Sunday, May 4

Omaha, NE

We're in Omaha this weekend for the Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett's company) annual meeting.  The meeting was yesterday but we don't return home until Monday.  There is a brunch today at Borsheim's - free food and alcohol!  Tonight we are staying in Des Moines as that is the airport we used.

When planning my annual trip, I figured out that flying to Omaha was not practical.  A single roundtrip ticket from Tampa to Omaha would have cost nearly $500 and taken 6 hours with connections.  We flew from Clearwater to Des Moines for $154 roundtrip.  The total travel time including the two hours extra driving was under 5 hours.  In addition to the savings on airfare, my rental car was cheap ($63 for 3 days).  We booked low end Wyndham hotels:  Friday night I redeemed reward points since that was the most expensive night in Omaha; last night the Super 8 cost $80 and tonight the Microtel in Des Moines will cost $50.  Not bad for the knowledge gained.  As a bonus, I visited the Geico booth at the meeting and switched insurance.  The 6-month savings will pay for our trip to Omaha!

Speaking of auto insurance, I bought a new-to-me car.  It is a 2011 Aveo.  The S-10 will be retired once I move everything in the new house.  It just isn't practical - less than 20 miles per gallon!  Besides that, it is a rough ride and I am spending too much on maintaining it.  I think the fuel pump may be going bad on it.  Buying this second car is what prompted me to shop my insurance.  I've been with the same insurer (21st Century) since 2002 (it was AIG then, but 21st bought them).  When I called to add the second car, they quoted me a $1,100 rate for 6 months, and that's just liability insurance.  I've never been in an accident and my motor vehicle record is clean.  Living in Florida is what makes the rate high.  Well, the rate Geico quoted was less than $600, and it will drop more once I sell the S-10.

I still haven't closed on the house yet.  The agent had me sign an amendment that extends closing to May 9th.  They haven't received a clean title yet.  This is fine with me - we aren't able to start work on the foreclosure until we return from vacation on the 24th.

Vacation?  Yes... we do return to Clearwater on Monday, but only for a few days.  On Saturday we are going to Las Vegas and Phoenix (my partner has family in Phoenix).  Another frugal trip - I had a voucher on Airtran so that our flights are costing something like $500 for both of us.  Most hotel nights are being comped.  The rental car is just $65 per week; with tax it will cost around $200 for two weeks.  That leaves gambling; I won't go too wild, mostly playing $.25 video poker with a little blackjack thrown in for social interaction.

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