Guess Where I’ve Been?

Magic Kingdom!

That’s right. Only the happiest place on Earth: Walt Disney World!

I went to Orlando on business (first time to say that)

to attend a psychology convention.

I knew I would be attending this convention about a year in advance.

This allowed me to save $100 each month to pay cash for everything.

I was there for 5 days and my entire vacation cost me only $750.

Here’s how I did it:

Transportation:

I bought my airline tickets 7 months in advance to get the lowest cost.

I traveled non-stop on Spirit Airlines,

an absolutely no-frills airline

(read: pay for your carry on).

To save money, I did not pick my seats (an extra $10 each way)

and purchased my luggage fees in advance.

My options for each way were to purchase the advanced purchase carry-on: $30,

or the advanced purchase checked bag: $28.

Trying to save $4 (round-trip) I checked my bag.

Total airline cost: $229.58

I rigorously stalked the daily deals sites (Groupon, Living Social, etc.) for Orlando deals.

From these sites I purchased a car service to pick me up from the airport for $39

and a shuttle van to take me back for $17.

During my time in Orlando, I purchased

an unlimited ride 5 day trolley pass from the I-Ride Trolley for $8.

Very safe trolley mainly used by tourists

 

I took a cab twice totaling $24.

Total ground transportation: $88 + tip

Convention:

The whole reason of traveling was to attend a convention.

$70 for students

Conference bags filled with SWAG

Disney: 

As a firm practitioner of the always-searching-for-better-deals science,

upon my web browsing I found that

if you go to any of the Disney theme parks after 4pm,

admission price is reduced from $89 to only $52.

However, you must purchase this ticket in advance.

A great deal since it is open until 11pm,

giving you 7 hours of child-like romping.

Hotel:

I split a hotel with three other women from my grad program.

They stayed one day longer than I did.

To keep my bags in the room longer for my evening flight,

I paid for an additional night.

My portion: $101.50.

This comes out to $20.30 a night!

Food:

I had a food budget of $200 for my trip,

divided out to $40 per day.

The hotel had free breakfast

which allotted me $20 for each lunch and dinner.

I stuck with my budget and even came home with $80 left!

If you are wanting to plan a vacation

but are afraid of the cost,

do what I did.

1. budget airline. Why pay $100 extra for free pretzels?

2. split hotel with friends/budget hotel. I usually go for inside doors for safety.

3. use daily deals sites for savings. The sites are great for hotels, ground transfers, and restaurants.

Goodbye Social Life

It was fun having friends while it lasted. I started my doctoral program this week. I am ecstatic about it, but realize all the sacrifices I must make – free time, friendships, inner happiness…

Ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but for just ONE class on Tuesday, I must come to class prepared to discuss the 205 pages out of the textbook I’m currently reading, in addition to 7 scholarly articles. And I am pumped!

You may think I’m crazy, but the quality of the knowledge that I am learning surpasses any of that which I’ve had before. I am actually motivated to learn!

I said all that to say I wish I could keep updating you on my grocery savings, but I’m going to have to hold off for a bit.

So, it’s been fun. I’ll now return to my closet with a desk in it and read for the next 3.5 years.

Potpouri

Wow, sorry I have been neglecting my blog! I’ve been in and out of town like a fugitive.
Here’s a quick update:

November’s grocery total was $190.44. That’s about $47.61 per week. Right on par!
I saved $69.06 during the month of November by using coupons only when things I bought were on sale.

That Bounce dryer bar I bought in September is still going strong! That’s a whole four months of laundry that I have not used a single dryer sheet and my clothes are coming out Spring Air fresh!

The Disney movie UP is incredible. I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob. Rent it, better yet, BUY IT! 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Up!

I finished “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant. It was an entertaining story about Jacob and Esau, and then Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. The disappointing thing about the book it is just ends. There is no closure/justice. Not that it’s a sad or happy ending, just an ending. 3out of 5 stars.

On the cruise, I read “The Shack” by William Paul Young. Now this is a book! It is about a man who’s daughter is kidnapped and murdered by a serial killer. Rough, I know. But the beauty of the story is how he overcomes his sorrow, finds his faith in God, and rebuilds his unity with his family. Let me tell ya, this is a must read. It changed my perception of God and how I pray to him, along with what he is able to do. 5 out of 5 stars.
The Shack

For the first week of December, my groceries were bought on November 30, which is included in the November totals. The second week, we went on vacation. The third week, Alex bought bread, eggs, and milk at Albertson’s for $3.83. We lived off of leftover frozen chicken and pork and sandwiches. I couldn’t go shopping, I needed recovery time from my vacation! The third week was Christmas week. I thought it was dumb to go to the grocery store for two days of groceries since we were traveling out of town. So… more sandwiches, chicken, and pork. Now we’re in the fourth week. Alex and I are going on a romantic getaway tomorrow morning. So… no groceries this week. Just (you guessed it) sandwiches, chicken and pork.

December grocery total: $3.83
No coupons used.
That comes out to about 95 cents per week on groceries in December.

HOW YA LIKE THEM APPLES?

Well, wait, that Sunday we got home after Christmas, we ordered CHinese take out from our favorite Chinese food place, SKillman Wok, conveniently located one block away. You get a whole to-go box full of chicken friend rice for $5.99. I’m talking the box is laid open, they pile and smash both sides down as full as they can, then quickly shut it and when you open it, magic. I ate on that rice for 3 days, lunches and dinners. So technically, we spent $9.82. And I’m ok with that.

With a Borders gift card Uncle Mike gave us (thanks Uncle Mike!) I bought a $7 feeds your family book. It has some great tips to stretch your dollar and how to plan meals so that all ingredients are used, instead of throwing away half of that can of tomato paste… I will begin to incorporate some of those yummy meals in my meal plan in the new year.

