Category Archives: Tips

Grand C Hotel – Value for Money, Not Ideal for Meticulous Travelers #CheapTraveltoSingapore

Grand C Hotel Singapore small private room

Singapore is indeed a very expensive city.  But, I did manage to travel there (with my hubby) on a “budget”.  One of the difficult things I had to do before our trip was the search for the most affordable room.  Since my hubby doesn’t want us to check-in in motels or dormitory type inns, I had to look for a hotel that has private rooms.

Grand C Hotel at 165 Kitchener’s Road

Photo Credit: Agoda.com

In Agoda, this hotel only garnered a 5.9 (above average) rating.  This is really too low considering that I have never booked a hotel here in our country with ratings lower than 6.0.  I tried to look for hotels with higher ratings but they are just too expensive.  There are cheaper ones but they are mostly located in Geylang, a known red light district in Singapore. Thus, I have no other choice but to book for Grand C Hotel (4 nights & 5 days).  In most cases, I would never book for one if most of the reviews in Agoda are negative, but I just had to because I can’t find any other options that are more affordable.

The Good Stuff

This is how our small room look like.

This is how our small room look like.

Booking in Grand C Hotel means value for money, central location, very fast WiFi connection, and good service (in my case, I met a very friendly grandpa staff who took good care of our room and things for 5 days).  Value for money because you get what you’ve paid for (Singapore standard).  Centrally located because it’s walking distance from Farrer Park (train station), Metro City Square and Mustafa malls, and there are a lot of small restaurants surrounding the area, thus you can easily grab foods whenever you’re hungry.

Grand C Hotel Singapore small private room

I was very happy with the excellent speed of their WiFi connection, considering that they are the cheapest of cheapest hotels in the area.  And, of course, I had a chance knowing a local Singaporean through the very friendly maintenance grandpa who are fond of chitchatting.

The Bad Stuff

Carpeted floor

Carpeted floor

If you are very meticulous when it comes to cleanliness, then this is not the hotel for you.  If you hate small rooms and the smell of herbs, then don’t stay in this hotel.  If you like to be treated like a VIP, then stay away from Grand C Hotel.  In short, this hotel is ideal for backpackers and travelers who only stay in a hotel to sleep.

A view from the lobby's window.

A view from the lobby’s window.

Don’t expect extra frills or any kinds of add-on services.  You get what you paid for.  Cheap accommodation in Singapore is not at par in quality when compared to affordable hotels here in our country.  Affordable hotels here in our country offer better accommodation and service  despite the fact that their  rates are around 60% lower than those cheap ones in SG.

The Cost

The very friendly grandpa hotel staff.

The very friendly grandpa hotel staff.

We stayed in Grand C Hotel for 5 days and 4 nights (Superior Room – No Window) but most of the time, we only slept there.  We spent most of our time outside sight-seeing and discovering the wonders of the small city.  For our 4-night accommodation, we paid a total of USD201.76 ( or Php8,675.68).  This is definitely the cheapest of the cheapest (and I’m not exaggerating on this).  For regular hotels, you have to pay USD200 plus per night.  At Grand C Hotel, we only paid USD50.44 per night.  And take note that I got this deal because Agoda had a 50% promo.  So this means that the original rate is USD100.88.   Here in our country, you can already book a 3 to 4 stars hotel for that amount.

Conclusion

Would I go back to Grand C Hotel if I will travel back to SG sometime in the future? Yes.  Despite the cons, I still feel that the pros outweigh the bad stuff.  I highly recommend this to fellow budget travelers.

Have you’ve been to this hotel? Share your experience and reviews by commenting below.  Ciao!

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My First Helmet Diving #Boracay2013

Helmet Diving in Boracay 2013

DON’T do Helmet Diving if you have ear and heart problems.  Also, if you have high blood pressure, you are not allowed to do it as it be very risky.

I apologize if I need to emphasize those serious health risks in this blog post.  I was quite unaware of them myself before we arrived in the diving site.  My mother who has high blood pressure was out-rightly prohibited when the diving instructors knew her condition.  Min0tte, on the other hand, tried to dive but she gave up because she experienced unbearable pain in her ears (caused by the pressure from the tank) when she was hoisted down.

The Fun Part

 The great part is the exhilarating experience when you walk underwater, see and feed a colorful school of fishes, and just be awed on how great it is to breathe down there.  See photos below if the video above is not working.

