Tag Archives budget

Bali: An affordable holiday (not just for bogans)

Poor Bali. Its reputation as a holiday destination has been on a steep decline for some time now, thanks largely to the bad behaviour of a minority of Australian visitors. Police murders, drug scandals and bars teeming with drunken Aussies make it sound like the holiday from hell. These things get a lot of airplay but thankfully tend to be limited to one main region, Kuta, which can easily be avoided.

Bali has so much more to offer than just a vibrant night life (and all the associated drama). A rich culture, friendly locals, great surf, shopping, relaxation, adventure … Bali has it all. And with affordable flights and accommodation packages readily available it can be great value for money.

Seminyak and Ubud are popular spots for vacationers looking for a more serene Balinese experience. There you’ll find beautiful boutiques, luxurious resorts, and top-notch restaurants and bars, but you’ll also be paying more.

If you’re looking for a luxurious holiday without having to pay Australian prices there are alternatives.

Take the Bukit Peninsula on the southern-most point of the island for example. This beautiful strip of the island showcases secluded beaches, breathtaking cliff top scenery and spectacular countryside. South of Jimbaran Bay and only 45 minutes’ taxi ride from the airport, it feels a million miles from the hustle and bustle of Kuta.

 

bukit-peninsula2

 

Our family recently had a group holiday in Bali to celebrate my partner’s 40th birthday and stayed in this region for 8 days, in a secluded 6 bedroom villa called Nirvana Biru www.nirvanabirubali.com. This luxurious villa has incredible views over Bingin Beach and ample space and privacy. These are some pics taken from the villa.

 

nirvana-biru-3

 

bali-holiday-3

 

nirvana-biru-1

 

nirvana-biru-4

 

The accommodation worked out at AUD$75 per person per night. Breakfast was included so the only expenses were for lunch, drinks and evening meals on the nights spent in. The total bill at the end of the stay, including food, drinks and accommodation, came to something like AUD$100 per person per day. Obviously this is subject to seasonality and group size, but it gives you an idea of what you might be looking to pay.

You would be hard pressed to find an equivalent experience in Seminyak for the same price.

If this sounds appealing and you want to check out this part of Bali, here are some recommendations.

 

Accommodation

In the Bukit Peninsula there are fewer resorts but many private villas for hire. Whether travelling as a couple or a larger group, villas of all sizes are available.

Many villas are no different to a five star hotel, just without other the guests. They are secure, with many having their own private security guard and their own private pools, staff, kitchen and dining areas. Maids are available to change rooms daily and the larger villas have a chef on hand to cook pretty much anything you request. At many villas you can order a delicious seafood barbecue for less than AUD$20 a head. Alternatively, the many local restaurants and cafes do home deliveries.

The villa management generally like you to purchase their beer, which at around AUD$2.50 each is not a big ask. You can typically BYO champagne and spirits for the cocktails which the villa staff will be all too happy to make.

The helpful villa owners will always be nearby to ensure that everything you desire is at hand. Just ask them and they will arrange for a masseuse, nanny … whatever you need. The Balinese people are famously good with kids. The roads in this region are a lot quieter than other parts of Bali so people generally hire mopeds, but the villa can arrange a driver for you for as little as AUD$20 a day. For yoga lovers, your villa manager can arrange your own private yoga classes.

For a good list of villas visit the Bali Retreats website www.baliretreats.com.au/

 

Restaurants & bars
There’s an abundance of food options in Bingin and the surrounding area. Loads of new bars and restaurants across a range of cuisines are opening up.  Spanish tapas, sushi, pizza, organic fusion, traditional Indonesian – you name it, it’s here. The food at these restaurants is made only with the best local produce and fresh ingredients. For around AUD$10 you can enjoy a substantial seafood meal of  fresh snapper, mahi mahi, tuna and foot long squid right on Bingin Beach.

You can also sip cocktails, watch the waves and see the sun go down at clifftop beach clubs like El Kabron Spanish Restaurant and Single Fin Bali Beach Club.

