Traveling Galore and FinCon14

Traveling Galore and FinCon14Hello everyone! I’m at #FinCon14 right now, and I’m really enjoying it.

I love meeting new bloggers, and connecting with bloggers I already know. FinCon is an awesome conference and it always gives me a lot of motivation.

If you see me at FinCon14, please say hello.

I am a shy person so don’t hold that against me. I might also be awkward… There’s a VERY clear reason for why I’m an online freelancer haha!

If you are new to my blog and heard of Making Sense of Cents through FinCon, the insanity that Pinterest seems to be bringing in this week (around 1,000 hits from Pinterest each day this week!), or you found me some other way, below is a roundup of 10 of my favorite articles on Making Sense of Cents.

  1. My Student Loans Are Paid Off – I finished paying off my student loans in July of 2013 and I haven’t looked back once. I paid them off right after I turned 24 and it was a pretty amazing feeling. To recap, I have three degrees and worked full-time all throughout college, yet I didn’t use a cent of what I earned to pay off my student loans while I was in college. Instead, I spent that money on junk!
  2. My Business/Extra Income Reports – My monthly income reports are some of most popular posts, and they are fun to write too.
  3. My wedding pictures – I recently got married, and in this post I uploaded some of my favorite pictures. Enjoy!
  4. I’m 100% Self-Employed – My Plans For the Future – I left my day job in October of 2013 for full-time self-employment. Life has been awesome since then.
  5. Frugality And Ethics – When Is It Stealing? – Is there a difference between being cheap and stealing? Would you ever use an item and then return it? What about complaining about something fake in order to get it for free?
  6. Pursuing What I Love or What Brings in the (Stable) Money – When I wrote this post, I still had my day job. It wasn’t a bad job and it paid fairly well. However, I wasn’t happy. What do you do when this happens? Take a leap of faith or feel stuck for the rest of your life?
  7. Living In A 200 Square Foot Tiny House – Could You Do It? – Tiny homes definitely interest me. They are affordable, cute, and really embrace minimalism. However, I couldn’t do it. Could you?
  8. Why You Should Start a Blog – I love blogging. Blogging has opened up a world of opportunities for me, and I can’t even imagine what life would be like if I wouldn’t have started on.
  9. How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years With 2 Degrees AND Saved $37,500 – Graduating quickly is a big factor as to why I was able to limit the amount of student loans I took out and it also allowed me to jump start my career.
  10. How To Make Money Blogging – I receive several emails each week asking about how a person can make money blogging. Read this article if you are interested.

 

I can’t just talk about FinCon all day. Not everyone is here at the conference and I remember the first year I was blogging and how I missed it. It was a sad time and I remember how left out I felt!

Anyway, we’ve been doing a good amount of traveling recently. I haven’t talked about it much on my blog because I keep forgetting. I post a lot about our trips on Instagram, so make sure to follow me on there.

I’m currently in New Orleans.

Okay, okay, I’m only going to talk about FinCon one more time, but it’s just to talk about how I am in New Orleans.

We are currently here and staying in a rental home close to the hotel where FinCon is at. We got a great deal, and we can bring our pups. We also have a kitchen so you can’t beat that!

The main reason we drove was because we were going to go to Florida afterwards. However, something came up at the last second so we had to cancel that. Oh well, New Orleans will still be a blast!

I have a lot planned while we are here. Tons of business-related meetings, fun dinners with other bloggers, helping out with the Plutus Awards, and more. Oh yeah, and there are a TON of great sessions for me to attend as well :)

Also, if you are new to New Orleans, I did visit last year as well. Read my New Orleans recap if you are interested in trying any of the things I did last year. We had numerous delicious meals and it was a fun trip.

Memphis.

We weren’t in Memphis long, but we were there on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. We decided to drive to New Orleans and make a stop halfway in Memphis to visit Wes’s family. His family just moved there and we haven’t really visited much, so it was definitely needed.

Not much to say here except that I love family! And I love yummy food.

Colorado.

The picture above is from our latest trip to Colorado :)

We’ve been going to Colorado A LOT lately. Wes has been three times this summer and spent a total of four weeks already, and I’ve been twice for a total of three weeks.

If that doesn’t tell you we love the state, I don’t know what will. We did some 14ers (okay, I did one and Wes did two), and they were a lot of fun. We would have done more but it rained nearly the whole time we were there.

We went at the end of August and came back in early September. It was an awesome trip except for the one hour where my being cheap almost ruined the trip.

Luckily, our road trips have not been expensive at all. We have been lucky with finding cheap accommodations, affordable meals, and our new car gets great gas mileage. I see a lot more road trips in our future!

Are you at FinCon14? What are your plans for the weekend?

What trips do you have planned for the rest of the year?

 

A Fun-Filled Vacation Touring the Northern Highlands in Scotland

A Fun-Filled Vacation Touring the Northern Highlands in ScotlandHello everyone! Enjoy this post from my blog friend Evgeniy (I first heard of Evgeniy through Matthew Woodward‘s website). This is a travel-related post that makes me want to pack my bags and go somewhere!

Anyone who travels to Northern Scotland will be struck by the sense of being in a totally different world. That is usually the first impression on the arrival of any tourist to this area.

The Northern Highlands is one of many trips that will create memories that last a lifetime.

[Read more...]

