Photo by Alain Wong on Unsplash

Dear Smart Money People,

Here is the deal-e-o. I like stuff, I like clothes, I like to have lunch with my friends, I like to, occasionally, eat out (I rather like cooking and eating in- topic for another time) and I like VACATIONS. A LOT.

Soon after Bill and I met, we were hitting the road for weekend getaways. It was delightful. We went to Boston, MA, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Newport, RI.

It was not just a “couple” thing. Every year with my best friends, we headed to Palm Beach, Florida. Mainly because our guy bestie, Manny, lived there and graciously hosted us. The first year was such a blast, think dueling piano bar, that we descended upon him every year for the next 13 years. Thanks Manny!!!

I love traveling. I love new places. I love new people. I love a change of scenery.

But how can you do that on a BUDGET?

GOOD NEWS!! Let me debunk the myth that to be on a budget you cannot have any joy in your life. YES. YOU. CAN.

You just have to decide WHAT is most important and prioritize to get what you want.

Family vacations are a must in our house. However, there was a time when we didn’t travel, for several years. Bill was in school and money was tight. Like super tight.

We managed with road trips. Every one piled in the car and we headed to friends and family to fill our quota of getting away.

Then Bill graduated and got a job and we had 2 incomes again.

Even then, we didn’t change our traveling routine too much. The kids were grumpy when they were hungry and bored after they had eaten, so skipping the restaurants were not a hardship. They had learned to love road trips minus eating out for every meal. They thought it was the best to wake up in the middle of the night and get into the car in their PJ’s. It was sweet and it these are cherished memories. And there were road trip snacks.

Who could say no to road trip snacks??

As everyone got older, and Bill and I began to reevaluate our priorities and values, we kicked up the vacationing a notch. Not full-on-hair-raising trips, but we upgraded from ALL road trips to occasional island or destinations that you had to FLY to get to. It was awesome and we felt good about it. We paid cash for everything and we enjoyed our trips with gratitude.

It is a category in our budget. We save monthly to fund our travel. However, we still need to decide WHAT we want to do and HOW much we want to spend.

It looks something like this: We save every month and have an annual spend on vacations. We decide if we want to take one Epic trip. Two pretty nice trips, 3 good trips or 4 meh trips.

I opt for the more the better.

We recently got back from Denver, CO. We visited dear friends, (Hi Aunt Rosanna, Uncle Jimmy, Kellen and Marlowe!) We crashed with them a few nights, headed to Dillon, CO for a few days in a wonderful condo we rented from a lovely woman, Paula Mitchell. Great place. Just the right size, neat and clean, 5 minutes from stores, movies and take-out Mexican, oh, and 20 minutes from the ski resort.

We enjoyed the amazing mountains, we rented ski’s, we got a car that would have been comfortable if it were a wee bit larger. It was NOT a mid-size SUV, despite what the rental agency said.

We packed our snacks for the flight. We brought water bottles with us everywhere. We ate breakfast and most dinners in the condo. We rented movies from Red Box and watched Netflix.

We just decided what was important to us and we stuck to it. We had an awesome vacation. We had a little give and take on all things you do when you vacation.

Here were some ways we had the best of both worlds:

  1. We skied 4 days instead of 7
  2. We bought lift ticket package deal that gave us a savings for buying the bundle
  3. We skied at a local mountain instead of a fancy, think chandelier in the lodge, mountain. The mountain is Arapahoe Basin in Dillon, CO.
  4. We rent our ski equipment instead of buy. It is local. It is good stuff and the customer service is outstanding.
  5. We ate in most meals vs eating out.
  6. We went out to the movies one night, and rented movies the other nights or watched Netflix.
  7. Bill and I opted for yogurt and granola bars that we brought with us to the mountain, instead of buying lunch at the lodge.
  8. We rented a mid-size SUV instead of a full (I may harbor a little bit of animosity from this decision).

Were these huge inconveniences? Nope. Were they worth it? Yup. For us.

All in with these modifications, aka choices, we saved about $2,000.

You, too, can have whatever YOU want. You have to decide WHAT you want and what you are willing to give and take to get it.

Just for you I created a fun little game that you can download and print out. It will help you think about what you care about most. Once you know what is important to you, it gets easier, and fun, to say “no thank you” to the things that don’t mean as much.

Thank you, Paula Mitchell, Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Rosanna, Kellen and Marlowe!! Can’t wait to see you next year!!

Gracefully skiing beside you.

You’ve got this.

With love,

Karen & Bill

SmartMoneyCouple This or That Game April 2018

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