And if you want to venture further afield, Jimbaran Bay is only a 20 minute drive. There are many restaurants along the beach where you can feast on freshly caught seafood. Choose your fish from the tanks and enjoy during a candlelit dinner on the sand.

 

Recreational activities
Surfers, you’ll have no problem filling your days. This region is considered a surfer’s paradise, with the world class surf breaks of Uluwatu, Impossibles and Padang Padang nearby.

If you’re looking for some culture, visit Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of Bali’s most iconic temples. It is perched atop Uluwatu’s immense cliffs making it a spectacular sight. There, each night at 6pm, you can see a Kecak and fire dance show, with the setting sun as a backdrop.

If you like action, sports are aplenty. You can paraglide off the southern cliffs of the Bukit and play golf at a choice of two of the region’s international golf courses. Explorers, check out Green Bowl Beach, one of Bali’s most secluded beaches hidden under a cliff in the village of Ungasan. Click here to read more about Green Bowl.

But if relaxation is more your thing, you can simply arrange for a massage, facial, mani/pedi or just hang by the pool.

 

Save money on your wedding

Many women dream of designing the perfect wedding day. As they find themselves getting further into the wedding planning process, small but important details can really start to add up. The Government’s MoneySmart website reports that the average cost of an Australian wedding sits at $36,200, while a survey run by Bride-to-Be magazine found the average to be much higher at around $65,000. Whichever estimate is right, it’s still an awful lot of money to spend on one day of your life.

The ceremony, dress, photography, transport, reception and honeymoon are all considered wedding necessities and usually come with a hefty price tag. Add in the extras that provide aesthetics (like stationery, flowers, styling, lighting, hair, makeup and gifts) and it’s easy to see how costs can get out of hand.

That’s why it’s important to set a budget and to stick to it.

But let’s face it, in all likelihood your budget will blow out along the way and you’ll be forced to make some compromises. If you’re in this situation you can reduce costs by being ruthless with your guest list, cutting back on numbers at the risk of offending some people, or you can find other ways to save. You may have to do both.

If you find your wedding plans exceeding your budget, here are a few ways to reduce your incidental costs (without your guests knowing).

 

1. Reduce paper

There can be a lot of paper associated with a wedding: save-the-dates, invitations, RSVPs, order of service, seating charts, table numbers, place cards, menus … the list goes on. For an informal wedding, you may be able to get away without some items like individual orders of service or menus, by strategically placing a few around your venue.

Electronic save-the-dates and invites are gaining popularity for informal weddings and can cost a fraction of paper versions. Stationery websites like www.minted.com allow you to set your stationery to a theme and customise elements including colour, shape and paper weight, for a low cost. They can also offer free envelope design and guest addressing, which saves a lot of money. Most of their templates have free matched wedding websites, negating the need for printed RSVPs which can be managed digitally through the site.

 

2. Try not to blow out on the dress

The bride will be the centre of attention on the day and therefore her dress will – and should – be the most significant outfit. But it can also be one of the most significant costs. Add in a veil, shoes, lingerie, jewellery and it can really stack up. It’s generally cheaper to buy vintage or off the rack, although some brides like to have their dress custom made. If buying off the rack, keep an eye out for trunk sales of designers you like. And before purchasing your chosen dress, it is worthwhile looking on pre-owned wedding dress sites such as www.stillwhite.com.au, as you may find someone trying to sell that particular dress brand new, unaltered and heavily discounted.

 

3. Save on the reception

You can save on venue costs by having your wedding out of peak season or on a week day. Many venues have a hire cost and a minimum spend which will need to be factored in. A cocktail reception will save you money over a sit-down affair. Another way to save is to serve either cake or dessert – not both. By that stage of the evening your guests should be so merry they won’t even notice.

 

4. Getting married overseas?

If so, you may be eligible for the Australian Tourist Refund Scheme. This is a way to save money on bigger ticket items like your dress or wedding bands. A long as you meet certain conditions, such as purchasing the item in Australia within 60 days before your international flight, you can claim the 10% GST back. Visit https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Ente/Tour/Are-you-a-traveller for more information.

