I have a bit of guilt since making travel such a priority in my life. Who do I think I am galavanting to Europe on an Italian tour? Why should I get to spend 5 days in Vermont for my anniversary? Weekend trips to Florida? A quick jaunt to Portland? White water rafting with my son this summer?
You’d think I won the lottery or something!
There’s no doubt travel costs money, but what I’ve noticed this past year is that it’s money I would have simply spent on something else.
Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of people trying to make ends meet. Disposable income is almost nonexistent for some in the disappearing middle class, but truth be told, some folks simply have different priorities when it comes to their money and what they do with it.
When basic needs are met, don’t we all we spend money on the things that are important to us?
I spent the last 13 years paying off student loans, car payments and credit cards to basically live a debt-free life, minus my house, of course. God, what I wouldn’t do win a sum of money equal to my mortgage! The Husband I joke about that all the time!
The funny thing is, I’ve never wanted to be rich, just comfortable, and after working my way up and out of the traditional job market, I’m getting there. There are things I do very consciously with my money and always have. In the past it was to simply pay down my bills and make ends meet, but now? Now, I save for travel instead of…
Buying a New Car
This is my baby…
Well, actually it’s The Husband’s baby but I adopted it. We bought this car brand new after college. It’s a 2000 Honda Civic with well over 150,000 miles on it. I will drive this car as long as she lets me.
We also have a 2004 Mazda wagon. Our family mobile. It’s not fancy by any means — we bought it after our first was born when we realized his car seat wouldn’t fit in the back on my Hyundai Accent.
As you can tell from the cars I have mentioned, I’ve never been one to splurge on a vehicle. It just isn’t a priority for me. The Husband, on the other hand, has dreams of some status symbol on 4 wheels. That’s cool with me — while he’s driving to wherever in an overpriced vehicle, I’ll be sipping cocktails on some beach or hiking the Grand Canyon.
Now I’m lucky as I don’t have to dress up every day for the office, but even when I did, I could never, ever bring myself to spend money on expensive clothes. Maybe it’s a byproduct of going to Catholic school and wearing a uniform my entire childhood, but I never understood how someone could shell out half their paycheck for one or two outfits, let alone accessories and shoes. Again, just not a priority of mine. More power to you sharp dressers! You can find me searching the clearance rack in Old Navy.
This is another thing The Husband and I routinely joke about, especially around the holidays. I think buying jewelry as a gift is a cop out. It’s like saying,
“Hey I don’t know anything about you, so here’s some diamond earrings you should like ‘cause you’re a girl.”
Now of course that’s not true if your girlfriend/wife likes jewelry but again, like the clothes, I just never saw the point. It’s a rock you wear on your body. Cheap-o costume jewelry is fine by me when I even bother to wear it because most of the time I don’t want to spend money on something I’ll put on maybe once or twice anyway.
Daily “insert your current vice here”
The Husband has a habit that shall remain nameless but let’s just say it involves spending money on something daily. I know others who can’t start the day without their fix of Starbucks. Hey, if it was up to my son he’d buy a bag of Doritos every day at lunch! (Who am I kidding, he probably is.) No judgment here, but daily vices that cost money just aren’t my thing. They add up, fast! Just $5 a day for 5 days is $100 a month you could be putting toward a rainy day or vacation fund!
If it was completely up to me, I’d do this even less than I already do. We, on average eat out 1 dinner a week and 2 lunches. I try to cook as much at home as possible because it’s cheaper (and I believe healthier but let’s not go there.) We recently took both kids to a Japanese steakhouse. The bill was close to what I could spend on groceries for the week. I don’t regret going — we had a great time! But I’d rather make that a once-in-a-while thing so I have more cash to put away for short trips and special evenings out. Even a trip through the drive-thru can cost us the equivalent of 2 home-cooked meals not including leftovers I can use for lunches and snacks the next day!
Buying Things When I Travel!
That may sound funny as I’m talking about travel, but it’s true. I’m not the biggest souvenir shopper. I pick a $2-$3 magnet (my collection obsession — thanks, Jen!) and that’s about it. On my recent trip to Italy I bought this hat…
…for $12 at some small shop in Venice and it took me like 30 minutes to decide. It’s not that I mind spending money on things I want, I just try really hard to evaluate why I’m purchasing it and whether it’s simply going to collect dust on some shelf in my house or be lost in my seriously unorganized closet. Maybe this comes with age, but I want less stuff, not more!
I started this blog because I knew it would solidify my decision to travel as much as possible and put it even higher on my priority list. It’s doing just that, and writing this post just helped me become even a little more conscious about where I’m spending my money because I plan to squeeze as many trips in this year as possible!