I can’t lie. I was putting off crunching the numbers for this post for a long time.
So, let’s get right to it!
Before we even left home, about $9477 had already gone into the trip (flights, insurance, Eurail passes, gear etc).
For a little over a month in Asia, we spent about $3034, averaging $82 a day. I’d consider that a mid-level comfortable budget – we certainly didn’t deny ourselves anything (especially when it came to food and drink – it was our honeymoon, after all) but we didn’t stay in ritzy places or do anything super extravagant. We travelled by land – buses, trains – and took some taxis as well as hiring scooters. See also: individual country spending breakdowns for Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
For three months in Europe (with a week in the UK) we spent about $10,959 for a daily average of $117. I would consider this a comfortable backpacking budget. We were more conscious of our spending, but we ate well, slept reasonably comfortably, and spent probably about $1000, off the top of my head, on experiences (renting a BMW, canyoning, etc). We splurged more on food in Italy and Greece than in other places, and volunteered for food and board for a few weeks. Generally, we found hostels not good value as a couple and only ended up staying in dorms a handful of times – cheap hotels were our usual MO and we couchsurfed a few times.
Alas, I don’t have exact data on our US spending as our iPhone crapped out right before the end of our trip. I do remember that we been averaging about $110 a day, so I’ll go with that and extrapolate that for the whole six weeks. That brings us to roughly $4840. Except for a few pricey nights on the east coast (Boston, WTF?), we mainly stayed in $40-50 motels or with incredibly generous and welcoming blog friends. We ate a TON of (good, cheap) Mexican food, BBQ, and at tiny diners. Can I just say: North America is the only region where even we had to admit portion defeat? Thank you for providing such excellent value for money. I would call this a frugal mid-level budget; we travelled in relative luxury, an American sedan (practically a truck by NZ standards) , splurged on Disneyland and hiring a motorbike.
I also need to add on a few more transport costs to that: $751 on internal flights abroad (Hanoi-Bangkok, Edinburgh-Brussels, Rome-Paris) and $1968 for our one-way car rental in the US.
If we exclude the personal shopping we did in the US (which I didn’t really track closely and isn’t really relevant to this tally), that adds up to just over:
I should note, of course, that this would be a little higher, as exchange rates in real life are rarely as favourable as those listed on xe.com, but it’s not a biggie. The NZ dollar was strong last year – one reason we travelled in 2013 – but it’ll never stand up to the USD, euro or the pound.
Could you do it for less? Of course. Especially if you come from a country with a stronger currency (which I’m guessing is the majority of you). This was about extracting maximum enjoyment, not spending as little as possible. Otherwise we could have chosen to visit only cheap countries, camp (which I did consider, but campgrounds tend to be so out of the way and – like hostels – aren’t necessarily all that cheap), subsist only on bread and fruit, travelled more slowly (thus lowering our daily averages, though perhaps not our overall spend) and so on. I decided reasonably early on in the trip that I’d rather hustle harder to earn more and enjoy our travels than to focus on saving every dollar possible in order to make what we had last.
So this is about in line with what I’d expected, even if it is a slightly painful sum to swallow. If you exclude our initial outlay – flights, insurance, gear, etc – our daily costs on the road are essentially on par with what we’d spend just living our normal lives in NZ (and could even be lower if we stuck to cheap countries and splurged less). There’s only one thing I have any regrets about, and it’s paying to go on the London Eye. Aside from that, I feel it was all money well spent.
Today’s guest post tells you, in a nutshell, basically everything you could ever need to know about structured settlements.
Structured settlements are basically the installments of reimbursement money that one may receive periodically after winning a legal case or in any kind of case where one might need compensation for some damages suffered by that person through no fault of his. These settlements are basically paid by the insurance companies and help those who have suffered a financial loss, through no fault of their own, by providing them with an annual or monthly income, over a long span of 10 to 20 years, and in some cases, for entire lifetimes.
