FUNemployment in Action: Disney World

Published January 23, 2017 by Funemployment Princess

Holy hell, it’s less than a month later and I’m writing another post?? ¬†I know what you’re thinking…I must be oober bored ūüėČ nah, I’m just staying in and saving money (minus the food I just ordered for delivery lol) and boyfriend is playing video games so I figured I’d being “creative” (read, sarcastic) and write.

I also know what you’re thinking: you just wrote a post on how you’re broke & random saving tips and now you’re writing one about a trip you took. ¬†Umm, how? ¬†Well, obviously you don’t understand this blog and need to restart from the beginning. ¬†Go on, I’ll wait………………………….

Chipmunk and I decided we wanted to go away for New Year’s Eve this year, and thought Disney would be a lot of fun. ¬†We had a great time there last year, so thought, eh, why not, let’s go again! ¬†True, my credit card currently hates me (like, really hates me ūüė¶ ), but I’m never really one to turn down an experience. ¬†Plus, we knew there were some ways to save money (again, if you weren’t expecting me to say that,¬†you reeeaallly don’t understand this blog, and should just “X” out now). ¬†Side note: I’m going to format this post a little differently than most of my FUNemployment in Action posts, (partly because it’s been so long I can’t remember the format I was using without going to an old post) because this trip was a tad different than previous ones. ¬†This trip was part #bearventure, part Chipmunk-family trip! ¬†And so we begin…

The Background Info

When Chipmunk and I went to Disney World last year, his parents offered to book their timeshare for us. ¬†Which meant we basically got 2-nights free at a Walt Disney World Resort. ¬†Score! ¬†(And thank you mom & dad!) ¬†So we called them to see if that was possible to do again this year. ¬†That’s when we learned that Chipmunk’s family would actually be in Disney the same days we would. ¬†Hence the¬†part #bearventure, part Chipmunk-family trip.

The Major Savings Tips

Super Cool Momma & Poppa Chipmunk, pt. 1 –

Since we were going to be in Orlando the same days Chipmunk’s parents were, they offered to book us a hotel room at the same resort they were staying at. ¬†(Momma Chipmunk was there for a conference so had a good rate for the room.) ¬†And being the generous and super cool parents they are, they didn’t make us pay them back for it. ¬†This alleviated the biggest cost of vacations: lodging. ¬†(The second biggest cost is Transportation…more on that further down). ¬†I’m beyond thankful for them for doing this; once other costs started adding up, knowing the hotel was taken care of it really made life less stressful.

Super Cool Momma & Poppa Chipmunk, pt. 2 –

The other thing that Momma & Poppa Chipmunk did for us that really helped out financially was cover several of our meals. ¬†Food at very touristy spots can be very expensive – you’d think they cracked open a golden egg to make your omelette! ¬†Plus, having family meals was just a nice way to spend time with Chipmunk’s folks, who we don’t get to see as often as mine since they live farther away (and since they also don’t have a gazillion nieces and nephews birthdays that¬†book up a few weekends in a 6-month time span lol)

Just Okay Poppa Muffin –

(Because I know he’d roll his eyes and huff-and-puff if he ever read that haha) ¬†Parking at an airport sucks. ¬†If your trip is long enough, it can cost you more than your plane ticket! ¬†So we were super thankful when my dad agreed to drive us to- and from- the airport.

Santa…I Know Him! –

This tip was probably the smartest one we did for this trip:  When people plan a trip, they usually budget out the pre-costs Рthe things they have to book and pay for before they actually arrive on the trip, such as the flight and hotel.  Costs during the trip tend to be an after-thought.  Since we were going right after Christmas, I told my family that all I wanted to Christmas was Disney giftcards or money.  And my family being the amazing people they are, they did just that!  The great thing about the giftcards was that they are accepted literally anywhere in any Disney park (except for the drink-cart in Japan in Epcot, but I was too tipsy to ask why lol).

Those giftcards were a life-saver! ¬†They paid for almost every¬†meal we had that was just the 2 of us, including the Character Buffet with Winnie the Pooh and date night at Disney Springs, my alcoholic beverages on NYE, souvenirs…literally everything we needed while inside of a Disney park! ¬†And where we couldn’t pay with the Disney giftcard, we had our other Christmas gifts of cash and Visa giftcards to use. ¬†In the end, the only things we ended up personally paying for were tickets to Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure, uber rides, souvenir pictures from swimming with dolphins, and maybe a coffee or snack here-and-there. ¬†So about $250 a piece over 6 days – not too bad!

Ridin’ Around in my Automobile –

One thing to know about Disney: there is absolutely no need for a car. ¬†And this helps alleviate costs of the other big expense of travelling: transportation. ¬†The hotel we stayed at (like pretty much every hotel in the area) had a free shuttle to- and from- all of the Disney parks. ¬†Sure, you have to plan your day according to their pick-up and drop-off schedule, but that’s totally manageable and not that difficult to do. ¬†The other way to get around in Orlando is by Uber. ¬†I won’t go into my whole rant about Uber vs. Taxis (I did that in my last FUNemployment post), so you’ll just have to take my word on it if you didn’t read that post (which I’m sure you didn’t). ¬†We used Uber to get to Universal Studios, Discovery Cove, and I used it to get to lunch with my old boss. ¬†We spent just about¬†$100 on Uber rides, possibly less, versus¬†the $250+ we would’ve spent on a rental, gas, and parking fees.

The Actual Trip!

Okay, now that you know some of the bigger details, and somehow made it this far, let’s get into the fun part: the actual trip!

We celebrated NYE in Epcot –

OOOO. MMMM. GGGG. ¬†NYE in Epcot was beyond amazing!! ¬†Yes, it was extremely crowded; but it’s NYE. ¬†The entire world is crowded on NYE lol

Before we left for vacation, I made sure to book a FastPass at Epcot for one of their bigger rides (FastTrack). ¬†I highly encourage booking the FastPasses in advance. ¬†The Disney site and app are super easy to use, so you can just pick which ones you want which day, and it helps plan out your ROS. ¬†One thing I wasn’t expecting was all the restaurants would be full by the time I went to make the reservation for the 5 of us. ¬†So we were limited to this “pop-up” buffet they do within the World Showcase that you have to pre-pay for (thanks Momma & Poppa Chipmunk!). ¬†Don’t get me wrong, the food was delicious! ¬†And hello, buffet??? ¬†I’m in heaven! ¬†I just felt bad that it was the only option, and since going to Epcot was kind of my decision, I felt responsible if it didn’t turn out well.

