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Posts tagged with: discount

Negotiating Vacation

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My brother and my husband are both celebrating their 30th birthdays in the next few weeks so we are heading north for a weekend away. Whenever we take a trip, we typically stay in vacation homes or in REALLY cheap hotels/motels. Depending on the area, vacation homes are typically priced the same as or lower than local hotels but the added kitchen makes it convenient for cooking in rather than dining out.

I found a couple homes I liked and contacted the owners. One owner offered her home at a 30% discount since it’s a last minute booking but she wasn’t in the best area of town. Before Dave Ramsey, I probably would have booked the discounted one and never thought to negotiate with the homes I’d rather stay at.

Oh how times have changed.

I went directly to the best place and asked them to beat the price. What could it hurt?

Not only was I able to get the home we wanted deeply discounted, I was able to negotiate the refundable deposit to 75% less.

Hubby worked an extra side job and we have the whole weekend away covered with cash. Can’t wait!


Newbie Registry Mistakes…

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I’m not very good at accepting gifts (or help for that matter) from others. It’s a horrible pride thing and a genetic trait according to my father. When my husband and I got married, I HATED putting together a gift registry. It seemed presumptuous to assume folks were buying gifts and something else altogether to tell them what to purchase. But I listened to my sweet mother who said, ‘Well how else will they know what you need?!?’

Registering was no romantic or joyful occasion. We didn’t dance around the store choosing dishware. It was more of a, ‘No honey, you can’t put a lava lamp or camping gear on the list. Necessities ONLY’ shouted to my poor husband to be.

My sister-in-laws are throwing me a baby shower and asked if I had created a registry yet. A feeling of dread filled my brain. Fortunately, I’m trying to get better at the whole, ‘my friends are the sweetest people, would like to buy gifts, and I better keep my self-righteous mouth shut… plus… I REALLY need help’, so I smiled and said I’d get to it.

My husband, remembering the last registry experience, wasn’t too excited to wander Babies R Us wielding a scanner with me. But, as with most registries, the store is willing to give us 10% off anything we don’t receive as a gift so at the thought of saving money on the horizon, I promised to behave.

We arrived at the store, registered our information, and started the trek. We hardly made it into the bottle section before realizing we had made a HUGE newbie mistake…

Neither one of us have any idea what a baby needs.

Sure, Babies R Us provides a list of a million items ‘babies can’t live without’, but common sense tells me the list is slightly exaggerated. Problem? I don’t know which items I don’t need and I’m not about to waste money – mine or someone else’s – on junk.

Two hours and 5 phone calls to my mother, my sister, and my sister-in-law later, we emerged with a concise list of necessary items. Sure there were a few statements I made a bit too loudly like, ‘No honey. I’m NOT putting a teething ring on there. The kid won’t get teeth for like 18 months. Oh. Um. 12? Wait. When do kids get teeth?!?’ To which my husband responded with a firm grip to my hand dragging me to another section while laughing loudly as if I had made a joke, then he’d say through gritted teeth, ‘Don’t EMBARRASS me!’ By the end, I think he was truly terrified Child Protective Services was going to jump out from behind the crib section like undercover CIA agents ready to arrest us for parental stupidity before our child is even born.

Thankfully, CPS didn’t arrest us, the list is done, and no… there isn’t a lava lamp on there. Though, my husband did manage to sneak a Dr. Seuss book on when I wasn’t looking.

Whew!


Ways to get by while on unemployment…

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My budget was already threadbare but living with 50% less salary and on unemployment benefits has forced us to find ways to somehow reduce more.

First, we cut our dental and vision insurance. This is something that can easily be re-instated but the $25 a month can help me now.

Second, I cancelled all my appointments health related or otherwise. None of my appointments were an emergency and I requested that my doctor renew my prescriptions without the annual check-up since the last 6 years have been clear of any problems. These appointments and tests run in the neighborhood of $500.

Third, I called my cable company to cancel our cable, reduce our internet speed, and reduce our phone service. I explained our situation and was surprised when they offered reduced internet costs, reduced phone costs, and added free services and free channels for a 12 month period. I would tell you how much I’m paying – but I’m afraid they’ll figure out they made a huge mistake and ‘correct’ the discount… or fire the guy who gave it to me. I would have cut out the internet and phone entirely but my husband needs internet for school purposes and job searching late at night when he gets home (free internet at the library is closed) and I’m uncomfortable without a home phone for emergencies.

Fourth, I contacted my student loan company for a deferment.

Fifth, my husband and I contacted friends and family and let them know we’d be available for odd jobs. Since unemployment doesn’t start for nearly a month after a job loss, my husband has done everything from pulling weeds to insulating walls. I have been helping a company with paperwork at night after work. We use this money for groceries and for the important bills like electric and water. At no time should you feel you are ‘too good’ for any type of job.

Sixth, we cut off all our subscriptions and memberships. If you’re like us, you may not even remember you have some of them since they are automatically billed to your credit card and you may not look at each item on your online statement. Some examples: gym memberships, club memberships, magazine and newspaper subscriptions (some automatically renew unless you cancel). Savings – $50 a month.

Seventh, we’ve been using more public transportation. It takes twice as long to get somewhere, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s far from fun, but it saves $50-$75 a month.

It’s not a lot, but each item buys us a little more time.


Surviving financial tests…

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As I said on Friday, I had $50 for the bachelorette party this weekend. I opted not to attend on Friday as it required $35 for the hotel stay and $35 for um… something else. Saturday, I got dressed in my bridesmaid ‘uniform’ and headed downtown.

A 7 pm bachelorette dinner time that coincided with a 7 pm baseball game start and the 7 pm Saturday night party crowd shot parking rates and traffic to a premium. Unable to find an overnight parking place, I parked in an hourly rate spot (a spot that makes more per hour than I do). All throughout dinner, I checked my watch thinking, ‘Tick tock goes the meter – and my $50 allowance.’

I ordered the cheapest item on the menu, a $9 greek wrap, and had 2 – $2 beers. I dropped in $20 to cover my meal.

$30 left in my wallet.

We went to a club where I used $6 from my ash tray to have a Corona with the girls. As I sat nursing my beer with ‘Bridesmaid’ bedazzled across the chest of my pink tank top, guy came up to me and asked me to dance, he mentioned it was his 21st birthday… which had me thinking, ‘What is the official definition of a Cougar? And dear Lord… I’m not one right?!?’

A few more hours passed and I realized that I could not afford $35 for the hotel. Parking costs had chewed threw my money. When I pulled out of the garage, the kind and generous parking man gave me a discount from $54 to $30. Maybe he saw the shock register on my face – or maybe it was because I had my car loaded with bridesmaids in the same pink tank tops giving him Colgate smiles while winking flirtatiously.

I survived the weekend on $56.

And… it wasn’t so bad.