Selling Structured Settlements
Emergency situations like piled up medical bills, loans waiting to be paid off, lawsuits and other things may come up and one might feel the financial pressure, especially if there is no real source of steady income other than these settlements coming in. This situation is worsened in cases where all savings have been depleted away by years of strife and problems always knocking on one’s door. Mostly in such cases, loans are also not possible, because they would come with an extremely high interest rate, due to the bad credit. The only good option left in hand in order to get a good amount of money in hand is to sell the structured settlements. Because at that moment of dire financial need, the regular, yet moderate amounts of money at a monthly or yearly interval are not really helpful. What one needs is a large enough lump sum to get rid of all loans or take care of all the bills.
Buyers for Structured Settlements
There are numerous buyers present in the financial market who are interested in buying out the steady source of income available from a structured settlement for a lump sum amount of money at a certain discount. These buyers can pay quite a large amount of money, though less than the total worth of the settlements that are left, in exchange for the structured settlements. This is actually a pretty good option when all other doors of financial help have closed up.
Quick Cash for Structured Settlements
Sometimes there is a crisis, like an pending hospital bill, or the foreclosure of property due to unpaid bank loans, that means the money needs to be in hand as fast as possible. Generally deals of structured settlements may take 1 to 2 months, as there is a lot of investigation that has to be done before finally settling on a specific buyer. But in emergency situations there is no time to wait around for that. There are some companies that will buy out your settlement from you. But those companies will ask for a high discount rate. The high discount rate is a must in cases like these where there is an urgent need of money. Generally a settlement which would have sold at a discount of 12% will now sell for a minimum of 30%, whenever there is a time crunch.
Okay, so I saw Frozen this week … and I was pleasantly surprised.
It’s the most progressive Disney film yet - warm and engaging and hilarious.
Now I want a reindeer sidekick and a smartass snowman called Olaf to accompany me through life.
My only problem was with the music. Aside from the troll song, all the musical numbers were almost unbearable – trite and shrill.
Don’t get me wrong: I love musicals. If life were a TV show, I’d want to be dropped straight into the middle of Gilmore Girls, with Glee a close runner up.
But Frozen’s musical numbers just don’t hold a candle to old Disney
Have you seen Frozen? Thoughts?
This week’s links:
This perfectly encapsulates white privilege in a nutshell
The Savvy Explorer outlines the best way to get from the airport to town in top cities around the world (AirTrain FTW!)
Solange hits it out of the ballpark with these observations about growing up
Need some new year’s inspiration? Start here with Emily
Pushing Thirtyy has some money lessons for her younger self
Life, Etc provides a succinct guide (with examples) to negotiating freelance pay rates
What are we working for, asks Stacking Pennies?
At Brazen Careerist, what you need to know about the ‘hidden curriculum’ at work
I admire Penelope Trunk for telling it like it is: Men with families feel more trapped than ever and Three cheers for women who say they don’t want to work
Cordelia is committing to doing more housework
At Married with Luggage, how to overcome different conversational styles
This post tugged at my heartstrings and so perfectly sums up how I feel about my own mother
Finally, I’m late to this incredibly affecting portrait of a homeless girl and her family in New York, but better late than never. I found it incredibly frustrating – you’re rooting for her and want a happy ending but you know how unlikely it is. While life is certainly not easy for this family, they do benefit from a lot of public funding/programmes and have squandered inheritances and windfalls. Just throwing more money at the problem – even if it was a possibility – isn’t the answer. There are no easy solutions.
Sure, you can still find a meal for $1 in plenty of places. But if you have anything approaching a normal appetite/metabolism, you will need at least six of those meals a day.
If you’re spending a significant amount of time in Europe, it’s almost inevitable that you will get on the wrong train at some point. Accept it and deal with it!
Yes, having a car is more of a headache than a boon when you get into the big cities, but if you happen to be road tripping across the country, weekends are actually best for visiting most major hubs. You’ll find cheap weekend parking deals in places like Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, but affordable weekday parking is nigh on nonexistent.
Inspired by Stephany!
My favourite post was Can we all realistically expect to to love our jobs?
