Recommended Links

Archive for December, 2015

Tips for Saving Money on Business Travel

Business travel is very different from traveling for pleasure. Traveling for work has its limitations with respect to duration and expense. Since economic viability is of importance when it comes to any business undertaking, one has no choice but to consider ways in which unnecessary outflow of cash can be harnessed without much ado. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make your business travel easy, affordable, and smooth. We have mentioned these things in the form of simple, easy-to-understand tips. Once you’re equipped with these tips for saving money on business travel, you can effortlessly save hundreds to thousands every year. Shall we start noting them down?

#1. Evaluate phone charges.
Thanks to the perpetually skyrocketing roaming call and data charges, one of the most exorbitant bills you pay after a business trip is your phone bill. An intelligent way to tackle this problem is to buy a local SIM card every time you visit a new place where you are likely to spend a substantial amount of time. By cutting down on roaming charges, you’ll save a LOT of money by paying for only local outgoing call charges. As far as internet data charges are concerned, the best advice I can give you is to use Wi-Fi. Mostly all airports and hotels now offer free Wi-Fi services, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Finish as much work as possible using the Wi-Fi connections at these places; it’ll drastically reduce your costs later on.

#2. Carry enough reading material.
This may look like a weird, quite unconventional a tip that may not really be of any help, but before you jump the gun, hold your horses. Think about it, don’t we usually end up buying a magazine or a book at the airport in order to keep ourselves entertained throughout the journey? While working on the flight is a good option to finish pending work, sometimes you only want to unwind. Instead of spending a few dollars here on reading material at the airport, load a few articles, books, and even movies on your cell phone. This way, you won’t add to your luggage and your expenses.

#3. Say yes to public transport.
By using the public transport in any city, you can further reduce your business travel expense exponentially. How does this work? Seek details of the area of your travel for the day from the hotel reception. Ask them to provide commutation details, such as modes, alternative routes, and approximate charges. This way, you can cut back on almost 80% of your commutation costs when compared to the amount you would have to shell out for a cab. If the hotel doesn’t have these details, use Google Maps. It’s one of the best apps for such kind of information. You might pay for Internet data charges, but they’ll still be lesser than the cab fare you would be required to pay.

#4. Lookout for deals.
There are a million travel deals you can tap and cash in on if you keep an eye out for them. The best and most profitable of the lot is the frequent-flyer program (FFP). Almost every airline, old and new, offers this loyalty program. Under this, you become entitled to several discounts, privileges, and offers, especially if you fly quite often. The best places to find these deals are airline magazines. Always go through these magazines, usually kept in the seat pocket in front of you, and you’ll be surprised to find some of the best deals you’ve ever come across. Apart from this, you can also apply for a debit/credit card that has a tie-up with an airline.

#5. Never fall prey to luggage fees.
The most unforgivable mistake you can make is to create situations to pay luggage fees. It’s not always possible to weigh your luggage at the last minute, but it’s always possible to save a lot of money in this area by being a smart packer. Business trips don’t need much luggage and there are a few tips you can follow to reduce your luggage just in case you’re combining meetings or planning on a long trip. You already know how you need to replace magazines and books with eMagazines and eBooks. In a similar way, cut down on multiple gadgets and instead carry one that functions as an all-in-one cell phone, music player, tablet, camera, and laptop. Apart from these, don’t carry too many clothes, food items, and/or stationery. Calculate the number of days you are going to spend at a place and pack the exact number of clothes in keeping with your itinerary. Fill the empty spaces inside your shoes with jewelry, socks, handkerchiefs to save on space. Keep things as minimal and compact as possible.

#6. Go for rooms with kitchens, not minibars.
Though a business trip may not give you time to cook, it’s advised that you pick hotels that have rooms with kitchens. This way, you can cook your own meals even if you choose to make just an omelet. Minibars seem tempting; all you have to do is open the door and serve yourself. However, bills that come with the usage of minibars are usually far from attractive and highly inflated. Items available at a minibar are always charged at a higher price, sometimes as much as 30% more. A room with a kitchen will also enable you to save the money you would otherwise spend on eating out. By choosing this option, you can work, eat, and rest in just one place.

