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How To Survive Saudi Arabian Airlines

How To Survive Saudi Arabian Airlines

saudi arabian airlines

Hi all!

This is a guest post from my friend Kat Collins who is currently working as an engineer in Kuwait and has flown Saudi Airlines a few times to come and see her family back in Los Angeles. There wasn’t much information online about Saudia so I thought this would be a good place to
start for those considering those cheap air tickets they always offer. Is it worth it or not? well, see for yourself….

You fell for the affordable ticket price and the promise of a short layover at King Abdulaziz Airport…Oh boy! Well, let’s see what you are in for and if flying Saudi is a good option for you!

 

Saudi Airports

king abdulaziz airport - Saudi AirlinesSaudia has 3 main Airports. Their largest hub is King Adulaziz in Jeddah, and then there’s King Khalid in Riyadh and King Fahd in Dammam. I have only been to King Adulaziz in Jeddah so i’ll give you a rundown of the layout and what it’s like. First of all this is the most bare bones basic airport I’ve ever been in. There is very little amenities and very little space and consists of a duty free shop that’s mostly perfumes, a Baskin Robbins and 3 small cafes serving sodas, sandwiches and coffee. There is no tobacco or alcohol sales and no smoking rooms! The layout is open with only 3-4 terminals. When you arrive the men will be shuffled in one line and women will be taken through a private room and patted down by female attendants.

There is a prayer room, but people use it to sleep in at night. The toilets are very inadequate and there’s only one facility for hundreds of passengers. It might not be a problem at some times of the day but at others its a nightmare with people waiting a long time and floors covered in paper, water and urine. I have heard rumors that there is going to be a big airport renovation project starting soon and I really hope that it’s completed and contains more amenities to cater for the increasing number of Saudia passengers.

Also, there is no gangway/tunnel walk though onto the planes. You are picked up downstairs by a bus and ferried to the plane where you have to walk up stairs to board. It’s old school and dated. I felt like a 1960’s housewife on vacation for the first time.

 

Safety

Before writing this article I looked extensively at Saudia’s accident track record in comparison to other popular airlines and it’s actually quite good. The accidents reported in the last 20 years have been very minor and have resulted in very few casualties. There was one huge accident over India in 1996, but it really wasn’t Saudi’s fault and they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Everything else since then has been small technical difficulties that happen to all airlines at one time or another. They are at the bottom of the list for the JACDEC Airlines safety ranking, but in all fairness, so are some of the well known American Airlines so….Take that for what it is. I never felt unsafe or in danger at any time.

I’m not an expert on aviation but in my opinion the pilots are quite good. On several occasions the landings were so smooth I didn’t even realize we had landed yet, and that’s always a positive indication of a skilled well-trained pilot.

 

 

The Fleet

Nice enough but most are a little dated. They use the Boeing 777 fleet for their long hauls and an Airbus 330/A320 for their short hauls around the middle east. 777’s have only 2 engines compared to 4 engines on the 747’s. The seating is 3 x 3 x 3 with first and business class up front but on the same level. Also, don’t bother trying to get a pre-allocated seat, every time I get moved to another seat anyway.

Another feature that might be an eye opener to western travelers is the prayer area at the back of the plane. That’s right, a whole area allocated for prayer time. Out of respect for other religions don’t walk through there, especially with shoes on. They also play a special travel prayer wishing everyone a safe flight and make an announcement when going over the top of Mecca.Boeing 777

Plane bathrooms were always clean and maintained on long hauls. Paper, Soap and even cologne was provided for free. Short hauls are packed with people and I never bother going to the toilet then, I know it’s going to be crowded and smelly.
king abdulaziz airport - Saudi Airlines  saudi arabia

 

The In-Flight Services

I was actually quite surprised by the vast collection of movies, music, games and entertainment on the 777’s. The movie selection contained everything from American classics to Chinese kung fu and Bollywood, to a huge selection of Arabic movies, Quran readings and modern and classical music. They also offer games like space invaders and solitaire, and in-flight WIFI for a price, but I don’t know if it is working.

They hand out a care package filled with an eye mask, ear plugs (u will need these), socks and a toothbrush/toothpaste. This is a really nice touch considering most airlines only offer this to their business class passengers. You will also get the customary wet towels and head phone set.

 

The Food And Drink

This is going to be a bummer to some people but there is absolutely no alcohol...AT ALL! If you are like me and usually use airline alcohol as a free sleeping aid forget it and bring sleeping pills instead.

As for the food, it was quite decent but nowhere near as good as the Asian airlines. If you like chicken and rice, then you’re in luck! I had that at least 4 times in one form or another. This is served with a salad, bread and some kind of cake or dessert. It’s all halal and perfectly edible. Nothing caused me any intestinal issues.