My most popular post was Sometimes we push people away when we need them the most.
A post whose success surprised me was Food delivered to your door – what’s not to like?
A post I feel didn’t get the attention it deserved was Seven things travelling has taught me.
The post I was most scared to push publish on was Bullshit-free bride: on marriage and name changing
The post I am most proud of was After the wedding, some thoughts.
Apparently some of my best posts are also my most vulnerable. Perhaps that’s not all that surprising. Hard as they are to write, they’re also the most rewarding, which makes them some of my favourites.
I always get a kick out of reading over stuff I’ve written once a little time has passed in between. Sometimes I surprise myself and wonder if I can possibly do any better (which isn’t really as arrogant as it sounds, I promise – it’s more a function of impostor syndrome than overconfidence). But as Ashley points out, the beauty of blogging is that you have a record of everything – so don’t forget to look back on it once in awhile.
I think it’s been too long around these parts since I had a good old fashioned rant, no?
(If you disagree, feel free to ignore this and check back tomorrow for something a little more upbeat.)
I like to think I’m a pretty chilled person. About 90% of that comes down to sheer laziness and the need to save my mental energy for Things That Are Actually Important. Unless it’s going to cost me money, I generally try to employ the “don’t give a fuck” philosophy.
Bus running 15 minutes late? Sure, it’s frustrating, but unfortunately, it’s something that’s beyond my control. Breathe, play some Battleship on my phone, and try to control that twitchy foot.
T’s best friend dragging him/us into his latest drama with his off-her-rocker wife? Sure, it’s a case of same-old-same-old, but he’s made his choice, and T won’t give up on him, and it doesn’t cost me that much to listen for a few minutes and make the appropriate sympathetic/outrage noises in the right places.
Mayor caught with his pants down? Sure, it takes him down a few notches in my opinion (and trust me, I have absolutely no patience for cheaters), but ultimately, I am more concerned about whether he’s done a good job professionally. Can’t we get back to worrying about dying kids, uninsulated houses and internet privacy already?
Ultimately, the only logical reaction to the vast vast majority of crap that blows across our paths in life is this:
(George Watsky is a genius and I can’t believe I only just came across him. Look him up!)
But sometimes things break through that barrier, like it or not.
Sometime in the last couple of weeks, something in me snapped. It might have been after the first wolf whistle of the day, or the third, or the fifth.
We’ve been living here a month, and in that time, I have had more random dudes whistle at me from passing cars as I’m walking outside than I had in the 18 months we lived in our old neighbourhood, and in the 18 months we lived in another neighbourhood before that (a total of zero times in both cases).
Nothing about me has changed. I still have the same resting bitch face (in fact, it’s probably even more pronounced these days). I dress exactly the same way. I haven’t gained or lost weight. I haven’t had surgery of any sort. I still look more or less the same as I did a year ago, two years ago, three years ago.
So if it’s not me, what is it? Is it the fact that we now live in a working class area, where houses are closer to the $500,000 mark than a white collar area where houses are closer to the $1 million mark? That we now live around the corner from a retail/industrial hub as opposed to just a strip of shops and some posh schools? Does it even matter?
I’ll be honest. The younger, more insecure me secretly used to like the attention. But I’m older and grumpier and way more impatient these days, and all of a sudden, I find it intrusive and disrespectful and just bloody annoying.
I want to wait for the bus and cross the road and walk to the supermarket in a peaceful haze, lost in my own thoughts and daydreams, without having someone’s “appreciation” pierce through at random moments.
I do not like feeling that my body, even when clad in wrinkly jeans and topped with unbrushed sea monster hair and smeared glasses, is something strangers feel they have the right to comment on out loud, whether through words or sound.
I’m well aware that many other women have experienced honest-to-God harassment on the streets, the kind that actually makes them fear for their own safety. I’m thankful I’ve never had to go through anything like that myself. But I now understand, REALLY understand, people who are fully anti-whistles and catcalls. No longer do I just sympathise with them, I can empathise.
