A Financial Education Event
     

Top Tips To Titanic Savings on Cruises

There he was, my retired military man in full uniform, with pants that could still zip and pockets that didn’t bulge at the seams! I was so proud of him as I stood proudly at his side, waiting for formal night aboard the cruise ship to start. As we chatted by the closed doors to the waiting room, Bob checked the new watch I gave him when his Stealth F-117 fighter jet was retired earlier in the month. Two warriors, a man and his jet, were now a part of history—but he still looked great in his uniform.
“Excuse me” a woman in a black jet beaded dress said to Bob, “Can you tell me how long it will be before the dining room doors open.”
Bob checked his watch, “About 3 more minutes, ma’am.”
She glided back to join her party but scarcely had she left before a older gentleman in a black tux tapped his shoulder,
“Captain,” he began, “my friends and I were discussing the average speed of a ship this size and wanted to know if you could tell us how fast your ship cruises.”
Suddenly, Bob and I both realized that some of these people thought he was the ship’s captain! The rest of the night, I enjoyed watching the attention that my retired fighter pilot got as passengers asked him various questions about the ship!
Cruising can be affordable and a great experience experience. So how you find the cheap cruises and what are savvy and simple ways to keep the costs down?

Here are some Top Tips for Titanic Saving:

Cruise the Sites – The first step is to find the best price on a cruise by going to get competitive bids on CruiseCompete.com or CruiseNow.com. If you are worried that the prices will go up or down, go to Cayole.com which predicts rates based on seven months of data. Plus, try to look for packages that include the gratuity in the cost and other benefits like an online credit voucher, gift certificates to restaurant.com or free room upgrades.

Pre-Cruise Hotels – If you have to fly in the night before your cruise, then book a hotel ahead of time and look for a non-refundable purchase where you can save 40% or more on a room. For example, Priceline.com. For more info, go to BidOnTravel.com

On Board Extras – This can include some of the tips below (drinks, spas, etc) but can also include jewelry “deals”, art auctions, premium dining options or photography classes

Spa Tips – Be prepared to say “no” when you go to the spa on that $99 special (or the equivalent) because they make most of their money on the products they try to sell you. It’s pretty amazing, the staff starts to “sell” while they’re massaging your shoulders or finishing up your beautiful hair, and while you are relaxed and vulnerable. Be prepared to say “no” even if you’re told your hair will fall out if you don’t buy their product!

Pass on the Soda Pass – The first day you may be offered a “soda pass” that gives you all the pop you can drink for one low price. Au Contraire! You want to drink lots of water, not soda on this cruise to get your money’s worth. Water keeps you healthy from all the salt in the rich food.

Pack Two Water Bottles – Each person should pack two bottles of water (we stick them in shoes in our luggage) to save big bucks. You cannot bring in cases of water, or six packs of soda–that’s not allowed. But you can bring a couple of bottles to use and refill. The tap water in your room is the SAME water source used for glasses of water in the dining room.

Digital Pix – One of my fave nights is formal night with Bob in his dashing Air Force Mess Dress uniform that he spent 25 years earning. Be sure to have your new friends onboard take plenty of digital pix with your own camera–you’ll save the cost of the formal photo and probably get better shots anyway.

Digital Detox – Plan to go through this on your cruise. While newer ships have Wi-Fi, you’ll pay anywhere from .35 to $1.25 a minute to connect. Roaming cellphone charges take a major bite, too. So just abstain and concentrate on your family, friends and fun on the cruise.

Rank and Research Shore Excursions – You could easily double or triple the bottom line cruise total by spending money on shore excursions. Before you sail, go to the cruise website and print out the shore excursions options. Or do this as soon as you get onboard. To get the best value rank the top three for: things you want to do, the amount of time included on the excursion and the cost involved.

Book Your Own Excursions
– Just because the cruise line offers the excursion doesn’t mean you’re getting a discount. In some cases, you are pay a premium for the cruise line to get their commission! Go to PortPromotions.com, ShoreTrips.com and Viator.com . If you are in a US port, try websites such as TravelZoo.com’s local deals, Dealery.com or Yipit.com, which aggregate city specific deals available through Groupon, Living Social and the like.

