Traveling is a huge luxury in our life. The fact that we can up and jet across the Pacific Ocean at the drop of a hat seems like we have money burning a hole in our pocket.
You'll have to wait until I stop laughing ... Hang on, not yet... I'm getting there...
Okay, I think I'm functional now.
Let's start this off with one statement: I work in education. There. That should put it to rest because anyone in education is not swimming in money. My husband is self-employed. And we're raising a teenager. None of this adds up to this vision of an endless bank account.
So, no, money is not burning a hole in our pocket. We had to come up with some very creative ways to get to where we want to go.
1. Set up a Vacation Account
Our credit union gives away accounts like candy so we set up a vacation account. We already have two accounts for each adult and one for the teenager. Two of these have direct deposits so we max out the interest. Our daughter is on an "early saver" program so she gets maximum interest. The vacation account earns about .0003 percent. But we have garnered $94 on interest alone on all four numbers. That's enough for a 3 day car rental in Kona, Hawaii.
Me, I have to set it up this way because I can deposit extra money in it and forget about it. If I try to do this in the family checking account, I'll just spend it (IpromiseI'llpayitback).
2. Look over your expenses
$28.63 a month Second phone line
$19.99 a month Dial up Internet Provider that we forgot we'd been paying for two years
$91 a month Gym Membership
Adding up to $139.62 a month
Totaling $1675.44 a year.
$1651 for 5 nights at Rarotonga Beach Bungalows in Rarotonga, Cook Islands INCLUDING AIR (and breakfast) for one person on costcotravel.com
Hmm, makes giving up our second phone line, dial up internet provider and gym membership easier to swallow. This was just a handful of expenses we are looking at a whole new way. If the end result is good enough (and Rarotonga isn’t?) what else can I do without? Look at your expenses and see where you can cut back - I know someone who was still paying $3 per week for her paper. Doesn't sound like much? There are 52 weeks in a year. 52 x $3 = $156 a year. $156 will come really close to getting you a two day pass into Disneyland.
3. Sell it!
A friend of mine just moved and, in the essence of time, she put stuff they didn't want to take out on the curb. HELLLLOOOOOOWWWWW! Money down the drain. Me, I've got two piles in the laundry room of stuff that is either for sale or ready to be put on sale. I make use of ebay and craigslist like crazy. Does it take time? Yes. Does it have a learning curve? Yup. Can it be a hassle? Oh yeah. Is there money in a paypal account right now after selling my daughter's outgrown soccer bag. Youbetcha. On a trip to Hawaii in 2011 we paid for the rental car with money from the Paypal account.
(True Story: My daughter sold her outgrown Barbies to help pay her way on a cruise to Alaska. Her choice, not ours, ya don't need to flame me.)
4. Earn some of it
Find a way to make some extra money. If you are good at math, tutor a student. If you know an instrument, give lessons. If you love cars, start detailing. If you know computers, offer repair services (and then give me your number because I always seem to need computer stuff done). Make crafts? Sell on Etsy or at local bazaars. If you have a nice camera, sell the prints through Fine Art America.
5. Bank the Leftovers
At the end of the month, when my check is deposited, there is usually (most of the time) (sometimes) money left over in the checking account. It's usually not much (remember the "education" part?), but even if it's $20, I transfer it to the vacation account. Then it's gone and I can't see it to spend it. If I average an "extra" $50 a month x 12 months that's $600. That's a 7 Night Cruise on Royal Caribbean from San Juan Puerto Rico with ports in St. Marteen, St. John, St. Lucia and Barbados. Still not worth it?
6. See it, Spend It - in Savings
What the he...? This ones new to me, but it works. Last week I saw a birdbath I'd wanted for two months. It was regularly $69.99. Then last week it was down to $35. I almost put it in my cart and walked to the cash register.
Instead I walked past it, past the register and out to the car to my daughter's ipod (I'm too cheap to buy a smartphone and a data plan). I opened my credit union website and transfered $35 from my checking account to the Vacation Account. I spent the money, but saved the money. It was almost the same psychological rush as buying it (after all, I'd spent the money) but 1) I don't have buyer's remorse 2) I'm that much closer to the Solomon Islands (my next
carrot dream trip). I find myself doing this at least three times on a shopping trip. It doesn't always work, but it works enough to keep doing it.
We haven't booked our next trip yet. All I know is that my daughter turns 15 in less than a week which means I have less than four summers left with her (and one of those will be a college-visiting summer). The best education I can give her (and myself; lets be selfish here) is travel.
So, no dear daughter, you're not going to get a smart phone for your birthday.