Why Can’t I Just Cancel My Gym Membership Already?

I currently pay $9.99 a month for a gym membership to Planet Fitness. When was the last time I went to Planet Fitness? November. Literally haven’t gone since November.

It’s NOT that I haven’t been working out. We got some really awesome equipment in the exercise room at my office back in December, so I started working out there instead. It’s great because I don’t have to leave the building and I can force myself to exercise before I leave the office for the day. Plus sometimes I can convince a coworker to workout with me. The Planet Fitness I was going to is so overcrowded, it is nearly impossible to get a cardio machine. Plus you have to work out while surrounded by sweaty dudes who stare at you too long if you’re a girl using the dumbbells (Believe it or not, Bros of Planet Fitness, some girls know how to lift). My new workout scenario is not only way more pleasant than Planet Fitness, it is also less expensive . . . or at least it would be if I could just remember to cancel my membership.

not going to gym

The problem is that payment comes automatically out of my account, so it happens without me thinking about it. Every month I see on my mobile banking that the funds were withdrawn and think “Oh, yea I should cancel that.” Then I immediately forget all about it until the next time I see the withdrawal. Also, you have to either call or stop by the gym in person to cancel, you can’t do it online. I am socially awkward on the phone, so that option is out. And I don’t want them to judge me when I go to the gym not to work out, but  just to cancel my membership; I’ll feel the need to reassure the person working at the front desk is that “I haven’t given up on exercising, I’m just doing it somewhere else, not because I don’t like them but because this place is free . . . ” I would continually and nervously ramble on for the whole encounter. I’m embarrassed just imagining it. I actually think Planet Fitness knows this about me.  They won’t let me cancel my membership online because they know I will not do it on the phone or in person, and they therefore continue to get $10 out of me a month. Touché, PF. Touché.

The point is, I think a lot of us have expenses like my Planet Fitness one. Bills you pay every month for a service or good you’re not really using. Stuff like cable, Amazon Prime, or Audible. The amounts are small so you don’t really mind paying the bill, but you also wouldn’t miss the service if you stopped paying for it. Don’t let automatic withdrawals, social awkwardness, or apathy allow you to pay for something you don’t use. Just think, I could save $120 a year if I canceled that gym membership. Actually maybe I should go do that right now . . .

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The Most Scientific Experiment I’ve Done Since High School

A few weeks ago, I blogged about this cool app they offer at a local gas station, Cumberland Farms, where you can pay right from your phone and it gives you a discount of 10 cents per gallon off their posted price. You can read all about it here. But as I mentioned before, I’ve always felt like I got fewer miles per gallon when I fill up with the cheap gas at Cumberland Farms than when I fill up somewhere more expensive. So I have never been 100% convinced that buying gas at Cumbies is the better deal. I therefore set out to do a scientific experiment, wherein I would determine once and for all if the lower price at Cumberland Farms really does mean fewer miles per gallon. This experiment was in fact, so scientific, so official, so professional, that it only felt right to tell you about it in traditional “Scientific Report” format. Keep in mind that I haven’t written one of these bad boys in about 7 years though, so I’m most likely doing it wrong . . .

Maybe these glasses will help me sound like I know what I'm talking about.

Maybe these glasses will help me sound like I know what I’m talking about.

Kelsey’s Gas Station Experiment

Question: Does the gas I buy at Cumberland Farms get gas mileage that’s as good as the gas at Irving? Is it worth saving 20 cents per gallon at Cumberland Farms or is the more expensive gas at Irving getting me further?

Hypothesis: If I fill my tank up at Irving for 20 cents more per gallon, then I will get significantly better miles per gallon than I will if I fill up my tank with the cheaper gas at Cumberland Farms.

Methods and Procedure:

  1. Fill up tank at Cumberland Farms.
  2. Record following info: previous mileage on car before I filled up, price per gallon, total gallons purchased.
  3. Drive around! The fun part. It’s also important to note that I had approximately the same mixture of city vs. highway miles with both kinds of gas. I drove around town, to my job, etc. on both tanks but also completed on trip to and from Portland to Boston with each tank. Cause I’m thorough like that . . . 🙂
  4. Once tank is empty again, repeat steps 1-2 at Irving. Be sure to record final mileage when tank filled at Irving is empty.
  5. Ask Katie to help me do some calculations. Math is the worst.

