Tag Archives: vacation

Week 80: Time Off for the Holidays!

Monday, 18 December 2017

With just a week before Christmas, I am signing off for the next two, possibly three, weeks.  The holidays are upon us and there is so much going on.  We are preparing for our annual Christmas season, but this year we are being more frugal than in the past, and it feels good.  At the end of the year, we will look both forward and back, to see where we have been and where we hope to go.

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

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Week 84: Thanksgiving!

Monday, 20 November 2017

The holiday is upon us, and we both have the whole week off!  We are visiting relatives on Thursday, but having the immediate family over on the Saturday afterwards – various family members work, and so this is our compromise.

Thanksgiving is a strange holiday in some ways, and in other ways it is one of the best.  There is no one person to be celebrated, as on a birthday, nor any religious connotations.  Instead, it is a holiday which includes all.  To remember with gratitude the good things in life – health, family, friends, love, peace – and realize that little is needed in reality – is a good thing.  It reminds us to be humble and grateful.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

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.

 

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!