Then, when we came outside of the buffet…holy shit, Epcot was poppin! ¬†Towards the front their was a live band, then there was the¬†around-the-world celebrations: China had one DJ, Italy had another and was raving, and Japan had a silent-disco party going! ¬†One country was shooting flames, America had a dance party on the water. ¬†It was like being in another world! ¬†Chipmunk, his brother, and I ended up doing 2-laps while enjoying some drinks (purchased with Disney giftcards!) and then met up with his parents close to midnight.

At 11:40 the fireworks began, and they did not stop until after midnight. ¬†They were gorgeous! ¬†It was the perfect way to ring in the New Year ūüôā

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with the love of my life ‚̧

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NYE dinner at World Showcase Buffet

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there’s a good chance i’m drunk here lol Happy New Year!

New Year’s Day at Universal –

We ended up sleeping in on NYD, which is weird for me on vacation – I’m usually up and ready to go to not waste any time. ¬†But we got in late because of traffic leaving the park, and Chipmunk hadn’t slept the night before, so we needed some Zzzz. ¬†Chipmunk’s mom had rented a cabana by the pool, so we headed down to grab some lunch there.

It was up-in-the-air if we were going to go to Universal or not – it was the one park ticket we didn’t buy in advance. ¬†But when I looked on their app and saw the longest wait-time was only 30-minutes, we figured it was worth it to head their for the afternoon. ¬†So we booked an Uber, and the 2 of us were off!

My favorite part of Universal is Harry Potter (duh!), so I was excited to be back in Hogsmeade and Harry Potter world, and discovered some new alleyways and such. ¬†We went on a few rides and got an early dinner at The Leaky Cauldron, complete with Butter Beer and Pumpkin Juice. ¬†We definitely got sleepy much earlier than I thought we would; I figured we’d be there until the park closed, but we decided to head out only after a few hours. ¬†I was just too beat!

While I had fun, looking back at how much we spent on the tickets and what we ended up doing while there, we probably could’ve skipped Universal. ¬†Or, we should’ve popped some caffeine pills and stuck it out longer lol

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butter beer & pumpkin juice ūüôā

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hogwarts castle

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ordered a lil Mediterranean plate from room service

Celebrating My Half-Birthday…Because Yes, I Am a Princess –

As I grow older, I appreciate Epcot more and more. ¬†But I think my favorite park, the one that screams Disney World to me, will always be Magic Kingdom. ¬†And since it was my half-birthday (yes, that’s a thing almost 30-year olds celebrate), we had to head there for it.

I really wanted to do one meal with characters – the whole experience is just fun and makes you feel like a kid again. ¬†So we made reservations to have breakfast with the characters as our first stop (side note: if your heart is set on dining with characters, I’m almost positive that breakfast is the cheapest option – I don’t definitely recall, and am too lazy to look it up, but I’m pretty sure it’s the least expensive meal). ¬†What made it even better were which characters were there: Winnie the Pooh & Friends! ¬†If you know me in real life, you probably know Chipmunk’s actual nickname, so hence why having breakfast with Winnie the Pooh & Friends meant a lot to me. ¬†Plus, giftcards, remember?? lol

After we feasted on omelettes, sausage and bacon, and more we met up with Chipmunk’s family to conquer the rides. ¬†Again, book FastPasses! ¬†They save you so much time during the day so you can actually enjoy a lot more and really get your money’s worth.

After the park, we met back up with Chipmunk’s family for dinner at the hotel. ¬†If you haven’t caught on, I’m very food-focused on vacations lol

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love this guy ‚̧

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one day, we’ll live in a castle!

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hi piglet!!!

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OMG, it’s pooh bear!

 

Pet the Dolphin; Love the Dolphin –

I’ve been iffy about going to SeaWorld ever since I saw¬†Blackfish. ¬†While I know there’s always 2 sides to every story, and the film was obviously biased against holding wild whales in captivity, it didn’t sit right with me. ¬†Still, I looked up dolphin experiences at SeaWorld – I’ve pet one before, at SeaWorld San Diego, but I’ve always wanted to swim with one.

I learned that SeaWorld had a sister-park: Discovery Cove. ¬†Discovery Cove brands itself as a day resort. ¬†For 1, all-inclusive price, you not only get access into the park and all of the pools/”beaches” it has to offer, but also buffet breakfast & lunch, plus unlimited snacks and beverages, including alcohol. ¬†For an additional $50 per person, you can do¬†the Dolphin Experience: 40-minutes of being in the pool with the dolphins, including catching a ride from one!

It. Was. Awesome!  We got to the park early, via Uber, enjoyed breakfast and coffee, claimed some seats on the beach, and got our wetsuits ready.  Then we hit the pool for our Dolphin Experience.  We got to pet 2, feel their fins, do the hand-signals for them to dance and flip, and then catch a ride into shore on one.  Afterwards, we hit the lazy river a few times, before getting a yummy lunch.

The only additional cost of the day was purchasing photos of our Dolphin Experience, but really, how could we not?! ¬†The only thing I wish we had done differently was had more snacks (could’ve stocked up our backpacks!) and drank more (no, not just beers for me, but water; for being out all day, we definitely didn’t stay as hydrated as we should’ve…but also, more beer for me lol).

After Uber-ing back to the hotel in the afternoon, we showered and caught the hotel’s shuttle over to Disney Springs to meet up with Chipmunk’s family for the drone light show (it was one of the new things this year: 300 drones, choreographed to holiday music – so cool!). ¬†After the show, Chipmunk and I had date-night at Wolfgang Puck. ¬†Since it is located in Disney Springs, we paid with our (surprise!) Disney giftcards!!

