Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Going to Training? Part 2: Budgeting for Training

Ah, the ever-asked question, "How much money should I plan on spending for training?" Well, the answer can really, really vary based on YOU. So, here are the knowns:

From Bikram's website, the baseline costs:

US$6,600.00 -- Teacher Training Fee
US$3,900.00 -- Hotel Accommodation for each student on two students per room. (
Single room US$8,000.00)

So, your baseline cost $10,500

Consider these costs which can vary:
  • Airplane Ticket
  • Airport transfers (taxi to hotel is $25, shuttle is $ you may need them at home)
  • Housesitting/pet care
  • Home expenses that you pay/normal bills
  • *Loss of income (consider, you won't be working, and factor that gap in)
  • Re-acclimation time when you get home (I budgeted for a couple weeks to settle back into life)
While at training, you can spend as much or as little as you like. Now, I feel cautious posting this as what I value may not line up with what each of you value. So please, take this list/suggestion with a grain of salt, and modify to your needs. There are a few comments after this list explaining...

Bottom line: $100/week or so for average expenses - here's my breakdown

$30 - Groceries (in my case...limes, cheese, crackers, nuts - note: I was not buying water/gatorade, etc. or meat)
$10 - Laundry (again, you can handwash, go to the uber-cheap laundromat for way less...but again, time was more important to me than a couple bucks)
$20ish - Room service - usually at least one night, and this was really only for a bowl of soup, though for the same, you can do the steak sandwich, ceasar salad, etc.)
$40 - Dinner out on the weekends/Poolside Snacks/Taxis - for me, being able to go out to a decent meal was really nice and getting out of the hotel was good for me. Poolside snacks were a happy indulgence, etc. There is a shuttle to the Mega/Wal-mart area, but if you prefer a cab or end up needing one, it's $5 each way.

Not included in this were my spa fees, which you can get a $150 punchcard and use the hot tub, steam room and sauna for a full day 10x ($15/visit). I would go and study dialogue, sleep in the sauna, and generally just chill there. Massages were $100ish, haircuts $30ish, and pedicures (very important to me!) $30ish. So this, or any other special 'care and feeding' of yourself (shopping, traveling, touristy stuff, etc.) would be additional. Keep in mind you are under duress, and you will find doing something nice for yourself can make a difference. I budgeted with this in mind, got a few massages and also canceled a few when I felt ok and didn't really need to spend the money.

The doctor's office charges about $150 for a visit, but if you need it, it's there for you and in the realm of medical costs, not that expensive. Just be aware of it and prepared - no one knows how their body will react. I had plenty of friends need IVs, some as late as the last Friday night who had no big issues until then! You just don't know, so don't be surprised, plan for it and likely you won't need it.

Phone calls/contact with home - there are so many options! Skype is great if you are in the princessa tower with internet connection via a cord (or, like Todd's comment you can set up a little wi-fi network for you and your floormates). In the main pyramid though, the internet wi-fi rolls on and off constantly and Skyping from there is a frustrating experience. Either way though, it's internet, and it works most/some of the time. Be sure to go now and sign up for the Fairmont President's Club to access free internet the whole stay! - if you forget, you can't do it once you're checked in (though, I know some who begged and it worked out). You or your person at home can get phone cards too, and in the end, I just ended up using my cell phone after making sure I had a the Mexico plan turned on. It was way more convenient, doesn't disturb your roommate, and let's you be mobile so you can go sit someplace pretty to chat. Reception was great, no issues there.

In terms of eating, Todd estimated room service to be around $20 - 30 a pop; you can get a giant pizza for that and save 1/2, etc. If more people go in on it, you can split up the service charge/tip which adds 20% on the top. On the cheaper approach, I knew folks who went and got loaves of bread, lunch meat, sliced cheese and mayo and made sandwiches for dinner (or, PB&Js, etc). The Los Angeles Cafe offers mediocre sandwiches and long lines, but at a much lower price point than room service, maybe $10 for dinner. Your big meal is after morning practice, and I found we all treated dinner, in most cases, more like 'lunch' in normal life.