I also graduated, finally, from the University of Texas at Dallas. Now I sign my name with an M.S. How pretentious is that? Well, at least I earned the right to do so.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas, yes, I said the “C” word, and have a Happy New Year!

Tread Lightly

After a very long workday yesterday, I began my hour long commute home at 5:30. 15 minutes later, I kept hearing these loud noises, like I was running over a big rock every now and then. I was on the freeway, so there were no big rocks. After about the fourth one, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw big piece of rubber flying off behind me. 10 seconds later, more rubber flies off. Then my ride gets bumpy.
Hmmm…time to pull over. Too bad I’m in the far left lane. Ok, blinker over to the right. Only three lanes to go….

When I get into the far right lane, it feels like my car is skipping, like those Mexi-gangster hydraulics cars in the mall parking lots. I exit off the next ramp and pull over to find…
My tread is gone!

Somehow Alex had the 9-4 shift, when he usually works 2-10. Imagine my relief! I call my man of men, he answers, and chivalrously accepts my plea of rescue. Only it would take him about an hour to get to me. After many games of Sudoku on my cell phone and avoiding eye contact with the creepy people walking by, Alex calls my cell phone. Instead of “where are you” that I was hoping to hear, he said, “I just got on the freeway, and I have a flat tire.”

He changes his tire and gets to me an hour later. It takes him four minutes to change my tire! What a man!

Unfortunately, my spare was flat. So he leaves me to go get an emergency air kit. Again, waiting on the side of the road. Do I need to mention that this was during rush hour and no one slowed down to ask if I needed help?

He returns ten minutes later with a can of something, uses all of it to air up my spare, we slowly drive to the nearest gas station, and fill up both of our spares with the air machine. All of that only took an hour and a half ad we still made it to our movie on time.

All of this to say: At the end of a session today, a woman refused to shake my hand because she said she brings bad luck to those who touch her. The last person she shook hands with, his sister died in a car wreck that day. Do you believe in that stuff? Can evil be that strong? Kinda creepy…

Don’t be a hater

On Monday, I was interviewing people that were applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. My first client was there when I arrived, 30 minutes early. He stunk to high heaven as I asked him to wait while I set things up for our appointment. When I was ready, I asked him in and shut the door behind him. Boy, I wish I hadn’t. The stench was almost unbearable.
To make a long story short, I found out this man had been homeless the past 9 years. My first thought was, “Oh, this guy… he’s the guy that hangs out at intersections, holding out his hat for spare change to buy booze with it.” I always reject eye contact and change lanes to get as far away as possible when I see these people.
When I asked him what he did when he was last employed, he told me he was a carpenter, and hurt his back. The doctor told him he had ruptured a disc in his spine and was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc disease. He could no longer be a carpenter. Around the same time he was diagnosed with severe Bipolar disorder and was hospitalized for about a month. While he was there he somehow lost his Driver’s License and Birth Certificate (he blames the hospital).
So of course, this means he could not get a job! Things went from bad to worse, as he could no longer afford his medications, which would bring him back to hospitals every few months. His parents were dead and he had no other family.
So he started living on the streets. Begging for money in the intersections. For nine years! He used to hold up signs that said “will work for food,” but he told me he never could do the labor they asked of him. So now he holds up a sign that says “any help is appreciated.”
He told me he hitchhiked his way to California and got a new birth certificate last week and is trying to get back on his feet. All he needs is an ID, and a little start up money from the government so he can buy a nice work outfit and apply for some jobs.
His story really touched me. Here is a hard-working man who refuses to give up. This guy isn’t wallowing in his own grief. He is making strong efforts to be a contributing member to society. Hitchhiking to California? Wow!
Boy, I felt like an idiot. Here I am, judging another person. And before he even spoke to me.
I hope that he gets on his feet soon, because he deserves it. And if he doesn’t, I hope I see him at my intersection.
Don’t be a hater. Love as Jesus loves.

As I was lying in bed last night, a loud explosion woke me up. The bedroom was filled with light. I flung myself to the window to see the telephone pole was on fire! The transformer had exploded. Alex called 911 (saying he’s always wanted to) and the operator interrupted him, saying people have already called and they’re sending over a firetruck.

Transformer on Fire

As for grocery news, I did not post on Sunday because I did not go shopping! We’ve been living off of our stockpile.

I think that after my internship is over and I officially have my masters degree, instead of completing my PhD in Neuropsychology, I want to pursue School Psychology. All I would be doing is administering tests (which is what I’m doing now and I love it) and I’d have the summers off to go with Alex on archaelogical digs. Sounds perfect to me! I talked to a representative at Texas Women’s University about their “Respecialization Program” in school psychology. Basically, if you’ve already got a masters degree, you just have to take about 26 more hours to get “respecialized”, take the certification tests, ba-da-bing ba-da-boom you’re a school psychologist. The uninformed lady told me I didn’t qualify for that program because my masters degree is in Neuroscience, not Psychology. HELLO?! Grrr… I need to talk to her supervisor.

American Idol auditions are tomorrow in Dallas. Best of luck to everyone trying out. I heard some really good candidates on the radio this morning!

You can get a free kitchen knife by clicking here.Kitchen Knife

Transformers comes out today. I haven’t seen it yet, so if you have, let me know how amazing it is.

It’s a sad day in the world of celebrities. 2 legends have passed away, but their memories will surely last.
Michael Jackson
Farrah Fawcett

Hello world!

This is my first post on my first blog. I started my internship this week! I took a test yesterday to certify I am not crazy. Today I am observing someone give a test to certify they are crazy. Should be fun!