Tag Archives: summer

Can Someone Who Hasn’t Taken A Real Vacation In Years Not Have ANY Vacation Time?

I apologize for the long title for this post but I’m really puzzled how come I have zero vacation time left when I haven’t gone on a “real” out-of-town vacation in years? I’m not panicking since I will continue to accumulate hours and should accrue enough for some time off during the summer.

I know that I took a day off here and there last summer and around the holidays. Sad to say, except for one beach excursion, I don’t remember what I did on those vacation days.  I guess this is a reminder that rather than picking a random Friday and then see what’s happening around town, I should find a fun activity first and then schedule my vacation time around that event.  Otherwise, I’ll end up staying home and only taking the kids to the park if I’m extra motivated.  Apparently staycations don’t work that well for me, unless I plan in advance.

The good news is that I did plan my upcoming time off so at least I’ll remember what I did with those vacation days!

Are you planning your summer vacation already?  Anyone going on big trips?

While Your Family Was Out Picking Strawberries or Whale Watching….

As you may have guessed, my summer “vacation” was less than spectacular.  I had to include doing laundry as one of my vacation accomplishments.  Anyway, I was thinking that if my kids kept a tally of their fun summer, it would be a major fail.  Luckily of course they don’t keep a tally…

However if they did, this is what I imagine they would include on their list, plus commentary:

  1. 1 concert in the park  (music was ok but loved water toys and tables)
  2. 1 aquarium visit (not as exciting as Nemo)
  3. 1 Kid Museum day (love the colorful balls and slides)
  4. 2 Mall Visits (loud music, lots of people and toys)
  5. 3 Library Visits (books…bleh..)
  6. 1 Coffee Shop Visit (it’s fun to topple other people’s cups!)
  7. 1 Beach Trip (let’s run into the ocean! I hate sand on my feet…)
  8. 1 Birthday Party (balloons…)

If you consider that I read several local parenting websites and regularly check out their family event calendars, this list is pretty pathetic.  We have good reasons for missing out on activities and events, but still… I do  hope to squeeze in a few family outings before month’s end.  We’ll see…

What fun things did you do this summer? Oh wait, don’t tell me…

Vacation “Rules”

My Summer Vacation Rules:

1) Limit Technology: Check Emails once or twice a day and not first thing in the morning.  Make it a low priority to always be “connected”.

…BUT make time for TV and movies. I rarely get time to watch TV so it’s nice to just relax and watch old favorite shows or movies.  I associate internet, emails and smartphones with work/adulthood while TV is a thing from childhood and thus, more relaxing.

3) Don’t keep up on blog reading: I’m sure I’ll miss some interesting conversations but I associate blog reading with my usual routine and need a break.

…And Read Lots of Books Instead! One of the joys of summer. I remember many days spent at the local library.  I may even revisit books from young adulthood.  Since my vacation is just one week,  I actually don’t think I’ll go through that many books but I’ll be happy to just get through one or two.

I started reading “A Separate Peace” a classic coming-of-age story that takes place one summer but decided to put this reading on hold til my actual vacation.  It’s so beautifully written that I feel like I was once a teenage boy at a New England boarding school during a long, lazy summer.  If anyone has recommendations for books that place in the summertime, let me know!

3) Enjoy Unscheduled Moments: I like to plan some fun things or else we’ll end up in our PJs at home all vacation.  At the same time, it’s nice to have unscheduled free time… The key word is to enjoy it and not stress about “not doing anything”

…But Plan At Least 2 Fun Activities: If we don’t plan anything, we’ll end up doing nothing. I may end up settling for some playdates and library storytimes but I am determined to do some fun and new things with the kids!

Do you have any “rules” or must-dos for your vacation?

Wardrobe Revamp..Or Choosing Material Things Over Experiences

Right after I “saved” money on my summer vacation, I spent money on a wool sweater that I won’t be wearing til fall or winter.  I can run through all the justifications…big sale, good brand, free shipping, merino wool, polka dots…but it really makes no sense.  If it fits as well as it looks online, I’ll be happy.  However, it did make me set a clothing budget budget.  I’ve held off replacing many items over the past year and it’s been getting hard to find work-appropriate summer clothes. It’s also time that I replaced some worn-out shoes.  For what it’s worth, I haven’t bought anything for myself since January 2012 and have gone up a size.*

Despite my desire to revamp my wardrobe, I did imposed some guidelines to keep my spending in check:

1) Keep A List: I assessed my clothing needs and decided to keep a list (with budget next to each item) in my wallet at all times.

2) Really Assess Your Closet: As I mentioned in #1, I actually looked inside my closet to see what I needed/wanted.  After my first assessment, I came up with a fairly long list plus a target spending amount in each category. For example, I am willing to spend more on shoes than blouses.   However, I quickly busted my budget on one pair of shoes!  I re-examined my closet and realized that I didn’t need to buy everything on my list.  I could boost my summer work/play wardrobe just by using what I got.  1) I have two summer-y items hanging in my closet for months because they need ironing; and 2) I should finally wear a summer dress that I bought last year!

2) Work/Play: In the past, I had a clear division between casual and work clothes, which definitely increased my spending. Since my workplace is fairly casual, I’m spending on clothes and shoes that are good for both work and play.

3) Frugal Substitutes: Rather than replacing every item that is now too small or past its prime, I’m trying to figure out if one item can do 2 jobs.  Example:  Three of my work skirts were no longer presentable — a dark denim skirt,  black pencil skirt and gray A-line skirt.  I replaced all items with a more basic straight gray/navy skirt.  It’s very versatile and something I can wear to work or for a night out.

4) Remember that higher price doesn’t always equal higher quality! While I do think some designer brands look and feel better, it doesn’t always mean that their items will last longer.  Pricing also reflects brand perception and higher store mark-ups. Plus, I’ve found that many items I have from Target and Old Navy have hold up for years when taken care of.  Update: I do have to give kudos to my one pair of high-end designer shoes, a brand I never heard of but just looked up and realized that these cost on average $400-500.  I got it for close to $100 and you can definitely find them on sale or online for the $200 range.  Anyway, it’s an Italian brand, great-quality leather, comfortable, well-made and beautifully designed and has held up extremely well over 8+ years. My only concern is that this has become my go-to heels now that others have come and gone. I need to get a second pair just to give these a break and get another 8+ years out of them.  Or try to find the same pair on Ebay.

5) Buy What You Love: I spent a day mulling over the purchase of those cute shoes.  It went on sale so I took it as a sign to buy even though it was still above my original price point.  I made adjustments to my budget by cutting out other wants.   At the end of the day, if you don’t love it, it’s not a bargain.  Tip: Some retailers offer price protection so if you’re not sure you got the best price, go to the www.priceprotectr.com and sign up for a notification if the price drops within 7 days on the item you just bought.

* It’s strange to be a bigger size  on pants and skirts only, while still being smaller for blouses and tops.

How do you manage your clothing budget?  Do you set a budget or just buy what you want/need?