When Being Cheap Backfires – My Hotel Mistake

When Being Cheap Backfires - My Hotel MistakeWe are currently on another road trip to Colorado. We are attempting to climb and summit a few mountains, but we also want to explore different areas we may want to move to.

Since we have been going on so many trips lately, I have been looking for different ways to save money. I am a personal finance blogger after all, so that only makes sense.

So, I found a place the other day. We have been booking everything as we go, and since it was Labor Day weekend, nearly everything was already sold out or extremely overpriced. I found a hotel for $80 a night, and we only wanted to stay there for two nights. Our total damage was $160.

It was a great price when compared to the other places I found in the area for Labor Day weekend.

However, the cheap price was the only good thing about this place. Below are some of the bad things about this place:

  • The room smelled very bad. Like a dead person… I wish I was exaggerating but it is the truth. We couldn’t breathe because it was so bad and at one point I even had to put my shirt over my nose.
  • The room next door had their door wide open. My dog almost ran inside, so I peaked in and I was horrified. It was filled almost to the ceiling with trash bags and garbage. There was also a crazy pile of shoes that was around four feet high and six feet wide.
  • There was a blood stain and splatters about a foot wide on the carpet right in the middle of our room. It was impossible to miss.
  • There were multiple hairs all over the bed and on the pillows. This means nothing was washed or cleaned when we went in.
  • There were BIG stains all over the bed. Talk about wanting to barf everywhere.
  • The fridge in the room had food stains all over it. It was absolutely disgusting.
  • The pillows were stained yellow.
  • There were multiple brown stains on the wall.
  • The door and window both did not lock. This was scary considering I would be working from the room a lot alone since Wes had plans to do other things.
  • We saw several other people enter their room, only to leave seconds later and not come back.
  • They claimed they had good wifi, but there was not a single person at the hotel and I still couldn’t get a single thing to load. Keep in mind this is important because I work from my laptop.
  • They also claimed they were pet friendly, but when we arrived I noticed that there was no grass. When I asked the person at the front desk, she said there was a park just right around the corner that we could go to with no problem. Well, it turned out the park was four looooong blocks down a busy street and there was no sidewalk there. This meant I had to walk four blocks down a busy street with two dogs and then cross this busy street where there were no sidewalks (not even a curb), streetlights, stop signs, or anything. That is just too dangerous and mean for me to do to my dogs multiple times a day.
  • Lastly, someone claimed they saw a ghost in their room and they panicked. Haha this still makes me laugh but it made me wonder what kind of crazy people were at this hotel.

Wow, it’s just scary writing about everything we saw in the one hour we were there.

We checked in, left to grab something to eat, got back to the room and immediately started finding another place to stay.

At first, I was extremely upset that I prepaid for this place. However, since this was a “vacation,” staying in a place where we literally wanted to throw up just wasn’t going to work.

When Being Cheap Backfires - My Hotel Mistake

Imagine something similar to this, except the bed was “made.”

I found another hotel and booked it as soon as I could. I then walked into the front desk to the gross hotel we were at and checked out immediately.

And this is how being cheap backfired on me. I didn’t want to spend an extra $50 a day in order to stay somewhere “normal” and instead I ended up wasting $160 and a few hours because we couldn’t bare to stay in that hotel for more than a few hours.

I know there are others who are fine with staying anywhere and they only care about having a place to sleep, but I just could not do it. I thought about it for a slight second just because of the money I’d be wasting, but then I realized how crazy that sounded.

Luckily enough, the person checking me in at the next hotel asked where we just came from and how our day was. I explained our horrific story and how I was so glad that they had room for us at their much better hotel. He said he could NOT BELIEVE where we came from and that he knew we must have been horrified because we were actually not the first person who did the exact same thing we did (check in at the bad hotel, only to leave and go to his hotel). He then said he added a discount to our stay and that it was no problem. I told him he didn’t need to but he insisted. Isn’t that awesome?!

Anyway, here are my tips to avoid making a costly mistake like I just did:

 

Read the reviews.

I am a serial review reader, so I can honestly say that I read numerous reviews about this hotel. The reviews weren’t the greatest, but it sounded like a lot of people were just used to luxury hotels so I ignored them.

OH MY GOD was that a huge mistake.

From now on, I will always trust bad reviews, especially when there are a ton of them.

 

Compare the pricing.

The other hotels in the area were about $50 more per night. I thought I didn’t want to spend that, so that was the main reason we booked the BAD BAD BAD hotel.

In the end, the $50 extra per night was well worth it.

We received a clean room, a fantastic dog walking area and even a trail along a river to walk our dogs, fast wi-fi, breakfast in the mornings that was actually good, good customer service, and more. We also feel much safer here.

 

Think about how badly you want to save money.

I thought that since it was only two days, that I wouldn’t really care about how cheap the place was. I thought for $80, that the hotel couldn’t possibly be THAT bad, because $80 still isn’t dirt cheap. Considering I’ve stayed in nice hotels in the Caribbean and Florida for around $100 a night, I thought an $80 hotel would be somewhere near average.

Nope, I was wrong. I couldn’t make it an hour so there was no way I would have been able to make it two days.

I didn’t want the savings that bad and I realized that once we arrived at the hotel. This hotel should have been no where near $80 a night. I think it should have been one of those $29.95 highway motels that I often see.

 

Has being cheap backfired on you recently? How much money did you lose?

 

Images via Flickr by TaxRebate.org.uk and Nitram242