By Brad Beckstrom
Wait, The Frug hanging out at a four-star resort in the Greek Islands? That doesn’t sound very frugal. The fact is, it’s never been more frugal. This has a lot to do with the strength of the US dollar versus the Euro which is regularly hitting 10 year lows, but it has more to do with Greek hospitality and choosing the right time and the right island to visit.
Location, Location, Location
While I was researching Greece, I was a bit disappointed to see pictures of summer crowds in places like Santorini and Mykonos. One website even included photos titled “perception” and “reality” showing a photo of beautiful whitewashed houses and windmills on Santorini next to a photo of the same spot, covered in tourists, with every alleyway bursting at the seams with dreaded shoppers and selfie stick wavers.
From the start, I wanted to avoid the crowds. That was going to be tough as our kids weren’t getting out of school til late June and, like many other families. we’d all be hitting the highways and airports about the same time. The strategy we came up with was to visit a few Greek islands that most Americans have never heard of, Paros and Antiparos. We talked to some Greek insiders including a celebrity chef my 14-year-old son had been chatting up on Twitter and got the scoop on these two islands. They’re in the same Cyclades chain of islands with Santorini and Mykonos, but because Paros is a ferry hub, it’s often the first stop coming and going on the ferry from Athens. This would be our destination.
The other key element in our plan was timing. Read more…
The best way to track your alcohol intake without carrying around a breathalyzer or having someone offer you one.
By Brad Beckstrom
So one friend says to me “I shouldn’t have a beer, I’m driving.” Another friend says “Let’s have another round.” And he may have already had 5. Even though I frequently use UBER or Lyft to get around, I still think it’s a good idea to keep track of what you’re drinking. I’ve been trying to cut back on the amount of alcohol I consume to lose a few pounds and live a healthier lifestyle.
I found a subtle trick you can use to limit your drinking and stay well within legal limits. You’ll be able to your enjoy yourself whether it’s with the 1 beer friend, 5 beer friend, or no beer friend. Here’s how it works:
The past couple of years I’ve been using a smartphone app called IntelliDrink. The app uses an algorithm based on information you put in to set up your profile. Your profile includes things like height weight, and gender but also allows you to put in your favorite drinks, including type, size, and alcohol content in advance. So, when you have a beverage, all you need to do is click on the drink button. You can even adjust the time you started, as well as whether you have recently eaten, or are drinking on an empty stomach. Just make sure you’re sober when you complete your profile and put in the drink information. You only need to do this once.
The most important feature on the app is the blood alcohol content (BAC) graph. What many people don’t realize is that your blood-alcohol level continues to rise after you stop drinking, especially if you’ve had several drinks over a short period of time. This app does a great job of tracking and predicting blood alcohol content based on your profile and the types, time, and number of drinks you’ve entered by hitting the drink button. Read more…
By Brad Beckstrom
In the middle of a crowded Irish pub, my friend stood up and shouted “Brad will be taking Uber home tonight!” and ordered another round to cheers and jeers. Late that evening, a shiny Jeep showed up and drove my wife and I home in the freshly falling snow. Total cost of the ride $6.28. My friend didn’t know that I use UberX about once a week and whenever I’m traveling
Having a shiny sedan show up at your home with a driver may not seem very frugal, until you consider parking costs $6-$10 for a night out in the city and the occasional $50-$100 parking ticket. I got two last year. The hundred dollar parking ticket was due to an expired Virginia inspection decal. I was a bit peeved until I saw that this parking ticket actually said “ticket and tow” and I’d gotten to my car before the tow truck had arrived. My inspection decal was two days expired and I was parked in DC! That city will do anything for a buck as long as it’s a pain in the ass.
About a year ago when Virginia tried to ban Uber, I wrote to my Congressman and told him that he was putting drinkers back on the road if he supported banning services like Uber. I didn’t use the word drunks because many folks who get a DUI think they’re fine until it’s too late. The average cost of a DUI can range anywhere from $7000 to $25,000 depending on the area and fines. The younger the driver, the more invincible they believe they are and more likely to have others in the car with them, not to mention the other drivers and pedestrians they endanger when driving impaired. If you’re going to be out celebrating, use it tell your family and friends to use it. I’ll give you some Uber hacks below to eliminate any excuses. Read more…
Jumbo Dog and Refillable 20oz Pepsi. $1.50
My wife Kelly and I have started a new tradition. The Costco Date. Kelly actually coined the term and I jumped on it. I was recently complaining about our grocery bill that two growing teenage boys have something to do with. We had bailed on Costco a few years back primarily because the times we usually went, weekends, it was usually a zoo. I have better things to do with my time than visit a big-box store on a weekend. We also started ending up with oversize stuff we didn’t need like giant jars of olives and other questionable clothing and gadget purchases.
We’d started using Amazon Prime for paper products, pet food, and lots of other items so we decided not to renew our Costco membership. That was before I decided to declare war on our grocery bill. Read more…
A Minimalist approach to snacking.
With football season in full swing and the holidays on the way, this would be a good time to go deep on snacking.
When I used to work in an office, one of my coworkers would regularly bring in a large jar of dry roasted peanuts. He used to leave the dry roasted peanuts in a few different spots around the office.
Several times a day he would walk by and grab a handful of peanuts from the jar. He would also gesture at people, with the jar and say “nuts” ? I would usually answer yep, then, keep on walking. Other times, I would grab a handful en-route to a meeting.
I always wondered why he didn’t just leave the nuts in his office. Later, I realized my coworker had a snacking strategy. By leaving snacks in a location outside of his office, he had established a routine whereby he needed to get up and walk to get to the snack. Read more…