Calculations:

Miles/ Gallon = (Miles After Filling Tank – Mile Per Filling Tank)/ Total Gallons Purchased

Price/ Mile = Price Per Gallon/ Miles Per Gallon

The difference in miles per gallon would be considered significant if it caused a difference in Price Per Gallon of more than 10 cents.

Results & Analysis:

Cumberland Farms

Miles Per Gallon: 25.6

Price Per Gallon: $3.539

Price Per Mile: $0.13

Irving

Miles Per Gallon: 27.3

Price Per Gallon: $3.759

Price Per Mile: $0.13

So pretty much hypothesis was incorrect! FAIL! There’s no significant difference between gas vendors. At both Cumberland Farms and Irving I got the same price per mile. This means the choice is: I can either pay a little less per gallon, but not get quite as much mileage; or I can pay a little more per gallon, but get a little more mileage out of your tank. With the cheaper gas at Cumbies, the total to fill my tank will be a few dollars cheaper. But with the better mileage at Irving,I might be able to drive a few more days before you need to fill your tank again. The good news is, I can’t really go wrong either way.

I guess all of that math and science in high school really did pay off . . .

Life Hack: Say Bye-Bye to Deodorant Stains

You know when you put on deodorant and then put a shirt on right afterwards and you get those big white marks all over your shirt? Isn’t that THE WORST?! This probably happens to me at least once a week. You would think I would learn to put my deodorant on after my clothes or something, but no. I just keep getting all over everything I put on. Then I have to change my outfit and weirdly struggle to get into another shirt without my armpits touching the fabric. It’s as awkward as it sounds.

But the other day when we were in Las Vegas, I got deodorant all over the dress I was going to wear out, I was freaking out thinking that I didn’t have anything else to wear, and my sister just goes “Get another piece of fabric and rub it off.” All calm, like it was no big deal. So I grabbed a towel from the bathroom, rubbed a little at the deodorant spot, and . . . drum roll please . . . IT DISAPPEARED! It was amazing. Since then I have gotten 3 or 4 deodorant stains on stuff, and this trick works every time. No more changing tops!

Finally, having a sister with a degree in Fiber Science and Apparel Design pays off!

I Have Book A.D.D.

It’s been a few months since I updated everyone on my New Year’s reading list progress and, while I am happy to report that I have read 13 books so far this year, only 10 of them are actually on my reading list. I keep getting distracted by miscellaneous books. I would like to think that I can’t stick to a reading list because of some sophisticated literary prowess I possess, but more likely than not it is because I am easily enticed by a pretty book cover.

I am currently in the middle of one of the books on my reading list, so hopefully I will get back on track soon! But here’s the official report on the books I have read recently:

The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

This book was kind of weird. That’s not super helpful as a review, but I really can’t think of a better way to describe it. Like it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, but I’m still not really sure how I feel about it. If you really like thrillers with kidnappings, murders, etc. you might like it, but otherwise I would skip it.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Think of this as the sophisticated big sister to books like the Hunger Games or Divergent; same interesting dystopian society, more complex literary structure. It’s ties to our society are slightly stronger in most popular young adult fiction, though, so it’s criticism of our values and habits as a culture are a little more in your face. Anyone who loves literary analysis (aka the coolest kinds of people . . . am I right?) will love it, but if you’re just looking for a good YA-style easy-read then it might not be your cup of tea.

NOTE! This next section includes a spoiler about the book. You probably should know how the next book I describe is going to end, because all books about dogs end this way. But some people (ahem . . . my roommates . . .) get upset when I ruin plot lines for them. This will not be a repeat of the Downton Abbey Incident of 2014! Don’t read the next paragraph if you don’t want me to ruin it for you.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I did NOT want to read this book, because I knew I could not handle another Marley & Me level tear-jerker. Why is it always sadder when dogs die in fiction than people?! But this is a truly touching story about human nature told from the perspective of a dog who, like most dogs, loves us more than we deserve. It’s 100% worth a read, just don’t read the last 30 pages in a public place or while wearing a lot of mascara because you will weep uncontrollably and it will get ugly.