Camera

Camera

Camera

How Much It Cost?

Helmet Diving is one of least expensive activities in Boracay.  We paid Php350.00 per head for 40 minutes.  I managed to get a lesser rate by scouting for prizes first.  The first agent who I met offered Php450.  Note that rates/prizes vary a lot.  If you are a foreigner then the prize is 500% higher.  Frugal Tip: You can haggle for lesser rate if you are in a group of 10 or more.  The more people you are with, the higher chance of getting an affordable rate.

Is it Worth the Cost and Risks?

It’s really worth it but this kind of activity is better done in diving sites with lots of corals and marine sceneries.  If you haven’t tried it yet, be warned that the helmet weigh 25 kilos (but this won’t be a problem anymore once you are underwater) .  Also, you should know how to equalize your breathing when you are hoisted down.  You’ll also experience an initial pain (due to the tank’s pressure) while you are going down to the ocean floor.

I highly recommend this activity to groups as it is more fun feeding fishes together with lots of people around you.  It’s actually unfortunate that Mama and MinOtte weren’t able to join us.  But, nevertheless, it was really a very memorable and fun experience. (:

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Boracay at Night: The Good and the Bad

Boracay at Night

Boracay is tagged as the second best beach destination in the world.  This is already not new to anyone especially among beach bums and tourists alike.  But, for someone like me who grow up in Cebu and had been to its finest beaches, Boracay is not really that super great.  I mean come on.  When it comes to beaches, Sumilon Island here in Cebu is at par, and don’t forget Camotes, Malapascua, and Bantayan Island – these are just a few of Cebu’s best beach destinations.  Also, Panglao Island in Bohol is majestic.  The one thing that makes Boracay a wonder on its own is the never-ending-all-year-round activities that makes you want to come back for more.  And, honestly, that’s the very reason why I’m planning to go back may be next year.

Exploring Boracay on a Budget at Night

The Good

I discovered that the most budget-friendly activity you can do in Boracay is to explore the island by doing a photo-walk during the night.

Boracay at Night

Compared to the “very” costly day-time activities, exploring at night is very friendly to your pocket.  You don’t really need to buy anything.  If you’re a first time tourist, taking photos is definitely a very rewarding and enjoyable activity you can do.

Country Crossing Sign - Boracay Island 2013

While exploring, you can splurge a bit and have a dinner buffet.  In our case, I managed to haggle the per head price, from Php285 per head (for 4) down to Php284 per head (for 3+1).  Yes, I got the 4th person free of charge. I’m that good in haggling. LOL!

Buffet Dinner - Boracay Island 2013

For Php213 per head, we already have a very sumptuous dinner that was composed of poultry meat and sea foods.  And take note, the drinks are bottomless. (; Another note: If you are in a “super” tight budget, you can skip the buffet dinner and just head to Andoks, Mang Inasal, Master Siomai, and a lot more cheaper options.

Band Singing - Boracay Island 2013

After we had our dinner, we were so full that we decided to stroll around.  I found out that there are so many dinner buffet deals ahead of us – the very reason the woman who convinced us to dine in their restaurant tried her best to keep us by giving us a lower rate.  Nice strategy!!

Seafoods Stand - Boracay Island 2013

Compared to other famous beach destinations here in the Philippines, I can say that Boracay has the liveliest night life.

Shakeys - Boracay Island 2013

You will never get hungry because the variety of options is endless.  From fresh sea foods, food stalls, fine dining, fast foods, and yes even a grocery store where you can buy canned goods and rice.

Empress Of Drac - Boracay Island 2013

While strolling, we found some fun ways to take photos.  At the beach side there were a few big photo-shoot studio umbrellas where we got our photos taken.

With Mama - Boracay Island 2013

Farther ahead, we spotted a couple of sand castles.  This one in the photo is not the usual fabulous sand castle I usually see but this is already okay.  Note: After you take your photos, some kids will ask you for a donation.  They are the ones who built the sand castles and they want you to compensate their effort.  You have the choice to just ignore them or just give them at least five pesos.  In my case, I gave them twenty.

With the Dancing Chefs - Boracay Island 2013

One of the best highlights of our long photo-walk session was the dancing chefs.  When we arrived at their dinner buffet area, we noticed a lot of Koreans and other foreigners having a good time taking photos with the restaurant’s chefs.  Who doesn’t want to have a picture taken wearing a chef’s cap?