This was my first time ever being at Disney Springs. ¬†When I was last there, it was still called Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island was a thing. ¬†Boy has it changed. ¬†Disney Springs is insanely big! ¬†Next time, I definitely want to devote a bit more time there to explore. ¬†Plus, unlike the parks, it’s free to get in. ¬†You just then pay for what you want to do (bowling, movies, shopping, eat, arcades, etc).

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dinner date at Wolfgang Punk

Deja Vu at Animal Kingdom –

Ok, I’m dumb. ¬†Apparently, I’ve been to Animal Kingdom before -_- I had planned a day at the park because I thought I had never been there. ¬†Well, we got to the first ride and voila, I have an incredible case of deja vu: I have definitely been to Animal Kingdom before. ¬†In fact, we have a souvenir photo from the ride somewhere in an album at momma’s house.

We messed up the use of our FastPasses a bit, so had to wait 45-minutes for the big rollercoaster, Everest (which I am never, ever, ever going on again! ¬†Backwards? ¬†In the dark? Ummm NO THANK YOU!!), and didn’t get to go the Safari ūüė¶¬†Still, it was a fun time; but I wasn’t as impressed as I wanted to be. ¬†It was like being in a semi-zoo, and once you’ve been to the Bronx and San Diego Zoos, it was a let-down. ¬†Unless they make some major additions to the park, I don’t think I’ll be going back to Animal Kingdom.

We had hopper passes for Disney (meaning we could go from park-to-park in 1 day), so we booked it over to Epcot, via the free Disney bus, to meet up with Chipmunk’s parents for dinner in Morocco (sooo yummy!). ¬†Because we messed up the FastPass though, we lost our spot for Soarin’. ¬†I wasn’t too disappointed (I’m not that big of a fan of it), but I knew Chipmunk liked it so I was sad he missed out.

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poppa monkey

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i was so disappointed to learn this tree wasn’t real ūüė¶

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we accidentally matched our outfits -_- lol

All Good Things Must Come to an End –

Since we didn’t have to be at the airport until about 5:30pm, I took advantage of the free day and took an Uber up to see my old boss, Mike, at the radio station he works at. ¬†He’s at a cluster of 7 stations, so it was a totally different experience from my cluster: bigger building, more spread out, totally cool performance space! ¬†He took me out to lunch at this amazing falafel spot down the street. ¬†It was nice to just catch-up on life and not be in the midst of the tourist hype for a change.

While I was out with him, Chipmunk and his brother hit up Disney Quest, the giant arcade at Disney Springs. ¬†I Uber’d over to them after lunch, and then we headed back to the hotel (again, via free hotel shuttle) to get ready to head to the airport to go home. ¬†The #bearventure had come to an end.

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falafelllll!!!

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enjoying our last moments in the warm weather ūüôā

This trip was definitely needed and an amazing amount of fun! ¬†It was the first vacation in awhile that I didn’t feel stressed being away from work; plus (brag alert), I think I planned it out nicely so it wasn’t too much go-go-go nor too much lazy, but just the right amount of both. ¬†It also doesn’t hurt that Chipmunk makes me laugh til my sides split lol¬†so being with him obviously made it even better!

Welp, time to save up for the next adventure ūüôā

xoxo

FP

 

 

Funemployment Tips: Random Activity Savings (pt. 2)

Published December 24, 2016 by Funemployment Princess

hello sole person reading this (aka future me…maybe)

so it‚Äôs been awhile. ¬†actually, it’s been almost exactly a year since my last post. and i¬†got the notice that my credit card is going to be charged to keep my domain name, so i¬†figured i¬†should make use of the $26/year and write at least one post ūüėÄ i¬†don‚Äôt have much to say, so this is going to be super random.¬† don‚Äôt get me wrong, it‚Äôs been a great year! ¬†i moved in with the love of my life, so come home to cuddles¬†every night. ¬†so i‚Äôm finally out of¬†my mom‚Äôs place, and feel like an adult with my own home (albeit rented) and furniture and d√©cor. ¬†and i¬†still have a great job with people i actually enjoy being around every day (well, most days ;P).¬† the only downside: i am dead. ass. broke.

i know what you‚Äôre thinking: this goes against all your (my) advice!¬† that‚Äôs not what this is blog and lifestyle is supposed to be about!¬† blah blah blah.¬† well guys, sometimes shit happens.¬† and that shit…is rent. and everything else that comes with living on your own: internet/cable, groceries, heat, increased commuting cost – the list goes on and on. ¬†you can contact my credit card companies for the full rundown. ¬†and yes, i‚Äôm probably over-exaggerating a bit. ¬†i‚Äôm not tens of thousands of dollars in debt or have collectors chasing me or anything like that.¬† but i am carrying a credit card balance, and my savings is no more.¬† so i‚Äôm not in a place i really like (except for my physical place, because this apartment is pretty dope and comes with a billiards room and hot tub…that we’ve only used once but whatever, they’re there!).¬† it does mean i‚Äôve had to be a bit more creative regarding cutting costs and having a social life (look, i believe balance is needed in life ‚Äď if i work 40+ hours a week, i deserve to relax too). ¬†so here‚Äôs another round¬†of some random money-saving strategies i‚Äôve adopted/live with in order to save money where i can:

 

i haven’t purchased body wash in months…maybe years

no, i don’t smell. ¬†and yes, i shower more than once a month; i’m not gross. ¬†but it is fact that i haven’t purchased body wash in probably at least a year. ¬†a few posts ago (ok, years ago), i wrote about utilizing your travel-sized toiletries for year-round, and not just travelling. ¬†this is the part two to that: every few weeks, i get a coupon from Bath & Body Works for a free item with $0 or $10 purchase. ¬†usually, its a travel-sized item. ¬†sometimes, it’s the big guy! ¬†even if i don’t need anything from the mall, i always make sure to cash in on these coupons. ¬†and 95% of the time, i’m using them to get body wash. ¬†why? ¬†because, let’s be honest ladies (and men): how many times do you buy a lotion, use it for a few weeks, and then it falls into the mystery pile under your bathroom sink or under the bed, or you bring it to the office and forget it’s there, or lend it to someone and don’t get it back? ¬†who really in their right mind has ever finished a bottle of lotion? ¬†so why waste the free item on something you’re probably going to forget to use anyways. ¬†body wash is easier to remember you have: you throw it in your shower, a place you (hopefully) are every day, and use it (again, hopefully) every day. ¬†and if you want to stock up, you store it in the linen closet by the towels and grab a new bottle when the old one runs out.

