Four weeks from today I will be arriving on the Emerald Isle once again. It will be the first time in this new year but certainly not the last. My passport pages are covered with green stamps from last year's travels to Ireland and I look forward to many more of those stamps. On my December trip, I remember the agent stamping the page with December 5th instead of December 6th when I arrived. I thought about correcting him but then reconsidered.

Last week I told my boyfriend I would be booking my ticket by Monday or Tuesday of this week. Yesterday he asked again whether I booked my flight and I said it didn't matter. I was certain a ticket would still be available and I was hoping for prices to decrease further. Last week I noticed the prices dropped one hundred dollars, so I kept waiting. I waited too long as today I noticed the prices were no longer being offered.

Calling the airlines in hopes of getting the old price, I was told they were no longer being offered as prices fluctuate on a daily basis. I wondered what to do and felt I should not have waited. In this case, things turned out better as I scrambled to find a way to get a less expensive flight.

My credit card bill from the previous month was lying on the table next to my keyboard as I made a payment last night and hadn't yet filed away the paper. As times before, I noticed the ThankYou point balance and wondered what I could do with them. I went online, created an account, and was surprised to find I could buy more than magazines I will never read - as with some rewards programs.

After some searching, I discovered I have enough points to book my return flights from Austin to Shannon, albeit I needed to book two separate flights as the system did not have anything available otherwise. I used the flight information from the United Airlines site to make sure I booked the correct times. I booked the same flights I would have taken had I purchased the ticket from the airlines but this one I did not have to pay thanks to the ThankYou points.

Had I paid attention to my mileage program, I would have had more miles than I accumulated to date. As it turns out, I had to create a new account last year with my married name since my old card had my maiden name. Then it was a matter of not sending in the proper paperwork to process the name change which affected my miles. Transferring miles would have worked but only after I sent in notarized paperwork - something which never happened.

Sometimes things happen and we think we missed out on an opportunity. Other times we might realise these things had to happen in order for us to come across an even better opportunity. In my case, waiting for a better deal turned into my doing research and ending up with a free ticket to Ireland in four weeks.