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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back to Blogging – Clip those coupons

Back to Blogging – Clip those coupons

I started this blog back in June and then stopped it on the advice of multiple recruiters.  I think they were being overly cautious as I’m writing about money, financial things, etc and not talking about anything too risqué, so I’m going back to what I had started. My goal is still the same; to discuss financial and money issues related to those of us in the GLBT community and hopefully pass along useful and helpful information.  Many of the things that I will be writing about are universal to any and everyone dealing with money and finances.  So I hope that everyone; gay, straight, bi, lesbian or “undecided” will benefit from the information.
I have been fascinated with couponing since I was a little boy; if any of you don’t know what a coupon is then please email me and I will educate you.  My Grandma Cleo was a coupon clipper and I was amazed that she could cut these coupons out of the news paper for things she wanted to buy and then give them to the check out person and they would take some off of the bill.  It seemed to me to be free money and who doesn’t like that?  As I grew up and started shopping I started clipping coupons myself, and I unashamedly give them to the checkout clerk and love to watch my total go down. 
Over the years my interest level in coupons has gone up and down; however I recently came across this show on TLC called “Extreme Couponing” where people take couponing to a level I had never seen before.  To get an idea of what I’m talking about take a look at this link to the TLC site for Extreme Couponing: TLC . Some of these people have elevated couponing to an OCD level of obsession that most of us don’t have the time or desire to do.  I have seen episodes where these folks will walk out with over $1000 worth of merchandise and end up spending less than $50 out of pocket.  I get the feeling that for some of these folks this is their form of hoarding.  I mean if the shit hits the fan and we have some type of apocalyptic zombie event I’m not sure what good 87 bottles of ketchup and 52 bottle of body wash are going to do you.
I’m not looking to get to that level of extreme couponing; however I would like to be able to knock a few bucks off of my grocery and drug store bills.  So, I’m looking for some practical advice and methods that I can use and pass along to my readers.  If any of you have success stories, methods or resources you would like to share then please either post them in the comments or email me directly.  In the coming days and weeks as this unfolds I will be passing along the outcome of my efforts as well as whatever is share.

Here are some other topics that I’m looking for input on and that I will be blogging about in the coming week.
Inexpensive decorating ideas
Investing for GLBT dummies
Kids-they are expensive
The Gay Divorce’
Living on a budget
Gays and taxes
Gay charities-where does all that money go

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Big Gay Trip to Disney World

OurGayDollars-Gay Day’s at Disney

This year I attended Gay Day’s at Disney in Orlando for the first time.  Not only was it my first time to attend Gay Day’s, it was also my first time to ever visit any of the Disney theme parks.  I should clarify that I went to the Gay Day’s events at the parks and not to any of the Gay Day’s sponsored Circuit Parties.  Not that I wouldn’t have gone; it’s just that after spending 12+ hours each day in one of the parks in 90+ degree weather I was exhausted at the end of each day.

My dad was a mean, cheap man who would tell us that if we wanted to go to Disney Land that when we grew up and could pay for it we could go; so I never got to experience Disney as a child.  So now as a 42 year old gay man I have experienced it for the first time and I truly loved it. As a result of the trip to Disney I have had a lot of people ask me about the cost of the parks and the cost associated with going and was it worth it, etc.  So I thought that it would make a good top to kick things off here on Our Gay Dollars.

First off, a trip to Disney Land or any of the Disney theme parks is not an inexpensive undertaking.   If you are looking for an inexpensive vacation this is not the place for you, especially if you have children.  That being said Disney is still affordable (in my opinion) and doable when you look at it for what it is for a lot of people, a once in a life time experience.  It however it can get expensive and it’s best to know that going in.