Minotte and Mama - Boracay Island 2013

Although September is an off-peak season in Boracay, the clubbing life is so alive I would have tried going in a disco area if my mother was not with us.

Tourists at Night - Boracay Island 2013

And this is how the traffic looks like at 10PM.  Tourists had just started to pour in.

The Bad

While on our way back to our hotel, I was astounded when a policeman caught up with us and tried to check the photos I took with my camera.  He asked me if I took photos of “him”.

Police Car - Boracay Island 2013

I was like, really? You Mr. Policeman are overreacting.  I told him that I was only taking a photo of the police vehicle as part of my Boracay documentation.  In our way back to our hotel, we noticed some disturbances when a few policemen were apprehending a drunken tourist.  That’s the time that I noticed a police vehicle and snapped a photo.  It never occurred to me that a policeman in a tourist area would reprimand someone taking photos of her surroundings.

He tried to chitchat with us and asked where we come from and told us that he did the inspection for security purposes.  I was like, really?  They are expecting spies and conspiracies in this bloody island?  I wanted to LOL but at a closer look, I did consider his excuse.  Well, who knows? This can be a good aspect of the island – security.  Still, I really find it friggin’ annoying and unnecessary.  If you are a good policeman, you should know how to assess people.

The Other Side of Boracay Island

And here, I save the best err the worst for last – in my long and previous online researches about Boracay, I never really seen photos like this one that I took.  The results of my online researches all contain beautiful photos of the island – not a hint of the situation that’s being presented in the photo above.

When I passed by this young mother with her children, I can’t helped but realized that in the Philippines, the local/native people are the poorest of the poor.  And it becomes very ironic especially in an island as rich as Boracay – a tourist destination that asks for massive terminal fee, and environmental fees at every entrance gate.  Spell OVERPRICING and SCAMMERS – will write a detailed article about this in my next blog post.

Have you been to Boracay?  Share your experiences, may it be good or bad.  Goodnight. (:

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My Top 3 Remaining Travel Schedules for 2013

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Pitogo Island 2

Sunset Shot with Dude at Pitogo Island

At the end of October, Dude and I, along with Minette, will be moving to Pitogo Island.  We will be basing there temporarily or for good (there’s no final plan yet).  We’ve been planning for this move since early this year.  Dude will be quitting from his office job this October for various reasons but one of them is to have a flexible schedule to travel with me.  One of the reasons of our limited travel trips is his work schedule.  Also, we feel that Toledo City is a hostile place to live in.  It would be a relief to get away from this city. (Will try my best to write a separate post detailing about our misadventures here.)

Pitogo Island

Pitogo Island in front of me

In all honesty, I’m actually hesitant about the prospect of living there (though I fell in love with its scenery and the beauty of the surrounding islets), but this move also has to do with our financial stability.  We feel that we can have more savings living in an island compared to living in a sub-urban area.  Also, we have the peace of mind going to trips and travels knowing that our valuables are in a safe place.

My Travel Schedule for the last quarter of 2013

I write about our moving plan to give a detailed picture on how hectic our schedule would be a few months from now.  Thus between our preparations to move and settle down in an island (this time), we’ll also be inserting in our schedule the remaining travel plans we have for the rest of 2013.

September 6 to 9 – Boracay

Boracay from Boracy Camera Live Screenshot

Screenshot photo from Boracay Live Cam – August 15, 2013 – That’s White Beach!

 Definitely my first time going there!!! I’m sooo bloody excited that I booked our flight and hotel last June.  We’ll go there during those dates to celebrate my mother’s birthday.  Mama will be turning 48 this September and it’s really my long-time plan to bring her to a relaxing vacation because she’s so overworked “nannying” her grand kids plus all the “bone-breaking” work at home.  I really can’t imagine my mother’s hard-work all these years.  I intend to bring papa as well but he refused because there’s no one around to check on my younger sister and her kids (her husband is currently away due to work).

Frugal Tips in Booking a Flight to Boracay - I booked two one-way flights. Booking a round-trip flight would cost you more especially if your flight destination is to Bora.  Luckily, I managed to grab four seats that were on sale.  The base fare is Php399 (per head). (:  In our flight back to Cebu, I booked the Kalibo to Cebu flight to avoid the very costly Caticlan to Cebu fare.  Take note that the Kalibo to Cebu fare is not on sale but it only costs Php588 (excluding all kinds of taxes and fees that would make your head spin).