You will cry. And it will be ugly.

Oligatory photo of Kim Kardashian crying. I told you it would get ugly . . .

One More Thing by B.J. Novak

I LOVE B.J. Novak and I loved this book. It’s a collection of short stories that are weird, funny, thought-provoking and everything in between. You should also really listen to the audio-book version because it has all kinds of fun people who read for it like Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, and Emma Thompson. This was not on my reading list, but it should have been, it’s that good.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

This was a weird, but not un-enjoyable sci-fi mystery. It was pretty entertaining, even if the plot was a little fuzzy and hard to follow at times. It wasn’t the book of the year, but I did need to finish it to figure out what happened, so that says something.

 

Inexpensive Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

FYI – Mother’s Day is THIS Sunday, May 11th. If you don’t have a gift for Mom yet, never fear! I’m here to help with some easy, inexpensive but thoughtful gift ideas that she’s sure to love.

Do It Yourself

teacup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re crafty, you should go on Pinterest and find something fun to make your mom because, let’s face it, you’re probably always on Pinterest ANYWAYS so you might as well be productive. But just in case your access to Pinterest is weirdly inhibited for some reason, here are a few ideas that are more of the adult variety than the traditional “clay-molding-of-my-hand” craft gift. Your mom still has that hand thing, by the way, because that’s how much she loves you.

Do It For Her

breakfast-in-bed

Gifts of action, rather than objects, are great for moms who say stuff like “Oh you don’t need to get anything for me. Just you being here is enough.” No, it’s not enough mom! You gave me the gift of life so let me at least buy you a book or something already!

Anyways, the point is that even if she doesn’t want a physical gift, there is most likely something you can do for your mother that would be just as good. For example:

  • Breakfast-in-Bed – This used to be a Gillespie family staple. My mother suffered through about 18 barely passable breakfasts made by my sister and myself with the limited supervision of our father. But it made her feel special and it was a tradition and I think she loved it. So I highly recommend doing this for your mom.
  • Cleaning Crew – Help a mom out! Vacuum for her, put the dishes away, make your bed. Most moms do a ton of housework and the gift of not doing it for a day or two is probably worth more to her than anything you could buy.
  • Grow a Green Thumb – If your mom is big into her garden or landscaping, help her out! Two sets of hands will make a project bloom a lot faster than one.
  • Spa Day – Maybe you don’t have the cash to buy her a day at an actual spa, but you can always bring the spa to mom yourself! Give her a massage or a pedicure. Try a recipe for an at-home facial like some of the ones here: http://www.rd.com/slideshows/homemade-facial-masks-recipes/ . Pamper her a little.
  • Bake or Cook – If you’re good in the kitchen, make mom a treat. It give her a break from cooking and gives you a chance to show off your skills. The best part is, you’ll most likely get to eat the food, too.

Easy Items

  • Bouquet of Flowers – A small bouquet of Mom’s favorite flower is a sweet, thoughtful gift. Or maybe get her a potted plant so it will last longer and she can think of you when she sees it. **Awww**
  • Chocolate – You can never go wrong with chocolate. Get her a nice, but affordably-sized box.
  • Coffee Gift Card – Every mom on-the-go needs coffee keep her going! Whatever your budget, a gift card to her favorite coffee stop will be greatly appreciated; even just $5 gets her a cup or two.

Whatever you plan to do this Mother’s Day, remember how much your mom has done for YOU throughout the years. I read in a NerdWallet.com article recently that if transportation, janitorial, logistical, and psychological support were calculated to create an estimated annual salary based on national averages, most mothers should earn $118,905. But she does all that work for you for free. The moral of the story: put a little time, thought, and effort into her gift, kiddos – mom is worth it!

