Category Archives: Tips

The Journey-Destination Perspective: Making Traveling a Magical Adventure



For both intrepid and newbie travelers, the question remains: just what exactly compels one to begin and continue traveling? What is the animating force that moves one’s feet to explore and re-explore?  Ultimately, is it the age-old quest for the journey or the destination — or should a fruitful objective be a combination of both?

Let us build on some common objectives of traveling you yourself might have. See how magic appears by occasionally diverging from these travel objectives. From solo traveling to family sojourns, from traveling for its own sake to traveling for recognition, from the value of flexibility to the importance of travel destinations, below are possible extensions to some common travel objectives — a warm invitation for you to make traveling an extra memorable and magical adventure.


Solo shouldn’t mean lonely (or scary)

One great advantage of traveling solo is having the time to enjoy at one’s own pace, without the usual hurried tempo when traveling with a partner, family, friends, or group. Yet a corollary concern arises: solo-traveling runs the risk of being lonely and anxiety-provoking. In some cases, it may also mean a little more expensive since there is no one to split expenses with. This of course has not discouraged a growing number of people who are becoming courageous in plunging into the surprising delights occasioned by solo-traveling. A very recent international study shows that among first-time travelers, going solo has become a global trend, increasing to a 37% rate in 2015 from 16% in 2013. The increase is more than double!


Photo courtesy of The Wandering Angel via Flickr

If the global rise in the number of solo-travelers does little in appeasing your worries of trying it out solo, then a good starting point might be to induct yourself to a travel destination, instead of going somewhere totally off the beaten path. Herein lies the importance of travel destinations: they have with them the experience and knowledge of previous travelers you can use as guidepost. In many cases, travel destinations also have a more established system to welcome visitors. This perhaps explains, for instance, why traveling solo in Boracay, a popular travel destination, remains to be among the top choice of activities by both neophyte and seasoned travelers. As is becoming more of the case today, there is also the emerging concept of affordable luxury, which appears more in the checklist of solo-travelers and providing anew some explanation why travelers keep coming back to Boracay and other travel destinations.

But whether exploring the beauty of the familiar or biting the bullet by going somewhere relatively unknown, solo-traveling as an objective is less daunting if emphasis is placed on the whole traveling experience rather than on the word “solo.”  After all, a solo-traveler need not encase his or herself in a shell, but instead might want to consider linking up with other fellow travelers, or interact with locals for the coveted insider info. Putting the “we” in the solo can be potentially rewarding and memorable! Traveling solo does not (and should not) necessarily mean alone and scary.


You Can Never Go Wrong With a Family Getaway


Photo courtesy of burningriver  via Pixabay; Creative Commons

The advantages of traveling with family are numerous and quite common knowledge. To cite one advantage, having as an objective a travel adventure with one’s family can definitely serve as a wonderful bonding opportunity to create lasting memories or even amend some strained relationships. But just like in solo-traveling, one should not feel constrained by the setup of having one’s family in a travel escapade. Quiet, alone times are permitted in family traveling, and these “selfie” moments can even be made sweeter by the fact that you have someone immediate to share them with.  Tons of activities, such as island cruises or the classic swim in the pool and/or the sea, can also be way more fun when done with family.   


The key is to be flexible

Understandably, many travelers approach the endeavor with strict objectives and guidelines. Some demand exclusivity, others demand hospitality, while some put emphasis on the journey more than the destination itself. Some even demand something as peculiar as a specific smell for the room. Without in anyway detracting from the importance of setting up travel objectives and careful planning, being open to chance does not diminish a traveler’s objectives and plans; rather it could exponentially enrich the whole traveling experience, ascending it to extra special heights.  


Photo courtesy by tresdetres via Pixabay, Creative Commons

Each person has his or her own motivations for traveling. Any seasoned traveler would attest to the horizon-expanding benefits of experiencing something novel and amazing at the same time. Whether it is a vision of sunset’s purple patch or the gentle caress of sand or a chance encounter with a fellow traveler likewise in search of life’s wonders. Flexibility adds spice to the journey and to the destination itself, be it exploring something geologically ambitious like the Galapagos Islands or when returning to more familiar destinations.  


