I am probably writing this more for myself than for you – as a bit of a “journal entry” of the stuff I have to put up with in my life to do what I do to help families around the country — but maybe one or two of you might find this as amusing as I do (if you go for dry-mundane-humor type of amusement)…
So… y’all know I am broke (relatively broke), as a result of the legal battles we have been engaged in over the past 3+ years. This presents certain challenges when traveling to help families… challenges that other folks might not put up with.
For example, earlier this month I had to cancel my trip to North Carolina because the State’s regulatory compliance considerations there didn’t work well with having a rental instrument for a couple of days (to come to the state to help families.) There were too many unknowns – and I will end up eventually going to North Carolina when I officially own my own instrument and thus know where all the paperwork history is for the instrument (documents you don’t generally have access to for a rental or borrowed instrument.)
Because I cancelled my trip to North Carolina, my $49 flight from NC to Chicago was no longer how I was going to get to Chicago – and it ended up costing me a bunch of money (an unexpected expense) to get my new flight to Chicago (which was by then a fairly last-minute change). As a result, I went to Chicago without a return ticket. This is actually the second time I have flown to Chicago without a return ticket (due to not having the money for a return ticket at the time)! But, as in the previous case, it all worked out in the end.
That brings us to yesterday (June 26th)…I was headed to Los Angeles to help some families, meet with some of my readers, and possibly have some business meetings about finding more work in the State in the future. I had about $30 cash in my pocket, and just about $139 in my business bank account — with nothing at all in my personal account [less than nothing, actually!]…I knew I was going to need to rent a car when I got there, and had made a couple of different reservations – but with the holds and the taxes and all of that, I didn’t have enough for the rental car.
[Tip: I always rent with Enterprise – because they have reliable good comfortable clean cars and because they also only charge a hold to your card of the rental total + 20% (which is lower than a lot of companies) PLUS, I can use a debit card to rent —so I can predictably know that for a $100 total rental car cost, they will only put a hold of $120 on my card (some other companies do a $500 hold if you use a debit card – which just does not work when you are living so close to the edge)! I have not been able to rent with a credit card (usually) because I don’t yet have a credit card for my business [trying to get a credit card for a new business is apparently nearly impossible — but that’s another saga!]
Anyway – back to yesterday…
The following b.s. is the kind of stuff you have to deal with when you are trying to get by (and to work and to help others) with almost no resources. Unfortunately, I spend way too much of my time managing these types of considerations, and I look forward to the day when that is not the case:
Last week I made a reservation for a week-long rental.
I knew I was going to be here for two weeks, but – since I hadn’t yet confirmed enough work to cover the cost of the trip – I also didn’t know if I would have enough when I landed to pay for the full two-week rental, plus the 20%, so I thought I would rent for one week, and then return it later, and rent for another week (or call in an extension on my rental, when I picked up some more work). The rental rate for the one week rental was for $201.56 [at that time, $201.56 a week was the cheapest rate they had for a one-week rental — for an “‘Eco’ SUV” whatever that is!], which would have meant a total rental price – with taxes, etc. – of $303.76, and thus a hold charged to my card of $364.52.
“Just in case” (just in case some additional work got confirmed and I was able to cover the cost of renting a car for both weeks), I also made a two-week rental at the same time (for the same pick up window). This was for a “Ford Edge or similar” (also not exactly sure what that is, but the bigger the rental car is at LAX, the cheaper the weekly rate…because gas!)
I was pretty excited, because with this rental the weekly rate with the two-week rental went down to $158.37! Woohoo! Unfortunately, taxes and fees at LAX are outrageous… so while the two weeks base rate would have been $316.73… with taxes, etc. it was going to be $476.97 — and with the 20% additional hold, I would have had to have $572.37 available on my debit card to rent the car at the lower rate… gah!
