How We Saved for Our Vacation

alohagirlsI’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!

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Filed under Saving, Vacations

8 responses to “How We Saved for Our Vacation

  1. I am so, so, so happy for you, & love the way you planned. You were incredibly disciplined this year, & did a great job balancing your previous commitments with your new goal. That makes the trip all the more special!

    • Thanks! We did stay committed – we’ve had pictures up of Hawaii all year all over the house, read books, and talked endlessly about it to keep us motivated to save. I almost can’t believe we’re finally going!

  2. I am very excited for you. Your story is has inspired me to make a decision. Thank you for the reminder.

    • I love that quote by Emerson. It applied so much when we were doing our adoptions, and I remembered it again when I realized we had been able to make our savings goal for this trip (as well as fit in the two China trips and the Colorado trip). More decisions coming next year!!

  3. Laura @ Move to Portugal

    I’m so excited for you all too Laura. You’ve done an amazing job this year and you deserve this wonderful vacation.

  4. mylifeinfocusblog

    How exciting. Good for you! Have a wonderful time and take/share lots of pictures! Hawaii has a great, municipal bus system (main island). We used it to go everywhere (at the time, each ride was sixty cents!)

    • Thanks! We’ll be on Kauai the whole time, and unfortunately there is extremely limited bus service (if at all). But the distances are very short there so hopefully we’ll do OK.

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