what about when it’s free item with $10 purchase? ¬†well, those coupons you have to be careful (or, as i like to more so think, sneaky) with. ¬†firstly, you have to re-think how you think of BBW (that’s short-hand for Bath & Body Works here, not the abbreviation you see on Craig’s List!). ¬†BBW isn’t just foo-foo soaps and lotions for women. ¬†there’s candles, wall plug-ins, shampoo/conditioner, lip moisturizers, loofas, handsoap and antibacterial sanitizers, and more (especially if it’s a flagship store; then you have a hell of a lot of other products!). ¬†secondly, you have to consider the time of year and what’s coming up in your life. ¬†for instance, today is Christmas Eve (and i think Hannakuah, but i don’t celebrate that one so am not 1,000% positive. ¬†for any Jewish readers, my apologies if that’s wrong). anyways, back to it being Christmas Eve: aka, it’s a time of year where i need to buy things for people. ¬†well, BBW had a Black Friday sale of BOGO Free for their entire store. ¬†and i knew i needed some big candles for people. ¬†so i bought one candle at $12.50, got my second candle free, and used my free item coupon for body wash! (hmm i don’t think anyone i gave the candles to would read this, but if you do…hi ūüôā lol).

even if it’s not a holiday, but you know Mother’s Day is coming up in a few months, or your niece’s 7th birthday is just a few weeks away, you can find pretty much something for anyone at BBW that’s on-sale, and then use your coupon to keep your body smelling fresh and clean!

this one most likely makes me a bad employee

just to be clear: this doesn’t apply to my current¬†employer and i’m going to make up a name for the place i worked at and discovered you can do this. ¬†mainly because who knows if there’d be legal ramifications and well, i just can’t afford a lawyer!

before i began my adult-career, i worked a variety of retail jobs. ¬†at one place, let’s just call it Typical Store just to be safe, they would have a promotion a few times a year of a purchase-with-purchase (PWP if you want to be in on the cool lingo!) where with a $25 purchase you were then eligible to purchase a bag full items ($100+ value) for only $35. ¬†great deal, right?! ¬†well, something i quickly learned is that the special PWP bag is full of actual items the store sells. ¬†so if you just dismantle the PWP bag, you can return each item individually for store credit of their full-price value. ¬†here’s an example (because i’m probably not explaining that as clearly as i could, but my coffee hasn’t kicked in enough for me to re-word it):

  • one item costs approx. $10-$15 if sold individually. ¬†but in the PWP bag, it’s really only costing you a fraction of that price, say $4
  • if the PWP bag contains 8 items, all valued at $10-$15, and you only paid $35 for it…you could return the individual items and receive store credit of $80-$120
  • minus the $35 you paid in the first place, that’s a net profit of $45-$85! ¬†(depending on the individual cost of the items)

a few things to note here:

  • yes, it is store-credit. ¬†but if it’s a store you know you’ll be able to shop at a lot in the future, then store-credit is just as good as cash back!
  • please have a little common sense when returning the items!
    • don’t do it all at once (duh!)
    • don’t bring them in the physical PWP bag they came in
    • don’t return them to the Typical Store you bought the PWP bag at. ¬†this seems silly, but workers do remember faces. ¬†bring it to the Typical Store in the other mall, or better yet, separate the items out and return them to 2-3 other Typical Stores
    • don’t bring your original receipt!! that blows your cover

on a side note: if returning the items isn’t your style because you’re a good person and have morals (lame! j/k), you can still dismantle the bag and these 3 items go to mom, and these 2 items go to your secretary, and the last 2 items you keep. ¬†no one will know they originally came in a set!

kohl’s lol

the subtitle is a little deceiving, so let me clarify that i do love kohl’s! ¬†it’s basically my go-to when shopping for my youngsters (no, i didn’t have kids haha that would be interesting. ¬†i mean my nieces and nephews). ¬†i put “kohl’s lol” because let’s be real: kohl’s essentially gives clothes away. ¬†have you sifted through those clearance racks lately? ¬†there are some nice gems hidden in there! ¬†but besides the low prices, kohl’s does another thing: kohl’s cash.

usually you have to spend $50 to receive $10 in kohl’s cash, which is basically free money to use the following week. ¬†it’s a marketing ploy to get you back into the store to spend more money. ¬†and it works well, so be smart! ¬†when i went shopping at kohl’s last, there was a promotion going on:¬†for every $50, you actually got $15 in kohl’s cash (they also have one promotion where every $25 you spend, you get $10 in kohl’s cash). ¬†i spent the $50 on a ton of clothes for the kiddies (probably 8¬†items, so about $6 each item), and got my kohl’s cash.

now listen up, because here’s the advice: don’t let your kohl’s cash expire! ¬†even if you don’t need something that you’d usually get at kohl’s, the store has so much more that you probably never realized. ¬†remember a few posts back (again, years ago), i wrote about using giftcards in non-traditional ways? ¬†like buying bottles of water at best buy? ¬†the same thing applies to kohl’s. ¬†kohl’s has greeting cards and giftwrap, the random kitchen appliances you remember at 10pm on a tuesday that you need, coffee pods, everything you could ever want for your bathroom, random gifts for people like giant wine glasses that fit an entire bottle of wine or a piggy bank that yells “show me the money” every time you add coins to it (that last one isn’t true, but i’m making a point here, so deal with it). ¬†and kohl’s almost always has coupons. ¬†so combine your coupons with the sales and your kohl’s cash can go a long way! ¬†one time this year i had $15 in kohl’s cash. ¬†with it i bought four pairs of men’s underwear (remember, i live with chipmunk now, so it’s not that unusual for me to buy men’s undies), two birthday cards for coworkers, and a shower curtain, and still had a few dollars left that i handed over to my sister-in-law to use on something for her girls. ¬†so again,¬†don’t let your kohl’s cash expire! ¬†it’s free money!!