The Pleasure-Recognition Weigh in

Traveling in today’s modern world appears to have been largely influenced by what seems at first to be two opposed objectives — the pursuit of pleasure and recognition. The pleasure part draws heavily from the journey, which relies on the traveling process and the companion/s possibly involved. The Dionysian motivation for the pleasure of the senses puts value to the experiential elements that attend to the journey, sometimes more than destination alone. Think of a quiet walk by a hill alone or with glances to a dear partner’s countenance.


Photo courtesy of Wapster via Flickr, Creative Commons

In contrast, the drive for recognition would at times account more for the importance placed on other people’s affirmation. This motivation is attached to a notion nourished by the Internet culture which deems any traveling event to be “true” and of “importance” if one has photos to display as proof for others to see. The jest “Show photos, or it did not happen”  is often heard or said among peers, attesting to the value placed upon the “brag factor” of traveling. Here, traveling is done less as something for its own sake (as something pleasurable in itself), but is something for the sake of other people.  


Photo courtesy of Roderick Eime via Flickr, Creative Commons

Yet, sticking exclusively to these two motivations — to gain pleasure from the journey or to gain recognition from the destination – does not suffice to cover the whole magic involved in traveling. Choosing between pleasure or recognition, journey or destination, surely misses the point because it is a false choice. What perhaps can be more fruitful is to view both of them as complementary, where each can potentially enhance the domain of the other. One cannot deny the importance of pleasure just as one cannot avoid other people’s existence (compounded by the fact that social media is integrated in most of our lives, for better or worse). In the same way, one cannot remain too stuck to the whole journey and forget about the importance of the destination. A sort of balancing act is in order.


Life is beautiful, realize your adventures


Photo courtesy of Frontierofficial via Flickr, Creative Commons

Whatever your travel objectives, it is important to remember that as with all travels, things can sometimes not go as thought or planned. You can get lost, you’ll likely forget something at home, it can rain just when you’re in the mood for an outdoor activity. Planning is important, but not all things are within our control. The key is to be open, to be flexible, and to look beyond our set traveling objectives. That way, the beauty of life can present itself to us warmly and unexpectedly. Great adventure sometimes begins at the point of the surprising unknown, providing us with the opportunity to make the journey and the destination worth all the effort.

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7 Important Lessons You Can Learn From Burglars

Everyone wants to feel safe and secured right in their home. After all, your home is your territory and sanctuary. But the thing is, whether you like it or not, burglaries happen even to the best of us. In fact, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI said that 74.5% of burglary cases in 2011 took place in residential properties.

In times like these, burglaries are no longer a question of “if” but of “when.” Anyone’s home can now easily become a target for crooks lurking around. But the good news is, you don’t have to become and remain a victim. There are important lessons you can learn from burglars so you can burglar-proof your home. From making the most of your home security system to taking the best precautions, here are 7 things you can learn from burglars.


Always Keep Entry Ways Closed


Photo Courtesy of Estellina via Pixabay

This may be one of the most repeated home security tips, even to the point of it already becoming a cliché. However, it can be flabbergasting how a lot of people still do not secure their doors and windows. Remember this: burglars thrive on opportunities. Leaving an entry way open is much like giving them a compelling invitation to your home.

Make sure that your doors and windows remain closed. Also, double check everything so that these entry ways cannot be easily opened by unwanted visitors. Have the necessary repairs done as soon as possible. Reinforce your entry ways by putting deadbolts and window sensors in place. These may seem basic for some people, but you simply cannot afford to take this for granted if you want to keep unlawful entries at bay.


Don’t Make Your Home Scream “The Homeowners Are Away”

There could be nothing more perfect for burglars than a home without its homeowner. This is why burglaries often happen not in the dead of the night, but during day time when people go to work and school. Homeowners who are on vacation are also at a high risk of returning to a burglarized home.

