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New Orleans on a Budget

As I mentioned yesterday, I was in New Orleans last week with my husband and a couple of our friends.  I’ll be going back in September for the 2014 Financial Blogger Conference.  I figured I could help a few of us out by posting how we can visit New Orleans on a budget.

New Orleans

Transportation

For this last trip, we drove to New Orleans from Houston, TX using our 2007 Prius.  Altogether, it cost $60 for gasoline.  If you live close enough to drive, it may be something to consider.

If you can’t drive, check out your public transportation options.  I’m using the Megabus in September to get to New Orleans and my mother-in-law is picking me up.  The 1-way Megabus ticket cost me $9.75 and that includes the upgrade to the best seat and the 25 cents to receive text notifications of any changes.  It looks like most tickets cost $2-$50 depending on the location and whether you need a round trip ticket or not.  Check out your local bus and train stations to see if you have any affordable options.

For flights, you may want to figure out the direct flight cost from your city OR look at flying into a different airport and then finding a cheaper route from there.  For example, it may cost $400 to get from your city to New Orleans round trip, but it may only cost $200 to get to Houston and back and another $100 to get from Houston to New Orleans and back.  It pays to look at all of your options.

Lodging

The FinCon14 hotel this year is a Marriot at 555 Canal Street.  It’s running about $150 a night with taxes.  If you need to save money, you should consider splitting the room.  You can cut your hotel bill in half or more depending on how many of you decide to bunk up.

Another option is to stay somewhere else and either walk or drive in each day.  I generally use Priceline or Hotels.com to research my options, and then I go directly to the hotel’s site to see if there are any specials or AAA discounts.  My hubby, friends, and I stayed at the Best Western Bayou Inn in Westwego, Louisiana and drove the 20 minutes in each day to New Orleans.  The Best Western was $80 a night and we shared the room with the 4 of us.  Each couple only ended up paying $160 for 4 nights.

The drive in was easy and we parked at Harrah’s Casino.  Their lot costs the same as other parking near Bourbon Street, unless you gamble for 30 minutes.  So we signed up for their free casino card program (like at Kroger’s), plugged the card into a penny slot every day before we left for our hotel, made a few inexpensive bets over 30 minutes, ordered a few free drinks right from the screens while we waited, and ended up getting nearly free parking all week.

Harrah's Casino

The parking is across the street…

Food

New Orleans has amazing food, but it was a little difficult to find inexpensive options.  There’s always fast food, but that is sad to eat on vacations.

We ended up settling on finding restaurants with generous portions and splitting them.  For example, Deanie’s Seafood has a $56 fried seafood plate that can easily feed 5 or 6 hungry people – it’s HUGE.  They also sell a half seafood plate for $29 that you could split 3-4 ways.  Oh, and they had giant bowls of delicious soups and bisques for $9 (cups were $5).  My husband and I split a bowl and were very full plus we had leftovers.

If you are in the mood for a fun class plus delicious food, you can pay $22-$25 per person to learn from and eat at the New Orleans’s School of Cooking.  The class takes a couple of hours since you are watching the demo of how it’s made the whole time.  If you need something faster, Harrah’s had a deli and a Fuddruckers inside that ran about $8-$10 per person.  There’s also an Arby’s right next to the #FinCon14 Marriot.

If you are willing to walk, Café DuMond is about 10 minutes away and costs $2.42 for 3 beignets or a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

Beignets

Yep, there were 3 beignets there right before I took this picture…but they told me to eat them and I obliged.

There were dozens of restaurants along and around Bourbon Street too.  They all seemed to run $8 per person on the cheap side up to $20-$30 a plate.  But if you are walking around with the right group of people, you can have a lot of fun finding yummy food that you can afford.

Fun

People watching was the ultimate free fun.  We walked around a lot and took a ton of pictures of the historical buildings like St. Peters church.

Church

We also enjoyed taking our time at the penny slots at Harrah’s and drinking free cocktails (although we did tip $1 each).  Altogether, a week of gambling for about an hour a day cost us $55 for tips and gambling, but it got us about $80 in free parking and more than 14 mixed drinks overall.  I have found out that I adore Fuzzy Navels…

For a great deal, although not technically “cheap”, you can spend $40 0n the Audubon Experience Package ticket.  That one pass will let you into the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium, Insectarium, and Imax once each over 30 days.  That’s $10 per activity, which is well worth it.