your facebook timeline can be good for something!

it’s 3pm on a wednesday, and you’re just trying to get through the work-week without any crises happening. ¬†so you’re scrolling through facebook, sifting through the engagement announcements and new baby photos (oh, you’re not an almost-30-something girl? ¬†then your TL might be different lol), and you come across the random posts. ¬†you usually ignore the, except this one says “give us your feedback and we’ll give you a $10 starbucks giftcard”. ¬†can’t be true, right? WRONG!

look, i’m all about internet safety. ¬†but i’m also all about free stuff (if you didn’t know that by now, just stop reading this blog lol). ¬†if a website wants me to take a survey, and doesn’t ask me for my credit card info or sign me up for PersianWifeFinders.com, then i’m gonna take that survey and hope it’s legit and that i get my free $10 starbucks giftcard. ¬†in the end, if i don’t get the giftcard, whatever – it’s now 3:10pm so i’m 10-minutes closer to the workday being over. ¬†but if i do get that giftcard, that woooo-yee, 1.5 free drinks from starbucks! ¬†(oh and i did get the giftcard, all for rating a software system i use ūüôā )

 

welp, those are my random savings tips from the past few months, or at least the ones that i remember. ¬†hopefully a few of them come in handy when you find yourself a little more broke than funemployed…but remember, in the end, you’re always a princess!

xoxo

-FP

 

FUNemployment in Action: The Southeast

Published December 28, 2015 by Funemployment Princess

Hey guys – I have to admit, I’m quite proud of myself for writing this post less than two months after the trip took place. ¬†To catch you new readers up, I started this blog back when I didn’t have a full-time job, and was balancing a few different part-time gigs, many of which didn’t involve looking at a computer all day. ¬†Now that 90% of my time is spent in front of a screen, I find coming on to write in my spare-time difficult. ¬†But I know there’s that 0.00000000000004% of the people reading this that enjoy my dumb humor, so this is for you!

Last month, the boyfriend and I (oh yea, I have a boyfriend now – I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned him before. ¬†Let’s just call him Chipmunk) went on vacation together. ¬†Which was a big thing for a few reasons: first being it was our first couple-trip together, and second, I had already done my big vaca back in July, so doing a 2nd one within the year was a new financial challenge¬†for me. ¬†But I’m awesome, and figured it out ūüėČ

Ok, back to the point (kind of). ¬†Chipmunk and I had planned to go to Walt Disney World and Miami in Florida. ¬†It was supposed to be a week trip where we’d go to Disney, Universal, and then off to this zoo in Miami where you can play with large animals like tigers and jaguars (don’t believe me? ¬†Skip down below!).

Round-trip flight in-and-out of Fort Lauderdale, pick-up and drop-off the car at the same airport, easy-peasy, right? ¬†Well, it’s me, and I can never resist a good deal! ¬†One day, I’m at work and my coworker announces that JetBlue is having a sale: $31 one-way flights if you leave on 10/31 (which was just 4-days before our original flight was scheduled for). ¬†I knew Chipmunk had friends living in North and¬†South Carolina, and JetBlue had flights heading to both Charlotte and Charleston. ¬†(SIDEBAR: I’m bringing this up because to this day, my mother still has no idea where I was. ¬†Charlotte is in NORTH Carolina, Charleston is in SOUTH Carolina. ¬†They are different places, hours apart!)

I gave Chipmunk .2-seconds to decide (because I already knew we were doing it, but you know, you’ve got to let your guy think his input matters ;P ) that we’d extend our trip and start-off in Charleston so he could see his friends and we could see more states we’ve never been to! ¬†Now, if this was a travel blog, I’d go day-by-day, minute-by-minute describing our trip. ¬†But since this is more about how we saved money while vacationing, I’ll just give you a quick rundown of the trip before going into money-saving tips:

  • 10/31 – 11/2: Charleston, SC –> Halloween, tour of a haunted warship, plantations, aquarium, lots of food!
  • 11/3: drive to Orlando, stop in Savannah, GA on the way –> walk around town, prettiest street in america, a big tree, lots of food!
  • 11/3-11/7: Orlando, FL –> catch-up with a friend, both Universal Studios, Magic Kingdom, Epcot + Food & Wine Festival 2x, Hollywood Studios
  • 11/7-11/10: Miami, FL –> nice date night, visit to the zoo to play with baby tigers, pool and beach

On to the point of this post: ways to save money during adventures and activities! ¬†This trip was a bit tougher than past ones – Chipmunk and I had never been together for more than a few days at a time, so I didn’t want to scare him with my travel-craziness. ¬†Plus, there’s some things friends like to do that couples don’t (for example, barhopping is something more to do with friends, rather than just your significant other), so the planning process was a bit different. ¬†Here are some ways we saved money but still had a great time!

 

AIRBNB:

I’ve posted about AirBnB before – it’s a great way to stay in a city and not spend a fortune on sleeping accommodations. ¬†If you’re like me, when you go on vacation, all you really need is a bed to sleep in and a shower to keep clean. ¬†AirBnB is perfect; you can find an affordable place in a location that fits your needs. ¬†Something new I did with this trip was look to rent a Private Room instead of an Entire Place. ¬†The Entire Place provides you the privacy and security that a hotel room offers; a Private Room is more-or-less like a dorm room: you rent a room within a house or apartment, and share the entire space with a host or another guest. ¬†Normally, I’d never consider this, especially if I was travelling alone or just with females (I’m a horrible feminist; I feel like I need a male there in order to feel safe in this situation, just let me be on it), but since Chipmunk was with me, I felt confident with this choice. ¬†For Charleston and the first 2-nights in Orlando, I found us Private Rooms where we’d have access to our own bathrooms. ¬†Total cost? ¬†$303 for 5-nights! ¬†That’s just over $60 per night! ¬†We had queen-size beds, our own bathrooms, and the hosts never bothered us at all. ¬†There was parking at each place, fresh towels, and they even provided us toiletries in the bathrooms. ¬†It was all we needed and helped us save money! ¬†Go search Priceline for hotels in either place, and see the difference in cost. ¬†Go ahead, I’ll wait…….see! ¬†As long as you read the reviews on AirBnB and make sure it has the accommodations you actually need, a Private Room is a wonderful way to go!

