Yikes! That’s S$4 not S$5.

Bloopers in my Singapore article (shame shame shame)
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SGMT Food Laksa

SGMT —
If you read my Rappler article on Singapore, you may or may not have noticed that one line had a horrendous bit of math in it:

Budget for food:
S$5 (₱175/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,400

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Short story

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That line should have read:

Budget for food:
S$4 (₱140/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,400

I was careless and now I’ve put all my Math teachers to shame.

* hides under blanket and never comes out *

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Long story

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For quite a while, I debated with myself on whether to set a budget of S$4 or S$5 per meal. It’s not a very big difference (just around ₱35) but if you’re a budget traveler, amounts like that matter, especially over several days. I went back and forth between “S$5 (₱175/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,750” and “S$4 (₱140/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,400” and eventually managed to muck up the equation upon submission to Rappler.

Sorry. 🙁

Why did I eventually go with a budget of S$4 per meal — or a total of ₱1,400 for 5 days?

First of all, S$1 goes to drinks, so that leaves S$3 for the food itself.

The Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry has this nifty online directory of budget hawker food. The list contains all the hawker center stalls that sell a particular dish (such as chicken rice) for a price at or below the 30th percentile price of that particular food. I shan’t go into a detailed explanation of what percentiles are but, roughly, the 30th percentile price of chicken rice means that 30% of hawker stalls would be selling chicken rice below that price.

In other words, it’s the price that us budget travelers would be interested in.

As of the second quarter of 2015, these were the 30th percentile prices of popular dishes in Singapore (this is according to the SG government, so you know it’s legit):

  • Roti Prata – S$0.80
  • Nasi Lemak – S$2.00
  • Vegetarian Bee Hoon – S$2.00
  • Char Siew Rice – S$2.50
  • Chicken Rice – S$2.50
  • Fishball Noodles – S$2.50
  • Lontong – S$2.50
  • Mee Rebus – S$2.50
  • Mee Siam – S$2.50
  • Minced Pork Noodle – S$2.50
  • Porridge – S$2.50
  • Wanton Mee – S$2.50
  • Economical Rice – S$2.70
  • Ban Mian – S$2.80
  • Duck Rice – S$3.00
  • Fried Kway Teow – S$3.00
  • Horfun – S$3.00
  • Laksa – S$3.00
  • Malay Chicken Rice – S$3.00
  • Mee Goreng – S$3.00
  • Nasi Padang – S$3.50
  • Nasi Biryani – S$4.50

As you can see, all dishes but two have a price of S$3 or less, including favorites such as chicken rice, duck rice, laksa, nasi lemak, and mee goreng.

That’s why I eventually decided on a budget per meal of S$4 including drinks. I figured it would make more sense to set a base budget of S$4 — anyway, that’s what most budget meals will cost — and then if someone can afford to buy more expensive food then yay!

Of course, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I did mess up the numbers in my actual article so…

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Mea culpa!

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I’m very sorry for the confusion. It’s still quite possible to go on a 5-day trip to Singapore for ₱9,500 — just fix the budget for food. 🙂

Save for a trip to Europe in 1 year

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if we wait until we're ready we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives

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I went on my first trip to Europe with a Nokia 1110 in my pocket.

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It’s a story I’m fond of repeating, especially when people tell me they wish they can afford to travel. To be honest, most of the people who say that to me actually can afford to travel. Most of you reading this can afford it — some of you not right away perhaps, but within the next few months or years — if you want it badly enough that you’re willing to make saving for it a priority.

Nokia1110In the case of my first European trip, I worked out a ridiculously intense savings system that left me practically penniless the day after pay day. No more eating out, no more coffee dates, no more new shoes…and definitely no fancy phones. It was tough forgoing those little things that were my reward to myself for working hard, but eventually that’s how, on the very week the fifth generation iPhone was released, I was in Paris with a humble 4-year-old Nokia 1110 in my pocket. (I held on to it for 2 more years too.)

This year, I’m going into extreme savings mode again. I’m hoping to be able to save enough to take my entire family on a nice trip next year. It will mean drastically cutting back on travel and other non-essentials this year, but I think it will be worth it.

Care to join me on my savings journey?