October 18 to 20 – Bacolod

Masskara Festival Bacolod City

Photo Credit

We’ve been planning to go to Bacolod because it’s just a ferry away from Toledo City.  Fortunately, a friend will also go there during the Masskara Festival.  That friend told me that she knows a very affordable inn there with high speed Wi-Fi.  Soulmate, a close friend of mine, will also come along with us.  Pretty much excited for this. (:

Frugal Tips in Going to Bacolod – If you are base near Toledo City, the best frugal way to go there is via  ferry.  The fare is only Php200 plus.  If you are  from Cebu City, you have the option to travel by ocean jet or via airplane.  Go for airplane if there’s a seat sale but the ocean jets are advisable if you’re on budget.

December 2 to 6 – Singapore

Singapore City

Photo Credit

This is a big year-ender for our 2013 travels.  I just got my passport earlier this month (after almost a year of processing!!).  I’ve chosen those dates because December 5 will be dude’s (my partner) birthday.  We’ve been planning for years to travel abroad together and 2013 is our lucky year.  I feel so lucky (again) because I managed to book a one-way  flight (Cebu – SG) when Cebu Pacific had a promo.  The base fare is Php1, 499.  Usually the base fare (if there’s no promo) is around Php4,000 plus.  I booked a separate flight for SG – Cebu and got a promo fare but it’s quite expensive compared to the latter since it’s priced in Singaporean dollars.  The total cost of the flight including all the taxes and add-on fees (back and forth) is Php7, 700 plus per head.  That’s Php4,000 plus cheaper compared to regular airfare and a round-trip flight.

Frugal Trips in Booking a Flight to Singapore – Never book a round-trip flight unless the airline company announced that they have a round-trip promo which very rarely happens.  Book two separate one-way flights to avoid paying more.

 

Praying and hoping for good weather during these scheduled trips.  I’m so happy that I’m slowly realizing my dreams to travel this year.  I’m looking forward for more trips next year.

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Make Your Own Havaianas 2013 and My Honest Review #myohc13

Make Your Own Havaianas 2013

MYOH 2013 in Cebu on July 18 to 21

Make Your Own Havaianas 2013 Cebu

For all Cebuano havaianaticos and fashionistas, the yearly Make Your Own Havaianas starts today, July 18 and will run until July 21 at SM Northwing Atrium (during mall hours).  Head to SM City and customize your new pair of Havs now!

My Honest Review

Make Your Own Havaianas 2010 Cebu

Photo Credit – Jorich Ponio

Since 2010, I’ve been attending the annual Make Your Own Havaianas Special Preview event here in Cebu.  Though I’m not a fashionista (and definitely not a brand conscious person), I still enjoy some fine things especially if I don’t need to buy them.  (: In all honesty, of all the flip-flops brands I’ve known, Havaianas really has a very good branding, and like some elite brands, a lot of people are more than willing to buy it because it’s chic and highly fashionable.  Other than that, who would not dream of buying something that is being worn by famous celebrities and socialites?

Cool and trendy

Make Your Own Havaianas Cebu

The cool/trendy factor plays a big role why Havaianas is very saleable.  This has been heightened even more by the brand’s annual activity that brings havaianaticos together – the Make Your Own Havaianas (MYOH).  The brand pioneers the slipper customization trend which has been wholeheartedly embraced by fashionistas and trendsetters all over the globe.  Now, who doesn’t want a pair of his or her own Havaianas?

Cute pins and colorful straps

Make Your Own Havaianas Cebu - Colorful Straps

These accessories bring more life and individuality to each pair of Havs – one of the main reasons why the brand is more appealing compared to other fashionable flip-flops.

Not ideal for everyday use

Broken Havaianas Straps

Photo Credit

As the brand suggested, Havaianas is more of a fashion item than normal footwear.  When it comes to durability, there’s no guarantee that it will last for a year or two especially when it comes to the flip-flops’ straps.  Though its flat soles provide better comfort compared to ordinary sandals, its straps are not that durable, and thus, it is not ideal to wear it regularly.  Two of my pairs have already been thrown out because the front straps broke and there’s no way that they can be repaired. ):  This is also the feedback I often heard from some of my friends.  I hope Havaianas can do something with the straps.  The soles are really comfortable and it’s a shame to throw them because of the damaged straps.