AIRBNB pt 2:

I knew Miami was going to be the tough city to save money. ¬†It’s kind of like NYC but on the water – aka, it costs a lot! ¬†AirBnB came to the rescue again, but this time, instead of a Private Room, we rented a…wait for it…boat! ¬†Yup, there’s more than just traditional locations on AirBnB. ¬†They have treehouses, private islands, teepees, vans, and yes, even boats! ¬†We found a cute 2-person boat in a marina just south of the main part of Miami. ¬†It had great reviews and only cost $381 for 3-nights. ¬†I know, you’re thinking that’s a lot, but go research some of the 5-star, beach-side hotels Miami has to offer, or even the inland 3-star ones, and then I’ll say “I told you so” ūüėõ ¬†We really wanted to be by the water, but opted for ON the water instead. ¬†It was¬†amazingggg (ok, minus that the shower is over the toilet, which broke. ¬†But the marina had a shower and toilet, and for 3-nights, it was totally fine!)

RENTAL CARS vs. UBER:

Here’s a little secret from me to my fellow New Yorkers: Uber is an incredibly cheap option if you take it anywhere else besides in New York City! ¬†Yes, taking it at 4pm from Midtown to Chelsea will cost you $50. ¬†But taking it anywhere else in the world, for the same distance, at the same time of day, will cost you maybe $10 tops…maybe! ¬†Knowing this fact, I opted to get rid of our rental car while in Orlando. ¬†Because we were no longer flying in-and-out of the same airport, the cost of the rental car increased since the pick-up and drop-off locations were changing. ¬†When doing the math, I found we could save over $70 if we returned the Charleston car as soon as we arrived in Orlando, and picked up a new car on the way to Miami. ¬†This saved us the rental fee, gas, parking fees, tips for any valets, and more. ¬†Instead, we had to spend a few bucks on some Ubers to get to and from some parks and the gym. ¬†Because we weren’t in a city like New York, our Ubers totaled maybe $22. ¬†Of course, you have to see if the hassle of returning the car and picking another one up is worth it. ¬†Well, the drop-off location was across the street from Universal, and the pick-up was 2-miles away from our Disney hotel so… totally worth it to save the $70!

FRIENDS & FAMILY: 

As you get older (because for this part, I’m going to pretend you’re a teen I’m giving advice to you), you realize how importation relationships and connecting with people are. ¬†This trip helped affirm that belief. ¬†To begin with, when I told my mother of the trip, she recalled that we still had Disney park passes from the last time we went (umm, 2001? ¬†2002?). ¬†I emailed and called with Disney, and discovered the 2 passes still had 1-day, park-hopper passes on them that were valid! ¬†This saved us $330! ¬†Secondly,¬†I’m fortunate enough to have a friend in Orlando who was able to score me 2 free¬†tickets through his job to Universal Studios with a park-to-park pass for Islands of Adventures. ¬†This was another $300 in savings! ¬†(Of course, don’t be rude – send a thank you gift, or take your friend to dinner in return. ¬†Plus, it was great¬†to finally catch-up with him outside of a work environment!!) ¬†Lastly, Chipmunk’s parents have a timeshare they graciously let us use, which scored us 2 free nights at a Disney World resort, thus saving us even more money! ¬†Oh wait, a different lastly: when I began planning this trip, I had reached out to a PR-friend of mine about connections in Miami for a hotel. ¬†While the prices didn’t work out through that, one of the connects offered Chipmunk and I passes to the pool at her hotel, which was the absolute perfect ending to our trip and only cost us the drinks I ordered!

 

Overall, the trip was a success (Chipmunk and I didn’t kill each other and had a great time!) and we managed to save money where we could. ¬†I’m not really sure where this trip ranks in regards to total-cost compared to my previous trips. ¬†I do know it was a few hundred more than I had hoped for, but that could also be because we splurged at the zoo in Miami and went with the $300 Feline Encounter option instead of the $120 choice, which only got you a photo with the baby tiger instead of playing with it for 20+ minutes. ¬†I also discovered boys eat more than girls, so the whole splitting 1-entree I’m able to do with my female-friend in order to save money on dinner didn’t really work with the boyfriend LOL but the food was just so yummy, I was ok with it ūüôā Here are a few photo highlights from the adventures –

Tea Plantation in Charleston:

214

Famous willow-tree in Charleston:

203

One of the most-photographed streets in Savannah:

261

Fun at Disney:

341  427  389

Boat and Zoo in Miami:

436   463   577

642   701   734

 

xoxo

-FP

Funemployment Tips: OpenTable.com

Published May 20, 2015 by Funemployment Princess

Hello all and happy spring ūüôā I have to say – spring is definitely my favorite season. ¬†It’s just warm enough where¬†you can wear jeans, a shirt and sandals, but not too hot where I’m embarrassingly suffering from some serious swampass and thunder & lightning (aka my thighs) are chaffing from me wearing shorts (was that TMI?? ¬†sowwy :X).

