Tag Archives: vacation

Week 96: Hidden Costs and Monthly Expenditures

Monday, 4 September 2017

With our cell phones beginning to stutter due to old age and abuse, we decided to take a chance with unlocked phones from Costco, ones where we just move our existing sim cards to the new phone.  We have T-Mobile, with 5 lines and unlimited data.  The old phones had little sim cards – the new ones, Moto 5G Plus, have micro SD cards:  a hidden cost!  Our bargain phones are still bargains, but we spent another $50.00 for the cards after buying the phones.  We also bought $8.00 cases for the new phones.  What started out as $219 per phone has since become about $275 per phone.  Is it worth it?

Unlocked phones are nice in that they are transferable from one carrier to another, even if you do have to get a company-specific card.  There is not a lot of fluff on the phones, such as “My Sprint” or “My T-Mobile” or other “features” which take up space and data overhead.  The Moto 5G Plus sports a pretty clean set-up, with Android Nougat.  As we set the phones up, updates came up along as well.  Once we got the details down in the phones, such as downloading apps we use or like, adapting to the new phones was pretty easy.

We have a 90-day return window with Costco, so we will see over the next several days how we like the new phones.  Meanwhile, Mr. 182 will strip down the ones being replaced to see if we can “redo” the older ones.  Then we will decide if we want to keep the old ones and return the new, or not.  We use our older cell phones for things like audio books and picture taking, as well as other weird electronic things Mr. 182 finds on the internet.  The nice thing about Costco is their return policy on electronics.

Our monthly expenses for August were a bit higher than usual because of vacation, but they were paid for in advance.  The mess-up on my paycheck threw us into a financial tizzy, and to be safe, we used our lowest-rate credit card for some of our hotel expenses.  We did this step knowing that we have upcoming medical co-pays which will be about $1500 in September.  In another way, our budget in August dropped simply because I paid bills due in the first half of August during the last week of July.

Credit Card Payments:  $840.00
Student Loan: $786.00
Mortgage: $3797.00
Gardener: $100.00
Insurance: $616.00 (home, car, life)
Dog / House Sitter: $420.00 (worth every penny!)
Clothing: $120.00
Dog Food: $30.00
Auto Maintenance: $20.00
Gifts: $16.00
Household Supplies: $355.00
Groceriies: $458.00
Dining Out: $32.00 (a friend was in from Japan.)

Total monthly costs:  $7590.00, and less mortgage $3793.00.  The interesting part – at least to me – was how much we needed to replenish food staples and freezer foods (meats primarily) and household items.  We live in a high-cost housing area, which is why our mortgage is so big, but it is in line with much of our neck of the woods.

Looking ahead to September, these new phones may remain or leave and co-pays for medical will be necessary.

When I started down our financial clean-up path and planning for retirement, we often found ourselves short of cash every month, unable to comfortably meet emergencies.  Now we can with greater ease.  While not quite where I want us to be, there is improvement overall.  It is easier for us to adapt to financial upheavals today than 18 months ago.

 

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Monday 99: Back in Town, Vacation Expenses

Monday, 14 August 2017

We got back home late Friday afternoon after two weeks on the road.  The trip is a memorable one because we traveled with family and saw places of historical value in family history, seeing where grandparents from the 1870s lived in the middle of Wyoming.  LIfe was not easy back then, although it was certainly cheaper!  Our travels took us to the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Fort Laramie, Teton National Park, and Yellowstone.  We took two days for a leisurely drive home.

Expenses came to considerably less than anticipated and budgeted for because my in-laws paid for 3 nights at the most expensive resort.  This was a wonderful gift, and it was also their way of saying “thank you” for planning and driving.  Their generosity is low-key and without fanfare, just like they are, and this is something so easy to overlook in daily relationships with people.  Loud, noisy people get your attention, but not necessarily your love.

Before leaving on the trip, I paid all the bills due in the first half of August.  Yesterday, I spent about 4 hours going through the bank and credit card statements online, to get figures and write them down, along with paying bills due after the 15th and planning the September budget.  I still need to compare receipts to charges, but it does not appear that there will be differences based on the few I checked – I was too tired to continue with fiddly details, and so will do it next weekend.

Expenses for our half of the vacation are below:

  • Lodging:  $1521.95
  • Food:  $1289.73
  • Fuel:  $200.76 (traveled 3600 miles)
  • Miscellaneous:  $136.71

Total expenses came to $3149.15, or an average $224.94 for two people, or $112.47 per person.  We also paid $420.00 to our dog / house sitter in advance.  Altogether, our vacation cost $3569.16, which is half of what I had in the budget for it.

Vacations refresh the soul and create memories that last forever.  How much you spend is unimportant, as long as you can afford it financially.  Family ties and good memories are priceless.

 

Monday 102: Getting Ready for a Big Trip

 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Vacations are things we all need.  Time to get away.  Time to spend with family and friends.  Time to create memories.  And, vacations do cost money.

A lot of people will tell you that spending a lot of money on a vacation is okay.  Others will shake their heads at costs.  The fact is, everyone will have a different idea what is okay and what is not okay to spend on a vacation.  And you have your own ideas – as do I.  The key factor is to allocate the funds – appropriate funds – for those times you go on vacation.

This year – at the end of this week in fact – we are heading out for a two-week road trip.  Usually we do this by ourselves, but this time we are travelling with my husband’s parents.  One of the goals of this trip is to visit places involved in family history – to see places that great grandparents once roamed, to see where they lived.  There are family photos from the 1870s, and these places important to family history still stand, important in both local and national history as well.  Another goal is to simply see parts of the country we have visited before, and to take the in-laws places they have always wanted to see.  As we all age, these memories become important.  Safety and comfort are also important.