#7. Befriend locals.
The best people to help you when visiting another city are not guides or agencies, but locals. They know the city the best and have no hidden motives; they don’t gain or lose anything by cheating you. They’re the best people to approach when you need help with directions, prices, or suggestions. Just by asking a local for something as simple as directions, you save on Internet charges by not using apps, on money you may end up spending while commuting via wrong or longer routes, and in the end, time – the most crucial element while on a business trip. They also come to your aid when you’re looking for inexpensive places to eat, relax, or work.

#8. Club trips to save thousands.
Most of the time, an executive travels to a specific place to work with a specific set of clients. In such cases, it is always advised to combine trips. For example, if you’re meeting a client in Italy, you might as well make arrangements to meet another one in Spain right after your schedule in Italy. Imagine the amount of money you will be shelling out if you go to Italy, come back to your original country of work, and then fly out to Spain again! You can actually save yourself a lot of money by avoiding at least two extra to and fro trips by planning your travel smartly. This not only applies to places that are located in the same geographical area but also to places that are halfway around one potential business area. For example, if you have to travel from India to France, you might as well also plan meetings in New York and finish it off at one go. This way, you can save thousands. By planning multiple meetings in the same city, you save on both traveling and staying costs. The basic tip is to get maximum work done in one single trip in order to economically use financial resources in the best possible manner. Of course, it is not always possible to club your trips because the schedule of different clients may not always match. The point is to try and schedule trips in such a manner as frequently as practicable.

#9. Understand taxes and use them to your benefit.
Taxes levied on income from any source are waived off to a specified extent when certain stipulated types of investments/expenditure made can be shown. Travel expenses are one of them. Though only a portion is eligible to be waived off, the sum still amounts to quite a lot. So, educating yourself about how these benefits can be reaped optimally can result in saving money in the long run. Similarly, a lot of things come with additional taxes while an individual is traveling. These include food at the airport (sometimes), items at the minibar, services like laundry in a hotel, etc. Though a person learns more about these from experience, it’s good to at least know the basics in theory.

#10. Look out for opportunities to make multiple bookings together.
Always remember that there are certain advantages and incentives of booking more than one ticket, especially in flights. It is always better to book tickets together in order to avail group discounts. This way, your company poses as a potential customer to the airline – a reason why they’ll always offer you certain privileges that they won’t offer other passengers. A company is a more respected entity with a higher brand value and credibility score than an individual in the eyes of airlines, hotels, and other business houses. A company is always more trustworthy than an individual. Also, in many ways, having your company as a client works in the favor of these houses when it comes to building their own brand value.

It’s very easy to save money while traveling for business. Think twice before you spend. It is a common observation that we tend to shell out a lot of extra cash when traveling primarily because there is no time to evaluate and understand how little things can contribute to unnecessary expenditure. Sometimes, we also opt for convenience by throwing money at a problem instead of racking our brains over tiny little details due to lack of time. These tips for saving money on business travel and a little prior planning will not only reduce your overall expenses but also help you to travel smarter in future. Believe it or not, a few smart choices in the beginning will lead to your paying fewer bills later on.

How to Save Money with the Envelope System

Saving money with envelope system
– Income: The money we get for work we do
– Expenses: The money we spend on things we need
– Necessities: Things that we absolutely cannot live without [the bare minimum include food, clothing, shelter (and today, the Internet)]
– Luxuries: Things we can or cannot afford, but still end up spending on, simply because we have the means – plastic money
– Debt: What we find ourselves in because we cannot (or do not want to) decipher the difference between necessities and luxuries
– Financial Crisis: What happens when our debts continue to mount due to excessive spending on luxuries
– Breakdown (Financial, Emotional and possibly Physical): The result of ever-increasing debt and no means to repay it