Breakfast is usually a cheese plate,  omelette, waffles or Ful Medames, and here’s something us westerners haven’t seen since 9/11…Real metal cutlery! On long flights a drink and snack table is set up in the very back of the plane and I was quite surprised at how regular and professional the meals service was. I was never hungry and you even get fed dinner on a short 2-hour flight. That doesn’t happen in America anymore…

 

saudi arabian airlines - food service

 

The Cabin Crew

I’ve saved the worst for last and unfortunately this issue takes away all the positives for me, and it stops me from ever booking another flight with Saudi Airlines again. The flight attendants are horrid, lazy, selfish wench’s that make everyone’s flight an absolute mystery. I wish this was an exaggeration and these issues only happened to me, but after reading many online reviews, it’s unfortunately a very common complaint and it’s seriously something Saudia needs to take action against if it wishes to complete with the top airlines in the middle east.

So this is what happens on the long haul flights. The flight attendants get knowledge ahead of time how many seats have been purchased, and then they come in and take over WHOLE ROWS! I’m not kidding. On every long haul flight they take most of  rows in the middle of the plane while the paying customers are squashed in like sardines all around the edges. It’s unbelievable and I’ve never seen anything like it on any airline.  Not only is this inappropriate and unprofessional, the cabin crew turn away paying passengers when they ask if they can lay down on the center rows and sleep. So we are all made to sleep sitting up in a single seat, while they recline in the lap of luxury on a whole row.

The ironic thing was these flight attendants weren’t even on duty, they were just getting a free trip to Los Angeles and Dubai on my dollar, that’s what upsets me the most. We’re just paying for an expensive shuttle service for Saudi Airline employees, and NOBODY cares about passenger comfort or satisfaction. This is why I’ve never bothered to complain directly, several other people have over the years and nothing has been done.

 

Final Words

So there you have it, the good, the bad and the really ugly. I’ve tried my best to provide you with a fair, unbiased and reasonable review, and it’s up to you if you decide to take the risk, or pay the extra few hundred and go with a more professional and customer service focused carrier. If you want my personal advice, Saudia is ok for short trips under 4 hours, but for long hauls, save yourself the abuse and book with someone else.

thanks for reading!

Kat Collins. xx

Saudi Air Flight Attendant
This selfish flight attendant turned away 2 paying customers who wanted to lie down and sleep, and then proceeded to sleep herself for 12 HOURS. I didn’t even know that was humanly possible!
Saudi Air Flight Attendant
Selfish Lazy flight attendants

HOW TO AFFORD A VACATION – PART 6 – Saving Money On Bills!

HOW TO AFFORD A VACATION – PART 6 – Saving Money On Bills!

Bills!! Welcome to the last and final installment of the ‘How to afford a vacation’ series, and here are more providers that expect a chunk out of our paycheck every month and how to save on them.

 

ELECTRICITY –afford your electricity bill

Here is an industry that sees many changes happening now and in the near future with solar and wind energy becoming more popular. Some argue that it means steeper electricity costs for those of us who still rely on the grid, because somebody has to pay for the maintenance and upkeep on the lines and power stations, but I don’t know.  Here in Southern California we get a green energy rebate twice a year which virtually makes my bill only $8-10. Ha! I wish it was like that all the time! For those months that we have to pay through the nose, here are some budget friendly tips.

In Extreme Temperatures:

Try and suck it up. I know it’s so hard. I hate being uncomfortable too, but resist the urge to take the easy way out. Using climate control is like eating at a restaurant. At the time you’re all for it and want everything on the menu, then when its over you regret having to pay the bill.

In winter wear as many clothes as you can, this is the cheapest option by far. If you have a fireplace shop around and purchaseafford your electricity bill a cord of wood.  It might cost a couple hundred bucks upfront but is much cheaper than electric options. I normally do this for the really cold days and for the rest of the time I make do with an electric blanket and I sit upstairs in bed working and watching TV. It’s certainly a lot cheaper to warm one room compared to the whole house.

Last winter I was up in my wood cabin 6,700 feet up and a tree fell on the power lines. I was without all electricity for 3 days and it was extremely tough. I had to cook food on an open fire like a cave woman and I kept myself blissfully warm and unaware by being drunk most of the time trying to warm my stomach with brandy. You don’t realize how much you appreciate modern conveniences until your neighbors tree takes them away. It did teach me that I can survive and so can you.

 

In Summer wear minimal clothes and keep your house well ventilated. Purchase a water spray bottle from the dollar shop and keep spraying your body with water when needed. It really cools you off and it’s essentially free.  You can also fill it with rose water, Aloe Vera juice or cucumbers to make it therapeutic.  Air conditioning is super expensive and only use it if really needed. Try keeping it on for only a few minuafford your electricity billtes at a time to take the heat out of the air and switch it off.

