Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Parking Lot Case Study

MP900385984Let me tell you a story about a parking lot. My fiancé and I went away for the holiday weekend with three other couples. On the afternoon of the 4th, one of the other couples went into town to pick up some supplies, and learned from a local that there was going to be a big fireworks show that night. The local told them that most people here for the weekend would gather in the park, but they’d charge you $8 to park there, so the locals usually park for free at the golf course across the street and watch the fireworks from there.

“What great inside information!” I thought. “We can watch the fireworks for free!” I was apparently alone in my thinking. “The people here are really cheap, they’re not willing to pay for parking, but we can afford to pay for parking, so we should just go park in the lot” said one of my friends.

I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, the locals are indeed a bit seedy (we were in marijuana country) and we had children in our group, so perhaps my friend just wanted a more wholesome environment for the kids. However, something about the way he said “cheap” made me think that wasn’t the whole reason. There was the implication that the locals had to be cheap because they don’t have a lot of money, but because we are all gainfully employed, there was no reason we shouldn’t pay for the convenience of parking in the lot.

My suspicions were confirmed when, as we were approaching the gate to the parking lot, we spotted a parking space just outside of the lot where we could park for free and walk the extra 50 feet or so to the park – we’d get free parking, and we would be in the park with the tourists rather than the golf course with the locals. “Let’s just park there and walk into the park” I said, which thankfully at least got the agreement of one other person in the car. But despite that person being the one driving the car, she instead listened to her husband, who chimed in with “nah, let’s just go into the lot, it’s fine.”

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Business Travel and Your Finances

CB048735I just got back from a week-long business trip where I stayed at the most expensive hotel I’ve ever been to. The restaurants offered $15 soup, $18 hamburgers, $35+ entrees and $17 cocktails. Fortunately I don’t drink coffee, because if I did, I would have been forced to purchase it for $5/cup since the ritziest hotel ever doesn’t think it necessary to stock your room with a couple packets of coffee. That’s what $250+/night gets you!

Now all of this seems shocking, but I was there on business, so I’ll get reimbursed for all the money I spent. (In fact, I’ll even end up earning money in cash back rewards!) But there were two things that were utterly frightening to me. First, the majority of the people staying at this hotel were clearly there on vacation, meaning they were willingly doling out hundreds of dollars per night for their coffee-less hotel rooms, and piling obscene food costs on top of that. Second, I feared that after a week in fantasy land where it was just a given that your dinner would cost $60, I’d have a hard time readjusting to normal life.

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