Is America ‘Glamping’ Its Way Through The Recession?

Glamping is a new trend that I discovered while watching The Real Housewives of Orange County late one evening (Don’t judge). Essentially it’s glamorous camping, hence the name “glamping”. People go into the woods for a few nights of ‘roughing it’, but with many of the luxuries of home such as: electricity, indoor plumbing, a chef, or concierge. Here’s an example of what some glamping tents look like. I thought the point of camping was to get back to nature and enjoy the simpler life, but what do I know.

Glamping queen suite

[Photo Credit: WildExodus, Flickr]

It made sense the more I thought about this new trend. So people want to enjoy camping, but not lose any luxury. Sounds a lot like America now. We want/need to get back to the simpler things in life, but not without our luxury. We’re at a point where many of us are struggling financially and instead of going camping, we’re really just glamping. No real sacrifices made. Do you see where I’m going with this? If not, let’s look at a few examples:

  • You’re currently unemployed, broke and about to lose your home but you’d rather spend $300 or more a month to put gas in your ginormous SUV that you can’t afford than downsize to a more fuel-efficient vehicle or God forbid a used car
  • Though you can’t afford to go shopping, you also can’t afford being seen in last seasons clothes so you just charge it and pay the minimum every month. All for the sake of appearances.
  • Taking a lower paying job is not an option for you. Not because the salary isn’t enough to live on but because people may think you’re not as wealthy as you seem.
  • You can barely keep the lights on in your home, but you will not miss an opportunity to travel or spend a night out on the town.
  • Despite your tough times you still find a way to pay for your double-shot-mocha-frappe-whatever daily.

We say we’ve cut back and we’re doing everything we can, but the reality of it is there’s a lot of people who still don’t get it. America, to get back on track we’ve got to get back to camping, not glamping. I’m talking about getting back to basics and roughing it. Cooking our own meals, cleaning our own home, spending less on gadgets, driving a car for the function instead of status, stay-cations, and working a job that we may not love. Learning to do more with less is imperative. We are all in this together so lets swallow our collective pride and get down and dirty. Right now there’s no time for glampers, only campers.

Are you a glamper or camper? Should Americans be more willing to do away with certain luxuries until we are back on our feet or is that an unfair expectation?

Am I Better Off Now Than Four Years Ago?

Without money

Without money (Photo credit: Toban Black)

Are we better off now than four years ago? That’s the million dollar question. I can only speak for my household, but we are in a better situation. Let me walk you through the past four years of my life:

Late 2008 – My husband and I had good paying jobs and were looking to buy our first home. Add to that our engagement and pending nuptials and life couldn’t get any better.

2009 – We move into our first home and get married in the fall. Ain’t life grand we thought. Newlywed homeowners, the American dream.

2010 – Our dream home had lost over half its value and foreclosures were rampant in our neighborhood. In addition to that, we both lost our jobs. Fortunately, we were able to find work fairly quickly.

2011 – Home values were creeping back up in our area, but nowhere near what we owed. I was able to land another job making even more money. We saved up enough money to take our first vacation since our honeymoon.

2012 – We’ve been able to save money and pay off/down debt. Home values are still rising and we can sell in the next couple of years. We’re not out of the woods yet but we are well on our way.

How did we do it?

  • My husband insisted on purchasing a home that we could afford on one income. It sure saved our butts during unemployment. Because our mortgage was so low we were able to stay afloat until one of us found work
  • Our belief is that we only have one car note at a time and we keep the note to a minimum.
  • We took jobs that weren’t necessarily dream jobs to make sure that we weren’t unemployed too long.
  • Whenever we get a raise or bonus it goes right to savings. We never see it or touch it. This way we keep the simple lifestyle we started together.
  • We got real with ourselves and our situation. I read Suze Orman‘s The Money Class, and standing in our own financial truth has been our saving grace. The moment you become honest with yourself and your situation is the day you will start to turn the corner.

The past four years were eye-opening and a lesson I’m glad we learned early in life.

Are you better off now than in 2008? What steps have you taken to survive during the economic crisis? Are you really standing in your financial truth?

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Ballin’ On A Budget

Money (69/365th)

Image Courtesy of PandaBob on Flickr

I don’t know about you, but I have not quite reached “Baller” status. I often get caught with champagne taste that my Boone’s Farm budget can’t handle. With the weekend upon us I wanted to share a few things that I use to stretch my dollars. I apologize if some of these are not available in your area.

ScoutMob is an app that gives you 50% off (in most cases) food, clothing, beauty services, etc. The best thing about Scoutmob is that you don’t have to pre-purchase anything. Bad news is you can only use the deal once. My suggestion, take a friend(s) with a Smartphone and you can go back and use theirs the next time! This app can be found in the App Store and Android Play Store.

Restaurant.com has gift certificates in various denominations. To take full advantage of this site sign up for their newsletters. They will send you coupon codes to use at checkout. I once got a $50 certificate for $1.75! Now that’s ballin! If I don’t have a coupon code I don’t buy a deal. The catch is that some restaurants have a minimum order amount. This is great if you are going with a group and they never expire. They’ve also released an app.

I sign up for newsletters with all of my favorite businesses. They send me countless coupons and deals. It can overload my inbox so I use a secondary e-mail address such as my Yahoo! account to send those emails to. I check it regularly and I don’t have to worry about an important e-mails being buried in my GMail account. I have no shame when it comes to buying dinner with a coupon. Why pay full price when you don’t have to? That’s just crazy talk.

The first two are my favorite apps, but no post would be complete without mentioning: Groupon, Half Off Depot, and LivingSocial. I’m know there are more apps with the same concept but I’ve found these work best. I’ve used these deals for gifts, vitamins, workout equipment, workout classes, teeth whitening, and almost anything else you can think of. As a matter of fact, I have one for rock climbing that I need to use!

Getaway deals are popular as well. The apps mentioned before and TravelZoo have great travel deals. Take a vacation at a very discounted rate. When I travel I check to see if my favorite apps are available there too. That’s a double whammy!

Some of you are probably thinking this isn’t earth shattering news, but in the past month I’ve had to introduce at least 10 people to these tips. Not everyone can be as trendy you (pat yourself on the back). Take this time to try something new at a fraction of the cost. Enjoy! Have a great weekend.

Do you have a suggestion for “ballin” on a budget”? Please share it. I’m always looking for ways to stretch a buck.