As an Australian I think I’m a pretty good authority on extreme heat. I remember days when the roads were so hot they would take the skin off your feet and it was hotter in the swimming pool than it was outside.  We would also turn everything into a Popsicle. fruit and drinks were kept in the freezer and eaten frozen (grapes and juice boxes were my favorite). My grandmother would also load us in the car and take us down to the shopping mall….Why pay for electricity when you can use somebody else’s.  Keep spraying yourself and if it’s impossible to sleep at night strip off and keep a fan on low circulating the air.

Other power usage tips:

Do a walk though before bed every night. Make sure everything is turned off and unplug things you are not using regularly.  Remember everything that’s plugged in is receiving a small current. This goes for computers, kitchen appliances and personal care products.  When going away on vacation unplug everything. If its for an extended period of time switch your power off at the mains.

Start using energy efficient light bulbs. We don’t really think about it but we use lights for hours and hours every night and it can add up. Also clean/replace your air filters and if you are not a complete transient like me, think of upgrading your fridge and washer/dryer to a newer more energy efficient model. It will pay for itself in savings before too long and it also pays to only use dishwashers/washers and dryers when you have full loads to do.

 

WATER –

 

when I first came to the states I was completely shocked at how much water was being used. everything from households to landscaping. I remember seeing lush green grass over here for the first time in many many years. I took off my shoes and reveled in feeling it between my toes for hours. While it’s all fun and nice to look at it’s incredibly wasteful of one of our precious resources, one that we all need to survive. I’m using to living in the depths droughts and after a while it becomes second nature to turn taps off and only use exactly what you need.

I also don’t like wasting money on bottled drinking water, what a scam that is! I brought a Brita filter jug
and use a recycled bottle to drink out of. It tastes better and cleaner than most commercial brands anyway.afford your water bill

 

Landscaping: If I owned a house I would definitely get fake grass. It costs a bit to purchase but saves so much money and time. no watering, no mowing, no hassle, its awesome!

Also plant dafford your water billrought resistant plants and succulents. I know they might look boring but some of them flower and offer great design characteristics. Experiment and have fun, you could also grow medicinal plants like aloe or edibles like prickly pares.  If you can turn your landscaping into something you can eat or utilize, all the better!

 

 

 

Toilets: Not many people in this country make use of low-flow toilets. They really are helpful and make complete sense! Not every trip to the throne requires a full flush. If you don’t want to or can’t invest in a new toilet, then fill up and cap off a half gallon bottle of water and put it in the cistern. This will trick your toilet into using much less and then thinking it’s full.

showers: I’ll tell you a secret. I really don’t like bathing or being clean and only shower 2-3 times per week and less in the winter. It might be my English blood, but I’m like a puppy that stands there with my head down whimpering and crying the whole time. I just have soo many things to wash and clean and shave, it’s so tiring. I pretty much have it down to a science now, get in, get it done and get out. Time yourself if you must but really, there is no reason to be in there for more than a couple minutes.  You can also keep a bucket in the shower with you and use it to water your plants.

 

BANKING AND FINANCE –afford your credit card bills

Examine your statements: This is the time to really sit down and look at all of your monthly expenditures.  My neighbors recently looked over their finances and discovered they are still paying hundreds per month in online services and subscriptions they haven’t used in years.  Granted these people aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, but you’d be surprised at how many things can slip through the cracks when you aren’t paying attention to them, and these companies are certainly going to keep taking as long as you let them, especially the ones who use automatic billing in their fine print upon signing up.  This is basically a license to steal money from those who don’t keep an eye on the bottom line and banks are also guilty of taking hidden fees and services out of your accounts.

The good thing about online banking is the transparency aspect.  You have instant access to view all of your transactions for the month anytime you want and make full use of it.  Check it every few days to make sure no one is drawing on it that shouldn’t, and if you do see unusual behavior then contest it immediately.

Credit:  Yup we love using credit and it’s so easy to forget that this money DOES have to be paid back. Please don’t feel bad if you have been caught up in credit card debit at one time or another in life.  It’s happened to me and it’s happened to many good people and some of the situations behind it, like being laid off or having an unforeseen health problem or emergency, are understandable.  Of course other people are just irresponsible, but no matter what, try and avoid getting caught up in it at all costs. My mother always said “If you cant afford it, chances are you don’t need it”, And she’s right. Most things in life we can live without.  If you are in debt call around and try and get a consolidation.  It might not save a huge amount of money, but only having to pay back one bill helps and stops the urge to ‘Take from Peter to pay Paul’. Credit card interest charges are HUGE and Pay it off as soon as you can and stop using it until you are well in the clear again.  If you can’t learn how to use credit responsibly then simply don’t have it.

Have a good look at what cards you do have, what are costing the most money and what ones your really don’t need.  It’s flattering to get offered a new credit card, but if you don’t need it don’t accept it. Look at what services you need in your life and what you don’t. For example, if you travel a lot, look for a credit card that not only offers good rates, but also frequent flyer miles and hotel discounts.  You may as well be getting some perks out of it.