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Below is the blueprint I’m using to save PHP 100,000 in one year. It’s a weekly savings plan — the amount to be saved each week is in the middle column, while the right-hand column will tell you how much savings you’ll have accumulated per week. There are 5 “cheat weeks” which you can move around where you like. The amounts to be saved descend in value each week. That means the first month will be bloody — in fact, I’m using two of my cheat weeks this January alone! — but come December the savings amounts will be much, much more manageable.
Continue reading

7 days in Paris for PHP 50,000

1000w_paris_seine_01

Over a year ago, I wrote How Much Does A European Trip Cost, where I advised people to budget PHP 10,000/day of their trip. That estimate was largely based on a 10-day trip my sister and I took a few years ago and included everything from:

  • Airfare (Cebu-Manila-KL-Paris-KL-Manila-Cebu)
  • Hotels (all double/twin en suites in central locations)
  • Sleeper trains: Paris-Venice, Rome-Paris, and Paris-Nice
  • Daytime trains: Venice-Rome, Nice-Marseille, and Marseille-Paris
  • Ferry trip to Chateau d’If and the Frioul Islands
  • Batobus (Paris) and vaporetto (Venice) passes
  • Admission fees (Louvre, Orsay, the Colosseum, etc.)
  • Food and local transport

…and other miscellaneous stuff. (See: 10 days in Europe: A sample itinerary for France and Italy)

People who actually lived in Europe — ie, people who knew better — told me PHP 10,000/day was too much, but I figured it was a quick, memorable, reasonable rule-of-thumb, and explained:

If I had to describe my travel style, I’d say it’s frugal but comfortable. There are travelers who like to compare trip costs — the cheaper, the better — but I don’t. My personal goal is not to have the cheapest vacation, but to have the best vacation within a reasonable budget, and I tend to be willing to pay a bit more for something if it means I would be happier during my trip.

(Like, you know, centrally located twin en suites.)

But then, this month, I had to write this Rappler article, and I challenged myself to come up with a budget that wouldn’t take an extremely long time or an extremely frugal pre-trip lifestyle to achieve.

So — apologies for the needlessly long intro! — here it is:

7 days in Paris for php 50000

As you can see, the airfare gobbles up half the budget and is a lucky, low-season rate at that — you’ll have to keep an eye out for seat sales or periodic low rates to get that price. But it’s entirely possible: I’ve posted about a P23,700 fare and even a P21,500 fare that I found through Skyscanner/Expedia (and which is why I would encourage you to subscribe to this blog HERE to get the latest news and updates). Plus, there are 30-euro centrally located hostels (thank you for the tip Jasmin!) with free WiFi and breakfast, tricks to save on food and still have your fill, and other ways to not spend so much, even in an expensive city like Paris.

Of course, there’s the valid line of thought that says: you don’t get to be in Paris often, might as well spend more. PHP 50,000 is really just the baseline (and not even the basest of baselines) and you’re absolutely free to spend more if you have more to spend. What this frugal budget tries to prove is that if Paris is really a dream of yours, there’s no reason you can’t make that dream come true. I’ve done it, and you can too.

 

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7 days in Paris for PHP 50,000” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 



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How to save for a 10-day European holiday in HALF a year (with 1 cheat week!)

Descent_Venice_02

Need to cram for a trip (or a big purchase) later this year? Here’s a savings blueprint that you can follow to save PHP 100,000 in 6 months.

  • In this blueprint, the amount you need to save per week decreases from PHP 7,000 in the first week to PHP 1,000 in the last week. This is designed to get the hard part out of the way first, but if you want to start small — the discipline of saving does take some time to get used to — you can simply reverse order.
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  • The cheat week is designed to allow for emergencies or for those times when it’s harder than usual to save — birthdays, enrollment week (for those who have kids), Christmas, etc. In the table below, I placed the cheat week after the 3rd week (because that first month is heavy) but you can move it up or down the schedule.
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  • PHP 100,000 should be enough for a 10-day multi-city European trip, including airfare, train tickets, admission fees to attractions, accommodations and food. Your actual budget will depend on a lot of things — how many cities you want to visit, whether or not you are able to get cheap plane tickets, etc. — but PHP 100,000 is a good starting estimate. You can also adjust your plans to fit your circumstances: for example, if you didn’t luck out on a seat sale for your airfare, you can make up for it by choosing cheaper accommodation. (My other post How Much Does A European Trip Cost? discusses this budget in more detail.)
WEEK SAVE TOTAL
1 7,000 7,000
2 6,750 13,750
3 6,500 20,250
cheat week    cheat week    cheat week    cheat week
4 6,250 26,500
5 6,000 32,500
6 5,750 38,250
7 5,500 43,750
8 5,250 49,000
9 5,000 54,000
10 4,750 58,750
11 4,500 63,250
12 4,250 67,500
13 4,000 71,500
14 3,750 75,250
15 3,500 78,750
16 3,250 82,000
17 3,000 85,000
18 2,750 87,750
19 2,500 90,250
20 2,250 92,500
21 2,000 94,500
22 1,750 96,250
23 1,500 97,750
24 1,250 99,000
25 1,000 100,000

If you aren’t in too much of a hurry to save PHP 100,000, you can follow this 1-year savings blueprint instead.