Excursion Extras – It’s important to walk and work off some of that rich food–you’ll feel better and get more for your money, time and effort. Try to walk as much as possible on excursions and avoid bus, shuttle or cab fares. Eat breakfast on board before you go to save $$ on food. Try to postpone lunch until you’re back on ship, or bring an apple or banana to tide you over.

It’s SHOW Business
– The entertainment on board is generally pretty good–but it’s a hit and miss. Get your money’s worth by going to the shows (and walk out if it stinks). Sign up for free classes (salsa, line dancing, pilates, yoga, etc) and try your hand at karaoke.

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Savvy Saver Quiz – part 3 – Entertainment

Here’s part three of our savvy shopper quiz, to see how you measure up in terms of being a smart consumer. Today’s quiz is on entertainment and I want to hear from you about the cool ways you are saving in this category!

Entertainment

 Q.  How many meals do you, and family members eat out each week?        

      (DearReader, please count each meal eaten out separately. For example, a

      family of four eating dinner would count as four meals.)

 a)  0-2

b)  3-4

c)  5-6

d) 7 or more

 Q.  How many full price movie tickets do you purchase each week? (Please note that matinee or discounted tickets count as ½ a ticket)

a)  0-2

b)  3-4

c)  5-6

d)  7 or more

 Q.  How many new release movies do you rent each week? (Please note that non new releases count as ½ and a monthly movie pass counts as 3 per week).

a)  0-2

b)  3-4

c)  5-6

d)  7 or more

 Q.  How many “treat dates” do you fund for your friends or family each week? (Please note a treat is counted as one per ice cream, coffee drink, smoothie, milkshake, etc.  A family of four going out for frappuccinos would count as four treats.)

a)  0-3

b)  4-6

c)  7-9

d) 10 or more

 Q.  How often do you or your family participate in other “special event” excursions and/or services per week? (Please count as one per paid admission to zoo, amusement park, skating, bowling, paintballing, spa treatments, manicures, pedicures, facials, etc) 

a) 0-1

b) 2-3

c) 4-5

d) 6 or more

 Welcome to the scoring section of the Entertainment category – Give yourself the following points: every “A” answer = 4 points, every “B” answer – 3 points, every “C” answer – 2 points and every “D” answer – 1 point

 16-20 points:  Thrifty Taylor – Well done, you’re a SUPER SMART ENTERTAINER! When it comes to getting the most bang for your entertainment buck. You may have already learned that eating in is the new eating out. Plus, you might be one of those who has made entertainment investments, such as a big screen tv and then take advantage of that at home. Just because you’re the smartest doesn’t mean you do without either—you still get to go out and have fun, you’re just smart about the way you stretch a dollar. 

 11-15 points:  Low Cost Logan – Good Job, you’re a SMART ENTERTAINER! – You are doing a good job at keeping entertainment costs down when eating out and selecting entertainment. You also moderate how you buy treats, extras and spend those dollars. There is slight room to improve, but you are in a nice position to continue to be smart with your entertainment dollars and still have fun with the people you love!

 6-10 points:  Moderate Morgan – Nice Work, you are an ENTERTAINER! – There are some areas where you have learned to stretch your entertainment dollar but you may still be eating out more than your budget likes, hitting the store for lattes and going to movies frequently. Or, you might just have a large family and that impacts your entertainment budget. By looking at the Free Standing Inserts in your Sunday paper, you can find certificates for local restaurants in order to stretch your eating out dollar. Or, you may consider buying a monthly movie pass if you are prone to renting new releases quite frequently. There are ways to bring your entertainment savings to new level and you are just the one to do it!

 5 points:  Extravagant Emerson – You are a one who ENJOYS ENTERTAINMENT! – You might have a big family or be someone who has to eat out a lot due to hectic work schedules and a busy life. You love to go to movies or the theater with friends and family and may also like to get regular manis/pedis or spa treatments, too. If you want to do it—you usually do! The only problem is that these extra dollars may catch up with you as the economy becomes more challenging. Why not try to eat out less? Or, when you do eat out—do lunch instead of dinner because lunch is less expensive. Try a matinee instead of prime time and go right after eating a meal so you won’t overspend at the concession counter. You may find that as you learn to be a savvy saver, you’re enjoying yourself a whole lot more!

 Let me know how you save on entertainment!

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)