Spring is also when I start to get out and adventure more, especially around New York City after work. ¬†There’s so much to do outdoors in the spring and summer, from markets, to concerts in the park, to random street fairs. ¬†One thing I love to do is get out and hit up a nice happy hour at an outdoor bar, preferably with food involved. ¬†I love to eat! ¬†(Did the nicknames I’ve given my own legs because of their mass from food not imply that already? ūüėČ ) ¬†Unfortunately, eating out in NYC¬†can be a pain for a few reasons (yes, I’m going to list them):

  1. Crowds – New York City’s population grows every year, but guess what, it’s a friggin island – the area is not getting any bigger here people. ¬†In fact, Mother Nature has given a big evil ha-ha laugh in our faces, and throws natural disasters at us like global warming and Hurricane Sandy to eventually¬†decrease the size of NYC. ¬†Growing Populations + Steady/Decreasing Land = every single one of the 50,000+ restaurants have a wait time when it turns 7pm and you’re turning hangry.
  2. Prices – Because the demand is so high (since you know it’s an island, you’re kinda stuck sometimes), and because it’s NYC, so everything has to cost more anyways, the prices of eating out can suck.
  3. There’s more…didn’t pass health inspectors, rats in the basement, sketchy cook adding some “spices” you didn’t request when you simply asked if the food would be out soon…but the focus of this post is only points #1 and #2, and since it’s my blog, I do what I want ūüėõ

Now, people who know me in real life (yes, I have friends) know I absolutely hate waiting. ¬†Especially if I’m hangry, when you better have more than just a snickers to hold me over! ¬†My friends…and family…and co-workers…well and anyone who’s ever met me also knows I’m a planner. ¬†I want the time, place, dress code, longitude/latitude coordinates in advance. ¬†Additionally, as much as I try to budget my life out (wait, isn’t that what my whole blog is about?? eek), sometimes, it fails. ¬†So that’s why I’m always on the hunt for a deal, some way to make the things I love to do just cost less.

And this my readers (??) is where we come to the point: OpenTable.com baby! ¬†I used to make fun of my dad for always using this website, but as dumb as the man is, he’s actually kind of right on with this system (just don’t tell him I admitted to that!). ¬†With OpenTable.com, I can make a reservation for my meal outing, which helps calm my nerves about point #1. ¬†Every reservation that I keep I earn points. ¬†I can then trade those points in for what’s called a “Dining Cheque“. ¬†This is a fancy way of saying I can trade in my points for free money to use towards a restaurant that participates with OpenTable!

Most reservations are only 100 points – minimum trade in is 2,000 points for a $20 Dining Cheque. ¬†You do that math…ok, I don’t expect you to think here, I’ll do it for you: that means I’d have to visit 20 restaurants to earn enough points for a silly $20 savings. ¬†Not really worth it, right?

No, no…come back here! ¬†I didn’t lie to you – calm down, breathe, namaste…you good? ¬†Ok, here’s the cherry-on-top moment of epiphany: OpenTable has what’s called 1,000-point reservations. ¬†Each day, certain restaurants offer 1,000-point times. ¬†This means, if you choose a reservation time that the¬†restaurant has designated as 1,000-points, you earn 10x the points in 1 trip, so you only have to visit 2 restaurants (each at 1,000-point times) to earn your reward!

See! ¬†There’s always a way to work the system, and I did not lead you astray with that false hope there (if I did, I apologize…ish). ¬†Plus, you can use as many Dining Cheques as you like in a visit, which if you hoard them oculd mean a free meal! ¬†It also helps when part of your job is schmoozing people on the company’s tab: they foot the bill, you get the points and Dining Cheques! ¬†Not that I do that….hiya boss! ¬†;D ¬†That’s getting off point though…back on track…in the end, a little bit of planning can go a long way! ¬†So log on, decide ahead of time where to go, pick a place with a 1,000-point time, and take your swampass out this sunny springy weekend!

xox

FP

Funemployment Tips: Gift Cards

Published January 5, 2015 by Funemployment Princess

Happy 2015 everyone ūüôā Can you believe it?¬† I still have this damn thing.¬† Not sure why…oh well!

Today’s funemployment tip comes from the holidays.¬† I’ve gotten gift cards as presents…ok, ok – I’ve returned things I’ve been given for various reasons (:D) and have received merchandise credit and gift cards in exchange.¬† Some people consider gift cards to be a nuisance – store-specific ones limit you to that store (duh), and Visa and Amex only work if you know exactly how much is on them…but I think¬†these people need to rethink how they think about gift cards…and about how many times I used the word “think” in that sentence.¬† Gift cards can be a blessing in disguise to save you money on some of the simplest things.¬† You just need to think outside the box regarding what the store sells.

For example, I returned an item to Best Buy, and the nice Geek Squader gave me a gift card so that I could use it online.¬† Well, after purchasing the complete Gilmore Girls series (I know, you’re jealous – it arrives next week.¬† I’m excited!!), I still have about $80 left on the gift card.¬† Since the gift card is store-specific (hmmm new venture: stores provide Amex gift cards instead??), I’m limited to electronics, movies, and dishwashers.¬† I’m kind of limited on how many dishwashers I can have, and I just got into Amazon Prime, plus, $80 won’t even buy me 5 letters on a MacBook, so most people would say I’m stuck in a pickle with this gift card.¬† Nope, not me!¬† I ain’t stuck, but¬†I sure as hell will eat a pickle (went to Epstein’s last week for dinner…yummmmmyyy).¬† Best Buy sells some random items you may not think of – water, soda, coffee, random beauty products like hair dryers, and so much more!¬† So if you want to save your cash, or not rack up your credit card bill, and you’re in desperate need of a bottle of water before you hit the gym because you promised yourself New Year New You in 2015(coughcoughbullshitcoughcough), you can head to Best Buy and use your gift card to buy as many bottles of water as your heart desires!¬† Or just buy 1 for now, and be eco-friendly – most gyms have a water fountain where you can refill it ūüôā

I also made a return to Old Navy – now this is THE place to find random shit!!¬† I’ve purchased phone cases, water, candy, piggy banks, and so much more because I’ve had gift cards and not wanted any of the clothing in there.¬† Of course, there is always the obvious option of saving the gift card until you find clothing you really want – but I’ve done this, and have forgotten to use the dang gift card during my next purchase.¬† It can be a vicious cycle -_-

So, in conclusion, don’t be hating on the gift card.¬† Just be smarter about how you use it.¬† Why go to Starbucks and spend $6 of your own money on an iced latte when TJ Maxx next door has the bottled coffee drinks, and no clothing you’ve wanted for the past 8 trips there, and you have a $10 store credit??¬† Logic people, logic!!

xox

FP

Funemployment Tips: Ratings & Reviews

Published October 31, 2014 by Funemployment Princess

Oh hello there!¬† You’ve waited nearly a year for another post…I know how sad you must’ve been logging on day in and day out and seeing that I absolutely suck as a blogger ūüôā this is a topic I’ve been thinking a lot of.¬† And I usually think about writing it as I’m riding the train to work and then I …zzzzzzzzzlasfsdxmc lekwreoiwfhnd.¬† Oh, woah, sorry!¬† Fell asleep there.¬† (Train time = nap time.¬† #SoProductive #HashtagLife).