 

afford your credit card bills

Debit: I have a friend who is a compulsive gambler.  She wont come directly out and admit it, but after years of being yelled at by friends and family, and finally realizing she could have paid off her house, brought a new car and gone on several vacations by now, she’s starting to finally see the error in her ways.  She now takes action to curb her spending habits whilst still enjoying her vices.  One of these ways is leaving her debit and credit cards at home.  This is an excellent tip. If you are going out and you know you will be in a place of temptation, or consuming alcohol, take a set amount of cash with you and leave everything else at home.  That way you are not using more than you’ve allowed yourself and not putting on financial strains that you will later later regret.  Just make sure you have enough money to get home.

 

I hope you have enjoyed the 6 part ‘How to afford a vacation’ series and can get plenty of ideas and practice use out of it. Remember you and only you are responsible for your finances and if you don’t keep on top of your money, nobody else will. Make being responsible and conservative a part of your daily life and be sure to teach your children the value of a dollar and how to save for their future. It’s a very unstable world and who knows what will happen in times to come. Making small steps to hold on to what you do have now is rewarding in itself, and will help towards having a happier, more comfortable and more stable home life.  Save now, enjoy your vacations, and here’s to a great future.

cheers and thanks for reading! 🙂

HOW TO AFFORD A VACATION -PART 5- Saving Money On Transportation

HOW TO AFFORD A VACATION -PART 5- Saving Money On Transportation

Saving money on transportation

Hmmm transport. We all need it, and it all costs us money one way or another. Some of the best days of my life were back in 2003. I was attending Sydney University and I lived in a cheap flat 2 minutes off the subway line and 10 minutes from downtown. While the apartment would not be my choice of living standards these days,  not having to need a vehicle was a very freeing and cost effective way to live. I would buy a weekly student pass for the Sydney transportation system and walk everywhere. I was super fit and had access to the whole city for a few cents per day. It was only ever a problem for grocery shopping, so I would have to go to the shops a couple of times a week.

As much as I love America, the public transport system is not one of it’s greatest achievements. Unless you live in the north east, chances are you need a vehicle to get around. These days like most of you I am weighed under by the huge expense and responsibility of car ownership. Ha I know it’s funny, writing a road trip blog and secretly hating my vehicle but it’s true, I long for the days to be free of this burden again.

 

save money on transportation

Repairs –
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was buying a fancy European car. Just driving into the dealership, I know right away I’m going to be out of pocket at least $800 for any minor problem and I have to have savings in reserve specifically for this. Boy I wish I had known this rule a couple years ago but my number one advice to anyone is buy American made, or at least a good quality car that’s very popular with cheap parts and super cheap to fix. Here are 8 examples to look at. You will thank me when you only have to pay $200 instead instead of $1200 in parts and labor. Here are some more tips when faced with a broken down vehicle.

– Ask friends and colleagues who have a similar car, who they go to and who they trust to fix their car for a fair and reasonable price. Word of mouth is   so important and mechanics take pride in their referral rates.  If you’re not happy, chances are they will cop flack from your friend as well.
– stay away from the dealership unless u are under warranty or there is a specific problem needed to be fixed by them specifically.
– Go and get a second or third opinion if something doesn’t seem right.
– Just like my hair salon tip, go to a not so trendy area. You might find a gem of a mechanic out in the burbs, as he doesn’t want to pay high rent costs       in the city.
– If you need to replace a specific part, ask your mechanic how much it would be to buy the part yourself (new or second hand), and then just pay for the labor to install it.

 

Insurance –
Another necessary evil. I pay my insurance fees twice yearly and it’s by far the most dreaded bill. I absolute dread it because it’s so expensive and It feels like it’s just money down the drain. Of course it’s handy when we need it, but when we don’t it feels like a total waste. There are a few ways to ensure that we only pay the bare minimum, and cover our butts enough to show Mr policeman we are good responsible members of society.

– Consider only paying for liability. The general rule of thumb is: if you car is worth $4000 or under, then it’s perfectly asave money on transportation and insurancecceptable (and significantly cheaper) to only do 3rd party coverage.  This will virtually cut your bill in half, but remember, if you have an accident and it’s your fault, your vehicle is not covered. Who knows though, this might encourage you to be a better driver 😉
– If you do have a newer vehicle and opt for fully comprehensive coverage, consider raising your deductible. Sure it’s nice to only be out a few dollars in the event of an accident, but again, the odds of you specifically causing an accident are very low if you are diligent and responsible. think about increasing your deductible to $500 or $750 to save on your yearly insurance costs.
– If you are a good driver, call up your insurance agency and remind them that you have been accident free for over 3 years, you are the only driver, you don’t drive much and whatever other reduction you can get. It’s important to keep on top of this and have an individual policy tailored just for you.
– Shop around. This can be a real pain as most companies want to know the ins and outs of a ducks ass just to give you a quote. They will ask for your name, address, email, phone, vehicle age and brand at the least. If you want to get quotes  anonymously set up a new email, give your neighbors address, don’t use your real name but give the right vehicle information. Haha. Also, if you find a better deal but like your insurance broker, call your agent and tell them about the quotes you have and ask if they will match it in order to keep your business.

