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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BLAME IT ON THE ALCOHOL

Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol.  We in da get club getting tipsy. Numb. Shots Shots Shots. Red solo cup!!

I wonder how many songs are dedicated solely to the art of getting hammered?  My guestimate is somewhere around 684,475,219,205,582,371 (give or take a couple).  If someone can take a few seconds to find out, I would greatly appreciate it.  I genuinely want to know PLEASETHANX

Getting drunk truly is an art form.  It takes a lot of practice to figure out how many lemon drops will send you to unconscious oblivion and as our parents and teachers taught us practice makes perfect right?  Which is why I practice as often as I can (but I promise I’m not an alcoholic).  However, as any college student can tell you alcohol is expensive!!  Unless you enjoy torturing your esophagus with those $10 plastic bottles of vodka you want to actually enjoy what you’re numbing your brain with and the good stuff don’t come cheap.   So that’s where my deal finding ways comes in real handy.  I am always on the lookout for a fun adventure and when it involves alcohol it gets even better.

I honestly don’t even know how many alcohol-related deals I have purchased over the years (swear I’m not an alcoholic, I just can’t count that high).  But I have done everything from wine tasting to painting with wine tasting to Cinco-de-Mayo open bar events to a Vegas barhop with unlimited bus drinks to half off drinks at local bars to a booze fest with Santa Claus to wine trains and probably many more (I really truly am not an alcoholic). 

Here is a list of all the deals I can remember I’ve purchased with what I paid vs. what they normally cost:

What I Paid
Alcoholics Pay
Vegas Club Crawl w/ unlimited drinks on the bus
$39
$88
Santa Claus Booze fest with unlimited beer & wine tastings in Atlanta
$25
$50
Cinco de Mayo festival with 1 hour open bar in New York
$15
$24
Sacramento Wine Train
$22.50
$45
Sacramento Bulls: drinks, appetizer, desert and bull ride for 2
$19
$43
Bar 333 at Le Meridian in San Francisco
$25
$50
Alley Katz bar in Sacramento
$10
$20
Streets of London bar in Sacramento
$15
$30
Skybox bar in Sacramento
$10
$20
Long Beach wine bar with tastings and appetizer
$22
    $44       
TOTAL
$202.50
$414

I saved over $200 using these sites for my alcohol related extravaganzas!!  I know people who will spend that much money in 1 night on alcohol.  CRAZY RIGHT?  But I promise these weren’t all experienced in the last week, these were deals purchased and used over the last 2 years.  I’m really truly not an alcoholic.  I just like to drink a lot!!!

 
 

REAL TALK if you have any alcohol-related issues please don’t take my advice (this time).  In fact, if you have already read this post then I suggest you go directly to your local rehab facility or therapist or hypnotist and have the memory of this post erased from your brain.  I do not condone or promote alcohol abuse.  Alcoholism is a serious disease and anyone suffering from it should seek help immediately. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Put Some Pleasure In Your Business

Are you naughty?  Do you like to have fun during inappropriate professional times?  If so, can we be friends?  I really like to have a good time no matter what I’m doing or where I’m going and this includes business or business-like trips.  Just because you have to travel somewhere for serious reasons doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun while there (that is if your boss isn’t breathing down your neck the whole time). 

I’ve had to take a lot of mini-trips to SoCal this last year for Grad school interviews, job interviews and apartment hunting (sometimes driving there and back in the same day).  But just because I’ve been going there for important life changing reasons and have had to drive from Sacramento to Los Angeles far too many times for not being a truck driver, doesn’t mean I haven’t made the most of it. 

When I went to Orange County for my CSU Fullerton interview back in April I asked my mom to join me and we made a mini trip out of it.  I found a deal on Living Social for a Pirate dinner adventure which included a 3 course meal and a Pirate adventure show.  So I bought the deal and we went down to LA the day before my interview.  We arrived to the hotel, got ready and drank Caribbean Mai Tais with some blimey pirates.  AND I was still fresh-faced and doe-eyed for my interview the next morning (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)!!



The best part was this 3-course dinner adventure only cost me $66 total ($33 per person) when it’s regularly priced at $66 per person.  Plus I only paid $45 for the hotel (booked on Orbitz).  My total cost for the mini 2-day/1-night trip was $111.  If that price isn’t pleasurable then I don’t know what is!!

Then I just went to SoCal again to do some apartment hunting.  My friend Rachelle joined me and we made another mini-trip out of it.  Even though I wanted to make sure I spent most of my time finding my future castle (or a 25 square foot shack, whichever is available), I wanted to have some fun too.  We took a Friday off and drove down at the butt crack of dawn to search for my next humble abode.    Amidst the never ending apartment hunting we went wine tasting which included an appetizer ($11 per person) and to a dinner & drag show ($21 per person).  Total cost for these adventures was $32 per person whereas they are regularly priced at about $60 per person (both purchased on living social).  We got to taste some delicious wine and eat some fantastic food as well as witness life changing entertainment in the form of womanly-dressed men bouncing their body parts and lip synching to (and dressed as) Madonna, Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, etc.  What could possibly be better than that?  




