Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Recap: Portland, Oregon


Well I’m back from a great trip to Portland. I came in well under budget – mostly because we were really conscious about our food expenses. And because, well, Portland is a really reasonably priced city for tourists.

Here’s my recap of the weekend:

As soon as BF got off work, we headed straight for the border. Instead of powering all the way through to Portland, we decided to take it easy and book a hotel around the halfway mark. I used my Marriott rewards points and got us a free night’s stay, and this was the only night we went to a restaurant for dinner. The place we went to – Trackside Pizza – is, you guessed it, beside a railroad track. :) When the first train rushes by, it’s kind of cool. But after the 5th or 6th one, it got a little annoying.

We were up early and on the road to Portland. I was a bit worried about the weather, since it was pouring on the drive down. But as soon as we entered Portland, the skies cleared, and we didn’t have a drop of rain all weekend. :) After an awesome brunch at Mother’s Bistro (no line-up!), we spent most of Friday wandering NW 23rd street – a cute area with awesome shops and great houses. I loved wandering down the street, popping in and out of stores, and of course sampling the ice cream at Salt and Straw (eventually sharing a scoop of sea salt and caramel). We both agreed that it was our favourite part of the weekend. After that, we had dinner at a food cart ($6 + $1 drink), and in the evening, we wandered over to Rogue Brewery for a few adult beverages.

Breakfast was quick and cheap, because we had a jam packed day. Our first stop was the Saturday Market, where we spent a few hours looking at all the artisan products for sale, and watching the bands and performers along the waterfront. :) Then we braved the line-up at Voodoo donuts (it was well worth the wait). We were disappointed by Chinatown (and opted not to pay to get into the gardens). Instead, we walked along the waterfront, and then did a bit of shopping downtown.

In the evening, we ventured out to Baghdad Theatre – which is about a 10-15 min. drive from downtown. The theatre is pretty cool – vintage feel, and you can order alcoholic drinks and pub food at your seats. It’s a bit of a novelty because we don’t really have that here in Vancouver. :) The movie showing was 300 … and it was actually the first movie I’ve ever walked out of. Just awful.

There was a massive St. Patrick’s Day run that was just outside our hotel. We were staying on the top floor of the hotel, so we got a great view before we hit the road back to Vancouver – making the usual pit stop at Seattle Premium Outlets, and visiting one of BF’s friends in Bellingham.

oregon2014-budgetCost Breakdown
Anyway here is the breakdown of how much I personally spent while in Portland. It should be noted that I got our Marriott hotel for free using points, and BF paid for the 2 nights in Portland. We split the gas costs, and it was pretty reasonable considering we drove over 1,000km. As for food, we took turns paying, but I think he ended up paying for more than me.

All in all, it was a great trip to Portland. It’s one of my favourite American cities, and I can’t wait to go again. Although I think next time we might want to stay along the Oregon coast instead, just to get a different experience. :)

Having a car is expensive


carBack in the fall, I wrote a post called How much is your car costing you?, where I calculated that I was spending around $300/month for gas and insurance (11% of my net monthly income). And that didn’t even include maintenance like oil changes, repairs, or the actual cost of buying the car.

Even though I concluded that having a car was a clear “want” and not a “need,” I still depend on my car to lead the lifestyle I want for myself. Deciding to live in the suburbs, that’s the choice I made. And it’s the right choice for me now, but I’m not sure if it’s the right choice for me in the future.

When I start my new job later this month, I’ll be commuting from the suburbs to just outside of the downtown core. In the 6+ years I’ve lived here in Vancouver, I’ve never actually worked in Vancouver before… so I’m not sure what my commute will be like. Based on where I’m located, I think it will be similar to my old job (35-40 mins.). But the big difference is that when I’m over at BF’s house, he lives just 5 minutes away. AND since I’m working in such a populated area, most offices don’t have designated parking – so I had to rent a parking spot for $65/month.

Now that $65 parking stall is almost 50% less than any other stalls I’ve found in the area. That’s because I’m renting a space in an apartment building about 3 blocks from my office, and not in a regular parking lot. But if you combine that expense with having to rent a parking stall near BF’s house, my car costs have immediately risen by 25% to approximately $375/month.

I ran the numbers again, comparing my car costs with buying a transit pass, and my car still wins out even with this added cost. But just barely. If expenses go up again, I’m going to have to make some serious decisions. Even though I love where I live and I love my home, I’ve been spending the majority of my time in the city, and that’s only going to increase with this new job.

So maybe it will mean moving to a more central location down the road. Or maybe it will be as simple as letting go of some of my hobbies and buying a bus pass instead.

Spending Recap: March 3-9, 2014

Monday 3rd
$125 parking pass (12 months)

Tuesday 4th
$9.13 lunch

Wednesday 5th
$24.89 groceries

Thursday 6th
$6 parking
$47.99 dinner (for 2)

Friday 7th
No Spend Day!

Saturday 8th
No Spend Day!

Sunday 9th
No Spend Day!

Freelance Income: $0
Expenses- $188.12

TOTAL: - $188.12

Well the biggest expense for me is buying a 12-month parking pass for a lot near BF’s house. After debating for a few months, we decided to buy the pass before parking rates went up from $6/day to $11/day on April 1 – which means a HUGE savings for me (my portion of the 12-month pass comes out to just over $10/month). Compare that to the parking lot’s daily rate, or the $60/month for a stall in BF’s building! The only downside is that not a secured lot, but it’s so close to where he lives that we can see my car from the apartment building.

My cousin was also in town this week, so we went out for dinner with him and a few other people to a sushi place called The Eatery. Has anyone else been there before? The place was pretty unique, and I was really impressed with the amount of unique and delicious veggie rolls available… but it wasn’t that great for having conversations with people. Still, I’d probably go again. :)

Over the weekend, we had dinner with some of BF’s friends on Saturday night. I also played in a semi-finals field hockey game on Sunday, which we lost. By a lot. :( But our goal for the year was to make it to the playoffs, so I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish.

How was your week of spending?

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