1. Go 141 – If you are starting out from scratch, consider a Part 141 flight school. You can complete your commercial rating in 190 hours vs the 250 hours you would need if you were to train in a regular Part 61 school. The difference is in the curriculum. The FAA has determined that the regimented syllabus approach provided by a 190 hour Part 141 school will produce the same quality of pilot that 250 hours of Part 61 training generates.
2. Comm. AMEL first- By getting your Commercial Multi-Engine Land rating first, you save by not having to need to check out in and rent a complex single for the checkride. After you have your commercial, you can take the add-on in any single out there, complex or not, even a Cessna 152, if you want.
3. Get MS flight simulator- This may sound crazy, but the flight simulator software out there for years has been a great way to get exposure to the mechanics of your instrument rating. You don’t need to be in a full motion simulator or even a Frasca to see how to enter a hold or join an airway from a vector. Get comfortable flying a $20 computer simulator, then go to your flight school.
4. Pay cash – If you have the option, offering to pay cash for your flight training could save you and the flight school some money. Credit card transactions typically cost the merchant 2-3% and you can explain that the flight school would actually make more money from you if they can offer you a cash discount.
5. Negotiate - This may or may not work, but you can try. Flight schools want a steady cash flow, so if you can make arrangements to pay up front you can possibly have some of the rental rates reduced. Beware, though, commiting too much money just in case your flight school happens to be hurting more than you think and shuts down before your funds run out.