Vacation Mindset — The Force is Strong

by Katy on August 7, 2013 · 14 comments


My sister and her two kids are visiting from New York for a couple of weeks, which we absolutely love. However, it can become an extremely expensive endeavor for my family if we’re not careful. Why? Because it’s very easy to slip into a vacation mindset with potential to hemorrhage a gal’s wallet.


My sister and I took the kids to get a Voodoo Donuts afternoon treat and afterwards walked around the Ladd’s Addition neighborhood. We were seriously dragging, so we stopped into a local coffee shop to grab a couple of grown up caffeinated beverages. (BTW, Voodoo Donuts is totally obnoxious, rude to their customers and only accept cash, yet have a predatory ATM on site. Seriously people, don’t buy the hype. They are an terrible business to support.) My sister started to have the kids place drink orders as well. Our $3 expenditure suddenly became as $12 outlay of cash.

For me, I would not have bought fancy drinks for the kids as A) They had just eaten donuts; and B) They already had an excess of energy as opposed to our middle-aged energy deficit.

For my sister it was “fancy drinks for everyone!” as A) “We’re on vacation” B) “We’re on vacation!” Like “The force in this one” the vacation mindset is strong.

I had a small ah-hah moment, as I realized that I would need to be careful to not confuse my sister’s vacation with my own. My husband and I just completed paying off all our debt, and we have college bound teenagers. So yeah . . . not a time to start spending with abandon.

Mind you, we have our own family vacation scheduled for the end of the month, during which I plan on indulging in my own vacation mindset. I time when I will say yes to fancy drinks and other such nonsense. (Note that I call anything beyond tap water to be a “fancy drink.” 😉 )

Please don’t consider me to be party pooper though, as I am the queen of frugal fun. (Okay, okay, I’m actually The Court Jester of frugal fun, but why quibble about semantics?) Just yesterday we enjoyed a delicious burrito buffet dinner that featured pressure cooked black beans, the last of two half-onions, bulk purchased fresh salsa, loss leader Tillamook cheese and the last of a head of lettuce. We also walked to the library where I turned in my adult summer reading program card, checked out books for my niece and nephew, accompanied my sister to Walgreens where I found a penny, and then picked up a tub of free Papa Murphy’s cookie dough using a coupon from a Timber’s game.

And that was all after picking my sister up at the train station at 6 P.M. from a Seattle weekend adventure.

Today we’re going thrifting and will walk to The Bagdad Theater for pizza and second-run movie goodness. (Star Trek, of course!)

Just because I am surrounded by vacationers doesn’t mean that I can give up my Frugal Court Jester duties.

Those are sacred.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Trish August 7, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Disappointing to hear that about Voodoo donuts – I have seen them featured on so many shows. My husband and I were hoping to visit Portland at some point and that was on the hit list


Katy August 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

They once gave me hell about wanting to buy 7 jelly donuts during Hannukah because it was more than 6 donuts, and therefor a “large order.” It was in the evening and I was the person in the shop at the time. They finally sold me the donuts, but made a huge big deal about what a huge big favor they were doing for me. THEY were doing ME a favor by allowing me to overspend spend my money with them.

Super rude about it.

I am not a fan.



tawnya August 7, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Voodoo is awesome…go! Enjoy! Peach fritter is lovely!


John Benton August 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I had an office in old town a block from their store. I treated my employees and myself every Friday with a treat for jobs done well. There weren’t a lot of options within quick walking distance from my location. So I went to Voodoo on occasion. Their store was dark and dingy; they played loud alternative rock music so you had to shout out your order. The employees there had multiple piercings and tattoos, and looked very un kept. My employees asked me not to buy them anymore as the donuts gave them stomach aches.


Katie August 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Just wanted to tell you I love your blog. and Star Trek. and reading about Star Trek on your blog.
I love coffee beverages, ( and adult beverages), but being pregnant I can’t indulge in anything fun, even on vacation. Saves me $$ though- sort of-



Debbie W. August 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Well, my son is now 22, finishing his last year of college (paid for mostly by scholarship money) and I am very proud to say that he knows and appreciates the value of non-fancy drinks (aka: Water), even when on vacation. He knows that non-fancy drinks are a symbol of a lifestyle which can be quite freeing, as our family has been living debt-free for the past 20 years. Congrats to you and your family, and keep up the amazingly good work! 🙂


Sam August 7, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I’m not going to defend the rude service as I have suffered it as well, but I don’t think it’s fair to call them a “terrible” business in such a tone as one might call Walmart. Predatory ATMs aren’t often owned by the business but offered by the owner of the ATM in places that only accept cash.

Tres has done an amazing job working with Urban Opportunities and helping Portland’s at risk youth population (likely some of those youthful “unkempt” employees a previous commenter was talking about) gain valuable job and life skills assisting in pulling themselves out of the poverty cycle.

Again, not excusing the service, but maybe if you contacted the owner and let him know some action might be taken.

P.s. Love your blog and jealous you snap up all the best Portland goodwill finds before me 😉


Katy August 7, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I suppose “terrible” is stating it strongly when compared to Walmart.

But I think that to install an ATM machine that charges $3 for a transaction instead of eating the 30¢ transaction fee is a disservice to your customer base. And you can bet big money that Voodoo is getting a cut of every single ATM fee. There is a huge profit in selling fried dough.

Also, they refuse to accent pennies, which I consider as blasphemy. (Not that I was trying to pay in pennies.)

How about “crappy” instead?



Michelle August 7, 2013 at 7:15 pm

I took my kiddos to the Voodoo Donuts as a bribe after we’d spent the day in Eugene running errands. They’d seen it on the Food Network and the boys really wanted voodoo doll shaped donuts, and my daughter wanted to try the maple bar with bacon …. turns out that they’ve decided the eighty-nine cent version at the grocery store in town is a better donut and has better bacon.

I can’t believe they gave you trouble for wanting to buy seven donuts — apparently large families wouldn’t be welcome there?


Katy August 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Seven of THE SAME donuts. Apparently, it’s different than buying SIX of the same donuts.



sheri August 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Sorry about your experience at the donut shop. After all it’s a donut, right? Not a gourmet meal so the attitude expressed by the owners would keep my cash in hand spending elsewhere…

Speaking of vacation…I’m one of those who spends on a “staycation” as much as going on an actual vacation!


Lynda August 7, 2013 at 11:53 pm

oh, vacation mindset, I’m really good on that one. Been back for 3 weeks and still tending to spend.

Enjoy StarTrekIntoDarkness… come back and tell us what you thought of the film when you get a moment.
Oh, and you may well enjoy Pacific Rim when it comes round again.


Amanda August 8, 2013 at 5:59 am

Spending money on vacation is always the worst part of vacation for me. I have a hard time getting in the vacation mindset even when I am on vacation.


Iforonwy August 8, 2013 at 7:11 am

Ooh Tilamook cheese, do they still do a tour of the factory and is the Air Museum still there? Just re-living my very first visit stateside all those years ago.
I also remembered how I afforded that vacation. I was working for a company in the 80s that needed me to wear an uber-smart business suit. The same company also gave a BIG discount at a high-end outfiters. I purchased the suit during the Summer Sale with the staff discount and at the time they were giving 2for1 air tickets if you spent a certain amount. So I snagged the air tickets too!


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