miles and points focused at all. What it really is, is one-on-one an expert from that city. We try to uncover the hidden gems of that city where instead of going to all the touristy places you’ll get know where the locals go to go eat for the really great food, how to avoid lines, how to get discounts. And it’s comes out every week on Monday.
Tom: Perfect. Thanks for being on show.
Lee: Thank you very much.
Thanks Lee, for joining us and for the tips on where to look for the best hotel deals. You can check out the show for this episode at maplemondy.com/leehuffman. If you enjoyed listening to the Maple Money Show on Apple podcast, please take a moment to give us a rating and review. I take time to read the reviews and would love to get your feedback. Thank you for listening and I’ll see you next week when we talk with Deacon Hayes of Well Kept Wallet about how he turned to side-hustle, a blog, into a full time income.