 

5. Get smart with your decorations

Save on decorations by choosing a reception venue at a restaurant with a lovely view. Your guests will be too busy gazing at the scenery to notice that you’ve taken a ‘less is more’ approach on the décor.

The type of flowers you want and whether they are in season will have a huge impact on price. Reuse flowers from your ceremony – bring ceremony flowers to the reception, use the bridal party bouquets on the wedding table. Or, if you’re brave, do your own flowers. One of the prettiest, yet simplest, floral table arrangements I’ve seen contained only 2 white ranunculus, a white snapdragon stem and a little baby’s breath in a mason jar – certainly something you could DIY. Although if you choose to do this, accept offers of help because you won’t want to be bothered with these kinds of details the morning of the big day.

Also be sure to check out sites like www.weddingswap.com.au, www.tradesy.com, www.upcycledbride.com.au and www.etsy.com which are online market places where you can buy and trade gently used or handmade wedding items.

 

6. Skip the wedding favours

Bonbonniere is a cute touch and a nice way to thank your guests for their attendance but a heartfelt, handwritten, thank you card in the weeks following will mean more to them. The reality is that people will get drunk at the reception and forget to take their wedding favours anyway, or they will take them and throw them out when they get home. Seeing as it’s not mandatory to give bonbonniere, I say don’t bother.
There are lots of ways to save money on your wedding, these are just a few suggestions. Check out The Knot’s article ‘26 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding’ for more.

 

Image credit: Victoria’s Secret

Manage your budget like a boss

A budget can help you get rid of debt, save towards a goal and generally reduce the stress of worrying about whether you have the money you need available to you. Preparing a budgeting takes a little bit of time and organisation; abiding by it will take some discipline.

Obviously, the idea is to try to find ways to cut back but don’t make your budget so tough you can’t stick to it. The key is to understand where your money is going and then take control of it.

Having a goal makes saving money so much easier. You may want to begin by creating a timeline for achieving your goals to help keep you on track, and then follow these tips.

Take stock

Start by choosing a time period to track your ingoings and outgoings. For instance, if you’re paid monthly it’s therefore probably going to be easiest to track your spending over a monthly time frame.

Next, tally up all of your income from different sources for that period. This may include net incomes from salaries, bonuses, dividends, rental property income and Government assistance. Then look at your expenses and when they are due. I break expenses down into fixed costs (those that remain the same from period-to-period) and variable costs (those that change).

Your fixed expenses will include things like loan and credit repayments, rent, insurances and phone plans. I have all of my fixed expenses set up as monthly direct debits so that they come straight out of my savings account, there’s no chance I will forget to pay them and I can track them digitally. Ensure that there is always adequate money in the account so as not to incur any unnecessary dishonour fees.

Variable costs are things you have to pay each month/week, but which may vary in cost each time. They can be broken down into ‘essentials’ – things that cannot be avoided such as electricity bills and transport – and the ‘nice-to-haves’ like entertainment.

Your overall net position will be your total income less your total expenses. Hopefully, this will be in a surplus position but it may not be. And that’s ok, because the point of this exercise is to find ways to improve your financial position.

Identify areas for improvement

Now that everything is down on paper, see if you can find where you are overspending. Ask yourself:

  • Am I paying enough off my debt? Credit cards generally charge a very high rate of interest – can you find a credit card offering a zero interest period and pay it off within that time frame? Can I consolidate my debts and pay them down quicker with a mortgage or a personal loan at a lower rate of interest? Canstar is a fantastic web resource for comparing loans.
  • When was the last time I reviewed my pay TV, internet and phone plans? Is there an opportunity to downgrade my plans to save some money?
  • Have I reviewed my insurance providers lately? comparethemarket.com.au can help to weigh up many different types of insurance.
  • Am I spending more than I need to on transport? Am I driving too much, paying too much in parking, tolls, taxis? Is public transport a better alternative?
  • Am I actually going to use that gym membership? Either start hauling ass to the gym or get rid of it!
  • How much can I save on the things I like, but don’t really need? Do I really need to order takeout twice a week? Must I really have a fortnightly manicure? Try to set yourself a limit on how much to spend on these non-essential items each period. Little things, like just buying one coffee a day, can set you back quite a lot of money.