Conclusion

I highly recommend Havaianas to all fashionistas and brand conscious individuals out there, but for those ones who are looking for flip-flops that they can wear regularly (more especially to those who love to walk most of the time), then this brand is not for you.  (:

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Losing Weight and Eating Healthy while on a Budget

Losing Weight and Eating Healthy while on a Budget

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Anyone who wants to lose weight or lose the belly fat must perfectly understand that to achieve that goal, diet and exercise should go together. Not just one, but both. But given our modern trying times, another key factor comes into the picture: budget. And honestly, it plays a very big role in your goal plan, especially if one adopts frugal living as a lifestyle.

While researching diet plans and weight loss techniques over the internet, I have found numerous articles that encourage dieters to eat high-protein meat like turkey, red meat, or salmon. Consume healthy unsaturated or monosaturated fat that can be found in avocado, olive oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, and the list goes on. Eat green vegetables like lettuce, celery, cauliflower and the list goes on. And every time I go to the supermarket, the prices for these diet foods are very expensive. Yikes!

As for the exercises, the famous action plan for dieters is to hit the gym. Most gyms require membership fees that do hurt the budget too.

So what do frugal livers do?

Start with the Right Mind

I think it starts with the mind. Why do you want to lose weight or your belly fat? Determine what motivates you, and create a mantra for it. Say it to yourself over and over again. While trying not to eat your favorite unhealthy food, say that mantra. When you get tired and your knees already hurt from too much exercise, say that mantra. If your motivation is weak, chances are you’ll be ditching your goals sooner than later.

Every body is Unique, Your Body is Unique

Listen to your body. Which time of the day do you feel most hungry? In spite of all the diet and exercise, why am I not losing pounds? How do I stop myself from grabbing another cup of rice, or ordering another round of drinks? And why do I eat less but gain weight and fat so fast? When you determine the answers to the questions above, then likely you’ll adjust your eating habits, self-control, and again, motivation.

Eating the Right Food

Now here comes the food part. Yummy, but in dieting, the word is sacrifice. Though it requires a lot of sacrifice, it does not have to be sad or deprived. Studies show that skinny people enjoy their food and do not gain weight easily because they savor it and chew it properly, before grabbing another. So try to enjoy your food on the table, and not devour it. And make sure to eat the right food. Right. Food. Set out a diet plan that is budget-friendly.

Eat oatmeal or whole wheat bread for snacks.

Eat less rice, hence you can save money.

Drink lots of water, it is cheap.

Eat a lot, and I mean a lot of fruits and vegetables. Eating a lot of it does not harm the weighing scale, even so, is more healthy and beneficial for your weigh loss goal. Fruits can be expensive, so try buying them in the market where the price is still within supplier price. Apples, mangoes, banana, are good options for breakfast or dinner. Then you can eat rice on your lunch. Or whatever makes you comfortable. I can not stress enough the importance of fruits in a diet plan, because it is highly recommended. I think it is one of diet techniques that is mostly ignored or overlooked. Fruits help flush the fat from your body, make you less hungry often, and do not make you feel bloated.

Avoid oily food, you don’t want to add more fat in your body.

Ditch the soda and other high sugar-content juices. Drink green tea, or hot water with lemon.

Here comes the hard part. Ditch the junk food and fast food. They contain a lot of salt, preservatives, and monosodium glutamate. When salt content enters the body, it retains water in the body which in effect, can make body look bulgy. They contain a lot of carbs too.

Exercise: Move a Lot

After knowing your diet plan, choose where you can exercise. You can jog in parks that do not collect entrance fees. You can do yoga in your home. You can lift weights using improvised tools such as a water bottle that contains sand, it becomes heavy. Other improvised workout routines can be the following:

At your home, try to do planking, push-up, and sit-up for 30 minutes everyday.

If you have stairs at your home, use it as a workout source. Climb first stairstep with left foot, then right foot. Step down using left foot, then right foot. Repeat for 5 times.

This is yet the best cardio exercise for me: jumprope. I swear I lost few pounds pounds after jumping ropes for 30 minutes everyday for 2 weeks. It is not just cardio, but also an overall workout routine that enhances muscle flexibility and mind-arm coordination. It works a lot of part of your body: arms, legs, knees, stomach, and thigh.

But if you have no time for exercise, go aggressively with your diet plan and try to move a lot. If your work involves sitting whole day, try to stand and have a short walk every 20 minutes. You can maybe go to the restroom, the kitchen, or talk to your friends. After work, if you live nearby, you can just walk the distance. Or if you commute, try to walk to the farthest jeepney or bus stop. At home, you can wash laundry standing up. Cook food. Watch the TV while doing something productive like cleaning. The key thing is try to move a lot.

