By the time you read this post, I’ll probably be in Sarasota, Florida starting my low-spend vacation. I used my existing frequent flyer miles to score a round trip ticket at no cost to me. My points even covered the taxes on the airline ticket! I’m taking my luggage on board with me so there are no baggage fees. I packed a set of old iPhone ear plugs so I saved the $5 charge for a set of ear speakers to watch the free on-board movies. I also packed my own snacks, a sandwich and brought an empty bottle (to fill up with filtered free water once I passed the TSA check-in point!). So, I’m starting my 3 week vacay with zero spent!

Yes, downtown Sarasota actually looks like this!

I’m staying at my sister’s new home, so I won’t be spending any cash on hotel fees. Plus my BIL is picking me up at the airport so there will be no taxi fees either. A new Aldi grocery store opened up right in my sister’s new neighborhood, so I won’t be spending a lot of money on my food bill. I don’t count the food as any of my vacation costs because no matter where I would be in the world, I’d have to eat. So, the food costs go under my regular monthly food expense account.

If anyone knows anything about Sarasota, besides it being the #1 retirement destination in America (click here), Sarasota is also home to some of the wealthiest retirees on the planet. I won’t let this deter me because I can hold my own with the best of them. Long time friends of both my sister and myself will be joining us a few nights over dinner. Sarasota has some of the finest restaurants in Florida, with accompanying expensive menus. No problem for me. I usually eat something smallish before I go, order a salad and a seltzer at the restaurant, and relax. I always request my own check (which is very customary in Florida) and pay practically nothing while my fellow girlfriends get hit with tabs like $120 each and up! No thanks.

Of course, every body dresses well, drives fancy cars and probably invented ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. My sister says it’s just awful and unfortunately, she’s fallen into the trap. All the men golf. Or sail. Most of the women do the fund raising, mandatory lunch thing. Sarasota has so many book clubs you’d think they invented the printing press. In all the years I’ve been going to Sarasota, every single retiree I’ve ever met has a side job hustling something. They say they do the side job thing because they need the money to socialize. Pensions, investments and Social Security just doesn’t cut it. Mostly everyone dresses well. If you plan to be with the ‘in crowd’ you either fit in or you don’t. Again, I still don’t let any of this deter me.

Downtown Sarasota. Mostly everyone has a yacht.

One of the lesser known features about living in Florida is the Florida Outlet Centers. Two years ago I did some mad shopping at one of those discount outlets in Vero Beach. I was able to score some much needed Sarasota duds then but due to the pandemic, I never wore any of the designer clothes I purchased (at steep, steep discounts I might add) Till now. I got out my ‘stuff’, dusted them off and away I go. No one the wiser.

I got me some Chico’s designed jeans and slacks (not pictured) as well as some sweaters on a huge discount of 75% off. (Chico’s main office is located in Florida with designer outlets located throughout the state, click here to find a store). I got me a Dooney & Burke handbag (click here) originally priced at $328 for $131. And last but not least, after 40 years of being with my husband, I finally bought myself a wedding ring! Originally priced at $1,200 (complete with diamonds) at Kaye Jewelers (click here) I purchased the ring for $599 at their outlet store. Hubby, of course, paid for it. Truthfully, I deserved it! Enough is enough! I hadn’t worn it since he purchased it two years ago, but I’ll be wearing it now!

So, there you have it. I’ve been blessed with a vacation opportunity and I plan on using this time well. I’m not going to think about money, the cost of things, the rate of inflation, the economy or about idiotic politicians. I’m just going to enjoy the sun and the surf. Far as I know, those things are still free and can’t be taxed. But, give it time. Give it time.

If you want to follow me, I’m switching over to Instagram for now. It’s easier to vacay and post photos on Instagram than on Word Press. You can either go directly to Instagram (CiphersFromCindi) or log on here and see the photos. They’ll be posted on the upper right hand corner.

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