Finding cheap flights is a skill that anyone can learn. Learn the tricks, and the limiting factor will be your energy levels and not your budget.
Book Midweek or on Saturdays
Don't start your trip on a Monday or Friday. That's just groupthink, and the group pays +$1,000 for flights to Europe. I paid $350 for a nonstop flight to Lisbon. Actually, I prefer to travel midweek because there are fewer crowds and you know how I feel about waiting in lines.
You can save hundreds of dollars just departing from another airport. For example, I live in Philadelphia. I just take a bus to JFK instead of the PHL airport and save a ton. The money I'm saving can be used to splurge on the current trip or for future trips.
Book Months Ahead of Time
Book months ahead of time, but not too early. It's rare to find last-minute flight deals because the pricing algorithms will categorize you as a business traveler and, as a result, charge you more. Usually, I book trips 8 to 2 months before departure.
Prioritize Price More Than Location
Honestly, I can't tell you where I'm going to go most of the time. I basically have a spreadsheet full of places that I would like to see, but that's pretty much it. If I find a cheap flight, I book it and figure out everything else later.
This sounds obvious, but it's the opposite of what people do. Most of the time, people look at the price only after selecting a location and travel date. And then they wonder why they can't find a good price. If you're looking to go to a beach, does it matter if it's in Mexico or Puerto Rico? Just keep traveling, and eventually, you'll get to see most places.
Stay Longer Than 7 Days
Preferably, you want your trips to last longer than seven days because, yet again, you don't want the pricing algorithms to think that you're a business traveler. Business travelers want to get back home to see their families; that's not you. You're a jet-setter that's enjoying life. You can leave when you feel like it.
Get a Sugar Momma/Daddy
If you can get this, disregard the above steps. If you know a Sugar Momma looking someone that's 6'2", enjoys travel, and has thick eyebrows, let me know. Asking for a friend.
There will be a "Part Two" on getting cheap flights because I have many tricks. I know I've been meaning to write many "Part Two's." If there's a specific article that resonates with you, please let me know because I'll give that priority.