I don't know about you, but it feels to me like my summer is cancelled. I know that's an exaggeration, but it's been a long, cold winter, and summer's my time to shine. From the tall green grass to the sandy beaches, summer is calling. How do you answer the call when you can't fly, and going out of the province is not a safe option? My vote, bring back the road trip. Packing the kids into a car and driving for hours seems like a cruel and unnecessary form of torture for some parents. For a lot of others, the family road trip seems like a thing of the past generations.
We have become a destination culture, where life doesn't start until we've arrived. You hear people say things like I can't wait to retire, or I will do that once I have made it. I am often surprised about how cranky people can be about flying to their vacation destination. For us, vacation starts the minute we leave work. We enjoy the journey as much as the destination and sometimes even more! But what if we all began to think more like a journey culture? If we took some time to stop and smell the roses a little. Maybe even enjoy life before you retire or make it - whatever that means nowadays. What if this was the year of your journey vacation, and you spent time on a family road trip going - well, nowhere? After ten years and tens of thousands on KM on road trips, these are my top 3 tips to make it a memorable yet cheap family vacation.
Regardless if your trip is a success or a wild adventure, a family road trip will leave you with memories, that I can promise. Hopefully, if nothing else, everyone will gain a newfound appreciation for the journey and not just the destination.
See you on the road - Cheapo Jo
Jodie L. Stauffer, CFP®
Recently, I spent some time thinking about where I want to spend my non-essential dollars as we prepare for businesses to slowly reopen. The fact is, some of those forced to close, will never
re-open. Those that do open, face a tough 6-18 months ahead. Many of those still may not survive under the new social distancing rules without pricing increases and extreme customer loyalty.. But what if we could help them, even just a little?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen many people flocking to large box stores that sell both grocery and retail items. Even the big box home renovation stores are overflowing with cars in their parking lots. I understand that we need food, that contractors continue to work and maintenance still needs to be handled. And, if these stores were only selling essential items I could understand why they would be allowed to remain open But, how can clothing, patio furniture and new BBQs be essential at one place and non essential at another? Should selling groceries or lumber give you preferred treatment to also sell all your non essential items at a time when others are forced to close. This seems like a bit of a catch 22 for those smaller businesses that sell those same non-essential items, but don’t sell groceries.
You have to wonder why the big box stores get to thrive with no local competition while small businesses continue to suffer? How does it make sense to allow people to shop with hundreds of others in a big box store for non-essential items, while I can’t go to my local clothing boutique with only a few people? As a small business owner myself, I truly feel for small retailers that were already competing with the big box stores on price and selection prior to this lock down. By allowing large retailers to sell non-essential items while requiring the small retailers to close, the government has made it even harder for them to survive. The fact that this decision was forced on small businesses without even giving them the opportunity to pivot to a model that could support social distancing rules, makes this even more questionable.
I will be the first person to admit that over the years, I haven't always been conscious of buying Canadian or shopping local. Searching for a good deal and buying only exactly what I want is part of my cheap by choice strategy.. But, thanks to this pandemic I’ve had a lot of time to rethink parts of this strategy and our impact on the future economy.. When put into context, paying a little more to help small businesses survive seems like money well spent. If by passing on a big box sale to buy local or buying Canadian products saves just one person's job, then that's a deal even I can't pass up!
Cheapo Jo - patiently waiting to shop local and buy Canadian!
In times like these, sometimes you need to think outside the box. The box that I am referring to is the "cash is king box". Maybe at times like this we go old school and bring back bartering in a fun new way! Bartering has been around for literally ever. In fact, bartering precedes the use of formal currency (cash) as a measure of exchange for goods and services.
What is Bartering you ask? Simply put, it is the exchange of goods and services without the use of currency or money. For example, you may exchange shoveling someones walk or driveway for babysitting services. Or in a more formal arrangement, you offer to fix or do maintenance on your apartment building in exchange for rent or a rent reduction. For business or entrepreneurs, this can be an exchange of your products or services for something else you need or value.
Now, don't get me wrong here, I clearly understand that if you offer to do my nails in exchange for me helping you understand your budget or insurance needs, that does not pay either of our mortgages. But if I can save $100 on something that I want but don't need and you can get $100 worth of something that you need, but cannot afford, is that not a win, win for both of us? Maybe for some people, that little help might even get them closer to paying their mortgage next month or the month after! What about those home bakers or cooks, I am sure there are people who would like to stock up on home cooked meals or baked goods to use when everyone goes back to work and doesn't have time to make Turkey dinner for two on a Thursday. (Yep, I did that and probably never will again, cause I don't love cooking, and it's now day 6 of turkey something for supper).
I know with social distancing this seems counterproductive and we are not supposed to be seeing each other or getting our nails done. But I for one, will be looking forward to reconnecting with all my business, entrepreneur and side hustle friends to take advantage of all the barter agreements we have made when it's safe to do so!
Cheapo Jo - open for barter.
Jodie Stauffer, CFP is a wife, mother and Certified Financial Planner. "Being CHEAP has always been in my DNA. But let me tell you, juggling my business, household finances, financial goals with the needs or more accurately WANTS of my daughters, while staying on a budget has not always been smooth sailing." Cheap by Choice is about finding what's