Low Spend February Update

It’s Complicated

The goal in February was to be extremely mindful of spending and continue the spirit of No Spend January. In summary, we’ve been more mindful than normal, but not as mindful as we were hoping.

We finished the shed construction (thank God!!) the day after Valentine’s day so we had a lot of final costs for the project. Roofing, felt, flashing, nails, nail gun rental, etc were all costs that added up to $699.23. This was unavoidable, but we also got take-out food quite a bit during the last push because we were too exhausted to cook and didn’t have anything in the freezer. That cost us $214. Oops. Food adds up so fast!

We also spend $59 on entertainment and $20 on books. The book was to support a friend who authored the book and was doing a book tour and the entertainment was to a comedy show we got free tickets for. This is less than normal, but still higher than January when we really watched our pennies.

Our big success so far has been the weekend trip we took to Flagstaff. One of my 2016 goals was to go up north and play in the snow. We’ve always said we want to do it and Flagstaff got a bunch of snow a few weeks ago. Our 7 year wedding anniversary is next week, so we decided to celebrate with a little trip. Normally when I plan trips, I don’t pay too much attention to pricing — I’ll find a place that looks cool and make the reservation. However, this time we embraced the spirit of low spend and I booked us at the Howard Johnson on Route 66 for $28 a night. They’re pet friendly and charge $10 / dog / night so that was a great plus, too. We decided that we would enjoy the adventure and went for it!

The hotel is behind the restaurant and the building to the right is a concert venue. Get this — Bubba Sparxxx was performing Friday night! And we could hear it all, so we got a free concert! BAHAHA
The dogs wondering where the hell we are, us enjoying Forensic Files.

The HoJo was totally fine — it was clean, the water pressure was great in the shower AND it had free continental breakfast, which consisted of Froot Loops, toast and muffins. Hell yes. The bed was terrible and the noise was pretty bad. The walls are paper thin so you can hear everyone’s TV, the concerts at the venue next door and the train that’s about a foot in front of the property and runs all night. Bubba Sparxxx was at the concert venue and Friday and he did a twerk contest so they played Miss New Booty for like 25 minutes straight — seriously, it was awesome and we thought it was really funny. We binge watched Forensic Files and listened to Bubba. What more can you ask for?

Get it right. Get it right, get it tight.

When we got into town, I realized that I forgot to pack a backpack for hiking (idiot) so we headed to Walmart. We picked up a sweet backpack ($13), 2 pillows ($5) and then some snacks for our stay. We got a case of water, crackers, cheese, trail mix, beef jerky, bananas and Little Debbie Snack Cakes. Out total was $41.47.

The next day we had our FREE continental breakfast and packed the backpack with tons of water, snacks, a picnic blanket and a our wallets and headed to Flagstaff Nordic Center where we bought trail passes and rented snowshoes for $33.36.

Snowshoe crew.

Snowshoeing was SO MUCH FUN! There was a ton of snow a few weeks before we visited, but the temperatures had warmed considerably so a good deal had melted. We hiked up the mountain and there was a lot of snow left in the higher elevation. Since the snow had melted so much, they gave us smaller snowshoes, but there was still some pretty deep stuff up high up. Since we had the smaller snowshoes, they would sink through the deep snow and I kept falling down. With the weight of the backpack it was hard to get up and I couldn’t stop laughing — it felt so good to get away from all the commitments we have in Phoenix to go play and laugh together.

Um, Pastry, you’re facing the wrong way.

The altitude and the heavy backpack were sucking the wind out of me, but we went slow and the pups got to explore the forest. Around noon, we set up our picnic and enjoyed our cheese and crackers. We didn’t see another person the whole time and it was beautiful up in the pines. In 6 hours we did about 5 miles and climbed up to 8600 feet. We were exhausted going back to the car.

Snowshoeing in altitude is work, people.

Budget-wise, snowshoeing was such a great value. It comes out to like $2.75 per person per hour and we enjoyed every minute of it. Also, we were so glad we planned ahead and brought our snacks. We got a full lunch and a few snack breaks throughout the trip out of our Walmart haul and it kept us from stopping by gas stations.

That night we decided to go to a “nicer” dinner to celebrate our anniversary and we checked out Pizzicletta. If you’re in Flagstaff, check this place out! It’s a tiny little artisan pizza shop with seating for about 20 at a farm-style community table. They don’t use yeast, instead they ferment their dough to get the rise. The crust had a great flavor and was really nice and thin and chewy. We got wine, beer, two pizzas and gelatto for $66.03 with tip. The food and ambiance were awesome and this is way less than we normally spend for an anniversary dinner. Normally it’s around $100.

You guys, the pizza was SO good.

Unfortunately, I left my sunglasses at Pizzicletta, so I had to buy new ones for $13. I actually really like them, though. I emailed the restaurant to see if they found my sunnies…we’ll see…

Sunday we drove back through Oak Creek and Sedona and just enjoyed the day, stopping to hike where we felt like it. It was a great trip, ES and I needed to get away for a few days and adventure. Below is a recap of our total spend. As usual, food accounted for a huge part of the budget, almost 30%. We definitely could’ve spent less on restaurants, but while we wanted to be mindful, we still wanted it to feel like a real vacation. We did awesome on saving on lodging and I still have a half tank of gas left.

Here’s a recap of our trip total for 3 days of fun. That’s $58 / person / day.

We enjoyed the challenge of a budget trip. What made it so wonderful was being together, and that’s free!!

Oak Creek explorers on the way home. Love my little family!