Guest Post: Daydreams - Life in the Middle East

~ Posted on Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 10:14 AM ~

Life as a full-time mummy is busy and chaotic, particularly in ensuring my home-schooling continues to be efficient and I am providing my kids with all of the things they need. However, there’s no harm in a bit of daydreaming from time to time, and I’ve recently been wondering what it would be like if we spent a year or so living in a different country, for example Oman! Although this may never become reality – and would certainly make a dent in the savings account – I decided to carry out a bit of research and also think about what families require in order to be happy in their country of choice. For me, Oman is like a dream land of Arabian Seas, hills rising into the sunset and beautiful white stone architecture – a place where adventures begin.

Visa Applications   
Let’s begin with the basics. Generally if you want to live for any length of time overseas you will require a visa. In Oman, it seems that it is advisable to search for a job and a company willing to sponsor you before moving out there, in order to obtain an employment visa. This also means that the company will fill out most of the paperwork, but it will be relatively tricky to change jobs once you arrive. Common industries include teaching, oil, construction and engineering, medicine and project management, so you do need to come with skills.

My first priority is my family and I would never consider moving anywhere without them. Family residence visas are available ensuring that we could all move together, meaning we wouldn’t have to spend any time apart during the moving process. Alternatively if my husband were to move first he could apply on our behalf.

Having a lovely home in Malaysia is very important to my family and this principle probably applies to most mums around the world. It is a place where memories are made and a secure property where we can all feel safe. Studies have revealed that Malaysia is an up-and-coming area for investment in property, so I would be reluctant to give up our place here. However, if we were to think about it, Oman has a range of properties available, but usually it is only possible to rent rather than buy. Employers tend to be responsible for finding accommodation, and if you prefer freedom of choice, moving overseas is not necessarily for you. It is not uncommon for housing needs to be accommodated on a compound where other expats live too, which probably would make the cultural adjustments easier. I think our happiness depends to a certain extent on living in a good area, travelling to work with ease and having enough space so that we are not on top of each other 24/7. 

Having easy access to a family savings account and available funds would be a primary concern for me – I want to invest money for our future stability. There are many internationally renowned banks in Oman, which allow standard facilities, plus global ATMS where cash can be withdrawn from accounts in your home country. This would make the lifestyle relatively easy in terms of accessibility to money, a primary concern when you have kids to consider!

Overall, quality of life with a family is dependent upon many factors, and I would definitely want to ensure that we would be happy not only in our work and home conditions but also our leisure time. Oman would have to provide plenty of activities and access to the countryside so that we could enjoy residency there.

Guest Post - Saving Money on Days Out With Children

~ Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 8:28 PM ~

If you are stuck for things to do it can often be a great idea to check out the local attractions which are available to you, depending on the age of your child you have an array of opportunities awaiting such as museums, theme parks, exhibitions and aquariums. However the problem with this tends to be the ever increasing costs of everything involved in a day out from the entrance fee to the cost of the snacks and souvenirs.

When planning a day out check out the events schedule of the attraction, you may find many child friendly activities available which are free of charge and give you the opportunity to fill your day with even more fun experiences. A museum for instance may not seem suitable for the very young children but lots do run lots of child friendly activities such as arts and crafts afternoons so everyone can get involved.

Admission fees will probably be your main expense and getting discounts on the tickets is one of the most popular ways the thrifty look to save money. Booking in advance or printing off coupons can result in a discount of up to 20% and for the larger groups these discounts can soon add up.

Lots of attractions offer free admissions to young children so this might help sway your decision when choosing between two different attractions. In addition there are some attractions that offer completely free admission for everyone!

Lunch and snacks at visitor attractions can also often be very expensive, so why not plan in advance and take your own food, drink and snacks. Plan ahead and bake your own homemade cookies to take with you. Theme parks and zoos for instance have lots of picnic areas where you can sit down and eat your own food.

These are easy steps which can quickly add up to big potential savings that can be made.

Guest Post - Creative Ways Your Kids Can Make Money in College

~ Posted on Friday, January 18, 2013 at 2:16 AM ~

College costs are on the rise, making it more and more difficult for college students to make ends meet without going deeply into student loan debt.  As a parent, you may have set money aside in a college fund for your child only to find out that while you can pay an ample portion of their tuition, there may not be enough available to cover their room and board or living expenses. 
Luckily, there are jobs that your student can do while in college that don't require many hours and can net them some money for living expenses. 

Jobs Through the College

Work Study--If your child qualifies for a work study position, he should take it.  Most of these jobs require 10 or fewer hours per week, and your child may get real-life work experience which can help when he graduates and looks for a job.
Resident Assistant--Your child can get her room and board completely free if she agrees to be a resident assistant in the dorm.  (Some also get a small stipend for this job.)  Of course, your child will need to be good at negotiating and solving problems.  She also has to be available for the other dorm residents when conflicts arise.  Typically she will need to work 20 hours a week and have a G.P.A. of 2.5 or greater.

Sell Notes--Many community colleges allow a student in a class to take notes for a student with disabilities who may not be able to keep his own notes.  The student will typically earn $2 to $3 per page of notes and will need to write on special paper so he has notes for himself as well as a copy of the notes to give to the student with disabilities.  Check with the office for students with disabilities.


Jobs Outside the College

Medical Study Participant--There are many medical studies that are non-invasive such as sleep studies that pay very well.  For a week or two of sleeping in a hospital being observed, your student can earn $600 or more.
Audit a Liquor Store--Your child can join a company to audit a liquor store.  All he has to do is try to buy alcohol and see if he is carded and then write a report afterward.  For this, he can earn $20 to $30 per audit.  Students generally have to be under 25 years old for this job.

Babysitter--You might think your child's babysitting days are over when she graduates high school, but there is quite a market for college babysitters.  Your child can look in the local paper or use a site like to snag a babysitting gig.  In larger cities or more expensive college towns, these jobs can pay $10 to $16 per hour, and the hours are flexible.
Your child does not have to commit to a job working 20 hours or more at college.  He can keep his studies as his priority and find some unconventional jobs to help him earn some extra money without a large time commitment.

What are other ways you would suggest college students make money?

** Kyle Taylor blogs about weird ways to make money at The Penny Hoarder. Connect on Facebook or join the newsletter and get his “5 Wackiest Ways to Make Extra Money.