Take it One Day at a Time

There are no shortcuts.  And it takes a significant amount of work. Nothing that is worth having comes easy. Just like any goals in life, shedding a few pounds and fat in the body needs discipline, work, and honestly some sacrifices. But enjoy your journey and don’t be too hard to yourself. Make it a lifestyle and not just a one-time or weeklong phase. Just like in the practice of frugal living, spend wisely. So choose your food wisely. Choose your motivations wisely. And you’ll just wake up one day and realize you have conquered yourself, and the reward is you lose some pounds and fat. Success!

 

About the Guest Author

This guest post is written by Cathy Tejano, a technical writer, blogger and a vegetarian-wannabe. She blogs at Lens and Pens.

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Frugal Real Estate Tip: Budget Your Way to Owning Your First House

There is no quick means of making a decision to buy your first house. It is easy to fall in love with the house of your dreams that fits your personality and needs, but there is some work that needs to be done in order to make that dream into a reality. Buying real estate is not only a big decision; it is a life-changing decision that needs planning.

When you begin planning for your new home, it means establishing a budget and knowing where you stand financially. Creating a budget and understanding your finances will make it a lot easier for you to begin the process of taking that leap into buying real estate.

Track Your Debits

The first step to establishing your budget is gathering all your monthly bills. This means your credit card bills, rent, utilities, student loans, and household expenses – everything. Separate all your bills into these categories so you can easily identify the needs versus wants in your spending.

Buy a log book or accounting book to keep track of all your expenditures. At the top of the log write down your beginning balance for the month, this would usually mean your first paycheck. Then continue listing your expenditures. When you receive another paycheck, if you are paid twice per month, list that as a credit and continue tracking your expenditures as debits. Your balance at the end of the month will give you an idea of where you stand financially.

Assess Your Debits and Credits

Once you have a nice log of your debits and credits for an entire month, you can now begin assessing where your money is going. For example, are you spending too much on eating out or the movies? Are you buying too much new outfits or new technology gadgets? This can be identified as the areas considered “wants”, which you can decrease or eliminate and put that money into a savings.

As you will need a certain percentage of the cost of a new home as a down payment, it is important that build your savings by cutting back on your wants. If you have excessive credit card bills, then you want to take that extra money and pay down those credit cards before you start saving.

Build Your Savings

Once you have established your budget, any monies left over in your budgeting account should be placed in a savings account. These monies should not be used for any emergencies, but for your home purchase. You can establish another savings account as an emergency fund. The amount that you have saved will be reviewed when you begin the home buying process.

Check Your Credit Report

A lender will check your credit history and credit score, so before he or she does this, you should do this on your own. There are many free sites on the Internet that can provide you with this information free of charge. Knowing where you stand in the financial market will allow you to attack your monthly budget to make positive changes to your credit history. This will also ensure that you get the best interest rates on your home mortgage.

In order for you to qualify for a home mortgage, your credit history, as well as your income and what you owe will be reviewed to come up with your debt-income ratio. How much you have saved and your work history will also be analyzed. Be prepared when deciding upon buying real estate so that there are no hidden items that will hurt you qualifying for a home purchase.

Photo above is used under Creative Commons License.  Credit.

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6 Grocery Store Tricks You Shouldn’t Fall For, But Probably Do

This is a guest post by Nick Simpson who works at Saving Star.

IMAGE CREDIT:  Some rights reserved by Polycart

IMAGE CREDIT:  Some rights reserved by Polycart

After literally millennia of selling goods to consumers, grocers have the art of the sale down to a science. The fact of the matter is that our buying habits, while diverse, aren’t all that complex. There are some basic techniques – tricks, even – that grocery stores use to increase their sales.

While you probably consider yourself a savvy shopper who’s immune to such manipulation, chances are pretty good you fall for some of these tricks, at least occasionally.

Here are some of the top grocery store tricks, as well as how you can avoid them:

Placement of convenience items. Do you know what the most common item that people shop for at the grocery store on an as-needed basis is? Milk. It makes you long for the days when the milk man delivered a quart each morning. Today, the milk is almost invariably located at the back of the store. The idea is that you’ll walk past those enticing fresh-baked cookies, or perhaps see that “two for one” sale on your favorite soup, and wind up making another purchase. Think about it: when was the last time you walked out with only the gallon of milk you went in for?

