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Simply Life Articles

A Trip to Remember: Planning a Great Family Vacation

When you're on a vacation with the people you love most in the world, it's definitely among life's most important moments - a collection of beautiful memories that last a lifetime.

Want to make your next vacation with your spouse and children one to remember forever? Read on.

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Sit down. Talk about itg 

Sit down with your kids and spouse, talk to them and find out exactly what they'd like to do. Remember, half the fun is the anticipation. Getting everyone involved right from the start just makes it all the more special.

Pack smart 

Make a checklist of things you need to pack. This is an important list – especially when you're travelling with your kids. Right from travel documents to first aid kits to travel insurance information to medicines. Phone numbers of your doctor, dentists and medical insurance company are other essentials.

Plan ahead 

Make sure all your passport and visa requirements are all arranged in advance. Plan for unforeseen events like cancellations, delays, illness and losing your luggage. Make sure you have a carry-on with your essential documents, a change of clothes in case of loss of luggage, and plenty of snacks and games for the kids in case of delays.

Be positive 

Relax. Be in the moment, and take in every moment of this beautiful holiday with your family. If unexpected things happen, take them with a smile. Your kids are watching you, and they will learn a lot from how you deal with things. You'll also enjoy much more.

Pace yoursel 

Make sure you set a comfortable pace - taking into account every family member's waking hours, individual preferences for enjoyment, food, dining, nightlife and other needs. Don't hesitate to be a little flexible - everything does not have to go according to the plan to be fun!

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Planning for your children's education

One of the best and most fruitful investments you could ever make is to save for your child's education. And the importance of having a plan for this just cannot be overstated. There are a number of inevitable expenses which will come up in the long, medium and short term that need to be accounted for, and the earlier you start planning, the better.

Do not make the mistake of focusing only on the higher education expenses. Early education can also form a bulk of the expenditure. There are three main stages in your child's education, and the expenses at each stage need to be thought about.

Tuition fees, after-school activities, stationery, school trips – every year, sit down and calculate the annual expenditure you will need to cover school costs. Find out the monthly equivalent you need to save to meet these expenses. When children move from primary school to secondary school, there is up to an 80% increase in the education costs.

Planning your children's education involves 3 major steps:

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Step 1: Estimate the expenses. 

There is an almost 10% increase in the expenses for education every year, which is much more than the current inflation rate. You need to take this into account. There are a number of free tools available online to help you estimate the cost for education.

Step 2: Make a long term savings plan. 

Even minuscule amounts at this point will add up, and be a big relief at the later stage. Making the commitment to save regularly is more important. The safety of the principal amount should be taken into account, and the focus should be on getting a higher return. You can choose any interval you like – annually, quarterly or monthly. If you have a good savings plan, you get the dual benefits of building wealth as well as tax liability issues.

Step 3: Review and Iterate 

Make sure you assess your plan every year and make sure you are making changes wherever necessary. Your calculations will change in case of scenarios like job loss, a second child, moving abroad, etc. – for instance.

As you go about planning, make sure you also involve your children. If your kids are part of the process, they'll understand the importance of both saving and education. Also, whatever plan you make, ensure that it is according to your kid's interests and aspirations. If you don't take that into consideration, you're defeating the purpose.

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Taking a trip back home: Shopping for gifts

Taking that annual trip back home? Congratulations! It's always amazing to be welcomed back home by the people you love you the most. And what puts the icing on the cake – is surprising your family and friends back home with gifts of all kinds! This article will give you a whole bunch of helpful tips to help you get the best gifts for all the folks back at home – right from grandpa to the little ones.

What to shop for, and where?

The malls here are open from around 10 am to 10 pm every day. On Friday, which is the official day or worship, there are some that do not open until 2 pm. The stores in the souqs close around noon and reopen at around 5 pm.

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Dubai is home to some of the best Arabian attars. These are some of the most unique scents in the entire world. However, if you are looking for international perfumes, there is no dearth of those either. Dubai is tax free, and hence you will be able to purchase French perfumes at a price lower than you would get at Paris!

Pashmina Shawls 

These light-as-a-feather cashmere shawls are loved by women all over the world. Pashmina shawls come in styles and colours of all kinds. Pom-pom edging, beaded, embroidered - you will find the sheer number of choices absolutely overwhelming. Make sure you buy an authentic pashmina shawl and not a polyester imitation.


Dubai's carpet souqs offer a range of modern and ancient carpets of the finest quality, that too at extremely reasonable prices. The traditional Persian carpets are definitely the finest – they are so exquisite that one would hesitate to lay them on the floor. There are cheaper options from India, Pakistan and even Afghanistan – all of which are of excellent quality.


Dubai has one of the widest ranges of gold ornaments, available both at the stores in the upmarket malls and the dedicated gold souks. There is gold jewellery of almost every conceivable purity and design. There are gold bars also available in varying sizes – gold bullion, small minter bars, ten tola bars, kilo bars – the choices are endless. The costs for making the jewellery will vary according to where you purchase it from.

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Wedding – Planning a budget

A wedding is one of life's most important occasions. While it is human tendency to want to spare no expense for the grand event, a bit of planning can make sure that you do not drain all your life savings. No matter how much you may have saved for the wedding – making a budget is essential.

After compiling all your potential sources of finance which includes - you, your partner, your parents, your in laws and other family members, you should be able to come up with a realistic total budget. After figuring out the total budget, you can allocate various percentages to various categories.

Here is a comprehensive breakup of the common expenses incurred for a wedding, which you can use as a checklist:

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The most important part of the proceedings is obviously the ceremony. However, this would not take up a large portion of your budget, as the associated costs are comparatively fewer. The costs of the ceremony would include the cost of the venue itself, as well as the costs for transportation to and from the venue.

The transportation costs would include horse carriages for baarat, limos, cars etc. for the bridal party, family members and other guests to and from the house of the bride or the hotel to the ceremony location. You might end up allocating no more than five percent of your overall budget to the actual ceremony.


Unlike the ceremony, the reception is definitely where most of your budget will be allocated. The budget for the reception will again include the cost of the venue, the transportation to and fro, and valet parking, if applicable.

Another major spending area is for the catering and servers inclusive of all tips and taxes, as well as the rentals for the event, such as tables, chairs, crockery etc. Almost forty percent of your overall budget should be allocated for the reception.

Music and other entertainment 

Music is one of the most integral part of any wedding. DJs, live performers, Dhol, etc for the baarat and ceremony, cocktail nights and reception is another expense which could very well take up almost 5% of your total expense plan.


Decoration is one aspect that takes up a decent portion of the budget, especially in an Indian wedding. This includes decorating the ceremony and the mandap, table linen and overlays, bouquets, flowers, centerpieces and others, and will amount to at least 15% of your wedding budget.

Apparel and Jewelry 

Another major expense area – this will encompass everything from the bridal lehengas and sarees, lingerie, sherwanis/tuxedos, shoes, hair, makeup and jewelry. The entire allocation would be about 15% of the overall budget.


A good portion of the wedding budget goes in preserving the memories. Photography and videography – including making wedding videos, albums, CDs, videos, etc will roughly take up close to 10% of your budget.


Plan at least 10% of your budget on all those little expenses that keep adding up, including invitations, enclosures, thank you notes, postage, gifts, marriage licenses, dakshinas/fees etc. welcome baskets, etc.

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