Several months ago, hubby and I planned a week vacation to somewhere warm (read no snow) for the final full week of February. We decided to take advantage of last minute vacation/flight prices. We had saved the money for said vacation. And we knew we'd be needing it by then.
I mentioned it briefly way back in October 2010 in a post I wrote about getting hubby more involved in our finances and budgeting.
One person commented on that post, and ended that comment with this:
"I just don't think vacations are reasonable when someone has debt."
This comment had me thinking. A lot. At first, I was mildly offended that someone who knew almost nothing of our personal circumstances made a judgement like that. I am the type of person who tries very hard not to judge others at all. Then I thought about the amount of work and sacrifice that that person and their family endured so that they could go on a vacation, and return to no consumer debt. Then I thought about all the financial challenges that we have in our lives, some recurring, others being more of a one time thing.
Every time we discussed 'going away' for a much needed vacation to recharge our batteries, that single sentence would pop into my head like a ticker tape announcement on the bottom of a television screen. That's when I realised that after I peeled off the layers of my feelings, underneath the offense and justification and defensiveness, I actually really agreed with the commenter.
I don't think that a $2000-$3000 vacation is reasonable when our family has so much consumer debt. Over the course of the next three months, hubby and I talked a lot about our time away. We agreed that it wasn't right to go to an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean or wherever when we still have some $21,000 of debt that we had incurred. We had spent our future income on things we wanted, doing things we wanted to do, and the time has come to pay the piper.
We applied the $1200 or so we had saved to pay down some of the debt, and to keep current on our monthly bills. We bought groceries, and restocked what we needed to. We continued to talk about us 'going away', but in much different terms.
We're still going to go away, but only for one night instead of 6. Instead of flying off to a far away place, we'll be driving within 3 hours of our home town. Instead of paying people to look after our kids and our business for 7 days, it's only going to cost us for 2 days. We are looking at getting a free overnight stay, and the free & inexpensive things to do in that area instead of blowing a gob of money. The vacation budget has gone from $2000 to $250 that we both can live with.
This coming Wednesday, hubby and I will be leaving after we drop DD2 off at school to spend about 36 glorious hours together, doing whatever we want to do, sleeping a bed I don't have to make, and eating at least one meal that I don't have to cook, and leaving the work phones with someone else for awhile.
We also decided that we would pare down the summer vacation with the kids from 2 weeks to one. We reduced our outlay for the cottage from $1000 to $400 by getting only one week, and choosing a less expensive cottage. We'll cook our own meals and share the expenses with DD1 and her bf. I will have made a list of 'entertainment' for us all that is free or inexpensive, and work our way down the list when the kids want to do something fun.
The big goal will be to save up for a surprise trip to Disney in Florida once the debt has been done away with. We won't be telling the kids about it until we are leaving to get on the plane to go. That trip will be our reward for becoming debt free.