 

Lease Vs Loan Vs Own – 

Lease –

I remember when I first came to this country. I was so excited to be part of American consumerist culture I raced out and got a lease on a brand new Subaru WRX.  It was an awesome car and I thoroughly enjoyed it, only problem was the lease cost $360 a month plus a sizable signing payment. I diligently kept up the payments and after three years I had to hand it back and had absolutely nothing to show for it.  All that money spend for nothing.  I had the option to purchase the car for $15,000, but i was so upset with the whole process i walked away. It was a fun time, but I would never do it again, and I would never recommend others doing it, unless of course your employer is making the payments.

If you do decide to lease a vehicle, here are some other things to bear in mind.

  • There is a mileage limit. If you drive a lot this is not a viable option
  • Any minor scratches or wear-and tear-charges can be added at the end of the lease period.
  • If for any reason you can no longer continue with the lease, it can be very expensive to get out of.

 

Loan –

Loans are typically more expensive than leases and it just adds another humongous bill to your life. Its not uncommon to pay over $500 a month for a commodity that is depreciating by the day. You can use the same saving money tactics as you would with a mortgage. Pay it off as quick as you can, refinance, make extra payments etc. I don’t recommend loans but I understand it’s some people’s only option. At least it’s ‘yours’ at the end of the day and you are free to sell it whenever you want. Just be smart and sensible about it.

 

buy –

This is by far the best, smartest and cheapest option out there. A Mechanical Engineer friend of mine recommends buying the newest car you can afford as this cuts down the likelihood of potential mechanical problems. Buy a good quality second-hand vehicle for cash and you’re done!  These days car dealers are ready and willing to negotiate and you can pick up a really good deal.  If at all you are not happy with the quality or treatment you receive from a dealer then just walk away. Plenty more options out there and it’s important to have a good relationship with these people for any problems that may arise.

I paid cash for my car, and despite the mistakes I made with the make and model, I’m super happy I don’t have an extra bill to pay every month!

 

 

Remember at the end of you day, you and only you have to be happy with your choices.  Don’t buy a car to impress other people, that just attracts superficials you don’t want in your life anyway, and don’t fall for fancy marketing and sales techniques.  These people are employed to sell vehicles, and they don’t particularly care who you are as long as they make a sale.  You are the one who is responsible for purchasing, insuring and maintaining your car.  It’s a harsh world and bad things happen to good people.  You couldsave money on transportation be the nicest guy or girl ever, but miss a couple of payments due to being laid off, sickness, or any other unforeseen event and all of a sudden you are deemed irresponsible, unreliable and undesirable. This reputation will follow you for YEARS and will be extremely hard to shake off, and who cares? Nobody. These companies really expect you to pull money our of thin air! It’s really scary and reinforces the fact that you need to do your research, plan accordingly and live within or below your means.  The smallest drum beats the loudest.  Some of the most well-known billionaires drive an old car and live in a regular family home. Save your money, work on being an amazing person, and let other people do the boasting for you!

Happy driving!

HOW TO AFFORD A VACATION -PART 4- Saving Money On Accommodation

HOW TO AFFORD A VACATION -PART 4- Saving Money On Accommodation

Accommodation is the largest drain on our salaries, and changing in order to save money is something very personal and totally dependent on where you’re at in life. Some find it extremely easy to make sacrifices and give up a bit of privacy and convenience, and some figure they work hard and deserve a certain standard of living. If you have a spouse, children or pets, your choices are more limited And these factors have to be considered when choosing a balance between saving money and living a reasonable quality of life.

My number one rule (and I have a 800 credit score), is to always live WELL BELOW YOUR MEANS. And yes, I’m yelling! Honestly who needs the stress of owing money in their life? Not me!
Being able to easily make your payments, taking pride in what you DO have, and the ability to squirrel away savings creates a huge sense of satisfaction and mental well-being. Having financial resources creates freedom and takes away one of life’s great stresses.

Let’s examine some money saving tips for our biggest burden. Not everything is going to suite your personal situation, but if I can help you lower your expenditures and reduce your stress then that I call that a great success! Oooh, that rhymes.