Premium items stored at eye level. If you’re looking for a can of green beans to go into a casserole recipe, you might not care whether you’re getting Green Giant, Del Monte, or even the store brand. Guess which one is placed at right around five feet from the floor? The most expensive of the three. The least expensive (usually the generic) is going to be placed at the bottom. Chances are there’s even a bright yellow tag somewhere between the two offering a discount – a discount that still makes the premium item more expensive.

Marking up complementary items. Retailers like to offer what are called “loss leaders.” Loss leaders are items that they sell at a loss (or in most cases it’s actually a minimal profit) in order to get you into the store. What you may not realize, however, is that stores often pair loss leaders with other, more expensive items. For example, if you walk into an electronics department to purchase a discounted remote control for your TV, there’s a pretty good chance that a display with the most expensive batteries for that remote will be right next to it (or at least nearby).

Volume sales. Stores can get very creative when it comes to getting you to purchase a number of items. One regional grocery store is famous for it’s “Buy 10, get the 11th free!” sales. With these sales, there are usually 20 or 30 items on sale, each for Php 50. For some of the items, this represents a 10-20% savings; for others, it’s pretty close to the normal retail price. By requiring you to buy 10 of the items, the store may not be making as much on each individual item but they’re getting you to spend more (and making more overall because of it).

Coupon confusion. Grocery stores take a number of different approaches to coupons. Some, for example, will match their sales to the coupons that they know manufacturers are currently putting out. This means you wind up saving significantly on a given item. However, some stores that offer store-based coupons will make sure that the full retail price is charged (before the coupon is applied) giving you a deal that’s not quite as good. Add in the sometimes-confusing policies on whether a given coupon should be doubled, and you’ll often wind up paying more than what you meant to.

Rewards for returning. One of the more popular approaches stores are using today is a cash back system where you have to come back into the store at a later date to use a given reward. So, for example, you might earn Php 250 in rewards on a given shopping trip. In your mind, you’ve saved Php 250  – even if you paid full retail price. However, statistics tell us that less than half of those rewards will be used before they expire. If you don’t get back to the store to use the rewards, you didn’t save a dime. Not only that, if you use the rewards coupon on another full-price item, you’re saving even less in the grand scheme of things.

By understanding some of the tricks retailers use to get you to spend more money, you can more appropriately plan your grocery trips so as to maximize savings.

Guest Author Bio

Nick Simpson is Social Media Coordinator at SavingStar, a leading provider of grocery coupons. SavingStar has pioneered the process of providing coupons online and has a rapidly growing customer base of happy shoppers that save money with their supermarket coupons technology.

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How to Maximize Your Computer’s Internet Connection Speed

[ This is a guest post by  Spencer Hogg from the BroadbandExpert.Com ]

In order to get the best from your high speed internet connection and maintain the highest speed, you first need to know just how good your connection is by performing an online speed test. Data transfer speeds vary with distance from the server, so try a few different locations to get a good average; this will establish a baseline with which to compare later speed tests.

It is a good idea to compare the results of the speed test to what your ISP states on your high speed internet service contract. While the speeds advertised by ISPs tend to be best case scenarios, a large difference in speed could indicate problems on the ISP side.

Physical connection problems increase data packet loss, slowing your internet connection by forcing it to request the same data more than once; double check all coax connections are tight.

Once the quality of the connection has been checked, there are several steps to optimize your PC and how it uses the connection.


Regular system maintenance will not only keep your PC running efficiently, it will help maximize the speed of the internet connection. Data transfer speeds have increased so much since the days of dial-up that any problems with your computer can manifest as slower than expected internet connection, as the hardware and software struggle to keep up. Regular registry error checks, disk cleanup and defragmentation help to keep system performance at its best, but if your computer is over 5 years old it may be time to consider an upgrade.


Double check the amount of RAM and hard drive space available. A computer may have a super fast processor but without adequate RAM, or with an overly full hard drive limiting virtual memory, the internet connection will suffer. Closing unused programs help to keep RAM free to be used by your internet browser while RAM management programs can also be useful to monitor RAM usage.