Start saving

Once you have identified how much surplus income you have, you will need to put it somewhere. There are many different options available such as high interest savings account, term deposits, managed funds and shares. The most suitable option will depend on your goals, your risk tolerance and your investment timeframe.  You should speak to a financial adviser to help you work out what’s best for you.

 

 

Image credit: ©DanilNevksy via Canva.com

 

 

 

 

 

4 ways you’re wasting money

We’ve all been guilty of careless spending from time-to-time, but it really does pay to be more conscious about where you’re dropping your cash. Small savings can add up.

Don’t believe me? Well if you make the following minor adjustments alone, you may save yourself up to $6,403 a year. Put the extra cash in an account, or even a jar, at the end of each week and watch the savings grow.

 

1. Coffee & water

There is no denying that barista-made coffee is superior to the instant Nescafe in your office’s communal kitchen. But when you realise how much your daily fix is costing you over the course of a year, you may reconsider how essential it is.

Assuming you work full-time (based on a working year of 230 days) and you buy one $3.50 coffee a day, that’s $805 you are spending per year. That’s $805 you could spend elsewhere, or indeed save.

The same goes for bottled water, which can cost around the $3 mark for 600ml. If you refill a water bottle with filtered water from the tap instead of buying it, you may save yourself $3 a day – that’s $690 a year.

Total saving = $1,495

 

2. ATM fees

In Australia, many banks charge non-customers fees between $2 and $3 to use their ATMs. They may even charge up to 80c for a balance enquiry.  However, banks normally waive these fees for their own customers.

Though it might take a bit of extra effort to find your own bank’s ATM (like walking an extra block) it pays to do this as these fees can add up to a significant amount. For example, say you withdraw cash from another bank’s ATM three times a week, and assuming you will be charged a $3 transaction fee each time, that’s costing you $468 per year. You may as well be giving money away. In instances where you can’t find your own bank’s ATM, consider withdrawing a larger amount of money to keep you going longer.

Total saving = $468

 

3. Grocery shopping

Planning ahead for your grocery shopping may take time and effort, but it’ll be worth it when you see how much you can save by doing so.

  • Start off by writing a list of the items you need based on a meal plan for the week. If you plan on taking your lunches to work, as we suggest in the following tip, don’t forget to factor in what you will need for those meals too.
  • Once you know your items, shop around for the best prices. Have a snoop around on supermarket websites for the things you know you’ll be buying. Supermarket specials often start on a Wednesday, sometimes on a Saturday. Then do your shopping at the one offering the most specials on the items you’ll purchase.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy no-name. Australia’s supermarket wars mean that the big supermarkets are broadening their range of no-brand products and the stigma of buying ‘no-name’ is disappearing. I am also a fairly recent ALDI convert – I find that their brands are of a comparable quality and a helluva lot cheaper. For instance, you can save around $3 on a jar of organic extra virgin coconut oil at ALDI. I’ve taken to buying all of my pantry staples at ALDI. So far, no one has been able to tell the difference.
  • By the end of the week, typically by Sunday, you may also find that some fresh items like meat are reduced. When I see big reductions, I snap up things like beef mince and chicken thighs. These items often come in bulk; I divide them into meal-sized portions and stick them in the freezer for future meals.

By doing these simple things, I am now saving myself $50 a week. That’s an enormous $2,600 a year.

Total saving = $2,600

 

4. Buying lunch every day

I was terribly guilty of this when I was working. For me, being time poor and a little lazy meant that I would grab lunch at the company café every day, which would set me back a minimum of $8 every day. That was $1,840 I was spending per year on lunches (again assuming a work year of 230 days).

I could have saved myself a fortune had I taken a little extra effort to package up leftovers from the night before or thrown ingredients for a quick salad together.

Total saving = $1,840

 

GRAND TOTAL = $6,403

These are four incredibly easy ways you can save dough. By making these small changes alone you have the potential to save a grand total of $6,403 per year. Just think about where else that money could go!

 

 

Image credit: ©DianaIndiana via Canva.com