The tickets for the two parks that I visited, which were the Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney Land-Magic Kingdom, were about $90 each with tax.  The price is slightly less for young children; however Disney does not offer discounted tickets, unless you are a resident of the state of Florida.  The ticket price includes all of the rides, attractions and shows.  I heard some people balk at the ticket prices; however after two days there I came to see it as a bargain and frankly I don’t know how they are able to operate with that ticket price.  When you factor in the cost of all of the workers, performers and other staff as well as their benefits and healthcare I would think that alone would eat up the bulk of all ticket revenue.  However, it does not end there as you have the upkeep and maintenance of the park and all of the rides and attractions, the facilities, utilities, insurance and construction of new rides and attractions.  When I factor in all of those things then I stand by my opinion that $90 is a very reasonable ticket price.
When you get into the parks there are lots and lots and lots of things for sale.  Just about anything that you can think of is for sale, either in the shape of a Disney character or with a picture of one of them on it.  In my entire life I have never seen so many tee-shirts, hats and cups for sale.  This can really cost you; I spent about $75 on some mugs, magnets and such and that’s just for one person.  My advice is to not buy anything until you are just about ready to leave and then take your time and decide if it’s something you really, really want.  I saw people carrying bags around all day long who shopped early, by the end of the day most of them looked like they were ready to pitch it all in the trash.  So just wait until you are about ready to leave, it’s not worth the hassle of carrying that stuff around all day long.

The food that you find in the parks is pretty much what I thought it would be; burgers, fries, chicken strips, popcorn, soda, ice cream.  I travel a lot for my job which means I eat in a lot of airports so I know what inflated food prices look like.  The food and drink prices were pretty much in line with what I thought they would be.  A 20oz bottle of Coke was $2.50 as was a bottle of water and most meals were about $12.  There are also all kinds of shops selling cookies and candy and you name it so you won’t go hungry; however if you are looking for something healthy you have to look pretty hard to find it.  After my trip I’m good without having a French fry until sometime in October.  I would say that it’s reasonable to plan on at least $35 per person, per day in the park with two meals and a snack and some drinks in between.  They will let you bring in bottled water and there are plenty of fountains that you can refill them from and that’s one way to keep cost down.

Outside of the ticket cost and of course transportation down there (we drove) the other big ticket item is finding a place to stay.  Orlando is full of all kinds of place to stay and there are several properties on the actual Disney property. The hotels on the property can get pretty expensive; however if you have small kids that are going to need a nap in the middle of the day these might be worth the extra expense.  However we opted for something more economical and rented a condo.   Our tour director Sandy found us a great deal on some condos that were about 10 minutes away from the parks.  He used a great gay travel website Purple Roofs Gay & Lesbian Travel to get us a great place and a great deal.  We got a very nice three bedroom, two bath condo for $120 per night.  Our condo community was gated, had a pool and was less than a mile from the super market and all kinds of restaurants and fast food joints.
In all I feel that the trip was worth every penny and I had a great time.  It was fantastic to experience the park with so many other members of our tribe there and many with the kids in tow.  Is it for everyone, no; however I think that it’s definitely something that you should consider checking out.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Gay Dollars is born

Money!  For some it’s the stuff that dreams or made of, for others there is never enough, while some have more surplus than they can possibly ever spend.  No matter what your thoughts, feelings or your relationship with money is, there is no denying that it plays a very important role in all of our lives and affects a great many of the decisions that we make every single day.   With the current state of the economy and so many people focused on the subject of money these days I thought it was the perfect time to start a blog about money and finances and more importantly look at it through the eyes of LGBT community.  So with that the Our Gay Dollars blog is born.
The purpose of creating this blog is to use it to look at the ways that we in the LGBT community earn, spend, save and invest our money.  I want to talk about serious stuff as well as some silly stuff and I want a lot of input from you, my readers and followers as to what topics you are interested in.  You tell me and I will do my best to get the information or get the questions answered.
I have been digging around for estimates on how much “buying power” we as a community have.  The research estimates range from $700 million to $2 trillion dollars depending on who you ask.  Boys and girls, that’s a lot of money and also a lot of clout for us as a socio-economic group.  I believe that we sometimes forget the power and the impact that we as a community have with our dollars and how we choose to spend, save and donate them.  There is truly power in our gay dollars.

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Ted and I am a 42 gay male living in the very fabulous city of Atlanta, Georgia.  I work in business development for the insurance and financial services industry and I have a history of making both good and bad money choices, just like all of you.