This is the probable series of events that you may find yourself in if you’re among the millions who have the question, “Where did all the money go?” on their minds at the end of the month, or use “What are credit cards for!” as a retort when asked why they want to buy that unnecessary scarf or golf club. It may seem very harsh and insensitive to say it, but the truth is that most of us avoid facing the reality of the dire straits that our financial lives are in. We want to seem like we have it all figured out, but the truth is that we’re in denial. We deny that we have a spending problem. We deny that we don’t like to plan our finances. We deny that we buy stuff we don’t really need. We also deny that we need help. All that ends today! Thanks to the Envelope System that’s been brought into the spotlight by Dave Ramsey, you can learn to have your finances control you rather than you letting them flow down the drain (read: swiping that piece of plastic ever so frequently). Here are the simple steps that you need to follow for a frugal, yet fruitful living. You’ll need:

– Envelopes (number depends on items mentioned in step 1)
– Pen or pencil
– Notepad

Step 1
Fix a Budget

The word ‘budget’ has come to have such negative connotations that people simply don’t want to use it anymore. A budget is “the money that is available to a person … and a plan of how it will be spent over a period of time”, as per the Oxford Dictionary. It’s a seemingly harmless, yet extremely loaded word. The first step towards managing your spending is having a plan of how much money you have and how you need to spend it, not intend to spend it. How to do this? First, in the notepad, make a note of the amount of money that is due to come in. Using this as a base, make a list of all the assured expenses you have until the next inflow of money. For instance, your income is USD XYZ. From this XYZ, subtract fixed expenses, like mortgage/rent, food, cable, fees, phone, and other bills, etc. If these figures are not fixed, take an upper limit and write it against the item.

Step 2
Make Envelopes for Each (Fixed) Item

Once you have the breakdown of the expenses, you have to physically divide the money into different sections. Then pick out an envelope for each item. Write the name of the item on the back of the envelope along with the amount of money you’re putting in it. Put only the allotted money into the envelope. Repeat for all items on the list and keep these aside.

Step 3
Make One for Emergencies and Contingencies

Your son hurts himself and you have to rush to the ER; your car breaks down and you need to have it towed―you can never predict when such things will happen. Hence, it is important to keep some money aside for them. So, mark another envelope for emergencies, and put the assigned amount into it.

Step 4
Keep Some Fun Money Aside

After deducting the amount assigned to emergencies, whatever money remains, you take a call on how much you want to keep aside for yourself, just for fun. You may find your dream purse or the perfect tool kit on sale! Don’t let a money management plan get in your way. Keep an amount aside for such opportunities right at the start, so you know that you can afford it, thus, avoiding the guilt that accompanies impulse shopping. What if the amount assigned is insufficient for this dream purchase? Simple, don’t buy it!

Step 5
Don’t Overspend

The success of the Envelope System is solely in your hands. The key to making it work is resisting the temptation to overspend. The whole point of assigning an amount to every single thing that you could possibly spend on is to make sure that you don’t overshoot that amount. So, once an envelope is empty, you know that you cannot afford to spend more money on that particular item. If the money’s gone, it’s gone. Do NOT steal from another envelope, not even the emergencies and contingencies one (unless the situation you’re in fits your description of an emergency or contingency).

Step 6
Make Way for Savings

If you do abide by all the steps given above, chances that you’ll have some money to spare are more than high. How? Well, let’s see:

✔ When you allot a budget to yourself, you’re making a promise to yourself that you won’t spend more than that much on an item.
✔ As a result, you begin to pay more attention to whether you actually need the item.
✔ If yes, the next thing you look for is whether there are inexpensive alternatives available.
✔ If yes, then great! If no, then you’ll begin to look for items that you’ve included in the list, but can be postponed for the time being.
✔ Thus, you have already budgeted that amount to the item for the next cycle (so don’t forget to add this amount there).

When you do this for everything, you’ll realize how much extra money you spend on things that you think you need, but don’t.

Be honest with yourself when using this system and you’ll see that its effectiveness lies in its freakish simplicity. You allot money to an item, you use it on that item, you keep some aside for a rainy day, and have fun with some. That’s all there is to it. Don’t be discouraged if this stringent method doesn’t work its magic instantly. Give it a couple of months, and you’ll surely reap its rewards!