Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monday Mornings


Every Monday morning when I walk into the office I have the same conversation, but with a different person than the person I had the conversation with the Monday before.  It goes like this:

Me:  Good Morning
Them:  Good Morning Angie.  How was your weekend?
Me:  It was cool.  I didn’t do anything.
Them:  Nothing?  That’s hard to believe.  You didn’t go out?
Me:  *deep breath* Nope.  I didn’t go out.  I never go out unless it’s a special occasion, like a friend’s birthday.
Them:  I see….

Sigh.    It’s always a struggle to explain to someone that spending unnecessary money on the weekends just isn’t what I do.  Why?  Because it isn’t a priority for me.  And after years of being “about that life”, it just got old. 

You see, it took some time, but I finally realized that I wasn’t spending the weekend doing all of the in
things to do for me; but rather for other people.  I wasn’t showing up at all of the hot spots for myself, but so other people could say “I saw Angie last night at…” or so I could be tagged in pictures, or so I could be seen with the "right" people. 

It never occurred to me, until years later, how much money that weekend ritual was costing me.  I mean, I had to stay suited up in designer wear complemented by the latest it bag and shoes.  Not to mention the costs of just being out and about:  parking (I live in Chicago where free parking is like unicorns.  It doesn’t exist!), cover into the club, food, drinks, tips, etc.   Those weekends out were eating up a large chunk of my disposable income!

But once I re-prioritized my life and realized that I wanted to do more, see more, experience more; it was easy to give up the $100 weekends.  It was actually very easy to give up the designer clothes, the expensive dinners, the gourmet drinks and the $20 valet.

But I gained so much more.  I had more disposable income, which meant I could pay off some credit card balances and other debt, which meant I had more disposable income.  The more bills I paid off, the more disposable income I had.  It was a vicious cycle, but I liked it. 

I began purchasing flights with cash, prepaying for hotels with cash, paying for all of my meals and activities with, OMG, cash.  It was completely unheard of, but I was traveling to the places I chose and coming home completely debt free!

Now, I’m not side-eyeing anyone who enjoys his or her weekends to the fullest by going out.  I’m just saying that for me, the money I’ve saved by forgoing expensive weekends here at home, has financed lots of weekends elsewhere!

Happy Traveling~

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Confession

I have a secret.  It's not a big secret (well, maybe to some) but it's a secret none the less.  I have been keeping this secret from most of you for quite some time.  Some of you already know my secret, but now it's  time to come clean to the rest of you.  So, here we go:  I have never been to Puerto Rico (dramatic music, gasp). *hangs head in shame*

Shocked?  Most people are when I reveal my secret.  Many simply assume that I have been to San Juan, the oldest city on U.S. territory and known for its beautiful beaches - especially since I am a beach lover.  But nope, I can't say that I have.

When I make this confession, the first response is "Really?  That surprises me."  and the second, of course, is "Why not?"  and this is where it gets tricky.  The truth of the matter is that San Juan always seems so expensive to me.  From the airfare to the beachfront hotels, it all seems overpriced and other destinations always seem to be a better value.  So the other destinations, which also involve acquiring a new passport stamp, always win out.

For instance, if I do a quick airfare check, using May 30th - June 3rd as my dates of travel, here is what I get:
  • Chicago to San Juan - $404.87 (with a 10 hour layover in Miami on the return)
  • Chicago to Cancun - $422.61
  • Chicago to Montego Bay - $516.09
  • Chicago to St. Maarten - $583.90
  • Chicago to Curacao - $578.90
  • Chicago to Barbados - $591.40
If I were looking to book something for that time period,  even though 4 days isn't nearly enough for any of these destinations, which do you think I would select?  

Well, other factors would come into play like what is the purpose of my trip:  explore or relax, am I looking to experience something new, exactly how long are the flights and layovers especially since this is basically a long weekend trip (that San Juan flight has a 10 hour layover in Miami on the return and the Barbados makes 2 stops - YIKES), what is the cost of an average hotel stay, food, etc.  

Based on airfare alone - Cancun would win if I were simply going to relax and Montego Bay would be my choice if I were looking to explore and experience something new.  Why, because for the extra cost of the plane ticket. I can either visit my favorite destination (yes, AGAIN.  I'm an addict remember?) or explore a destination that is higher on the "must see" list than Puerto Rico.

Don't get me wrong, Puerto Rico is on my list.  I want to visit its historical sites, hike in El Yunque National Rainforest, swim in Mosquito Bay, and take a day trip to Culebra or one of the other islands off the coast of Puerto Rico (there are roughly 100 of them); but PR just never seems to win the process of elimination even though there are times that I am actually rooting for Puerto Rico to win.  Crazy, right?

SIGH...there it is.  My deep rooted secret.

This confession brings me no joy.  I know that this favorite Caribbean destination for hundreds of thousands should have made it to my "been there" list by now.  I am ashamed and I promise to rectify this situation ASAP.  Ok, maybe ASAP is a little too soon, but I will get done in 2013.

I wonder if I can piggy-back it on a trip to another destination?!

HMMMMMMMMM.........