Guys, be a bit more original, and stop being douchebags. Chur.
Happy New Year! What better way to ring in 2014 than with a giveaway – specifically, a $500 Amazon gift card or cash via Paypal?
Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. There are a lot of entry options to choose from (aside from blog comment, all are optional), plus there are daily entries, so keep checking back.
Giveaway closes on January 22 and is open worldwide (whoop whoop).
And now that you’ve taken care of that, to the business!
Question everything, act often, says Ms Career Girl
FI Journey penned a great post on career decisions, progress and the value of trust
Leslie took an awesome tour of Christmas trees in NYC
Athena is committing to a year of mindfulness
I got a real kick out of Frugal Portland’s cute 2013 in review love list
Finally, here’s an oldie but goodie I recently came across: all about the romanticism and sustainability of modern nomadism
2013 was a biggie. I got married (though I still can’t bring myself to use the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. They leave a gross aftertaste in my mouth). Took six months off work. Backpacked around the world. In short, it was a year of YOLO.
They say nobody ever wishes on their deathbed they’d spent more time at the office. Sure, but I would definitely feel bummed if I didn’t achieve some sort of professional satisfaction, some measure of happiness in work and my achievements, over a lifetime. I’ve written some things I’m proud of, for myself and for wider public consumption, and came very close last year to being able to plonk “award-winning” in front of my name (alas, an almost-award doesn’t really afford me that luxury. Highly commended is all well and good, but nobody ever remembers the runner up). A small change at work should make my job even more awesome starting from day one back (though raises the stakes for sure), so I’m amped to see what 2014 brings.
As much as my work matters to me, people and experiences absolutely come first. It blows my mind how much we did in 2013. The places we saw, the people we met, the meals we ate… I whimper a little to think what it cost (full tally coming up VERY SHORTLY) but it was truly a priceless adventure. How could I ever forget biking through the fiery forests of Vermont (nearly falling asleep and falling off the back post-lunch)? Feasting on lamb and wine at sunset in Santorini? Gliding through Venice’s waterways, blotting sweat from my face, mesmerised by every new alleyway? Marvelling at the raw thunderstorms pounding down on the plains of Cambodia? Being enthralled by the sheer scale of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Gulfoss?
For all that, I’m glad to be home. I’m reminded of the beauty that’s all around me everytime I go hiking out west with them (Mokoroa Falls is heartstoppingly fabulous, and I can’t believe I’d never seen it before). We may not be going abroad again anytime soon, but there’s plenty to explore in our own backyard.
This year, I resolve to get out more – on weekends, after work - even if petrol costs are insane and our crappy car chews gas.
I’ve also realised how amazing my friends and family are. I was terrible about keeping in touch with them while we were away, but after all, I knew we were coming back in November. But we’re all getting older, time is passing quicker, some are moving away, and some of us are moving into the next logical phase of our adult lives. And for all my past grievances with my parents, none are egregious enough to hold a grudge about forever – Buzzfeed is right, I’ve come full circle to realise how awesome they are in many ways and embrace all the traits they’ve passed down to me.
I’ve been aware for a long time that I’m basically never the instigator when it comes to these things – I’ll always respond, but I never initiate contact. I often find a text an annoying interruption to the workday, which is kinda messed up. My last day at work, I noticed a text and went to unlock my phone – yet somehow between that and actually opening up my inbox, I got totally distracted with something and wound up entirely forgetting to go back to my phone. T wound up calling me an hour later instead.
This year, I resolve to make more of an effort – to reach out to at least one person a week – by text, email, or (shudder) Facebook chat/message. I emailed a dear friend overseas just before Christmas for a long overdue catchup on our lives, and I can’t tell you how freaking GOOD that felt.
I’m not going to set any financial goals since that side of things is still uncertain. I’m naturally a saver anyway, so I’m going to be trying to bank as much as possible. The long-term play is still to save up for a house. Overall, 2014 is about the small things – balancing work and play, finding a happy medium in life. What more could one ask for?