Accommodation

 

-Rentingsave money on housing

 

Consider sharing –

I know this is a lot to ask and a huge no no for many people, but listen. How much time do you really spend outside of the house? If you work full-time and have have activities away from your living space, then why are u paying full price for a house/apartment that stays vacant most of the time? Sure we all love our own space, but mentally if you can shift from a whole house mentality down to a bedroom then what’s stopping you? Set up your bedroom with a TV, computer and entertainment system. All you have to do in the public space is use the kitchen, and who knows, maybe you will like your new roommate and create a friendship. Just do your research really well first and make sure your lifestyles are compatible.

Negotiate-

Like most financial deals in life, rent can be negotiable. Not so much in high demand areas, but in most places you can come to an agreement with the landlord if you sign a long lease and if you have a good reputable background, you have some bargaining tools in your arsenal.

 

Fight rental increases-

Urgh! I hate when they do this! I flat our refuse to be increased and taken for a ride every lease resigning. If this Happens to you speak to them asap. The sooner the better and tell them it’s unacceptable and it’s not affordable at this time. I’ve always been able to get it taken down to the original monthly price and if not then only a few dollars a month increase. Stand up for your rights and remind them that it costs them money to have an apartment sit empty.
P.s private landlords tend not to do this and are more flexible and understanding.

 

Look on Craigslist –

I know it has a stodgy reputation but I’ve seriously found some great deals using this method. If you have the time or are just looking around and thinking about moving, put a ‘housing wanted’ ad up stating who you are and what you’re looking for. You might get some good offers.  Also use it as a research tool to gauge current prices in the area you are considering moving too. Just please be aware of scams and don’s send money to anyone, or sign any paperwork unless you have seen the place an know for certain it’s legitimate.

 

Consider work/rent exchange-

This is a good option for anyone with trade skills or some free time to act as a caretaker. Approach a landlord of a house/apartment and offer to fix the place up in Exchange for cheap rent. Also look at advertisements for apartment caretakers/managers. This can range from reduced rent, free rent and even a salary depending on how much work is required. Either way it’s a good deal for most people.

 

Move further out-

This is a tough one. What You might be saving in less rent, you will be paying in time and transport but in some cities this is a viable option and can result in a 30-40% reduction in your monthly housing expenses. Research your options and weight the pros and cons.

 

Owning and Mortgages

save money on housing

Owning your own home is a dream and one that i have not had the privilege of. I’m still too much of a transient and as a single gal with no family or ties anywhere, I don’t even know where I will eventually end up. If you are living the American dream, here are some simple ways to save on your mortgage that have helped my friends and family.

 

Assessments – 

Get a property valuation done on your house and find out what it’s really worth. This is really helpful especially if you feel that the market has dropped in recent years.  Not only does this give you a better bargaining position, it can also help you reduce yearly property taxes which cost thousands of dollars.

 

Make Extra Payments –

The power of compound interest is wonderful when it’s on your side, and your worst nightmare when its not. Some brokers allow you to do pay off your loan faster in an attempt to reduce interest payments and some don’t. If you are in the market for a new mortgage product, definitely make sure you can do this, but compare the huge benefits of variable length and variable payments with no payout penalty to current interest rates and other factors effecting your loaning options. An extra $1000 a year payment can reduce your loan by an astounding $40,000+ over its lifetime. So worth it!

 

Refinancing –

This can be a HUGE cost saver, especially when there have been dramatic changes with the economy and interest rates, but it does cost money to do it. It’s up to you to do your research and weigh the costs of refinancing with your current mortgage plan over a year AND over the variable length of the loan.

 

AirBnb

This won’t suit everyone, but if you find yourself traveling a lot for work, or spending weekends away with friends and family, consider listing your house or apartment on websites for short term stays. This can be a very profitable way to increase your earnings by a few hundred a save money on housing airbnbweek depending on what you have to offer and if you don’t mind people using your space when you are not there. Just remember to take all valuables out and abide by the listing guidelines. I even know people who rent to AirBnB full time and use that income to fund their extended travels around the world.  Another added perk of home ownership.

 

So there are my tips on how to save money on accommodation. Don’t ever be afraid of change, embrace it and think of it as a new adventure and a page to turn in life. Always talk to people, find out about their living arrangements and what they are doing, ask questions, do research and speak to finance professionals. We are so lucky to have the internet and the wealth of knowledge it brings to our lives…Use it to your advantage and have fun saving! 🙂

 

 

HOW TO AFFORD A VACATION – PART 2 – Saving Money On FOOD.

HOW TO AFFORD A VACATION – PART 2 – Saving Money On FOOD.

Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t eat amazing food and be healthy.  Here are some helpful tips for saving money on food…glorious food!

 

FOOD:

I always tell saving money on food meatpeople when I get sick of the finance business that I’m going to find employment is the supermarket industry.  No matter what economic situation the world is in, we still need to eat.  Imagine how much money we could save if we didn’t have to nourish ourselves every day. Next to accommodation this is the biggest expense for most of us, especially if you have a family. It’s obviously a lot easier for singles and couples to make drastic changes to the food budget than it is for families, but here are some great solutions for cutting your food bills, saving for your dream vacation and still being mindful of what you put in your body.