Unexpected bandwidth usage can slow your connection. Programs running in the background may be using bandwidth to check for and download updates or, in the case of viruses and Trojans, transmit other information to a remote computer. Software companies often have programs add themselves to those loaded at start-up, and in many cases this is completely unnecessary. Check your start-up programs and reduce the list to the bare minimum. Doing so will not only reduce the number of programs using bandwidth without you knowing, but also improve computer start-up speed and keep as much RAM free as possible. Set your antivirus program to update and scan when you aren’t using the computer; the same can be done with disk defragmentation. Note that real-time antivirus programs can slow a high speed internet connection considerably, but are a necessary evil. Most major antivirus software manufacturers offer free trials, so consider trying several different antivirus programs to see which works best with your system.

If your home network uses a wireless router it is very important to enable the built in security features to prevent bandwidth theft by individuals within range of the wireless signal. Most routers also allow management of port ranges for specific software applications to improve internet data transfer speeds.
Finally, when your connection and computer have been checked and optimized, it is time to look at the browser. While Microsoft Internet Explorer is still the most popular, it isn’t necessarily the best browser for all users, being rather resource hungry. Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are good alternative browsers. Firefox allows plug-ins and other web features to be easily controlled, while Chrome is very good for users with limited RAM.
[ Do you have a worthy article that you wish to publish here?  Kindly read the Guest Post Submission Guidelines first before submitting your post. ]
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ReadBud, Let Cebuanos Earn Dollars While Reading

Photo by Mikyu Maglasang

Good news to all Cebuanos who love to read.  You can now earn dollars while reading your favorite topics and articles online.

I know a lot of people who love to read and they read like volumes of articles daily.  But what if you are given the opportunity to enjoy reading your favorite topics and getting paid at the same time?

Instead of wasting your precious time ranting and chatting in Facebook, you can start reading great articles in line with your interests.  If you are into cooking or if you are interested about politics and current events, this is your opportunity to earn something while enjoying your favorite hobby.

On the other hand, if you are not into reading, this is your time to start loving this great activity.  Frequent reading can polish your English skills and will make you an expert in your field of interest.

You can start earning while reading by signing up HERE.  No registration fee.  Happy reading! (:

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Have you tried shopping online?

Devastated by the very unfortunate twist of event last 21st of August, I decided not to shop in that mall for a while.  Well, I’m referring to that most heartbreaking moment when my precious bag was stolen by some heartless homosapien inside McDonald’s at Ayala Mall, Cebu.  I won’t elaborate more about the incident because I will write a separate entry about it.  It’s just very unfortunate that all my personal belongings were stolen along with my bag.

That is one of the reasons why I opted to shop online these days.  Because of that incident I was left with no ATM and credit cards up to now.  It’s a good thing that I still have my paypal account which I use when I make online transactions.  And also, thanks to ShopWiki.  Their free online service made my online shopping faster and hassle free.  Whether you are shopping for cosmetics like mascaras, lipsticks, foundation, and concealers, or if you are looking for the latest  gadgets like digital cameras, cellphones, and laptops – you can find them all at ShopWiki.

ShopWiki is like a mall where you can find almost everything you wanted to purchase online.  From collectibles, food and beverages, pets, furnitures, DVDs to fashion and gift guides. This is the best alternative shopping portal especially for those people who got phobias shopping in malls infested by soul-less criminals.

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Do you know the secret for a happy life?

Nobody in this bloody universe wants to feel sad and lonely.  Everyone likes to be happy.  Human beings NEED to be happy. But, what’s happiness without pains and sacrifices? How can you recognize happiness when you haven’t experienced loneliness or sadness yet?

It is inhibition-activation. Yes! In order for us mortals to experience the pleasure brought to us by happiness we need to inhibit ourselves from sinful pleasures and sacrifice a little so that when activation comes, our senses won’t be jaded. That way, we can ultimately enjoy the good stuffs brought to us by happiness.  Hehehehe! I don’t know if you still get what I want you people to get.

Anyways, according to a famous psychologist, the secret to a happy life is POSITIVITY. Positivity in what way?  Make a Happy Journal. It may be written in old school style like diary, notebook, or you can have the leisure of blogging and online journals. In your journal write only all the happy things, events, occasions that happened in your life or blog about your happy thoughts and musings. YES! All those wacky stuffs you did with your friends, happy moments with your loved ones, sight seeings with your comrades…everything and anything that exudes positivity and happiness.

Honestly, this is what I have been doing for the past few weeks.  And it’s definitely effective! Hehehehe! So, what are you waiting? Fill your life with happiness! Start writing your Happy Journal now!!!

Ta ta,

EOD

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