Everyone has to take the Halloween candy plunge at some point and today was that day. $2.50 for a bunch of bite size candy bars. The question, as always, is will they last until tomorrow night or will I have to take another run to the grocery store to get another bag? That is always the risk when you buy candy that you like (then again, there isn’t much candy that I don’t like)At least I held out until the day before Halloween this year. I consider that a major victory…
Is it just me, or are holiday decorations going out earlier and earlier than they have in the past. I walked into a drug store today to see them placing up three aisles of Halloween goods. It’s hard for me to tell since I’ve been in Japan for a time and usually miss all this – especially Halloween since it isn’t celebrated out there.
It’s the (stretched out) beginning of the holiday shopping season so everyone which can really be a budget buster if you aren’t careful. For those that want to get a heads up on saving money on the costs associated with Halloween, you can take a look at a few articles I wrote in years past (which I will have to update)
I’m making a trip to meet with Nate in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. One of the recommendations to save money was to “outside in” our hotel. The basic strategy is as such. Hotels at the center of cities and close to the main attractions are more expensive that those on the outside reaches. Instead of getting a hotel right in the middle, you can get a hotel a bit farther away and save a significant amount of money. Instead of getting a hotel on the Las Vegas strip where everyone wants to stay, we could get a hotel a bit off the strip and travel to the strip for attractions we wanted to see.
For Las Vegas, this works wonderfully. Even with the strip being the best known area, there isn’t really a center to Las Vegas and to see all the events you want to see, you’ll usually need to take a cab, bus or monorail to get where you want to go. Instead of paying $95 for a three star hotel room on the strip, we were able to get a four star hotel (the lowest priced four star hotel we could find on the strip wanted $170) off the strip for $89 with a $40 food voucher included. Using the outside in strategy for Las Vegas makes a lot of sense.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense, however, when going to some destination. It’s true that the hotels will likely be less expensive outside the main destination, but there are other factors you need to calculate to make sure if it is a good deal or not. The main two are time and travel costs:
I had a friend who also took the outside in approach on his trip to New York. He was able to save over $100 a night by doing this and thought he’d take the trains to get to the places he wanted to go. He found, however, with the limited time that he had and all the places he wanted to see, he needed to resort to taking taxis to get to all the places he wanted. In the end, the hotel that was supposed to save him money actually cost him more.
When you are looking at hotels that cost $100 less per night for the same amenities, it is easy to fall into the outside in hotel trap and automatically go for the lowest price. This can be a big mistake without taking the above two factors into consideration.
I would suggest always considering the outside in option when traveling, but always take the time to run the numbers (as should be done with all financial issues) and consider time limitation to make sure the lower price won’t ultimately cost you more.
While my counterparts will be spending well over $100 and deciding between candy, an evening out with their significant other, flowers, jewelry and gift cards (gift cards???? – even I know that is a sure to pour cold ice on a romantic evening – “here honey, a gift card just for you because I love you so much” – if you’re a man and you were considering the gift card, time to step back and think again). Anyway, it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to do any of it!
I have no doubt that whoever brought St. Valentine’s Day to Japan must have been a man. There’s no way it could be any other way – the Japanese Valentine’s Day is a dream come true for men. That’s because there is nothing for men to do on Valentine’s Day in Japan. Yep, you read that correctly! Men do absolutely nothing. It’s the women that bring chocolate, candy, etc to the men. Speaking from a man’s point of view, this is pretty darn hard to beat.
Now men don’t get off completely free in all of this. I’m sure that Japanese women soon figured out that this whole deal was a bit backward compared to the rest of the world, but once it had been established, there was no way the men were going to make the switch. Instead of fighting men tooth and nail on this, women instead made up a new day – called White Day – celebrated a month after Valentine’s Day. On White Day men purchase chocolate, candy, etc for women. While men would have preferred to have come out of the entire process without any obligation, they acquiesced on this one point figuring they still came out well ahead in the deal compared to men everywhere else in the world.
Men in Japan quickly realized the advantage of having White day a month after Valentine’s Day because it gave them something every man needs – basic guidelines and time to prepare. First, men are only required to give chocolate back to those who actually give them chocolate. Even better, since men get to see the gift given to them first, they have a pretty good idea exactly how much effort they need to put in and what they have to spend on the return gift. This makes the entire Valentine’s Day experience a lot more enjoyable (at least for men).
So while the rest of you are trying to decide whether to purchase that heart shaped box of chocolates or the teddy bear on your way home at the drugstore on February 14, I’ll be sitting on the couch watching TV with a beer in hand wondering what nice surprise I’ll get. Hmmmmm, maybe living in Japan isn’t all that bad after all…
Tomorrow I’m off to ebessan (actually later this evening for all of you in the US). This is an annual festival at the beginning of the New Year dedicated to bring good money luck. It’s a three day festival and the news has been showing people throwing piles of money and praying for good monetary luck this year. I’m off to so the same tomorrow. Of course, I’ll bring back photos and let you all know about it.
I’m writing this a day early because if you want me to pray for monetary luck for you this year, I’ll throw in a coin for you and relay your wish along with mine. Just leave a comment here and I’ll be sure to pass it along to the God of Money for you (^_^)
For those of you looking for a little reading beyond persona finances with the holidays now here may be interested in the Carnival of Christmas – while I do have an entry about money, most are far off the subject (as would be expected of a carnival of christmas;) . Enjoy!