Never, ever give the idea that no one’s home. If you have a home security system like the Honeywell security alarm, make the best use of it by automating your home. With home automation, you can remotely control your lights and shades so you can make it appear that someone’s home.

It also does not hurt that home automation is a great way to achieve a sustainable home. This is not just one of the most cutting-edge home security trends — it is a significant shift given that sustainability is gaining ground.


Don’t Show Off Your Belongings

Photo Courtesy of Rob Pongsajapan via Flickr, Creative Commons

Aside from an empty house, burglars are drawn to homes with lots of goodies to loot. After all, most burglars are motivated by the fast money they get from stealing.

Protect your valuables as well as your hard-earned cash from these scheming people. If you are buying big-ticket items like as gadgets and appliances, you better cut the boxes up before disposing them. Do not leave your windows bare. Invest in blinds and curtains that are thick enough to protect your privacy.

Try to refrain from posting too much information on your social media accounts. You’ll never know who can see your posts and it is always better to be safe than sorry.


Protect Your Electronic Data


Photo Courtesy of mattysimpson via Pixabay

More than the belongings that you’ll lose in burglaries, there is the risk of a greater problem: identity theft. With your gadgets in the wrong hands, devious thieves can maximize their yield by accessing your information — social security number, credit card details, confidential files, you name it.

Outsmart them by protecting your data in advance. Think of complex passwords to secure your cellphone and laptop. Sync your data in cloud services where you can remove the stolen gadgets. Use location trackers. Jot down your gadgets’ IMEI number so you can report the incidence and have the gadget barred.

With burglaries already being a traumatizing event, the last thing you’ll ever want is to deal with identity theft and fraudulent activities.


Avoid Confrontations


Photo Courtesy of Republica via Pixabay

All burglars want is your belongings — as simple as that. While there are odd news stories of burglars eating in their victims’ homes, burglars in general are not eager to see any of the homeowners. They just want to take as much as they can without being caught and apprehended.

When caught, burglars can snap and shift to an offensive mode in just a few seconds. This is critical as you and your loved ones are at a high risk of being hurt. As soon as you notice something’s off, tread with extra care and escape safely. Contact the police as they are the ones more equipped to handle these situations.


Leave No Room For Burglars To Hide In

Photo Courtesy of kate hiscock via Flickr, Creative Commons

Knowing how to think like an intruder brings important lessons you can learn from burglars. Be one step ahead and reinforce your home security system based on this knowledge. Take a look at your home premises. Evaluate where and how intruders will get into your home without being caught.

Once you have surveyed your front and backyard, you will see that overgrown bushes and trees make an ideal hiding spot for these unwanted guests. Trimming these plants regularly will not only make your premises more attractive, but it will also discourage intruders.

Also, if outsiders cannot see what happens in your yard because of your opaque gate, you might want a see-through fence that will expose burglars. Again, burglars operate on an incognito mode so you better give them a hard time hiding in your yard.

It is a fact across America that burglaries happen and disrupt one’s peace of mind. More than taking away your valuables, burglars rob you of a sense of security that you should enjoy in your own home. Fortunately, you can finally outsmart them in their game with these 7 things you can learn from burglars. Keep in mind that knowledge is power and this is especially true when you are dealing with these bad guys.

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9 Ways to Book the Best Airfare Deals

There’s never been a better time to be a traveler. With the popularity of bargain airfares and affordable accommodations, more and more people can indulge the travel lust in them. With so many options when it comes to booking deals, it can get confusing which ones to grab and even more confusing how and where to look for the best offers. Putting together a great travel package does not stop at knowing how to choose the best travels destinations; it also involves getting the best price for fare and accommodations.

There’s always a cheaper way to fly.

9 Ways to Book the Best Airfare Deals - AirAsia

Photo from Conny Sandland via Flickr, Creative Commons

Finding great deals in airfare is as important as finding the perfect vacation spot, the right camera for your travel photos, and the safest place to stay during your trip. Here are low budget tips on where and how to find the booking deals you shouldn’t pass up.