New Orleans Aquarium July 2014

I’m the one holding the cell phone in the picture. How cool is this view?!

Overall, a visit to New Orleans doesn’t have to break the bank.  Just pay attention to all of your options and choose the best deal for you.

I Was Shat Upon in New Orleans…But Had a Great Time Anyway!

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I was in New Orleans last week with my husband and a couple of our friends. :-) It was fantastically fun, but there are definitely still moments that I wish I had stayed in bed. One of those times was when I was covered in poop…

Cooking Class

We attended a cooking demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking last Tuesday and it was enriching, entertaining, and delicious! Our instructor, Pat, taught us about the history of Louisiana, New Orleans in particular, and how their culture and cooking styles have developed. This was amazingly informative since I generally stink at paying attention to history. I apparently pay attention when food is involved. Side note, New Orleans is Creole, not Cajun.

Then Pat walked us through making several dishes from scratch – a corn and crab bisque, a chicken etouffee, and pralines. Everything was served when it was ready. . . . → Read More: I Was Shat Upon in New Orleans…But Had a Great Time Anyway!

5 Apps to Help You Budget Better This Summer

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Be honest. Sometimes finances get away from you, especially during the summer months. The weather’s nice, everything worth experiencing is finally happening, and summer sales are hot, hot, hot. Unfortunately, that means summertime can drain your bank account faster than you can drain a Mike’s Hard Lemonade at your uncle’s barbecue.

We’ve all been there. Thankfully, we have all of this technology floating around to lend a hand. Since there’s an app for everything, you won’t be surprised to learn that there are apps that help you budget your finances and save money.

1. Mint

Let’s start with the most well-rounded app: the Mint financial planning app. It’s available on the iPhone, Android, and Windows mobile operating systems, and it’s completely free to use.

The app gives you a visual of all your spending, lets you set financial goals for yourself, and plans out a budget based on your . . . → Read More: 5 Apps to Help You Budget Better This Summer

Not Dead, Just on Summer Vacation

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Just a quick note that I’m just on vacation. Please don’t worry if you don’t see posts regularly for the next week or so.

Hope you all are having a great July too!!!

Fugitive Stand Off in My Neighborhood!!!

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Last night was a bit tense. It’s not everyday that a fugitive chooses to hunker down in your neighborhood while surrounded by police and helicopters…

The Fugitive Situation

A man, now being identified but I won’t give him the benefit of having his name on my site, shot 7 people in a neighborhood near ours. One of his victims warned the police where he was heading next, and they stationed officers on that street since they didn’t have an exact address. Minutes later, he drove up, saw the cops, and fled. He was spotted by a helicopter while driving away. He drove into our neighborhood while running from the police, and he was soon cornered with his broken car in the cul-de-sac behind my street.

My roommate heard about it nearly immediately after the chase started since he’s an EMT in our area. He called to warn us to . . . → Read More: Fugitive Stand Off in My Neighborhood!!!

Just Started Using Checkout 51 – The Grocery App for Everybody! Really!

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I’m not an avid coupon clipper. In fact, I sort of suck at maximizing store specials, buying seasonally, or any of the other methods that truly help keep grocery shopping cheap. My regular readers know that I’m not a classic “frugal blogger”. But I do like easy money.

My friend, Anne, told me about this phone app about a week ago, Checkout 51, and I’ve already earned $3.00 of free money. Really. The links in this post are my affiliate links, but I only signed up to be an affiliate after I’d been using this app and then noticed that I told 5 friends about it in 2 days, lol. This is a grocery store application that everybody can use. Let me explain…

How It Works

1. Download the app and sign up. 2. Shop like normal (all grocery stores or even places like Wal-Mart or Target) and keep . . . → Read More: Just Started Using Checkout 51 – The Grocery App for Everybody! Really!

I Do Gamble

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I’ve always been money conscious, but I do realize that I don’t always treat my money the same. When Mr. BFS and I make just “enough” to pay our bills and save a little for our future, I seem to be able to cut out nearly all extra spending without it hurting much. But when we had barely anything or even when we had more than we needed, I was more of a risk taker and spender.

Online Poker

In college, my husband-to-be started playing poker online pretty regularly to make extra money. Then I started. Places like 888poker.com had specials like giving you $88 with no deposit needed, so we signed up with accounts at multiple places and played no limits nickel poker. After a few months, I had made about $100 and my future husband had actually lost money.

Casinos

We live in Texas, but when . . . → Read More: I Do Gamble