Our story is an open book ready to be shared with those who think they are at it alone.
I've started this post so many times and each time I end up losing it thanks to the nuances of technology. Going for it once last time.
So many times before people ask me, "how do you do it?" in reference to our travel habits and the fact that we get away more often than most. I could share with you all the websites I use to book cheap flights, list the tips that make vacation spending more manageable, and go on and on about little tricks you can use here and there to maximize your experience, bookings and travel dollars but honestly, that only helps one trip at a time (and it would have to be the same exact trip that I took which takes away the fun and adventure of exploring).
Ours is a way of life. Perhaps we view money a bit differently than some and so we see travel as a right that we earn not a luxury. It starts with what you decide to spend your money on from the most essential thing to the "frivolous". For example, my husband and I have not had a new phone in years. Instead, we use phones others in our family deem old when they want the new upgrade but realize they don't get much for turning it in and so we reap the benefit. As the saying goes, "one man's trash is another man's treasure". That might not seem like a huge savings but when you consider that most new phones cost upwards of $300 and most families are buying a new phone annually that would average about $600 just for a couple and that doesn't include the ridiculous prices these cell phone companies charge you to then use your brand spanking new phones on their network. Because we use old phones we are also able to have them unlocked and streamed onto an affordable network such as Net10 or H2O. Our monthly cell phone bill is about $110 for two lines with unlimited minutes and data. If you run those numbers really quickly that's already one more vacation a year that I am able to financially plan for that the average person "can't afford".
When it comes to eating out, well, let's just say that when you're in the business you know the cost of things and so eating out becomes a bit bothersome. Even before we had our own restaurants, Ernie and I found it difficult to spend money at chain restaurants with frozen or pre-made foods that didn't even come close to the food we could prepare at home and at a cost that would put any spendthrift to shame. If you take a few moments to average how much you and your family spend eating out monthly (including school lunches and coffee breaks-we pack our kids' lunches daily and never drink coffee on the road) you'd realize rather quickly a big difference between someone like myself who only allocates money for eating out on special occasions versus someone who eats out daily at one point of the day or another. Just a daily coffee at $6 a pop for a month gives me enough for one night at a hotel.
We don't use credit cards. Those convenient little things pack quite the punch when you start calculating interest rates, late fees, the loss of financial accountability being able to spend money you don't necessarily have on hand. I pride myself on the fact that my husband and I have zero credit card debt. If you see me whip out a piece of plastic it is one of three cards, debits or American Express which we pay off monthly (and honestly, the points/mile rewards program isn't even worth it anymore). Take a moment to make a note of all the different interest rates you pay per card along with the balance you owe and if there is any introductory rate see when it expires. Jot it all down in a little notebook and start appropriating a larger sum to the card with the highest interest charge. Notice I didn't say rate, you need to calculate the balance with the rate to determine which card is costing you the most. The calculation will change ever month as you go paying down your debt so you should allocate money accordingly till you are debt free. Trust me when I tell you that travelling is all the more enjoyable when you know you don't owe anything to any company for the expense.
Meal planning is key in keeping your spending on lockdown. Most people think that meal planning is a diet regimen thing and rarely think of it in terms of spending/savings. Think back on the days of hold (or try to recall a movie from the 50s). Mom would make a pot roast on Sunday which she would then use for meatloaf on Monday and perhaps get a few meatballs out of it for Tuesday. There was never any waste or expensive ingredients to make culinary marvels a daily occurrence. I spend about $125/week on groceries and that's being generous at the moment.
Ok, well I have to cut myself short and figured it was better to post something than nothing at all. Heading to the airport once again so this post is....
To be continued........ ;)
Multi-tasking over-thinker that is, as you can imagine, often running late.