Good luck and happy saving! 🙂

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How to save for a 10-day European holiday in half a year (with 1 cheat week!)” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

How to save for a 10-day European trip in 1 year (with 4 cheat weeks!)

 

1000w_paris_seine_01*
Inspired by the 52-week savings challenges going around, I decided to create my own travel-themed savings blueprint — with a few twists.

  • While I kept the decremental* pattern of the amounts to be saved per week, I adjusted the intervals so that the savings burden isn’t too heavy during the first few months. (*It’s actually incremental in most of the 52-week challenges I’ve seen, but I like to get the hard part out of the way first. You can reverse the order if you want to start small.)
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  • Cheat weeks! There are only 48 weeks in this blueprint even though a year has 52 weeks. The reason for cheat weeks is to allow for emergencies, or for those times when it’s harder than usual to save — Christmas, for example, or birthdays, or enrollment week (for those who have kids). You can even use a cheat week on the first month if the PHP 15,000 total for that month still feels too heavy.

The goal is to save PHP 100,000 in 1 year, which should be enough for a 10-day multi-city European trip, including airfare, train tickets, admission fees to attractions, accommodations and food. Your actual budget will depend on a lot of things — how many cities you want to visit, whether or not you are able to get cheap plane tickets, etc. — but PHP 100,000 is a good starting estimate. You can also adjust your plans to fit your circumstances: for example, if you didn’t luck out on a seat sale for your airfare, you can make up for it by choosing cheaper accommodation. (My other post How Much Does A European Trip Cost? discusses this budget in more detail.)

Of course, if you aren’t actually planning to travel to Europe, you can always use this savings blueprint for other goals: down payment for a condo, say, or a wedding, or an emergency fund, or…anything really. Whatever it’s for, whatever your plans, good luck and happy saving! 🙂

 

WEEK SAVE TOTAL WEEK SAVE TOTAL
1 5,000 5,000 25 2,050 65,875
2 4,000 9,000 26 2,025 67,900
3 3,000 12,000 27 2,000 69,900
4 2,950 14,950 28 1,950 71,850
5 2,900 17,850 29 1,900 73,750
6 2,850 20,700 30 1,850 75,600
7 2,800 23,500 31 1,800 77,400
8 2,750 26,250 32 1,750 79,150
9 2,700 28,950 33 1,700 80,850
10 2,650 31,600 34 1,650 82,500
11 2,600 34,200 35 1,600 84,100
12 2,550 36,750 36 1,550 85,650
C H E A T    W E E K     1 C H E A T    W E E K     3
C H E A T    W E E K     2 C H E A T    W E E K     4
13 2,500 39,250 37 1,500 87,150
14 2,450 41,700 38 1,450 88,600
15 2,400 44,100 39 1,400 90,000
16 2,350 46,450 40 1,350 91,350
17 2,300 48,750 41 1,300 92,650
18 2,250 51,000 42 1,250 93,900
19 2,200 53,200 43 1,200 95,100
20 2,175 55,375 44 1,150 96,250
21 2,150 57,525 45 1,100 97,350
22 2,125 59,650 46 1,050 98,400
23 2,100 61,750 47 1,000 99,400
24 2,075 63,825 48 600 100,000

Need to cram for a trip (or a big purchase) later this year? Follow this 6-month savings blueprint instead.

 

How to save for a 10-day European trip in 1 year (with 4 cheat weeks!)” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

 


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1110

All of this talk about the iPhone 6 reminds me: I’ve never owned an iPhone in my life. Or a Samsung, for that matter.

It’s not that I’ve never been tempted to buy one. When it came down to it, though, I just couldn’t not balk at the cost. I have a completely serviceable phone (free from my $8/month plan) that I use for calls, text, Instagram, reading ebooks, and occasionally checking the weather in the Isle of Skye in the hope that I may get there someday. That’s really all I need.

nokia1110I like to tell people — when discussing travel funds — that I went to Paris in 2011 with a Nokia 1110 in my pocket. So, as much as I’d like to think that I’m a completely sensible person who’s immune to this keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, latest-is-greatest gadget race, the truth is I just have a different hierarchy of priorities, one that precludes splurging on an iPhone for now. It probably won’t make sense to many people (phones are important) but anyway, that — prioritization — is how I afford to travel.

How do YOU afford your travels?

 

My 2 cents on how you can afford your dream vacation:

  1. Create a travel fund — start now!
  2. Make it grow — take a look at your current expenses and see where you can save.
  3. Force yourself to save by following the golden rule: INCOME minus SAVINGS minus TRAVEL FUND equals EXPENSES.

 

1110” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.