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The Real Cost of Going to the Sochi Winter Olympics

What a Trip to the Winter Olympics Will Cost You :: Mint.com/blog

The excitement of attending the Sochi Winter Olympics is palpable: Hair-raising, gravity-defying stunts performed by world-class athletes on snow and ice raise our heart rates and leave us wanting more.

But like any major sporting event, going to Sochi will cost you a pretty penny.

When you factor in the added costs of a visa, overseas travel, and multiple events, the cost could be a real shocker.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Transportation

Let’s assume you can’t take 2-3 weeks off just for the Olympics, but that you do want to enjoy at least several days’ worth of events.

For this hypothetical example, let’s say you’re gone for a week, including two days of travel.

A search conducted a few weeks ago shows average economy-class airfare from NYC to Sochi of around $2500 for the dates Feb17-24.

That’ll give you five days in Sochi to enjoy, amongst other things, the closing ceremony.

Airfare from other U.S. cities is considerably higher, although travelers who booked well in advance probably snagged better deals. So, let’s call it an even $2000.

You’ll also need a rental car to get around the city, however, and recent searches show economy vehicles averaging $500 for that time period.

Visitors who booked in advance or use a different class of vehicle can expect price variations.

For our purposes, let’s say airfare + rental car = an average transportation cost of about $2500-3000.

Hotel

Hotels in Sochi, like many tourist destinations, vary widely in price, comfort level and convenience.

Our search showed an average nightly price of about $200 for mid-range accommodations.

Higher-end hotels, if not already sold-out, easily exceeded $500 per night.

5 nights hotel at a mid-range hotel: $1000. 

Visa

An expedited Russian Visa can average approximately $200.

Food & Entertainment

Making the most of the Olympics means taking part in the fun and games – both on and off the slopes.

Partaking in the festivities means sampling the local culture and nightlife, in addition to the cuisine.

Mid-range travelers can expect to part with an average of $50-150/day for food and non-sports entertainment expenses.

That budget, however, likely won’t afford you access to the most star-studded clubs or cafes.

Mid-range food and non-sports entertainment budget for five days: $500

Sporting Events Tickets

Surprisingly, unless you’re springing for the best seats, the actual Olympic sports events tickets aren’t likely to be your biggest expense.

Let’s say you’d like to attend short track speed skating, figure skating, speed skating, and the Olympic Closing Ceremony in mid-level seats.

These will run you (converted from Russian Roubles), anywhere from $86 to $345 per event, averaging a total of about $650 in “C” class seats.

Mid-range tickets for four sporting events/ceremonies: $650

Total Sochi Price Tag: $4,350

This is just a mid-range estimate, of course.

You may want to stay longer, eat more cheaply or lavishly, and attend more events or in better seats. The total cost you pay would vary accordingly.

Still, attending Sochi – or nearly any global sporting event, such as next year’s World Cup – is likely to set you back several thousand dollars.

But there’s more to it than that.

Did you have a better use for that $4000-5000?

Could it have been used to pay down high-interest credit card or student loan debt? Could it have been invested, instead?

If you estimate an 8.5% return (not atypical for stock investments over the long-term), over 30 years that $4350 could’ve added up to over $50,000, if you’d stuck it in an index fund, instead.

Going to Sochi would undoubtedly be a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Some might even say it’s priceless.

But every opportunity has its costs, and going to Sochi might cost more than you bargained for.

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Do Friends and Family Want to Borrow Money? Here’s How to Handle It

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If your friends or relatives ask to borrow money, here are a few pieces of advice on handling the sensitive discussion.

Lend Only What You Can Afford To Lose

J.D. Roth, founder of Get Rich Slowly, writes on Time.com that when you lend money to family or friends, you might never see it again. You could adopt the attitude that the money is a gift, and if the person pays it back, it’s a gift to you. Never put your family in financial jeopardy by cleaning out your bank accounts to bail out a relative or friend.

Look For Other Sources Of Money

Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey says 57 percent of people in a money-etiquette survey indicated they’d had or seen a relationship ruined because one friend or family member didn’t pay back the other. If your relative hit you up because he knows you’re good with money, offer to help him find other sources of cash. He might have liquid assets he can cash in, or he might qualify for a short-term payday loan.

Define Your Personal Loan Terms

If someone asks to borrow money, you have a right to ask what it’s for. There’s a difference between someone borrowing to cover a one-time shortage and someone borrowing because their monthly expenses exceed their income. A one-time personal loan is not going to solve the latter’s problems. Suze Orman says to treat the loan as a business deal and clearly spell out the terms. Put it in writing, if you need to. NOLO.com has a free promissory note template that will help you make the loan official.

Get Your Spouse’s Consent

Gerri Detweiler writes in Credit.com blog that bad blood created by money issues can last many years and run very deep. If the borrower fails to pay you back, how will that affect your relationship? Are you willing to risk the relationship to help out this friend or relative? Detweiler shares the story of a father who recorded a lien against his daughter’s car in case she failed to repay a loan. If she defaulted, he had a legal right to repossess the car. The more official you make the loan and the more clear you are on the terms, the more likely your spouse will feel better about loaning money. According to CashNetUSA, many divorces are a result of financial disagreements. Make sure you are your partner are on the same page before you lend out any mutual money.

The information in this article is provided for education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial or any other advice. The information in this article is general in nature and is not specific to you the user or anyone else.

