Hi, Mrs. 1500 here.
We recently took a trip by airplane, and brought all carry-on luggage as we are too frugal to pay $25 per bag, per flight. We ended up with 3 rolling suitcases, 2 personal bags, 2 car seats, a stroller and 2 blankets, all of which had to be carried through the airport and to the gate, where they took the 2 car seats and stroller off our hands, but we still had to get on the plane with all the rest.
I was slightly cranky from our 11:55 PM departure time, (the only one available for our free flight) and said to Mr. 1500, “I wish they would just wrap the cost of baggage into the flight, rather than charging extra for it.” Mr. 1500 replied, “I’m glad they do it this way. I would rather pay less for my seat. It’s a pain, but I save money. It’s a tax on the big spenders. They pay a lot of extra money to take things they think they need with them. This allows the airline to sell the basic service, the flight, for that much cheaper.”
Wow. I totally didn’t think of it like that. While I am too frugal to pay the extra money, I see lots of people paying that fee so they aren’t inconvenienced. (I was astonished when Southwest Airlines came out with their automatic check-in fee of $10 per trip, thinking no one would ever use it. Turns out I am wrong. I personally know people who use it.)
Mr. 1500 thinks about things in a different way than most people. He thinks things through, rather than going with the easy answer. I believe most people think like I do, “Oh, I wish they would just roll it in so I didn’t have to think about it.”
Checked bag fees are actually a small tax on the big spenders, but that tax is all around. Look at rental cars. We rented the smallest car they had, and compared rental agencies before booking. We found the absolute least expensive rental we could. It was a Chevrolet Sonic. There is almost no luggage room in this car. But since we had small bags, we could squeeze everything in just fine. We also saved on gas with the Sonic’s little 4-cylinder engine.
When we returned it, there was a French couple also returning their car. They left their receipt behind, so Mr. 1500 picked it up. For the same length of time, our car was $134. Their Mercedes cost $946. They purchased the navigation system (um, you have that on your phone), the pre-paid tolls package ($5.99/day no matter if you hit any tolls or not), and the optional insurance that we declined in favor of our own. Additionally, their base rate was twice what our rate was because they had the luxury car. As they walked past us, they had bags in their hands from all manner of expensive stores, plus those large bags that definitely won’t fit in the overhead bin. Merci, Monsieur Mathieu!
But the tax doesn’t stop there. Let’s mosey on over to airline tickets themselves. You have the option to pay more for a first class ticket. A quick check shows the least expensive option in coach is $297 round trip. But the first class option is $2990. !?!? I cannot wrap my head around that price difference, so I will leave the numbers to speak for themselves. Again, people willing to pay a bunch more for silly luxuries help keep prices down for us frugal folks.
But my best eye-opener was the $99/night hotel we stayed in, in Kissimmee. $99 a night might not seem like a bargain to some of you, but this was not just a room. This was a 3-bedroom condo with 2 full bathrooms, plus a full kitchen, free laundry in the condo, a dining room and an ample gathering room. We stayed here two years ago, and I was so mad that they didn’t include anything with the room, (I am talking one roll of toilet paper to get you started and no more your entire stay) that I wrote a rather scathing review on Trip Advisor. Imagine my surprise when my mother-in-law chose the exact same hotel again!
But with Mr. 1500’s ‘Tax on the big spenders’ comment still ringing in my ear, I started to appreciate Caribe Cove much, much more. Do I need to pay $139 per night to get toilet paper? A full kitchen saves us tons on eating out, the laundry allows us to pack fewer suitcases and just do laundry there. Not so much fun to do laundry on vacation, but you put in the load at night and dry in the morning. They don’t provide the laundry soap, but laundry soap now comes in those little pods that are easy to pack, or even something that looks like a dryer sheet, loaded up with detergent. Bring a few dishwasher pods as well, because those aren’t provided either. But I was amazed that it only cost $99 a night for this place. We went in the off season, so don’t expect that rate in the middle of summer.
I would still like to see them provide liquid dish soap. It is difficult to find the small, carry-on sizes in dish soap, and one giant bottle would last for a long time in the condo. But that was my only beef with them this time around.
A tax on the big spenders can save you a lot of money, if you look at things a little bit differently. I would love to hear some more examples of the “Spender Tax.”
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