  • Book for last minute trips

Fare for weekend trips will sell for cheaper rates if they can’t fill the seats beforehand. Take the chance and don’t sign up immediately for seats; wait until late Thursday or early Friday to book so you can take advantage of last-minute rates. You can board Friday night or the following day and then you can fly back home on Monday.

  • Monitor your Facebook and Twitter accounts

Search for the social media accounts of airlines and like or follow them so you can see their updates on your news feeds. Airlines have recognized the importance of selling through social media since travelers are snapping up discount deals left and right. You have to be quick about it, though, especially if you’re looking for deals on hot destinations like Boracay. Discount packages for Boracay dream vacations are always in high demand. Imagine the number of travelers doing the same thing which means more competition for booking deals.

Your Boracay dream vacation may come courtesy of your Facebook feeds.

9 Ways to Book the Best Airfare Deals - Boracay

Photo from Gep Pascual via Flickr, Creative Commons


  • Plan your trips based on where it’s cheaper to go

We all have our dream destinations but there are places in which airfare will never become as affordable as we would like it to be. Unless you’re willing to penny-pinch for a long, long time to save up for airfare, why not explore your more affordable options and visit destinations where airfare is cheaper? You may be surprised at what you can see discover in random places. There are tools such as that let you see lists of destinations grouped according to specific price ranges.

  • Be flexible with your dates

Most people would love to book for weekend and holiday trips but ticket prices are usually high during these times. If you can’t afford to pay for the full price of a weekend summer vacation trip, you can do adjustments on your travel dates instead and book for days when seats are cheaper. Flying during the middle of the week is much cheaper compared to weekend trips so you might want to consider that. If you plan to fly abroad, take note of the busiest seasons for your destination and try not to book flights for that period. The time of the day counts, too. Flights during early mornings and late nights are less expensive because less people do not want to travel at those hours.

Keep your travel dates flexible.

9 Ways to Book the Best Airfare Deals - Mobile

Photo from Oliver Symens via Flickr, Creative Commons


  • Check out alternative routes

If flying directly to your destination will hurt your wallet, why not take two connecting flights? For instance, instead of heading straight to Paris, you can fly first to Dublin then take a cheaper flight from there. Changing planes is worth the hassle if it means saving a couple of hundred or more dollars. This means you have to do your research and check different airlines to get the best deal for connecting flights.

  • Mix and match flights

Sometimes taking different flights can be more affordable than taking round-trip tickets. Compare one-way flights and choose the cheapest ones for your inbound and outbound flights. Also, consider flying from secondary airports, where budget airlines usually fly into. Rates are cheaper because secondary airports are smaller and charge less landing fees. Asia and Europe have lots of secondary airports so you’re lucky if you’re planning to fly into these territories.

Keep in mind that taking budget airlines and secondary airports mean lesser perks. They may not have fully air-conditioned lounges and the food is not exactly gourmet but just think of the hundreds you can save in airfare. Make sure that these secondary airports are not that far from where you live so you won’t have to spend so much to get to your flight.

Waiting in between flights can mean huge savings for you.

9 Ways to Book the Best Airfare Deals - Airport

Photo from marco monetti via Flickr, Creative Commons


  • Search for booking deals in the morning

Wake up at say, 5 or 6 am, go online and do your airfare checking while having your morning coffee. This is the time when you can see most deals on the internet. Discounted tickets can also be released throughout the day however, so make sure to check from time to time.

  • Watch out for realistic rates

Like it or not, super low rates are not always available and you will have to compete with thousands of other travelers for booking. When you’re monitoring airfare rates, decide on the limit that you can and want to pay and be ready to pay for that amount when it’s already available. Sometimes waiting for incredibly low rates can make you miss the realistic prices that you can already pay. Before you know it, prices will go up again, leaving you no choice but to pay more than your actual budget.

  • Sign up for mailing lists

They may clutter your inbox but you never know when a great deal can just arrive in your mail. Mailing lists give you regular updates on early bird rates, last-minute, and special booking deals. Some of those deals are only available for a short period of time so make sure to get your credit card ready for booking.

