"I like being on vacation better than going to work." That's what the hubby said this morning when he got out of bed. I think the very worst part about going on vacation is the day you have to go back to work. Maybe that's dramatic. But for a little while, you haven't had to cook, or clean up the table, or unload the dishwasher, or make your bed. You get to play and eat out and do whatever you want and now all of a sudden it comes to a screeching halt and you have to get up at 6 o'clock, dress up, and face an email inbox 4x as full as normal. Blech.
I had originally planned to blog this week about how great my yard sale was, or how to have a great vacation on the cheap, but circumstances call for an extreme shift. I have learned some very valuable lessons in the past few days and I want to talk about things not worth pinching pennies over. What's that you say? This is a money-saving blog! Right you are. But sometimes it's a better value to spend more and get more than to spend less and get crap. Here goes:
#1. Spend more on hotels. Hmmm. How did I figure this one out, I wonder? I recently returned from Gatlinburg, TN where I got a really good deal on a hotel room - $47.84 per night - woah! That's right, woah! But it should have been my first clue. I went on price alone and totally neglected to read reviews. Bad Jennie! Had I read the reviews I would have spared myself learning first-hand that the place was filthy, the breakfast pitiful and the customer service non-existent. And get this - first night the toilet clogs at 2:00am (emphasis on the "A.M."). There is no plunger to be found on the entire premesis, so the hubby and I get in the car and drive about 10 miles or so until we can find an open Walgreen's (Sevier County TN ain't New York City - it is a challenge to find anything open). Although I will say, it was kind of adventurous to be out and about Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge at that hour - there were maybe 5 other vehicles out - and they were all police cars (probably wondering what trouble we were into - "...just need a plunger, sir"). The next day we tell the management, who says "We have a plunger, I don't know why the girl couldn't find it." Um, not the point. "She should have offered you another room." But she didn't. He finally sighs and rolls his eyes (very dramatically) and promises to tell the manager. Wait, I thought he was the manager - guess nobody wants to claim that job around here. Needless to say the issue was never resolved. I filed a complaint with the corporate headquarters and the manager emailed me today and offered 20% off my next stay. Gee, that was generous. They obviously don't get it, since I don't plan to stay there ever again. So you don't make the same mistake I did, I won't give you their full name, but their initials are Days Inn.
#2. Shoes. I used to buy cheap shoes. Payless was the best. But then I developed knee problems overdoing it on the treadmill. The treadmill? Yes, it's lame I know, but I could turn on Prison Break and walk for a full episode - which ended up killing my knees. I spent lots of mulah on doctors and physical therapists, when all I needed was a supportive shoe. Bought some Danskos and some inserts for my tennies and haven't had knee problems since. Plus - I think it's a wash anyway. Danskos and Chacos and Nikes are expensive, but you don't have to buy them that often - Danskos especially last FOREVAH. Cheap shoes have to be replaced regularly if you wear them at all. Just a theory.
#3. Bread. On some things, it makes no difference whether you buy the store brand or the pricey advertised brand. Ketchup is ketchup, whether Hunt's or Great Value. On the other hand, some things there are no substitutes for. About a year and a half ago Nature's Own kept raising the price on their bread. I'll show them - I'll just stop buying it. I tried other brands including the store brand - ew. Sometimes it's just worth it to pay more for something that tastes that much better. So now, I bite the bullet and buy my loaf of Honey Wheat Nature's Own, and don't feel one iota of guilt. This also applies to cevars (pronounced "see-vars" - my cousin's way of saying cereal when he was a little tyke). Contrary to the advice in the tightwad and cheapskate books out there, Tastey Oats are not as good (or even as close) as Cheerios and Toaster Pastries are no match for Pop-Tarts. Use a coupon.
#4. High Speed Internet. Once you've left that crazy dial tone and the "You've got mail" greeting for the rush of instant internet, you'll never go back. Doesn't matter that they raise the price a couple of dollars every 4-5 months when they think we're not looking - it's so worth it. People preach against the "gotta have it now" society we live in, but for internet - delayed gratification is not the way to go. Time is money and around here we use the internet for everything. Selling things on the bay, emailing family, catching up with friends on facebook, checking the weather, searching for new cars or deals on Christmas presents, taking classes, ordering photos, watching pointless YouTube videos (Charlie bit my finger, anyone?), catching up missed episodes of our latest TV addiction... If we had dial up, we'd never leave the house trying to get all of that done.
#5. Experiences. I think tickets to events are the neatest presents to give. They don't add to the clutter in your house, they're super-easy to wrap and fit under a tree and/or hide, and they can create some really cool memories. This past Christmas I bought tickets for the hubby to see Jerry Seinfeld. I managed to snag second row seats, but those tickets were ree-diculously expensive - "not that there's anything wrong with that". But it something we had never done before and was one of the funnest date nights we've ever had. And now whenever I see a drug commercial, I think "Great, something else I have to remember to ask my doctor about."
#6. Coach handbags. When I was about 10 years old I was in the Barrel (aka "Cracker Barrel") gift shop with my parental units. I wanted a Mad Libs - remember those? Yes, I was a dorky little kid, but who wasn't? They kept saying no and at one point I remember saying "But it will make me happy!" No. Ok, so later in the truck they tried to teach me the spiritual lesson that "things don't make us happy." And then they gave me the Mad Libs. Spoiled much? ;) Fast forward to present day. While in TN, we went to the outlets. They had a Coach store there and I just had to go inside. I was a good girl and went in, walked around, drooled and left. We went to all the other stores and at the end of the day I asked the hubby - "Do you think it would be crazy if I bought one of those bags?" He really didn't get it but was really cool about it. He's never been one of those husbands who says "You spent how much?!" I'm the tightwad in this relationship. Surprised? So we went back to Coach and I got a purse off of the clearance table - 70% off. However, 70% off really expensive makes it just regularly expensive. I mean no disrespect, but I think it does make me happy. I look at it and get warm fuzzies.
"Oh, Sammy's so confused he don't know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt." ~Dolly Parton as Truvy in Steel Magnolias