Snacks on a Plane! The Horror of Unexpected Travel Costs

Budgeting money while you travel be difficult. Not only because you’re on vacation so you want to let loose a little and forget about your budget; it’s also because traveling can include all sorts of hidden expenses that you didn’t plan for before you left home. For example, I knew the drinks in Las Vegas would be expensive (I paid $20 for ONE cosmopolitan at the Britney show), but I didn’t think twice about how much cash I would need for cabs. Here are a few “hidden” travel expenses to make sure you account for when making your travel plans:

1. Taxis –

One thing I learned in Las Vegas is that even if your destination is on the same street as your starting point, that DOES NOT mean you can walk. We took taxis to get almost everywhere in Vegas and they were a lot more expensive than the cabs back in good ol’ Portland, Maine. Plan to have cash on you for cabs, including a lot of smaller bills so you can split the cost with your travel buddies or tip the cabbie easily. Also, check out the public transportation situation before you get to your destination. A weekend subway pass may only cost $15, whereas a cab will cost $30 each time you ride. Riding the bus might mean saving enough cash for an extra drink or dessert!

2. Hotel/ Airport Parking –

 If you drove for part of your trip, where do you plan to leave your car? Keeping your car in long-term parking at the airport can be costly (as much as $50 a day in some places). It might be worth it to see if you can get a ride to the airport or take public transportation. Remember to factor in cost of parking when you’re comparing flights from different airports, as well.  When I went to Vegas, flights out of Boston were between $300 to $500 cheaper than flights out of Portland; this meant it was still cheaper to fly out of Boston even with the extra cost of parking and gas than it was to fly out of my hometown, but this might not always be the case.

If you’re driving to your destination, check with the hotel about parking before you get there. They may have limited parking spaces available or they might charge a fee. In either case, you’ll want to know in advance so you can budget accordingly.

 3. Snacks in the Airport/ on the Plane –

I am very guilty of buying snacks in the airport. Why is a Cinnabon bought after I’ve been through security always so much more appealing than that PB&J I packed in my carry-on? Calories consumed inside an airport don’t count, right? We all know anything you buy at the airport is super expensive ($4.50 for a bottle of water, anyone?) but you can combat those costs by planning ahead. Bring a few snacks in your bag that you know you’ll enjoy, but also allow yourself a treat here and there. For example, plan to treat yourself to one airport item traveling to your destination and one on the way back, then cut yourself off from any other impulse buys. That way you still get a treat but you don’t spend all of your vacation money before your flight boards. Also, bring a water bottle. Leave it empty to get through security and then fill up once you’re inside. As for the snacks they sell on the plane now, forget about it! They’re tiny, not very tasty, and a waste of your money. Whatever happened to the free peanuts, anyways?

The next time you’re traveling, I hope these tips help you stay on track. After all it’s YOU who should be letting loose and having a good time on vacation, not your wallet!

Las Vegas: The Adult Disney World

This is my most tourist-y/ instagram-ish photo from Vegas.

This is my most tourist-y/ instagram-ish photo from Vegas.

Ladies and Gentleman, I am proud to report that we have officially returned from the Bachelorette-Las-Vegas-Britney-Spears-Weekend-Extravaganza without anyone getting stuck on a roof or getting themselves on the no-fly list, which I think makes it a success. We had an amazing, whirlwind of a weekend and I think it was well worth the trip. This was my first visit to Las Vegas, and while several different people tried to tell me what to expect, Vegas is most definitely one of those places you have to see to believe. As a Vegas-Newbie, I think I made the following comments about 100 times each while we were there:

1. “Why is everything SO HUGE?!” – Like, actually though. Everything there is unnecessarily large. You’re at one hotel and you’re like, “Oh the Bellagio is right next door, let’s just walk.” And then 20 minutes and half a mile of walking later you are no closer to getting there than when you started. All you’ve done is walk by like 10,000 people, a bunch of casinos, bars, and some over-the-top hotel decor involving fake flowers. Lesson learned: just because your hotel is on the strip does NOT mean you should walk anywhere.

