I’m sure everyone who reads this blog knows by now that we are going to Hawaii this month and that I’m pretty darned excited about it, too. This trip is the culmination of a year of research and saving, and will not only let us have a better idea of whether a move to Hawaii is in our future, but will give us the opportunity to spend time with our son and his family, who live in Japan.
Getting five people to Hawaii for two weeks is no small undertaking, but especially so when you are paying down debt and do not have the finances to just whip out your checkbook to pay for it all, and do not want to put even a bit of it on a credit card. When we decided last year that we wanted to go to Hawaii this December, we knew it was going to take a lot of determination, sacrifice, creativity, and some good old frugal living to carry it off. So, we set some goals and got started . . . .
Our goals were fairly simple: Come up with a daily amount needed for food, gas and activities; find affordable lodging for seven adults and one baby; find an affordable car rental; and find affordable airfare (we also ended up having to find affordable pet sitting for our dogs). Then we needed to figure out the maximum amount we were willing to spend on each of those areas in order to come up with the total amount needed to be saved.
The figure we came up with was somewhat overwhelming, but to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. And, we had decided we were going to go to Hawaii.
Here’s what went into our savings, beginning in the fall of 2011:
- Gifts of money (not many of these)
- Any refund, except for our tax refund
- Mr. Losing It’s (small) annual bonuses from this year and last
- All of my pay from work (which was negligible)
- Money earned from watching the neighbor’s dog and doing secret shops
- eBay and Craigslist sales
- Yard sale this past summer
- The “extra” if we came in under budget on a regular item, like gas or utilities
None of these amounts on their own was very much, and the money just seem to dribble in, but over the last year we managed to save enough to cover every part of this trip without compromising our regular budget or touching our emergency fund. We also found good deals on lodging, car rental, and airfare that helped make this trip cost less than initially imagined. What’s truly amazing though was that we were also able to cover two daughters’ trips to China, and my and YaYu’s trip to Colorado in April to see my mom without impacting our savings goal.
Yes, we could have paid off more of our debt instead of taking this vacation. We don’t exactly need a trip to Hawaii at this point, but there’s no way we would ever think of moving there without a visit and some investigation. Mr. Losing It and I are also both desperate to see our grandson again, and a trip to Japan is definitely out of the question. So, as far as we’re concerned, our vacation will be worth the cost several times over.
And, I’m still so excited I can barely stand it!