Money Saving Monday: Vacation With Friends
I am currently staying in a house with 8 other people. One of them is The Husband. But, the rest. The rest are a group of long time partners in crime. Some of my finest companions. The people I will willingly agree to shack up in a 2 bathroom house with. We will float rivers. We will talk shit. We will eat and drink too much.
I could write about how this vacay is cheaper than other forms of vacay. How we organized meal sharing, pooled resources, and took advantage of the generosity of families to keep our out of town in budget.
Or. Or, I can harass my friends over coffee, booze, cross word puzzles, chess games and hot tubs for their best money saving tips. The way each of them, from all their different backgrounds, circumstances, and varying concerns about frugalty (or lack thereof) spend just a little bit less. In case you get sick of hearing from only little old me, how about an informal pool from a group of seven (The Husband doesn’t count).
Names have not been changed because no one is innocent.
Katie: Katie is a regular thrifter. Not a frusturated occasional thrifter, like me. She’s fortunate enough to work within walking distance of multiple great thrift shops, and often spends her lunch breaks checking out their wares. She knows which stores are overpriced, which stores have good sales, which stores do better with clothes, and in which store you are most likely to come across a most awesome owl. I envy her thrifting prowess, and wish I could take a page from her book. Beyond thrift as a verb, Katie comes from some very frugal family roots. They are DIY car maintenance extraordinaires. Going so far as to make sure the cars they purchase, are DIY-able to begin with. Visits from Dad involve father daughter tune-ups and brake jobs.
Luke: The man who provided solar light to the Ladies. The support staff of Dogs or Dollars. Pay no attention to the man behind the sage green curtain. He’s kind of a genius. Luke is ‘big picture’ finance to my nitty gritty details. His loose purse strings for lattes and take-out don’t mean he’s not on top of things. New project coming up? Do you want to oh, say build a photobooth for your wedding? Make beer? How about install a DIY security system complete with cameras and motion sensors, minus the monthly fee? This is your guy. He takes DIY to a whole new level. And he executes it well. He researches it. He negotiates his purchases. He barters for the labor he can’t do himself. Then he goes onto ebay and buys 10% off coupons to subsidize the procurement of supplies.
Jihan: Jihan actually works in Finance. She has a better understanding of investments and returns, then I could ever hope to. She believes in putting her money to work, as opposed to squirreling it away a la Scrooge McDuck (like uhm some people we know). In that vein, she’s the master of automated savings, sending her money to four different places before she ever sees it. She’s got money ear marked for retirement, travel, a slush fund, and upcoming big expenditures. Then she actually remembers to use it for such purposes when the time comes. Something else I could use a little guidance on. On the home front, she takes the time each and every morning to fill her travel mug with a homemade fru-fru coffee drink from their fancy espresso machine. A machine that’s long since paid for itself in Ovaltine mochas. Not something that can be said of most home espresso machines.
Meran: When I asked Meran for her tips, she became introspective, and quiet. Like she couldn’t possibly have anything. She notes the homemade salad dressing creations her family is so fond of. No expensive bottles here. This is a skill inherited from her mother, and one I’ve only just begun to think about doing. Homemade dressing? Can be made with ingredients on hand in any kitchen, and is significantly more yummy than Hidden Valley. Then Meran blew me away with something I’ve never even thought about. Cruising the alleys and backstreets of our local University District right around the first of the month. I actually had to ask why. Because those college kids have cool shit. And they move and don’t want to take it. Better than thrift! Free!
Lucky: Lucky is our local starving artist. Except he does it really well. Like gracefully, unabashedly and while leading a life he wants to live. His secrets? Eating at home and cutting out or eliminating the processed foods. A man after my own heart. He stocks whole ingredients and is usually only an item or two away from a complete meal. Those missing items may then be substituted or eliminated based on his interest in either spending the money or leaving the house. As an artist Lucky builds and stretches his own canvases, sometimes even selling them to artist friends. He also utilizes his artist talents to make him the reigning champion in our homemade group gift giving.
Brian: Another reluctant participant to my forced contribution. Yet, once again comes busting out with something I would never think to mention. Like Slick Deals. Brian travels for work and recreation. Real travel, with airplanes and passports. Slick Deals gets him hotel reward memberships that mean he stays in great hotels wherever he goes. Hotels, or at least rooms, normally outside of his budget. He keeps an eye on sites like Slick Deals and LifeHacker for trial memberships to Hulu, to Netflix, and swears he’s had Amazon Prime for years without paying for it. Awesome! Earlier in my frugal journey, I used to be better about checking in on such sites. Brian offers a welcome reminder to add that back in to my repertoire.
Jen: We end with Jen because she’s likely worthy of her own post. From her depression era Grandma who raised 11 kids and still maintains a very impressive garden to her ruthlessly negotiated wedding, complete with bartered invitations and family catering. We will save those tales for another day. Today we will keep it simple. Jen recently tackled the all but elimination of disposable paper products in her life (or at least her kitchen). She’d like to assure you, it’s easier than you think. She is a hoarder in her own rite of repurposed glass jars for dry storage and leftovers, of ziplock baggies to be re-washed and used in perpetuity, or produce bags to be taken back to the store or Farmers Market from wist they came. That doesn’t save money, but it’s damn ‘green’. She is a bulk spice buying, herb growing kitchen maven. If you haven’t gotten the message on bulk spice buying, consider yourself informed. Ditch the tiny jars.
There you have it. Seven people. Alot of interesting conversation about money and priorities. I’m definitely considered the frugal freak of the group. Yet scratch the surface, just a little, and everyone’s got a share-able tip.
Do you talk money with your friends? Who’s the frugalite in your group? What have you learned from them?