 

 

1 – Write a shopping list and stick to it. 

I really am not one for writing out budgets, after years of living frugally I’ve just learned to keep a mindful record of money in Vs. money out, but with shopping you have to know what you need for the week and stick to it.  How many times have you done your main shop and then gone back to the store 2-3 times during the week to buy what you forgot and inadvertently extras you don’t need and haven’t budgeted for! Those extra visits can add up to an extra $60-80 a week to your food bill. Having a clear plan of what you need for the week is the key to saving money on food esaving money on food shopping listxpenses AND saving time.

 

2- Plan your meals and cook at home.

I know…..this requires a bit of forward planning, but if you are cooking at home (it really is the cheapest option in the western world),
then you either spend the time planning ahead for the week, or spend even longer planning it day by day. The easiest and quickest way to do this is cook it bulk and eat it over a few days. Now some people don’t like eating the same thing every day (boo-hoo!), but I grew up extremely poor and i’ll eat anything and be grateful for it. I have no qualms about eating the same stew or casserole for dinner 3-4 nights in a row.  If you don’t like doing this and have a busy working schedule, then your options are limited to fast meals like pasta, stir fry’s and salads.  By cooking in bulk you can buy ingredients in bulk and you only have to cook 2-3 times a week and save your treats and dinner out for the weekend.

 

 3- buy fresh and do your own prep.

Have you ever really thought about how much extra that bag of lettuce is compared to buying an actual head of lettuce? It’s usually $3.00 more expensive and for what? Paying somebody else to spend the extra few minutes running it under the tap and chopping it up? Once again it’s something you can prepare ahead and eat later.

 

4- Breakfasts and Lunches.

These same principles for dinner can be used for breakfast and lunch. Instead of spending $5.00 a box on sugary cereal, buy some rolled oats in bulk at the health food store and make up some refrigerator oatmeal jars. They are super yummy, easy, can be made into any flavor, last a few days in the fridge and are very nutritious. Lunches can be pre-made sandwiches, salads or explore the amazing variety of the Bento Box craze. Left overs, rice, snacks and thousands of other options can be made into a lunchbox Bento that can offer something different every day. Remember that you can adjust to a new eating regime, just give yourself couple of weeks and you will be craving your new healthy options, and your body and wallet will be happier for it.

 

5 – Try foreign food

This is going to be a hard sell, but hear me out.  As much as I love US culture, the standard American Diet (or SAD), is just that…SAD!  There is a whole world of flavors out there that most of us are are completely unfamiliar with, especially when cooking at home.  We all fall into a routine of preparing the same handful of recipes over and over and being afraid of trying something new. I have great news! there are saving money on food restaurantsliterally billions of international recipes online and most are cheap and simple to prepare. If you find it difficult to start, try a cuisine with similar taste profiles and cooking methods to western food, such as Persian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern.  Once you have experience in that you will be confident enough to branch off to more complicated and bold foreign food affairs. Another benefit of expanding your diet is learning about other cultures and it’s a perfect way to take a mini cultural immersion when you can’t afford an overseas trip at this time.

 

6- International Markets.

Most people don’t know this, but one of the cheapest places to shop is at an international food market. Whether it be Asian, Indian, Arabic or Mexican you can be sure to find some good deals, even if you choose not to diversity your cooking experience. Here’s a couple of prime examples. A 1 lb bag of basmati rice is over $4.00 at the regular store. You can buy the same rice for $1.50 at an ethnic store and that’s not all, spices are considerably cheaper at almost a quarter of the price. Another benefit is that a lot of the markets make their products everyday so you always find something fresh and even if you only go once every month or two, you will notice the difference. Its also fun to try new things. Make an effort to pick up 2 new items you’ve never tried or heard of before, who knows, they may be your new favorite snacks, and if not, well, at least you have a fun story to tell.  I also think its important to get children to try new flavors and experiences early and allow them to develop and open mind.

 

7 – Increase your plant consumption.

Outside of the westernsaving money on food produce world, meat and dairy is a real treat and I mean a real treat! Don’t get me wrong, meat is my favorite food ever and if I could eat it at every meal I certainly would. I remember when I was a kid, i’d always save the meat for last and savor every bite. Mmmmm protein…..But really, dietitians are right when they say we don’t need as much as we think we do.  If you look at other cuisines around the world, meat is not the main focus, most of the bulk and tummy fillers come from vegetables, legumes and starch. Asian cultures go as far as to say as the rice and noodles are first and everything else is an accompaniment. Rice, lentils and beans are super cheap (you can even afford to buy them organic), and they provide a very rich nutrient profile. Most of us westerners are not used to eating this much fiber, so unless you want to be skywriting your name is the sky every minute and alienating people around you, cook them very well and even consider sprouting before using in recipes.

