Posts Tagged ‘Spending’

AVATAR – Is it worth spending millions?


20Century Fox

Avatar, the movie which has made headlines all over the globe, movie which has given another avatar to the Hollywood movie industry during this recession, and a movie which is the topic of many house hold dinning table talks. It has broken many records and making history in the world movie industry.

Before I talk about the main interest, here are some titbit’s you might be interested if you are not aware of them.

1. Producers spent around $300 in production cost and more for marketing.

2. It already raked up 1 Billion from all over world in just 2.4 weeks. According to Box Office Mojo it’s current box office total stands at $$1,018,811,000  million.

3. Opening Weekend:  $77,025,481
(#1 rank, 3,452 theaters, $22,313 average)
% of Total Gross:  21.9%  
Widest Release:  3,461 theaters 
In Release:  17 days / 2.4 weeks 

A movie which cannot stop making money and surely a movie to watch. After hearing  rave reviews and commentaries,especially setting itself apart from ther sequels like Lord of the Rings with Sanskrit title, I was intrigued to see it. I finally watched the movie yesterday and it surely didn’t fail to surprise with spectacular animation,  special effects and astonishing camera. I was totally blown away by the Himalayan effort put forth to bring this movie as a sensational entertainer with a great message for this time.

James Cameron proved himself again as the Best Director of all time by giving back to back hits. But, as an person born and bought from India, I felt that the story is old and many of my Indian friends agreed with me. I have seen similar kinda of movies when I was a kid in the Indian cinema with little special effects available at that time frame. Those movies had stories where person transfers from body to body too. I am talking about 20-30 years back. Except the special effects, graphics and animation, I  see the old story line in many aspects but with new scientific proofs which makes it believable. It has lot of connection and adaptation from Veda’s(Sanskrit literature) and many other Indian literatures. Even the character visualization and makeup’s can be related to many ancient Indian traditions and especially the body color can be related to Lord Krishna avatar deplicted below in the picture.

Being said all that, James Cameron not only just gave new look to the old story but a brand new planet creating a new paradigm for the many more avatars to come. As money examiner, I would say it surely money maker but do have couple of questions.

What was James Cameroon thinking?  While the nation is just recovering from recession, 300 million dollar spent in making a movie, doesn’t really makes sense? At the same time, it is giving people totally new experience in a new world and also bringing them to theaters to spend money during the holiday season helping the economy.

Share your thoughts about Avatar and money spent in making the money. Is it worth spending this much money or waste?

Sensible Pointers for Affordable GetAways – Final Part

In my last post, I shared few useful and sensible pointers for an affordable get away. I am going to continue where I left off and try to add as much tips to help plan your next get away.

4. Car rental

Obviously we all need the car to get around and see places in the get away location. Whether you are planning to drive long or short distance, it is wise to rental a car which suits your need by not going overboard. When you book car rentals, try to book outside Airport terminals which will save lot of money on airport taxes. In that case, check in advance whether have a shuttle which runs 24 hours.

Before you leave the rental kiosk, ask for their grace period rules while returning the car. This will surely help to plan your return trip. Also I was offered to buy their gas in their cheap gas rate to fill the tank when returned. But the catch, you have to bring return empty tank which is not always possible and they charge for full tank and don’t expect credit for partial tank. So I rejected it. Always take liability insurance which is just $10 because not all car insurance companies cover full on rental cars. You will surely avoid head aches when situation occurs.

5.EZ Airport Parking

In many airports, there are cheap parking spots which even offer online discount prices for long stays. It certainly saves money over taxi and add flexibility to your schedule. You don’t have waste time standing in line for taxi or troubling your friend to drop off at the airport. High gas prices and flight timing really don’t help when you ask for an help all the time. So I decided to use the airport parking outside the airport.

As usual, my research came out with a cheap parking deal with fast and relax parking which only charges $5 a day even with covered parking, free bottle water and newspaper. That what I call it a deal. There are other parking spots like ParK N fly, Parking spots, penny parking which only offer cheap rates for uncovered parking. If you are frequent flyer, some parking spots gives better rates. Check out in your airport.

6. Pack lightly

These days flight travel has become so much pain with added security and more restrictions on carry on baggages. Adding oil to the fire with recent high gas prices many airlines started charges for check-in bags. United, American Airlines and many other big airlines started charging even for the first check-in bags. Continental and some other only charges for the second check-in bags.

So its good to pack light and try to avoid carrying check-in bags if its only few days of travel. In my case, they actually allowed since I booked my flights way before all the rules came into effect. Call your airlines and find out your baggage allowance before you head down to airport.

7. Take the Childs Car Seat

If you have a infant, obviously you are going to have a baby carrier which you can put away before you board the flight. It also helps to seat your baby in the car. Similarly many know when you have a toddler who walks and going to take a lap seat. You can carry the baby stroller which you can put away before you board the flgiht.

But not many of you know, you can even check-in car seats for toddlers free. It will save $50 bucks or more when you are renting a car and needed car seat for your toddler. Otherwise you have to rent the car seat from car rental company which might not be hygenic at same time you end up paying for it. I carried my car seat for my 2 year old son and saved money on it.

8. Booking Tickets Online

As a pre-planner myself, I always recommend people to book tickets online in advance and avoid any last minute surprises. You even end up saving lot of money booking online. When I was booking ticket for Universal Studio Hollywood, there was an offer for 2 days ticket on one day price. I didn’t have time to spend 2 days in the place so I chose only one day.

But sometimes taking a chance to buy tickets at venue with coupons collected locally can save money. It’s just how you want to game it. Whether you want less tension or taking a chance.In my case, I bought one day passes and when I went, there are coupons for $8-$10 off on each ticket given out on Hollywood streets and even published on the local travel books.

