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ft4rlIt’s well known that I am a cheapskate – you can see the budget for my family of 8 here.  Sometimes I like to call myself “frugal” as it has much better connotations, but I have come to admit that at times, I took it to the next level.  It even caused me to wonder last week if I travel differently when someone else is paying for it.

For example, take this past Saturday.  I had just taken a red eye flight from Salt Lake City to Charlotte, in preparation for the Family Travel for Real Life Conference.

(SEE ALSO: 4 tips for surviving a red eye flight)

My flight got in a bit earlier than expected (about 5:45 a.m.), so I had some time to kill.  The hotel where the conference was (Hyatt House Charlotte Center City) does not offer an airport shuttle, but there is an express bus (the “Sprinter”) that goes from the airport to within a block of the hotel.

Unfortunately, early in the morning on weekends, it only runs every hour, and I just missed the one that left at 6:05 a.m., so I had some time to kill

Frustration with the Charlotte transit authority (CATS)

I made my way out to the bus stop, where the sign first indicated that the next Sprinter would come by at 6:20 a.m.  Now remember that the CATS website said it would be 7:05, and a bus schedule I found inside the airport said it would come at 6:55 a.m.  Is there anything more frustrating than having 3 DIFFERENT TIMES to expect?!?!?

Anyways, 6:20 a.m. came and went with no bus, and then the sign changed to expect my bus at 6:50 a.m.

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In the meantime, 2 other buses came.  I asked one of the drivers when I could expect the Sprinter.  He was frankly, pretty rude about it, and said he had no idea what the Sprinter’s schedule was.  I called the number listed on the bus stop sign and the automated prompts seemed to indicate 7:05 as well.

So all of that is a long way of saying that I had some time to kill.  The bus fare was $2.20, and all I had was a $10 bill.  Since typically buses do NOT give change, I went inside and got some change from one of the few airport vendors that was open.  He had singles, but no coins.

It was killing me that I was going to “waste” 80 cents, so, since I had time to kill anyways, I did one of my favorite activities – looking for luggage carts to return :-).  I actually belong to a Facebook group called “Finding Coins on the Ground” – since we started tracking a few years ago, we have found about $430 in coins and bills.

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After maybe 2-3 minutes, I found one that someone had left on the sidewalk.

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I picked it up, brought it back into the terminal, and collected my 25 cents refund.  Feeling better about my bus fare prospects, I sat down to wait for the bus.  That generated the following tweet

Finally the bus came (at 7:05, go figure!)

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and I was on my way to the conference!

Cue commenters mentioning the time value of money in 3… 2… 1…

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