Because I brought a lot of what I needed, I didn't find myself spending wads of cash on daily items or anything like that. When I got sick, I did load up on Pedialyte, at a couple bucks each, stuff like that.

With all this said, I'd say $100/week overall is safe for most people, plus any extras (I'd plan $500 overall just to 'play with' - haircuts, medicine, touristy stuff, phone calls, etc.). Many did it for less, and I'm sure many spent more. It just depends on your values, your needs and your means. So, in addition to the costs to sign up, airfare, taxis, I'd suggest $1400-$1500 for comfort and ease assuming you have fairly average tastes. You'll likely go home with money in your pocket. In contrast to that, the least I heard of was one person with $400 total - he ran out of money three days before it was time to go home. Throughout, he generally just let people know his budget was wicked-tight, so a lot of us would take him our extras, foods we tried and didn't like, or just things we somehow got too much of - this worked out great for him and he was gracious for anything anyone passed on to him. With many friends by the end, everyone jumped in and took care of him the last few days. So, with that, you can obviously do it for way, way less. I'm speaking from a former-software-company-employee-37-year-old perspective; in contrast to a lot of 21-year-old actors and baristas, who had very different expectations and needs/values.

Have I qualified my thoughts enough?? :) Don't not go just because of spending money; my thought was this: I paid $10,500 off the top, a little bit more to actually help me enjoy the experience was going to be money well spent, and it was!

Those who were there along with me, chime in with your thoughts, or anything I completely forgot!


Toddo said...

Speaking as someone who sampled the doctors office a couple of times. The $150 estimate is bang on. One item to add is that this included the drugs/IV drips and they would give them to you right there. No need to wait till you got off property to a drug store.

Also an important item is the doctor will only take cash, so no credit cards for payment. The medical clinic is located near the main lobby and the cash machine is near by. They will also give you a receipt for claiming their services with insurance (provided you have coverage - check with your provider before you depart to be sure).

The medical clinic is 24 hours with the doctor sleeping in a back room. Just head down when ever you need them. They also have their own ambulance parked onsite and ready to transfer you to a local hospital. I never made this trip, but others who did said they felt the hospital was acceptable to their standards. They also got jello at the hospital, which made for a nice treat.

The doctors rotate their schedule and all spoke english. There is also a nurse on staff during the daytime and if needed the doctor will call her in for help. The standards and safety of the clinic are up to our expectations.

There was also one person I know of who had to have emergency dental work. They had to go off property for this. The dentist was located above a gas station. Not sure of the quality of work, but it did fix the problem.

thedancingj said...

Hey Jenn, thanks for the GREAT post-training posts. These are incredibly informative. I have a few friends going to the next training and I've been sending them to your blog for the inside scoop. (They love it.) I will probably be referring back these myself in a couple years when I finally get my butt over there!!

Keep it locking,
Juliana :)

Linda said...

Jenn - Thank YOU Thank YOU for all of your information. I am sending my registration this week for Fall training and your info has been inspiring me so much!!!


Ruth said...

Jenn - you rock rock rock! Thank you so much. Think I'm pretty much there to sign up this week too - been talking about it for years!

Thanks Todd too!


Ruth said...

Oops forgot to ask - Did you guys take dollars with you or did you just get it all out of the ATM - Thanks

Toddo said...

Everyone on and off property will take US dollars, and you will get Mexican back in change. The hotel has an ATM and the banking fee is the same as ATM's off property. ATM's and banks with machines are everywhere, so getting cash is not a problem.

Don't worry about taking cash with you. It is easy enough to get it down there.

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious how much you spent on those preparatory items, like supplements that you took with you. Assuming I have all the yoga clothing I need and I am buying supplements/vitamins/minor kitchen supplies, how much do you (on average) think that all totals out to be?? Just wondering. I'm on a super tight budget and really want to be sure I anticipate my needs properly. I really appreciate all these lists, they are very helpful..