We are on a pretty tight budget right now – new baby and Christmas are on their way. So when I got the good news that I had an interview with Oxford’s MBA program in New York City, I immediately went into how-do-I-spend-as-little-as-possible mode. Here’s a break down of how I was able to only spend $77.31 flying across the country.
The value of frequent flyer programs
I am a big fan of loyalty programs and mileage plans in particular. I am a diehard Delta flier (or flyer since I need to start using the British spelling). Because I travel a bit for work, I have a bunch of miles saved up. I also opened an American Express Skymiles card a few months ago and received 20,000 miles just for opening the card. I don’t have any annual fees for the first year.
And because I’m a Medallion member, I don’t pay any baggage fees. Being a Amex Skymiles card holder also gives me and upto 8 other individuals traveling with me free checked luggage.
Roundtrip airfare cost 25,000 miles and $5. Opening the Amex Skymiles card almost covered the entire purchase.
The value of a good book
In case you haven’t flown recently, airlines charge you for everything. In airline industry lingo, it’s called a-la-carte pricing, unbundled pricing or ancillary revenue. Rather than put the price of everything into the ticket, passengers can choose just what they want to pay for. Delta offers seat back in-flight entertainment systems and wireless Internet access on many of its routes. Unfortunately, many of the entertainment options cost money. Enter Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, or any other book that you want to read. I was able to finish up reading Trust Agents, which I started on a recent flight to California.
The cost for in-flight entertainment was $0.
The value of good friends
Next to airfare, lodgings are usually the next most costly part of a trip. Though thanks to Facebook, I keep in touch with a lot of old friends, including several that live in New York. I quickly messaged one on Facebook and was hooked up with a place to crash for the one night as well as food.
Over night accommodations cost $0.
The value of public transportation
There is very little public transportation where I live. Not because I live in a rural area or anything, but it’s very suburban and too spread out for mass transit. I didn’t learn the value of mass transit like subways until I lived in Mexico City for two years. My friend was able to give me directions on how to use public transportation to get from JFK airport (which I hate) to his place. From there, I used the subway system to get around New York. I avoided using taxis, shuttles or black car services to keep my costs low.
Local transportation costs came to $43.50.
The value of awesome, cheap New york style pizza
I love pizza. And I really love pizza in New York. My friends had planned to provide dinner for me the night I arrived. Unfortunately, they unexpectedly ended up in the hospital for a few hours, leaving me on my own for dinner. I went to Sal’s Pizzeria in Mamaroneck, New York for some amazing pizza and gelato. Okay, I splurged on the gelato. But they had stracciatella and hazelnut gelato! I also had pizza the next day for lunch near Ground Zero. The good thing about pizza in New York is that it’s good and cheap.
Food costs came to a whopping $28.81 despite having to unexpectedly having to pay for dinner.
I decided that I would share my final thoughts, as well as a few scenes from my trip, via video rather than making you read more. Enjoy!
Also, this post was featured in an edition of the Festival of Frugality.