Be vigilant in tracking deals online.

Waiting for the best airfare deals can really test your patience but it’s totally worth the effort if you consider how much full-price airfare really costs. The satisfaction that you will get from being able to put together a winning package of cheap airfare and affordable accommodations will more than make up for the hours you will spend combing the net for the best deals.

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Travel Nightmare: The Fear of Not Attaining One’s Bucket List

Nowadays almost everyone has their own bucket list, a phrase derived from the expression “kick the bucket,” which is a term for death. A bucket list represents a breakdown of the things a person wants to do before he dies. Travel is one of the high priorities in most people’s list and they do everything they can to reach the destination of their dreams. For some, failure to complete a bucket list is considered a nightmare, something that they really dread happening. Perhaps because for a lot of people, achieving one’s bucket list ideas has become a pursuit to beat not only oneself but also others.

Photo from Claudio Vaccaro via Flickr

Making and completing the list has become a competition of sorts, with individuals posting travel photos in their social media accounts as proof that they’ve really done it. Attaining a bucket list has somehow become a measure of self-esteem, a yardstick of achievement. There’s also the fear of not being able to enjoy life to the fullest before dying. According to psychologist Linda Blair, the whole business of creating and achieving bucket lists is “a way of denying the idea of death, not coping with it at all. People usually do this to ensure that there are things to look forward to, which means there are things that are still going to happen. My experience warns me that it’s probably done in order to prevent thinking about death.”

Whatever the reason is for your fear of not attaining your bucket list, there’s something you can do to stop it. There are things you can initiate in order to stop fear from paralyzing you and preventing you from ticking items off your list. Here are the steps you need to do in order to achieve your travel goals.

Transform excuses into tasks


Photo from Roderick Eime via Flickr, Creative Commons

It’s human nature to flake out and make excuses for the things that we fail to do. These excuses can be convenient at first but as time goes by, these excuses can have an effect on our overall motivation to achieve things. Slacking off can become a lifelong habit.

You can deal with this by pointing out the excuses you’re making and then turning them into tasks. For instance, if having kids is your primary reason for not traveling, then you can research about the stories of other travelers who have managed to take vacations with their brood. If lack of money is your primary reason, then you should create an estimate of the amount of cash you need to go to your dream destination and figure out ways how you can make that kind of money. If you fear solo traveling, then you can search for inspiring stories about solo travelers to rest your fears about traveling solo.

Change your mindset about traveling


Photo from Geraint Rowland via Flickr, Creative Commons

A lot of people are blinded by beliefs that prohibit them from their travel dreams. These people hold on to the idea that traveling, especially solo journey, is terribly expensive and a selfish, self-indulgent activity. They always think of traveling as an overly complicated hobby. These lines of thinking should be adjusted to accommodate ideas that will encourage them to travel. True, traveling can be expensive but there are ways to travel on the cheap. You can stay at budget accommodations and eat at inexpensive restaurants. No, it’s not true that traveling is a selfish act; there’s nothing wrong with wanting to see the most beautiful beach resorts and experience other cultures. It’s a great way to enrich one’s soul and you owe it to yourself to do so. Yes, traveling can be complicated but patience and practice can make things easier in the long run.

Set specific goals


Photo from Kate Ter Haar via Flickr, Creative Commons

Items on your bucket list look more realistic if you can make specific goals to achieve it. You need to establish a set of criteria in working towards reaching your destination. You can choose a place closest to your current location. You can opt for a place with the least expenses. You can center on that destination that you think you can’t bear to miss out before you die and concentrate all your efforts on it. You can choose a place where you have friends or relatives.

