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In less than an hour’s time England will kick off against Ukraine in a match which means little to England fans but despite this England fans are being asked to pay £11.99 (or less than half this amount if you paid before Wednesday. I have written on here before about my addiction to football, but even I wont pay money to watch what is essentially a friendly game for England.
But I will be watching tonight thanks to a well known betting site that is allowing its customers to watch for free if they have a funded account and as far as I can see there is nothing in it’s terms and conditions to prevent you from depositing money before the match then withdrawing it straight after the game, although obviously they hope you will place a bet on the match.
So I haven’t really saved myself any money as I wouldn’t have paid anyway, but I will at least get to watch the match!
Come on England!
I was fortunate enough to be sent to Dubai this week with work, a rare trip out of the office for me as I don’t frequently get to travel with work. Not only did it present an opportunity to absorb some last minute sunshine before the inevitable grey winter days set in, but also my first chance to visit Dubai.
My first impressions upon arriving in Dubai were ‘yikes this is hot’ and that was merely just exiting the airport late at night.
Anyone that has been to Dubai will not have missed the large number of building sites scattered all across the city, with cranes as common a feature of the skyline as the skyscrapers that the city is famous for. Everywhere you look there are massive projects taking place, from the impressive Burj Dubai which is now the tallest building in the world to the recently opened Metro which they proudly declare as the longest driverless train route anywhere on earth.
But after a few days it became clear all was not well in this city as the majority of building sites remained dormant. In fact the only ones showing signs of activity were the government funded projects, clearly another symptom of the current lack of credit available in the markets. Talking with locals I discovered that even the Burj Dubai, the latest icon in the skyline, remained an empty shell of a building as they were not currently fitting out the inside of the building.
Dubai grew very rapidly, in fact you only have to go back 20-30 years before they discovered oil in the UAE and it was a little known town. Like so many booms it became a victim of speculators rushing in with a flood of outside capital being pumped in to the economy. The oil wealth largely remained in the hands of a few powerful and now very wealthy families, who constantly try to out do each other with bigger, better and more expensive developments.
Property prices exploded so quickly that it was impossible not to make huge profits when developing, to such an extent that nobody actually had to occupy the property once it was built. These empty skyscrapers could be used as security to borrow more capital to develop something even bigger and the cycle went on and on for years. This illusion could continue for as long as the money kept pouring in driving property prices ever higher. But the global ‘credit crunch’ burst this bubble and stopped development almost over night, leaving half finished skyscrapers as a constant reminder that the good times are on hold.
I am sure demand for commercial and residential property will continue to grow in Dubai, especially as the government presses ahead with vital infrastructure projects and its appeal to companies as a tax haven remains. But it will be years before more property is actually needed, and thus demand can catch up with supply. So those unfinished buildings may remain in that state for some time yet.
I’m writing this on the plane having just left Dubai and it is clear looking out from the plane window that there is no shortage of land ready to develop in the future; in fact there are huge sections of roads surrounding empty plots ready for future expansion. These sandy wastelands today will no doubt be Dubai’s suburbs in 20 years time. But with so much available space, supply will probably outstrip demand for at least the next generation and any future boom in property prices will inevitably be just another bubble.
My intention is not to criticise Dubai, nor kick the city whilst it is down. I actually think what they have achieved in such a short space of time is highly impressive and that in the long-term the city will be a great success. But it’s another reminder that prices that rise dramatically because of demand exceeding supply in the short-term are unsustainable where supply is not constrained by some limiting factor.
With the school holidays at an end September is normally a great month for securing a last minute holiday deal in what is known in the trade as the ‘shoulder season’. Basically this is the period where the weather in most European destinations still makes them a desirable place to visit, all the big tour operators are still flying everywhere you can imagine, school holiday premium prices have gone away and most importantly for those of us without kids it’s finally a chance to go away without the fear of being stuck on a resort with hundreds of screaming kids.
Never one to miss an opportunity for a good deal both my partner and myself booked a week off in September months ago and patiently waited whilst everyone else seemed to go off on holiday smugly believing that they were paying way over the odds (although if you have kids arguably you have no alternative).
As our week off got closer we started scanning the ads in the papers, on websites and on teletext (yep they still do that in this internet age!). At first it was just a quick casual look through what was on offer, but in the days leading up to our holiday it reached a crescendo with every waking hour, outside of work of course, devoted to our search.
But the big savings that last minute bookings normally benefit from just didn’t exist. Plenty of companies were willing to knock 10% of the standard price, but you can usually get this any time of the year. So what happened?
Well it’s possible that so many people now wait for last minute deals that holiday companies have wised up to this and keep prices high. But it’s a competitive market so I find it unlikely this has had a huge effect. Another possible argument is that the poor weather during late August tempted many people to jet off for their sunshine fix.
But the most likely explanation is that tour operators slashed the supply of holidays for this summer as soon as they saw the recession coming and with no guarantee of when things would pick up they would have been reckless to secure flights and rooms that may never have been used. The recent feel good factor that seems to have spread across the UK was too late for holiday companies to react too, so when demand started to return they were left with their fixed supply of holidays to sell.
So given the lack of deals and the weak pound making everything overseas seem more expensive I’ve decided to pack the car and head off to Devon for a couple of days relaxation in a cottage there. And the weather forecast for this week, well it’s for this late Indian summer to continue whilst the Mediterranean is enjoying a couple of days rain.
It’s a funny old world.
Now that the bucket and spade has been packed away for another year it’s time for normal service to resume, starting with a quick overview of how MillionaireAdventure has still been earning a few pounds whilst enjoying a relaxing break.
First thing to report was a small cashback payment in July earning me £9.14 for comparing car insurance, ordering a pizza and booking a hotel through Quidco links. I can’t emphasise this enough, cashback sites really do offer money for nothing if you were going to buy these things anyway.
Another £10.30 was earned from an online gaming site that I am an existing member of offering me £10 free credit to play with. This was a fantastic offer as I didn’t have to deposit anything, just play through the free credit they had given me and whatever I was left with I was free to withdraw. Playing through low risk games normally means you can expect 60-70% return, but luck was clearly on my side as I finished with £10.30.
Whilst there wasn’t much football to keep me entertained over the summer, England’s spectacular Ashes triumph at least gave me some matched betting opportunities with me netting a £76.51 profit for little effort.
Nope the Millionaire Adventure Pig hasn’t caught swine flu during it’s annual holiday to Mexico, rather I have been taking some time out from blogging to enjoy the
sunshine British summer. If you run your own blog you will already know how time consuming and unprofitable it is (if you are considering setting up your own blog be sure to check out this post by Monevator first). That’s why I feel it is important to take time out and recharge the batteries, plus it hopefully gives my posts a fresh feel once I come back.
Normal service should resume beginning of September just in time for the new academic year. If you haven’t already done so then please consider subscribing to Millionaire Adventure via RSS or email to ensure you don’t miss a thing.
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