So then we land in LAX…five bags…kind of wiped out (I’m old and fat – so traveling always wipes me out, even on these short trips). I’m traveling again with my 10 year old son – because I promised my husband I would take him on every business trip I go on in the future (because my husband cannot handle caring for both of our disabled children while I am gone).
I’m actually excited about traveling with Charlie this time around, because in Los Angeles I have enough good friends that I have places to stay (much of the time) and people I can rely on for childcare and other basics — so I can work. Plus, after work each day, there’s the possibility of play-dates with friends (and that’s so great for him)! The main travel-related costs for me are the flight and the rental car [and gas, and parking, and food…yadda, yadda].
So I land in Los Angeles, with my 10 (almost-11)-year-old son and 5 bags, and about $139 in the bank. [At least I have a return ticket this time, and a place to stay for at least a couple of the nights of my trip — I am dog-sitting for a friend!]
In recent months especially, the way I approach most of my travel for work is a “little unconventional” (to say the least). I will often book just one consultation with a family (or maybe two), and then use that as the foundation for a trip out of town. That first confirmed home consult covers my travel costs (purchasing my plane tickets at least, and hopefully also my rental car); then I will announce my trip on social media and to my e-mail list, and let people know my schedule — and usually (hopefully), a handful of additional work appointments end up getting scheduled too – ensuring the whole cost of my trip is covered (and – ideally – raising enough to also send some $ to my legal team!)
Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I got a small PayPal Business Loan a few months ago (to help cover some of my legal team costs), which means that 30% off the top of everything I bring in through PayPal (payments for work) gets taken out (automagically) to pay back that loan… so if I book an appointment for $600, PayPal sucks out $200, which leaves me with just $400 to cover expenses. 🙁 Luckily for this trip, I had “free” (or nearly-“free”) flights for my kiddos, and so altogether my flights for the whole trip (including my kiddos) was just $413.46 round-trip (that includes having Charlie with me now, and having Avi come join us on July 2nd for the second week of the trip.)
(Back to the rental car)…
So, as we’re sitting in the airport – having just collected our luggage (7 p.m.) – I’m thinking, “GAH — I need to get a rental car!” AND, “I definitely need to book a few more appointments while I am down here!
So I go online in the airport baggage claim area [after charging my computer and phone, which both ran out of juice while on the plane] and try to figure out “how much rental car I can get for $139?”…I found cars for $42 a day, so one option would have been to book a car for a single day (about $65 including taxes, etc.) – but the idea of returning to the airport the very next day was not appealing — nor practical (especially since I already had an appointment scheduled for the following afternoon!)
And then I got the brilliant idea to check my “points balance” with Enterprise — a benefit of using the same company for all my rentals [and in the process, I discovered I’ve apparently rented cars for a total of 95 days already this year!]. I had just enough points to cover a two-day rental (of an pickup truck – the cheapest “car” at LAX)! So I booked it – for just $19.15 in taxes and fees for the two days — so including the additional 20%, a total hold of just $22.98!
And then – I booked a SECOND car – [to switch out cars in two days], and got the weekly rate of just $136.59 for when I pick up the new car on Sunday! Yay!
So the moral to this story (Tamara’s “travel tip” for the day): book your rental car, but then ALWAYS check the rates again the day you leave (or when you land) — so you can see if there is possibly a cheaper rate! $136.59 a week is so much better than $201.56! The Internet is wonderful sometimes (most of the time!)
Now we’re off to walk the dogs that we are dog sitting…
Imagine how much I’d get done every day (and how many more families I could help) if I didn’t have to spend so much energy dealing with this sort of stuff all the time (micro-managing all these stupid little financial considerations because we’re broke as a result of this legal attack)!
Thanks for reading — or maybe just thanks to the Internet for holding a space for this “story”, as I don’t expect too many people are going to be interested in reading it… lol!
Additional photo of my eldest son is one sent to me yesterday while we were in transit. He is busy performing JAZZ in MOSCOW this week! I love my kids! They keep me going!
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