 

 

 

 

Fun Dates Under $20

If you go on a typical dinner and movie outing even once per week, you’re probably shelling out hundreds of dollars per month unnecessarily. Heck, even a cheaper dinner at the likes of TGI Friday’s and two movie tickets is likely to set you back $50-60. Do that four times a month, and you’re talking $200 plus dollars! As Five Ten Twenty Club members know, if you’d socked that money away, instead, it could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars by the end of your career.

Here are some fun date ideas under $20 my partner and I enjoy regularly. We use the money saved to pay down debt faster and invest.

Dessert Date

Sometimes, leaving the best part of the meal for the end isn’t as satisfying as making it the main course. Instead of paying for an entire meal at your favorite restaurant, just order dessert. Even at fine dining establishments, dessert prices are often low enough to enjoy for under $20.

Many cities even offer dessert-themed restaurants, such as Houston’s famed Chocolate Bar or NYC’s Spot Dessert Bar. Beautiful, gourmet desserts in fanciful surroundings average $5-8 each, and create every bit the romantic experience.

Still want a full meal? Check out our 6 Easy Hacks for Saving on Fine Dining.

Drive-In Movies, Matinees, and Art House Cinemas

Yes, drive-in movie cinemas still exist, and you’d be surprised by how charming (and low-cost) the experience can be. Enjoy the romance of yester-year for a fraction of traditional cinema costs. Search here for drive-in cinemas near you.

Don’t have any nearby? Then consider seeing a matinee or catching non-Hollywood fare at your nearest college or art house cinema; tickets for two typically average under $20.

Chuck E. Cheese, Dave & Buster’s, & Game Arcades

$20 buys you a whole lot of fun at game arcades. If videogames, Skee Ball, and whack-a-mole don’t get your date’s heart racing, you might do well to check their pulse. ‘Nuff said.

Museum Happy Hour Nights, Art Walks, and More

If culture is your thing, then you’re probably aware most major city museums offer extended evening hours (often at lower cost) one day per week. At Miami’s fabulous, newly-opened Perez Art Museum, you can visit for free until 8 P.M. on Thursdays. After viewing the Boteros and other fine art on display, enjoy a couple of glasses of wine at their gorgeous bay view bar. Take in the twinkling lights of South Beach and Fisher Island for under $20.

In Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Arts offers members tickets to its First Friday music & arts bash for just $10 a pop. At The Art Institute of Chicago,  Illinois residents get free entry every Thursday until 8 P.M. (The museum is actually free for locals every weekday through February 12, making it a perfect winter date destination.)

When I lived in notoriously high-priced San Francisco, finding cheap date activities was a bit of a challenge, until I came across the cool events listings at http://sf.funcheap.com/. Lectures, stand-up comedy, festivals, and more could often be had for free.

 

Do you have any favorite low-cost date or activity ideas? Share them in the comments section below or on our discussion board!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, You Can Rebuild Your Credit – Here’s How

 

credit

Roughly 47 percent of employers pull credit reports before hiring new employees, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. It’s not uncommon for employers to rescind an offer or decline making one after seeing a poor credit score. Some speculate employers fear such employees are financially irresponsible or prone to suspicious behavior. Poor credit can also prohibit you from getting a credit card, getting a low interest rate on a home loan or securing an auto loan.

So how can you restore your credit to good standing? Banks and big financial institutions make building credit quickly seem like a complex mystery. But all credit building really boils down to is borrowing money and paying it back on time. The hard part is finding credit-building opportunities, especially for those with poor credit scores and mounting debt. Here’s some help:

Use Your Rent

Sites like Experian and TransUnion will include rent data on your credit report. Unfortunately, you can’t just log in and report that information yourself. Instead, your landlord can use an agency like RentReporters to report the data for a small fee. But small and independent landlords may not opt to do this for you and are under no obligation to do so. But there’s another option. Pay your rent through WiliamPaid.com for a small fee and the activity will show up on your credit score.

Get a Credit-Builder Loan

Scout around for a local credit union offering credit-builder loans of up to $1,500. Credit unions typically offer lower interest rates to their customers and are easier to secure loans through than traditional big banks. Customers put the money loaned into a savings account to accrue interest and make regular payments on the loan until it’s paid off. After the loan term ends, collect the interest or reinvest.

If you can’t take out a credit-builder loan, reevaluate your spending and income potential. Those receiving regular annuity payments may get a few hundred dollars a month, which in turn gets spent on bills, groceries and a social life. Your money may serve you better if you sell annuity payments for a lump sum of cash now, and then you apply that money toward a credit-builder loan, a secured credit card or any outstanding debt you have.

Get a Secured Credit Card

Unlike traditional consumer credit cards, a secured credit card requires cash collateral upfront. If you add $400 to the card, that’s exactly how much you can spend, unless the creditor extends a line of credit for good payment activity. Secured credit cards usually carry annual fees and offer less flexibility than traditional cards.

Experts suggest charging 10 percent or less of the amount on a secured card each month to further boost your score. The ratio of debt verses what’s left on your card can inch up points on your score. But this also works in reverse. If you have a $400 secured credit card and charge $390 on it, the high ratio of debt verses your credit line can actually deduct points from your score. But within a year of responsible use, you should see your credit score improve enough to apply for other traditional credit cards with higher limits.

Peter Galvin is a retired financial planner who has enjoyed writing and spending time with his three children since his retirement in ’09.