Ok, to the point: in my travels, I’ve found that the two most expensive parts of traveling are flights and lodging.¬† Flights…well, cheapest you can do is Southwest and AirTran (I don’t consider Frontier and Spirit to be airlines.¬† I think of them more as fee-sucking leeches).¬† Still, it depends on a lot of aspects you can’t control: time of year, destination, weather, cost of oil (-_-).¬† Lodging, however, you can work around a lot more!

I am a big fan of hostels (I think I’ve written about them in previous blog posts.¬† I wouldn’t know though…I don’t really read my own blog ūüėź ).¬† And this past summer, I discovered the joys of Air BnB.¬† A lot of people give me that puppy-dog-sideways-look when I tell them these are the types of establishments that I prefer to stay in.¬† They kind of scoot away as if I probably caught some weird rash I’m going to give them.¬† Those people, though, are idiots.¬† Hostels, Air BnBs, and such are perfectly safe, reasonable, inexpensive options for traveling on a budget.¬† You just have to be smart about them.¬† That’s where the point of this post comes in: Ratings & Reviews.¬† Do some research when you’re looking for a hostel.¬† Check out what rating they’ve received on multiple websites (umm, it’s called Googling – I know, a very foreign concept nowadays), and READ the comments.¬† I know, reading is tough – especially when you can just wait for the movie to come out.¬† If a hostel has a 99% approval rating, and all positive reviews, chances are it’s a safe bet.¬† If there’s one or two negative ratings, remember this is the Internet we’re talking about.¬† It’s the premier platform for people to complain.

Checking out the ratings is a good start, but I do recommend taking it one more step.¬† If you see a rating of 100%, but also see that only one person rated the place, I’d move on and find something else.¬† Now, if you see a rating of 100%, and see that a substantial amount of people have rated it (let’s say 20+ people), then you’re golden!

 

Well, I hope I’ve lessened your fear about staying at the random lodges of the world.¬† I do want to leave you with one last thought:¬† if you get to the place you’ve booked, and you get a gut instinct that something doesn’t feel right, leave.¬† Your instincts are something people should learn to follow more often.¬† Is it possible you may end up losing money (usually just your deposit – you can probably argue your way out of losing the entire cost), yes, but your comfort, and most importantly your safety, is much more valuable!

 

xoxo

FP

 

PS – omg, how could I have forgotten!¬† The Ratings & Reviews method also applies to other areas of your life, such as shopping.¬† For example, this past summer I needed to purchase new bedroom furniture.¬† Ok, well, my mother had to purchase new bedroom furniture for me ūüôā Because I wanted black furniture (black, none of this espresso, brown-black nonsense!!), I had to order it offline without seeing it in person first.¬† I nearly cried during this process.¬† But I used what I had done for my Air BnB choice, and checked out the ratings and reviews of different options from trusted online sites.¬† I couldn’t be happier with my choice!¬† The furniture fits perfectly in the room, and was exactly what I was looking for!! #ThumbsUp

Funemployment Tips: It’s time for CHANGE

Published December 16, 2013 by Funemployment Princess

photo

 

hello world ūüôā how’s your holiday shopping going? have you spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars yet?¬†I know I have :/ I’m also going to AC next weekend.¬† you may be wondering how I can afford such a trip?¬† ok, at this point you’re actually probably not wondering that because you know what my blog is all about.¬† oh, you’ve never read any of my posts before?¬† that doesn’t surprise me lol

 

ok, to the point: I’m¬†heading to AC next weekend because (1) I have a free room, (2) I have $40 in food credit, (3) I have $125 in free play, (4) I have a BOGO¬†buffet offer, and (5) I saved $100 in coins.¬† now, 1-4 you’ve heard me boast about before.¬† but 5 is new, and the main focus of this post (yes, I¬†can focus :P).¬† I currently have 4 different piggy-banks in my room.¬† one collects dollars, which I use for parking.¬† one collects all change besides quarters (because quarters don’t fit in the opening).¬† the third collects $20 that I put aside for trips.¬† and the last one collects quarters.¬† well, this last one was full – I could’ve maybe added a few more quarters but honestly, it was too heavy to pick up.¬† so I decided it was time to bring the change to the bank.

 

now, I was all set to whip out the coin rolls, count out $10 at a time, and cash those suckers in.¬† but apparently the last time I handled loose change was 1997.¬† now, all I have to do is bring the change to the bank, deposit it in this cool machine which counts it up for me.¬† it prints out a receipt with the amount on it, which I bring to the teller who gives me the cash.¬† now, I’ve been saving this change for probably 2 years, so I knew there was a lot in it – maybe $50 tops, I’d¬†be happy with.¬† no.¬† that little piggy-bank had one-hundred-fucking-dollars in it!¬† 100 bucks has been sitting in my room, just collecting dust!¬† can I get a virtual high-five??? —-<¬† …I’m not an artist, pretend that’s a hand!

 

if you’re like me, you hate carrying change around.¬† it’s heavy, makes lots of noise, and you never have the correct amount anyways.¬† but don’t just throw it on the ground or give it away (don’t think I’m¬†mean, but I don’t give beggars money.¬† I have food I’ll give them that, but not money).¬† instead, get yourself a piggy-bank.¬† you don’t need to be crazy OCD like me and have 4 lol but have one and throw your change in it every few days.¬† in 2 years, you may have a nice stack of money without even really trying, and it may come in handy when you least expect it.

 

Happy Holidays all!

 

xoxo

-FP