Our anniversary is rapidly approaching-in just over a month, we will be celebrating our first year or marriage. I cannot believe how fast time has flown by. “The days are long, but the years are short” is SO, so true. I am SO excited because we are going on a dream anniversary trip to Hawaii to celebrate our first year.
We made the decision we wanted to go to Hawaii right after we came back from our honeymoon. At that time, we didn’t know Ronnie would be going back to school this fall and were blissfully unaware of how tight our budget was about to get. We decided we wanted to go this year because we wanted to do as much travel as we could before babies come. We knew that going on a big vacation would just get more complicated and expensive once babies change our lives, so we decided we’d go for our first anniversary.
The first thing people usually say when we talk about our upcoming trip is “Wow! How do you afford that?” And althought part of me is shocked that people are bold enough to ask about other people’s finances, the other part of me wants to tell everyone you CAN go to Hawaii too! Its possible!
Here’s how we did it:
We planned our trip one year in advance.
This gave me time to watch for the best deals on airfare and hotels. It also gave us time to SAVE. That’s the key here. You have to be willing to sacrifice some material things you want and see the big picture. I have to ask myself all the time what I want more. Another pair of sandals or a trip to Hawaii? The easiest way for me to figure out how much I needed was to add up the costs and divide it out by twelve months so I knew exactly how much I needed to be putting in our "vacation fund" each month.
We used a credit card for EVERYTHING to rack up airline miles.
When I say everything, I mean everything. We used it like a debit card. We paid for our wedding expenses with it, and then paid it off. We pay our bills with it, we pay for Ronnie’s school with it, I pay for my six dollar bottle of wine with it. Then we pay it off. That is the key though-I paid our bill each payday in full. I’ve made the mistake before of not tracking what I was putting on the card and not paying it off in full, and before long I found myself owing WAY more than I expected. So every payday, we pay off our credit card in full, and don’t pay a penny in interest. When it came time to buy tickets, I watched for a great deal, and we were able to use our airline miles to pay for our plane tickets.
We saved our tax return.
Now, I know not everyone gets a tax return, or sometimes its not much, but for us, we did get a decent tax return and it was really tempting to spend it, or at least part of it on things we wanted. The second it went into our bank account, I moved it over to a savings account so we weren’t tempted at all by that extra money. That tax return paid for our entire hotel stay + rental car! We booked our hotel+car through Costco Travel and got quite a discount doing it that way and our car ended up almost being free when compared to booking directly through the hotel and rental car company.
We picked up extra hours at work and extra side jobs.
I have been babysitting on the weekends, and have started babysitting two to three times a week in the evenings, and Ronnie picked up extra hours at Starbucks. Every extra penny we make, we are putting straight into an envelope for spending money for food, activities, etc. in Hawaii. We have a goal amount that we want to bring with us, and between house sitting, babysitting, and Ronnie’s extra hours, we are almost to 50% of that goal. We just started saving in that envelope about a month ago, and are going to work extra hard to reach that goal amount so we can have a stress free trip and not come home with that post-vacation regret from overspending.
Going on vacation IS possible, even on a very tight budget. Our budget is stretched thin with paying for school without financial aid, but vacations are important to us. They are the way we relax, recharge and escape from the chaotic, busy life we lead. They are memories we treasure and look back on, that give us more joy than a new material item ever could. I believe that you should make room for whatever it is in your budget that you love. Whether that is vacations, or dinner dates with your girlfriends or hubby, or going to concerts, its possible to do those things you love while still being financially responsible. We make sacrifices in our every day life in order to treat ourselves to vacations we will love and enjoy, and if you feel like a vacation is out of reach, I promise, its not!
S P O N S O R
S P O T L I G H T
Rebecca from Living Lavender
Today's spotlight is a gorgeous southern lawyer, Rebecca from Living Lavender. I've been following her blog since she started it and I absolutely love it! She is a great writer with insightful posts that make me think, like this post "Is It Worth Using Facebook For Your Blog?" I have not done the best job of growing my blog's Facebook, so I thought the discussion it prompted was amazing! Her Closet Clean-out post not only motivated me to clean out my own closet but also to help me let go of my emotional attachments to my clothes and shoes, even the ones I NEVER wear! If you offer Sponsorships on your blog, you have to check out her results of her Sponsorship Survey she shared. It has some amazing insight to what people are looking for when they buy an ad on your blog!
Rebecca is an amazing blogger and I'd definitely recommend you go stop by and say hi to her!