What are the costs going to be?  Somewhat more expensive than I would like, but by the same token I cannot be in charge of everything and make every decision!  Of course I will have some say – but this trip, more than anything, is for my in-laws.  We will stay in B&Bs and historical hotels in various national parks.  Altogether, I have about $6000.00 dedicated to this trip.

Monday 106: A Summer Weekend

Monday, 26 June 2017

We spontaneously left town for most of the weekend.  It was a great way to enjoy the summer, to see friends, to spend time with each other.  Summer, more than any other time of the year, is our favorite time – and most convenient time – to just do things.

Saturday morning I was sick of looking at the familiar areas of the neighborhood.  New scenery, a different place to be, a desire for something outside the usual weekend were on the agenda.  The problem was what to do, where to go?  With temperatures in the low 90s, there was no desire to go someplace possibly hotter and little desire to go where there would be unruly crowds of people, all attempting to escape the heat.  Mr. 182 suggested the zoo!

And off to the zoo we went.  There are two zoos near us – by near, I mean within an hour’s drive.  We chose the smaller of the two, the one on the coast, the one we could get to without driving into a congested city.  And off we went.  Total cost (not including gas) was about $64.00, including a sandwich for each of us.  We spent the day wandering around a beautiful park-like setting, enjoying the sea breezes, and not feeling crowded and rushed as we got there when they opened.

While driving up, we thought of calling up some friends who live halfway along the route.  One day, they invited themselves to dinner, and since then it has been a running joke about inviting them to invite us to dinner.  We didn’t do that . . . but I chanted as we drove past their neighborhood, “Invite us!  Invite us!”

I’m not sure if that had any influence, but that night we got a call:  “Come up for a beach day and a barbecue!”  Sunday we did, and the cost was gas and a couple of bottles of beer.  $7.00.

Our total expenses for our weekend were $71.00 for a lot of fun.  There were no motel rooms or expenses for fancy meals.  We could have packed a lunch and saved $18.49.  We could have brought some home brew and saved $7.00.  The weekend was a mini-vacation spent outside, with friends, at the beach, with each other.  I feel like I’ve been off for a week!

Monday 111: Taking a Day (or Two) Off

Monday, 22 May 2017

After a crazy week at work, I decided to kick back and do nothing too hard.  Instead, I am spending it with family and friends, doing things I enjoy, and not thinking overly hard about frugality and its place in life.  The weekend will be filled with cheap and / or free thrills that won’t be impinge upon the finances more than a couple of bucks!

Week 121: The Value of Planning Ahead

Right now, Mr. 182 and I are chafing under our debt pay-off plan.  It would be nice to be able to go out and do whatever we want, spend whatever we want, and not think about it.  That’s what we have done for years, and here we are, proverbial nose to the proverbial grindstone, and not really happy.  We have two more years to go, unless we up the program.

What is it about spending money that feels soooooo good?  Freedom?  Love?  What is that little hook that gets so addictive?  Not spending money also feels good – but it’s a different type of feeling.  It’s addicting in its own way – more intellectual – certainly a lot less emotional.  Perhaps that is the hook of spending – it is an emotional rather than intellectual feeling.

I don’t think there is anything wrong about our feelings of frustration right now.  It is probably part of the program with spending addicts.  It’s uncomfortable because it is new.  Being on a leash is not fun.  What is important is to recognize the feeling, acknowledge it, and then have the self-control to not give in, even when the little voice inside starts hollering, “I want!  I want! I want!”

Planning Ahead for Vacation!

Now, this is fun to come.  We have a budget, and we have a goal.  We are traveling for two weeks with Mr. 182’s parents, to visit the wild west and family history.  We have booked all our lodgings, come cheap, some not, and organized our route.  This is all for August!  The nice part is, we know what and where we will be, and we can figure out what we are going to do.  Even better, we know the costs.  And we can plan for those costs.

It’s good to plan and take vacations.  So is paying off bills.  Every month, the amount owed goes down, and the money in the bank, in equity, in investments, go up.

The long term debt payoff is important, but so is the short term.  What I mean by short term is the day-to-day stuff.  One thing that helps us out is to make sure we have play money.  We need to be able to indulge our hobbies, which, fortunately, don’t cost a lot.  They are in the monthly budget.  We also get a small monthly allowance which we don’t have to explain to the other how we spend.  These tactics take the edge off our chafing when we feel it.

There is true value in planning ahead, but planning ahead is not just for debt pay off.  It includes planning ahead for contentment with one’s daily life, one’s little pleasures, and the daily things which keep one connected to one’s true inner being, to one’s soul.

Week 151: Back From Vacation

Mountain Flowers

Monday, 15 August 2016

We are back from vacation!  It was so nice to get away, and to completely stop looking at all the stuff we have to for work.

Was vacation expensive?  It depends on what you consider “expensive.”  The total cost came to about $1500.00, which includes B&B for 5 days, dinner out every night, a gondola ride to the top of a mountain, gasoline to and from home to vacation destiny, and snacks for lunch.  All this for a total of 6 days.  We are glad we did it!  We are very fortunate to have a most fantastic friend who dog and house sits for us!  (If you are reading this, you know who you are!)

Coming back from vacation meant catching up on a few things, like laundry or what have you.  Bills are paid at this time of the month (around the 15th) as well as the first.  We put a part of the vacation on the credit card we are paying off, just to avoid having to not be able to see where our debit card goes.  That entire card is now paid off!

We return to work today.  I am back on my awful schedule, and the other half is in a position he does not like, and is not a good fit.  He was put there in a moment of corporate reorganization which was not well planned.  And with this return to the routines in life will come better detail on our debt reduction and listing of expenses.  And the realization that in 3 years we hope to be debt-free (150 more Mondays, but who is counting?) and retired.