2. “How do we even get of here?! Is there a door to the outside world? HELP!” – All hotel/casinos in Vegas are black holes of food, adult beverages, gambling, and stores. There are no clocks, no windows, and no exit signs because they want you to get lost. It’s intentionally confusing. They’re hoping that after half an hour of unsuccessful searching for the door, you will just give up and stay at their casino. Example: Darcie and I got lost at the Venetian. We called the other group, who we planned to meet outside the Grand Lux Cafe. We got there, didn’t see them. Called them, they said they were there. Turns out – there’s TWO Grand Lux Cafes in the same darn hotel. With the same name. HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO FIND ANYONE, LAS VEGAS?! I’m from Maine, I get lost easily in urban settings. They were setting me up for a loss on that one.

A picture of the wolf pack pre-getting lost at the Venetian.

A picture of the wolf pack pre-getting lost at the Venetian.

3. “Why is everything inside a hotel?”– Apparently, nothing in Vegas is in its own building. Every restaurant, club, or tourist attraction we went to was inside of a hotel. I’m pretty sure you could go to Las Vegas and never actually go outside, which seems like a waste of sunny, 80 degree weather to me. It reminded me of this swim meet we used to go to every summer in St. John, New Brunswick where the hotel was connected to the pool by this walking tunnel so we wouldn’t go outside for basically the entire meet. Except there they built it like that because it’s Canada and it’s cold, so it made more sense.

4. “This is like Disney World for Adults.” – Las Vegas is the most American city of all time, in that you can visit attractions from all over the world without ever having to leave the comfort and safety of the good ole US of A. You can see the pyramids (the Cesaer’s Palace version anyways) without having to encounter someone who doesn’t speak English. Or you can see the Eiffel Tour and the canals of Venice at the same time while making your way to lunch at Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar and Grill!” It’s a consumer-friendly version of traveling the world. Also, if the architects of Las Vegas know one thing, it is how to take a theme and go ALL OUT. You asked for bar with a chandelier theme – you got a 5 story night club INSIDE of a crystal chandelier. Looking at you Cosmopolitan . . . Las Vegas reminds me of the Rain Forest Cafe at Disney, where even the menu items are renamed with puns like “Python Pasta” or “Gorilla Grilled Cheese Delight.” Really, every restaurant, ride, and store at Disney is like that. It is also like that in Vegas. Basically, Las Vegas is not a town, as much as it is a theme park. What I’m getting at here is that it was wicked fun for a vacation trip, but I think I would find living there overwhelming.

5. “OH MY GOD! We’re at Britney Spears! Like that is Britney Spears right there! This is my 1st grade dream come true!” – I shouted this at Kathleen, the other little sister of the crowd, repeatedly while we were at the concert. Any time we weren’t singing along with Brit’s greatest hits, I was saying any combination of these statements. The concert was the highlight of the trip. Britney was FABULOUS. She did not disappoint. She didn’t sing much, but she did what she does best – entertain. The sets were amazing, the back-up dancers were great, and she changed outfits pretty much every other song. As I think I have mentioned before (but it’s hilarious so I’m bringing it up again, sorry I’m not sorry Darcie), my sister spent most of our formative years in faux-leather pants and a head-set lip-syncing to B. Spears in our living room; I cannot think of a better way to send her off into married life at a Britney concert, also in faux-leather pants.

That's Britney, rolling around on that stage somewhere.

That’s Britney, rolling around on that stage somewhere.

So that was my Las Vegas experience in a nut shell. It was the bachelorette weekend of a lifetime. And if you thought that I didn’t learn any important financial lessons while I was in Vegas – think again! My next post will be about unexpected travel expenses and how to avoid them. I was just too excited about Britney to fit all that into this post. 🙂

If you're having trouble reading this guy's mohawk, it says "Britney, Piece of Me." The other side had the full "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. #dedication

If you’re having trouble reading this guy’s mohawk, it says “Britney, Piece of Me.” The other side had the full “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. #dedication

P.S. The end of the bachelorette means that this wedding is only 5 weeks away. And I have a bridal shower to throw in less than a month. EEK!