Saturday, October 24

Cost of a Frugal Miser's "Vacation"

I mentioned Thursday that we were taking a trip funded (hopefully) by mystery shopping along the way. Today I wanted to review the trip. Tomorrow I will review the tax consequences of my trip. Just a note: when you see the deductions I am able to take, you'll be ready to pack your bags and mystery shop your way to the beach, too:

Logistics
  • If we had traveled directly to our destination, the round trip mileage would have been 638 miles. This includes 50 miles for driving along the beach, to restaurants, etc. while there.
  • We actually drove 992 miles. Difference: 354 miles.
  • I packed as usual, except I had to bring my scanner in order to upload receipts. I brought my multi-function printer/copier/scanner in case I needed to print anything. This was a bit bulky but not a huge inconvenience.
Expenses ($326.15)
  • Fuel: $47.00 (actually spent: $68.00, less $21.00 that was included in reimbursements.) BTW, we drove the sipping Corolla versus the sexy but thirsty Bimmer. I'm trying to keep miles off the Bimmer to increase the resale value when I try to sell it this spring.
  • Lodging: $139.32 (incidentally, this wasn't a cash expense. I had purchased a bunch of Best Western gift cards right before I lost my job to earn airline credits needed for a free flight for a trip I am taking in November. The idea was to use the gift cards for business travel and just expense them over time.)
  • Food: $101.20 ($28.00 of this was non-cash as I used a gift card and a $5 off coupon.)
  • Alcohol, Incidentals: $38.63 (actually spent: $59.63, less $21.00 that was included in reimbursements.)
Income ($244.89)
  • $244.89 from completing 21 gas station mystery shops.
  • this does not include the $21 in reimbursed gas and $21 in reimbursed goods, which I have offset in the expenses above.
Net (-$81.26)
  • Note that my actual cash outlay (besides that which will be reimbursed) was only $158.83 as I used gift cards for lodging and one meal.
  • Tomorrow I will cover the tax consequences of the trip. Taking that into consideration, I did come out ahead.
So, we were able to enjoy 2 1/2 days out of town and it only cost me $81 plus wear and tear on my car, which I get to recover anyway from Uncle Sam. Could I have been more frugal? Certainly. There was a cheapo budget motel on the beach (we were a few miles inland) for $39 per night, but I didn't have a gift card for that and the reviews were terrible. We also didn't have to spend as much on food, but even a miser knows when to see the forest for the trees (otherwise we get into the "miser = miserable" territory which I refuse to cross).

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