I like to save money wherever I can (who doesn’t?!). My mom always jokes that I get it from my papa, but my mom raised me going to thrift stores, so I think they are both to blame. We have just always been thrifty people!
The other thing that I like is getting a true feel for where I am traveling. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for hotels. My mom and I had the trip of a lifetime traveling from Denver, Colorado to Boise, Idaho when I was returning for my Junior year of college. My mom put me in charge of lodging and I went pretty cheap (see: Motel 6, Budget Inn, anything with “cheap” in the name, etc.). By the time we rolled into Boise, we were desperate for deep, quality, sleep and my mom booked us a room at Holiday Inn Express. We walked in and it was like we had emerged from a month of being stranded in the wilderness. “It smells like fresh laundry! They serve cookies at the front desk! The room is so quiet!” Hands down one of my favorite memories.
So, hotels are good BUT I AirBnB whenever we are wanting to get off the beaten path.
Here are a few reasons why I like AirBnb (also check out VRBO):
- You rent from locals. And most of the time they can give you really good suggestions for places to eat, local things to do, the best coffee shops, etc.
- Free parking. Caveat: not always, but more often than not. Chances are, they are renting to you because they are out of town, so if you rent their apartment downtown, you also get to use their parking space. You don’t get “valet” but you also aren’t paying $20+ a night to park.
- Free other stuff. Wifi. Pool use. Coffee and creamer. Cooking staples. Netflix/cable. Some will even include bikes to use, pool/beach towels, beach chairs, and equipment that you can use appropriate for the location.
- A kitchen! Again, depending on your needs and booking preferences, some rentals will not have a kitchen or it will be limited to just a mini fridge and a mircowave. We always like to have a kitchen if we are staying longer than 2 days so that we can visit the local grocery store/farmer’s market/bodega and make something for a night in. This helps save us money and we can just enjoy the location and each other’s company.
- Personalized feeling. The hosts are usually pretty great. You can write a message telling them why you’re coming before you confirm the reservation (“my birthday weekend” or “bachelorette weekend,” etc.) and they host will usually leave you a little treat. When we booked a house in Nashville, the host left us some things to get us started like coffee, snacks, and a local candy along with a welcome note. It was so nice and made us feel very welcome.
If you’re planning on traveling, sign up for AirBnb and use my referral code to get $35 in travel credit.
If you’ve grown up in or around the church, I’m sure that you’ve heard the verse “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” – Philippians 4:13. Fun fact: it was my husband’s senior quote for the yearbook. 🙂 It is a wonderful verse that can serve as a reminder where our inner strength is rooted. However, not many people include the prior verse (v 12) in their quotation.
Verse 12 says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Coming from Paul, the author of Philippians, this is a huge deal. (Read a brief overview of the life of Paul here) He had his fair share of suffering as a follower of Christ. Yet, he speaks of being content whether he is fat and sassy (paraphrasing) or hungry, and either having much or having little.
This year, rather than making resolutions, I have chosen the word “Content” as my focus. It is my goal to be content in any and every situation like Paul. Easier said than done, I know. However, through reading books (most importantly, the Bible), blogs, and listening to podcasts about “minimalism,” I know that this is something that I truly want to work towards. We are surrounded by advertisements always telling us that we need to upgrade, that we need more stuff, and more space that is bigger and better. However, God is constantly calling us back to Him, to simplicity, to a life that is Holy.
I hope that you will occasionally check in with my blog and read a little about my journey along the way, as well as pray for me as I seek to emulate Paul.
Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.’ ~Lao Tzu
Do: become a regular! Thrifting works best when you make regular-ish trips to your local thrift store. My mom, the thrifting queen, stops by her thrift store every Saturday. I like to go on late Friday afternoons because not as many people are in the store and I have more access to the dressing rooms. That might be too often for some, so find what works for you, and of course, your budget. Frequenting your store(s) helps you to learn when they put new merchandise out, and what days they may have huge sales (50% off!!!).
Don’t: expect to find something great every time. Thrift stores are not like Wal-Mart where you can walk to aisle 8 and find the item you’re looking for. Thrifting is a treasure hunt. Sometimes you score, and other times you walk out empty-handed. Walk in with an open mind each time!
Do: give yourself plenty of time to find items you have on your mind. (caveat: be very careful about having a narrow search in the first place*) For example, I have been wanting to find a white dress for an upcoming trip. Every time I make my thrifting rounds, I peek around for a white dress. I’ve been looking for a few months and I still haven’t found “the one.” Thankfully, I have a little more time to look around. So, if you are pressuring yourself to find an item for a trip or event in the next week, thrifting is going to become stressful and most likely, unsuccessful.
*Regarding a narrow search: don’t. ever. do. this. I am searching for a white dress that looks good on me. I’ve had enough trouble finding this as a (self claimed) semi-pro. If I were walking into thrift stores searching for a knee-length, off the shoulder, white dress made of cotton, I’d have more luck finding a unicorn. Stay broad, young padawan.
Don’t: leave without trying everything on! This is one of my mom’s biggest mistakes (love you, mom!). Yes, even royalty succumbs to the temptation. Sometimes she’ll be in the checkout line and spots an item that she missed. In the interest of time, she’ll throw it on the pile and buy it without trying it on. What happens to these items? Ninety-nine percent of the time, they are tossed into her donation box and end up back in a thrift store. That’s money you could have saved or used to buy something that doesn’t make you look like your grandmother’s couch cushion.
These are just a few to get you started! Feel free to add more in the comments below!