The only thing better than twerking drag performers was all the good food we ate!!!!!  The appetizers at the wine bar were absolutely delicious.  The best charcuterie plate I have ever had, yummy chicken sliders and such mouthwatering BBQ pizza made my taste buds dance like happy hungry hippos.  The 3-course meal that was part of the drag-show dinner package was actually pretty tasty and was a lot more food than I had expected.  All in all a very entertaining weekend with lots of good food makes for a pleasurable while productive weekend!!









Monday, July 7, 2014

Tricks2Cheapness

I’VE been asked a lot over the years how I am able to plan such cheap trips and adventures and the first thing I want to say is how can I not?  It boggles my mind when people plan adventures and pay full price for them.  Whether it’s because they don’t have the time to find something cheaper or they actually have the money to spend (I’m only completely jealous if that’s the case), they seem so surprised when I tell them how much I spent to do similar activities.  So here are my tricks to being completely cheap.

PATIENCE – This seems obvious and yet counterintuitive to anyone who really knows me because they know I have no patience for anything in life (I literally checked my email 500 times a day when applying to Grad school to see if I had been accepted yet).  I am a very impatient person, but my desire to be cheap trumps my desire for immediate gratification (just barely).  So I take time to find the best possible deals.  I search every site fathomable and create extensive graphs and charts to figure out which deal will best tickle my fancy (only sometimes). 

BE FLEXIBLE – Having a specific date set in stone for travel plans makes finding the cheapest options difficult.  Having a time frame instead of a specific date works better because you can look at the options available and then choose the cheapest price.  It’s usually better to travel in the middle of the week then on the weekend and it’s usually best to take those butt crack of dawn or late night flights than flying in the middle of the day when everyone and their mama is at the airport.  If you are flexible with your travel dates then you can start planning ahead, which takes me to my next point……..

PLAN AHEAD (nice segue right?) –Start planning your trip as soon as you know you’re going to take it.  You don’t have to buy your plane tics and hotel stay right away but if you start looking at what the average costs for where you’re going are early on you can figure out your budget and learn what kind of deals are out there.  I started planning my New York trip months before I knew the dates I would be going on it (I really had the whole trip mapped out since I was 7 but don’t tell anyone).  And now that I know what trip I’ll be taking next I am already looking at what kinds of activities and costs I can expect.  Obviously this isn't always possible.  Sometimes you don’t know about a trip until the day of and that makes things trickier.  Fortunately there are sites on the internet that can help with that.

USE RESOURCES – The greatest thing about the internet (aside from half-naked pics of Channing Tatum) is that there’s an unlimited amount of resources at our literal fingertips.  Groupon and Living Social are great sources for deals on just about everything, but most people only use them when looking for an activity around their hometown.  You may get the daily emails from these sites and think that’s all that is available, but that’s not the case.  You can go to the website and browse through all activities and items available anywhere in the world (I search these sites before I wipe the crust from my eyes every morning).  Find out what kind of activities you want to do on your trip and see if it’s offered on these sites.  But make sure to check back regularly as deals change daily and just because something wasn’t there today doesn’t mean it won’t be available tomorrow.  Another great site to use is Travelzoo.  This site has great last minute deals on airfare and hotels as well as events and activities.  I truly believe there is no reason to pay full price for anything when these sites are functioning 24/7.

A lot of these sites also provide extra discounts for regular buyers.  I probably get a promo code from Living social once a week for an additional 10-20% off my next purchase.  As is always the case it pays to spend but with these sites you will be paying a lot less than other places.   

RESEARCH – Don’t just buy any deal because of the price.  Make sure to research the company providing the deal before buying it to know what to expect.  If the company providing the deal has an average 1 star rating on yelp find out why and determine if those complaints are problems for you (which reminds me Yelp also has deals too!!!).  If there are a lot of complaints then it might be best to pass on it and find another company offering a similar deal as most competing companies tend to offer similar deals these days. 

BOTTOM LINE – I don’t do anything that anyone else couldn't do.  I don’t go to travel agencies and I don’t’ use any resources that aren't available to everyone.  I’m just very anal about what I purchase and I ensure that I get the best possible deal.

Here are some tricks to saving money:
FOLLOW AT YOUR OWN RISK

1. STOP paying rent/mortgage.  You may eventually be evicted or lose your home but you will be saving a LOT of money in the meantime.  It usually takes several months to be evicted or have the bank foreclose on your home anyways so that's quite a bit of traveling money to save!!

2. EAT nothing but ramen noodles for a year (or longer if you wish).  99.9% of American college students do it so you can too (factual data here). BONUS:  You will probably lose a lot of weight so you will look fabulous (or sickly) for your next trip!!

3. STOP spending money on clothes.  If you do lose too much weight on the noodle diet and can no longer fit into your clothes you can become a nudist.  Showing off that hot new bod you got on that fabulous trip!! WIN-WIN situation right here!!!

Disclaimer:  Please note that I bear absolutely no guilt or responsibility should you lose your home, develop an eating disorder or get arrested.  If you want actual money saving tips see a financial adviser..

Resources I use:

Priceline (name your own price)

Yes it takes time to search through every available site; but it is worth it in the end when you get to go on that exotic vacation of your dreams instead of just the dreaded yearly camping trip with the in-laws.