We Smidlaps go to New Orleans once a year on average since I left there in 2001. I’m not sure we would want to live there again as it’s not quite as safe or affordable as Buffalo, but I sure do feel at home there. I loved the city for my time there and it loved me right back in my mini-retirement. This is the one and only airplane trip for the year as Mrs. Smidlap lost her jobby job back in late spring. Let’s call this one a splurge as there was still some steam in the vacation “bucket” of hard earned dollars. I know of a bunch of internet philosophers (bloggers) who eschew most all discretionary spending in order to “retire” by age 31 while saving 127% of every paycheck and it makes for good reading and I’m happy that works for them. If you’ve read any of those you might think: those crazy Smidlaps are going to blow up the budget and won’t be able to get out of the daily grind by 2020 spending on air trips to NOLA on only one income! Well, I make 2 points here.
The first point is that 3 months ago I finally got a bid to a day job where I no longer report to a food chain of jagoffs and dildos like Nurse Ratchet from Cukoo’s Nest and her bands of misfits that couldn’t manage a 2 hole shithouse. There will be more detail that some might not know about working in a union manufacturing plant in a future post. But gone are the mandatory overtime (which was lucrative but exhausting) and overnight swing shifts and the mundane nature of the work. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I was swinging a hammer turning big rock into little rocks on a chain gang the past 13 years. I was just testing plastic in a lab, but that came with long hours for people I didn’t respect. So, the new j.o.b. came with a 10% pay cut (shift premium) and overtime opportunity that went from practically unlimited to something approaching zilch. This came just as our cushy two incomes with no kids turned into one. At first glance it would have seemed like a good time to throttle down the spending side of the ledger, which we did. So why the decision to spend up on this trip? The thing that really made the difference was quality of life in the new position. Now there is less urgency to leave the workforce. That brings me to our balanced approach to the splurge, best drawn as an analogy about not forgetting to enjoy the journey while you’re focusing on the endpoint:
Churchill was asked to cut funding to the arts in order to support the war effort in World War II, he responded “Then what would we be fighting for?”
My new job doesn’t suck. It’s not even close to sucky. I work a set of hours which I chose (7:30 to 4 works for my life) in a nice clean lab and report to a guy whom I respect. It’s like a miracle to be treated well around here but I was the blind squirrel who found the acorn on this one. So after working every extra shift (see Overtime as a Side Hustle) for about 13 years and saving at least 80% of the extra cheddar just to have the financial freedom to quit that nasty job, when we finally got right up to the amount we needed the job changed and ceased to blow. Is that ironic? I’ll leave that to the internet police to decide. So now I get up at a civilized hour and drive my 13 minute commute. I put out some effort for the boss with the mutual respect (it’s better to report to a chemist than an engineer). I maybe go to the gym at work for 3 miles on the treadmill at lunch time. Do some more work and home by 4:15. I’m not curing cancer or changing the world but it’s not dread and I’m not sure what I would do at that point if I didn’t have someplace to be 40 hours a week. So New Orleans splurge it is.
We booked the whole thing with points as I had one of those Southwest credit cards for a few years which I just ditched for Chase Freedom one with a 150 clam bonus then 1.5 cash back and no annual fee. We never paid any interest on either one but the Southwest one had a 69 dollar annual fee which I was always averse to paying. That was good for about one free flight a year but I think we might be flying less and cash back is more flexible. So hooray for free flights and hooray for us. Boarding our boxer dog costs a couple of hundred and we got a 3 night hotel stay and one night with our friends Tequila Mick and his lovely bride.
We’re planning to hang around the legendary Mr. Pipps for some food and oysters and drinks tomorrow night. Then we’ll take it easy on Thursday and look forward to lunch at Commander’s Palace with Mick and Mrs. Mick on Friday. If you’ve never been to Commander’s, I think it’s the best restaurant in NOLA and has been for quite some time. Hopefully the weather is good and we’ll sit outside on the courtyard patio. Every time we’ve been there in the past has been memorable and lunch is steal at almost every place around town. Having friends for it is the icing on the cake. I look at it like all the things we do really well (drive older cars, no cell phone for me, eat at home from food we’ve cooked 99% of the time, etc.) are worth it to me in order to be able to do things like this little trip. We value things like this, especially seeing old friends. There is more to come either during or after the trip.
Best Thing Last Week
The Dodgers are in the world series! I starts tonight. As a lifelong sports fan I haven’t been able to celebrate a championship for one of my teams since 1988. Go Blue!
Quote of the week
No matter where you go, there you are. — Buckaroo Banzai
Free activity of the week
I know the frugal minded are always looking for rewarding activities that don’t cost mad jack in order to participate. I’ve read about hiking in the woods and hitting up the free concert in the park. Well my free activity of the week usually has those beat. Are you ready? My free and frugal activity of the week is coitus. ’nuff said.
Feel free to comment or share. Just blast away. As always, I can take it.