 

 8- Meat and Dairy

It’s no secret that meat and dairy can add a huge amount to your weekly grocery bill and the solution is obvious….buy only on sale. I have a favorite yogurt brand that I adore, but I refuse to pay $1.50 a cup for it, so I’ll buy it when its under $1 and get a couple weeks supply, also, consider making your own, it’s extremely cheap and easy and without any additives.

If you want to save money on meat you have to be vigilant and flexible. Instead of buying your usual cuts, look whats on sale and improvise. If a recipe calls for ground beef, buy ground turkey or chicken is on sale, then buy that.  Also consider buying meat in bulk and freezing it. Its helpful to have meat in the fridge when whipping up a quick dinner.

 

 

9- To coupon or not?

I don’t do a lot of couponing because I don’t buy (or recommend buying) a lot of processed food.  I try and keep away from the middle rows of the supermarket and shop around the edge, but coupons have a valuable place in budget shopping, especially if you have a family and buying in bulk. It’s great for disposable items like cleaning supplies and toilet paper, but remember before you embark on a new couponing regiment, keep in mind the time and energy you are spending in this pursuit, and make sure it’s worth the net savings.

 

10- Caffeine.

Yup I like fancy fu-fu coffees as much as the next person, but are they really worth nearly $5.00 a pop? nope!  These should desaving money on food coffeefinitely be put in the ‘once in a while treat basket’, and our daily caffeine needs should be made up of more humble options. I know people who spend $10 a day on coffee. That’s $3,650 a year! urgh! what an absolute waste….

I purchase a $7.00 bag of coffee beans every 2 weeks, grind them and make individual cups in my Keurig and its actually quite nice.  You get the fresh made coffee taste for only a few cents per cup.

Energy drinks also make for really expensive urine. Try brewing fresh ice tea or coffee and taking a natural energy supplement.

 

 

11- Alcohol

Alcohol is cheapest at the big national discount chain stores and online, but don’t forget the 6-pack mix and match deals at local supermarkets.  You can get 30% off already discounted wines and beers when buying 6 or more.  If you are interested in purchasing wine by the case online is a great place to look, especially when individual wineries have sales.

 

12 – Dining Out

I usually try and save my restaurant experiences for when i’m on vacation, it adds something else for me to look forward too, plus eating out all the time is no good for the waistline or my wallet. Most restaurants add salt, sugar and fat to make their food extra yummy and that I don’t need in my diet on a regular basis. Plus I like to cook for myself so I know exactly what i’m eating and how much. If you do decide to eat out regularly use coupons, look up the menu online first and give yourself a budget, go during happy hour, and don’t be afraid to ask what’s in your food and how it is prepared.

 

saving money on food cafe

13 – Entertaining at home.

This can be a much cheaper alternative to eating out but you have to be smart about it. Things can add up quickly and luxury artisan items can completely blow your budget. Ten items at $7.00 is $70! Look for recipes that taste great, but don’t contain any high ticket items, or consider buying one or 2 luxuries and serving them as a stand alone (e.g imported olives, cheese etc.)

 

 

 

So there you have it, great ways to save money on groceries and have fun in the process. Experiment, expand your mind and wallet and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome!

Welcome!

Welcome Volkswagen on dirt road

Hi and welcome to ‘Hit The Path’, the ultimate road trip guide!

My name is Sarah Sorge. I’m a crazy Australian Economist with a thirst for adventure and a yearning to circumnavigate the earth, one empty wallet at a time.

I have always enjoyed travelling above all else. Back in the day I would have been one of those skeezy old strumpets with black teeth, stowing away on a Queen’s navy vessel bound for the new world. I can imagine it now, spending my days on the open water, yacking on hard-tack, popping babies out on the poop deck and carrying every class of disease known to man.

Fortunately for me, we now live in a world of planes, automobiles and penicillin, so traveling is quick, easy and relatively painless.

I came to America in 2007 and after receiving my citizenship in 2012, I wanted to give thanks and express my gratitude to the country that accepted me and gave me more options in life. I thought what could be better than driving to every state and seeing every square inch of this beautiful and vast land.

Four years on and I have seen every state several times over. I think I’m a pretty good authority on travel, road tripping and experiencing the American landscape.

There are several reasons I created this site. I want to help and encourage others to step outside their normal routines and enjoy an adventure, no matter how big or small. I want to encourage local tourism, especially to small towns and out of the way states that need help in this day and age, and I want to create an interactive environment for fellow adventurers to share stories and memories of all their favorite destinations.

Ahh we are here on earth but for a very short time, let’s have adventures and fun now, so we have many good memories to draw upon when our minds are willing and wistful , but our bodies are weak and feeble.

Stay gregarious and intrepid my friends.  🙂

Sarah. xxx

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