So try to look out for coupons in the travel brochures kept in McDonald’s or BK’s. Even your lodge or hotel gives away free coupons for pizza or eatery place. Don’t just discard them, try to browse through and you might even find a money saving coupon or two. You have to look out for free money, its not going get to you automatically.

9. Buying All day Food Tickets

Many Theme park these days sell all day food tickets for cheap prize. It might seem cheap but when you get closer and use it. It is not really cheap. It doesn’t come with any beverages and only selected restaurants accept these tickets in the Theme park.

Before buying it, try to make a quick call to see whether you really going to stay all day at the Theme park and going to use it for atleast 2 time meals or snacks. Then it might worth a deal. If not, it is just way to get your money in advance. I actually bought them and made it work. We had lunch and dinner meal using this ticket and tried out different cusines available.

One more thing, take as much water as you can to tackle atleast half a day without buying it. Water and beverages are so expensive in these Theme park. I know many might not agree to me on this thing but believe me you are already paying hefty price for the ticket. I don’t see a problem taking water cans to shave out some expenses.

10. Tips for Las vegas – The Casino City Finally, I got few pointers for Las Vegas fun. When Booking hotel, you might find cheap deal off of the “THE STRIP” but is it worth to spend time taking the car to drive and parking it. If you can find a deal even little bit more expensive on the strip, I would suggest to consider it. It’s really hot during summer and walking is so tiring. It’s better to stay close and you can take breaks going to hotel room if you book the room on the strip. Otherwise, try to walk on the evenings. Buy the monorail ticket or bus day ticket if you are really planning to go back and forth.

Don’t miss the shows. There are free shows in many big casinos. Light show show at Bellagio is really good and you can even watch from the streets. Night light is really good, take time to enjoy by not getting tired walking in the mornings.

Don’t try to book show tickets online. You can easily get free tickets for comedy shows sponsored by your hotel. If you really want the show tickets, you can get in bargain outside the street for cheap price the day before or morning of the show. Take only less cash and try to avoid temptations playing too much games. If you do want to gamble a lot and try your luck, gamble conservatively.

I hope these pointers/tips helps you to plan an affordable trip to anywhere or to Hollywood and Las Vegas. You gotta have fun, a better affordable way is always the best for all.

Sensible Pointers for Planning Affordable Getaways

This year seems to be an expensive vacationing year for me inspite of price increases all over the board. First Mexico cruise, second Chicago Road Trip and now 5 day trip to LA&LV. I guess, I am one of those country men who is really helping the economy by spending as our President wished.

What can I say? Sometimes things just happen in auto pilot mode and we don’t have any control over it. Fortunately, my short term savings funds is really came in handy to bail me out. I am not here to talk about Short Term savings plans at this time.

I also don’t want to bore with you all with detail trip report like usual. I decided to give a shorter version by listing some important tips and tricks for getaway planning.

A month ago, we went to multi-city vacation from Houston to LA – LV – Grand Canyon.
This one was a planned to entertain my in-laws who came long way from India for couple of months. I booked the tickets way in advance(3 months ago) before the oil prices started sky-rocketing pushing the air ticket price way high. Thats were advance planning always helps out.

Here is my list of pointers which will surely makes some money sense for your vacation plans.

1. Multi-City Vacation Planning

Many of you know that planning a mulati-city getaway is a tricky one. There is a great deal of complexity on booking air tickets and car rentals. I still tried (only has this functionality)starting the vacation from (LA) one place and leaving another (LV). It not only costed little more and didn’t really work out. So I dropped that plan and started out to do the usual way of starting and ending at same place and rented the car to travel to places.

I need to pick the right starting point comparing the mileages and days spent in each place. I started at LA (2days), gone to LV(2 days) and travelled to Grand canyon from there for a day to LV and then back to LA to board the flight. I picked LA starting point because I got a better air ticket deal compared to Las vegas. You need to figure out which is a best way to do it in your case.

** – Plan your multi-city vacation by taking the air ticket deals and mileage into account. Be flexible to change your plans.

2. Use Credit Card Points
As I mentioned, I booked the tickets way in advance before the airlines started charging for baggages and increase fuel surcharges. I got cool deal of $284 round trip. I also combined my free ticket which I bought using my credit card score points savings my ticket charges ($300). Thats always a good thing.

Many of my friends travel a lot for their projects. I always envyed them for racking up their sky miles which gives out free air tickets all the time. But I was able to do with my DCU visa card only after 5-6 years accumulating points to get to 40,000 to buy a free roundtrip ticket.

My price, $823.50 for 4 people including a free infant on lap and free ticket using credit card points.

**- Do check your credit card points if you are not a frequent flyer. Use them and save money during tough times. Don’t just use points to buy unwanted/small things and try to store up for big items.

3. Look out for Hotel deals

Once you booked your air tickets, next big item in the list is to book lodging. Try to check out for package deals or cheap week days prices. Most of time, if you book 3 days together you will be able to save good money. Also I use to save money by staying away from the hot spots. Now with high gas price you really need to compare how much you are saving by staying away and how much gas expense.

Also you will find good cheaper Studio Rooms during the weekends and may be during week days. You might not get free continental breakfast but you can eat better breakfast from the money you save on deals.

The best website, I would recommend is It is far better than other sites with lot more deals, cheaper compared to Orbitz, hotwire or Priceline. It also has got lot more options to compare and check reviews before you make your decision.

My price $110 for 2 days for 4 people in LA, $135 for 3 days for 4 people in LV – average $250/5 days for 4 people.

** Do check different website for deals, compare the rates&reviews before making the decision. Don’t just book if you see cheaper hotels, they might not be really good.

I will continue the rest of my tips and tricks in my next blog, until then have a great week!!

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