Obsess over the idea


Photo from Colton Witt via Flickr, Creative Commons

There’s bad obsession and there’s the good kind, which can be very helpful in achieving your travel goal. It’s all about finding out what moves you as a traveler. If it’s your ultimate dream to go to Morocco, find people who’ve been there already and ask them stories about the experience. Search travel videos of Morocco and promise yourself that you will see those spots with your own eyes in the near future. Hoard travel books and read them until you memorize everything there is to know about Morocco. Search for the nicest picture of the place and use it as your mobile and computer screensaver. Watch movies that used Morocco as a setting. Doing these things will fuel your passion for the place and will encourage you to give everything you got to reach that destination.

Surround yourself with like-minded people


Photo from Wazari Wazir  via Flickr, Creative Commons

People who are not that enthusiastic with traveling can dampen your spirits and make you hesitate in achieving your travel goals. This is why you should socialize and make friends with travelers or at least people who are really dead set in packing their bags and flying off to somewhere mysterious and exotic. It doesn’t matter if you plan to become a solo traveler or if you prefer to travel with a group. Travelers can give you realistic tips on how to find safe and affordable accommodations, food, and transportation. You can also sign up for forums and clubs that share your level of wanderlust.

Used wisely, bucket lists can help immensely in making you attain your travel goals. Do not see it as means to compete with others in terms of self-esteem and achievement. Travel because you want to see the world and gain experience that will make you happy. There’s no need to compare your bucket list to others; the only competition you need is yourself. Manage your fears and allow yourself to see a brand new world that only brave souls like yourself will be able to enjoy.

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Home Buying Tips: Bank versus In-House Financing

There are definitely many things to consider when buying a house, but this does not stop anyone from dreaming of their very own home. One of the biggest challenges that people face when it comes to house ownership is actually having the cash to purchase one upfront. Applying for a housing loan provides a viable option, and these can be provided by the government’s Social Security System (SSS), the Pag-IBIG Fund, or commercial banks. In recent years, another option has surfaced wherein real estate developers have also begun to offer in-house financial services.

Property experts from Lamudi have created a comparative overview between bank loans and in-house financing to better help you weigh your options. Before you decide to make a financial commitment for your ideal house, you should carefully evaluate what your financial options are and how they compare to one another.


Pro: Lower Interest

Con: Stringent Financing

Home Buying Tips Bank or In House Financing 2

Image Source: Homes and Dreams/Flickr

There are two things to take note of before applying for a housing loan from a bank: You must pay a reservation fee and a down payment, which is usually around ten to thirty percent of the total property price. Don’t worry though. You can pay this on an installment basis if paying via a single transaction is too heavy on your pocket.

After both payments are made, you can now apply for a housing loan. The bank will be the one to pay the remaining balance on the property, but as a borrower, you are obliged to pay the bank monthly amortizations plus interest. The bank will also hold on to the property title for the duration of the loan, which serves as the collateral. This goes on for usually five to twenty years, depending on your terms and agreements with the bank.

Note: The Pag-IBIG Fund charges higher interest rates, but they offer mortgages for up to 30 years. This means that you have more time to repay your housing loan.

Example: BPI Housing Loan


Pro: Simpler Application

Con: Steeper Interest

Home Buying Tips Bank or In House Financing

Image Source: Homes and Dreams/Flickr

Real estate developers now offer in-house financing to those who do not want to resort to third-party institutions when it comes to paying for your property. These are technically not loans, but more like extended payment terms. You pay for your property on an installment basis, but with above interest rates, averaging around fourteen to eighteen percent per annum. Longer terms may even reach up to 22 percent, but they usually do not exceed five years. You would have to pay your balance—usually 80 percent of the total property value, plus interest—in a shorter period of time.

In-house financing however, have less rigid requirements and paperwork than banks. Most developers require nothing more than the down payment and a verifiable proof of income, as compared to financial institutions who require valid government IDs, marriage contract (if applicable), income tax return (ITR) for employees, certificate of employment, pay slips or proof of remittance for three months (for overseas Filipino workers), lot plan, and vicinity map.

Note: In-house financing may be available only for pre-selling projects. Many developers do not offer financing for properties that are ready-for-occupancy.

Example: Avida Land Home Financing

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

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:

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.


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

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.




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 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

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

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.


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,


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