Some of the things we are doing is cutting back on eating out and going out. We don't tend to eat out or go out drinking that much, but we are finding ways to cut back even more. For example, on New Year's Eve, instead of going out to a nice dinner like we originally wanted, we switched gears and thought about what we wanted from that excursion. The answer...a delicious meal!
So, went to the grocery store and purchased small steaks, veggies and lettuce. We spent more time than we normally do to make dishes that felt special to us. The amazing smells filled the house, the table was set and lighted with candles. We had an absolutely delicious meal, and it probably cost about $15 and included leftovers! Plus we spent time quality time together preparing it and eating it without being interrupted by a waiter or a rowdy table next to us. We are planning to do the same thing for Valentine's Day, our anniversary, and other holidays where we might typically go out and drop a lot of money on a special dinner.
One of the things that we just can't seem to give up, however, is our getaways. Travel is in our blood and clearly, in our minds and hearts constantly, so even as we plan this larger adventure, it's impossible not to plan smaller ones along the way. However, we are taking trips that cost less than we might otherwise, and being a bit more conscientious of the things we do/buy/eat/drink while away.
For example, this past weekend we took a couple extra days off of work and travelled to Denver to fulfill one of my husbands life-long dreams: skiing out west! How did we make it lower cost?
- A huge part of the reason we went was to visit one of my best friends, so we saved heaps on a hotel by staying with her and her husband.
- We had vouchers on Air Tran from a trip that went awry a year ago, so we basically ended up paying for only one of our plane tickets instead of two.
- Our friends scouted out skiing deals and we were able to ski and rent equipment in the Rockies for cheaper than we could on the hills in Western New York!
- We only went out for dinner one evening and treated our generous hosts.
- We did indulge in local flavor at some breweries and in our friends' favorite lunch spot one day, but we also took advantage of free entertainment such as hiking, chatting, etc.
- We took PBJ sandwiches for dinner on the plane and when that didn't satisfy us, we split a small meal at the airport instead of getting our own.
- We also did without a relaxing beer, (much to my husband's dismay) with the promise of trips to some local Colorado breweries in the days ahead.
- We bypassed a sit down restaurant on our four hour layover for a cheaper sub shop.
- My friend and I skipped a second day of skiing to window shop and wander around downtown Denver, and along the way I rediscovered the fun (and money saving!) of scouting out deals at discount stores like TJ Maxx.
We are going on another getaway in March, down to the turquoise waters of the Bahamas. This time we will save money thanks to generous Christmas gifts that cover one way of our flights, staying with family, and eating and drinking less than usual. We will, however, treat ourselves to another one of our favorite things - a day of scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters. It will be a new dive location for us, and will be the main monetary expense of our trip since most of our days will be spent with low or no-cost activities like reading by the pool, morning runs, walks on the beach, splashing in the ocean, and playing "photojournalist" with our beloved camera.
I sometimes feel guilty that we are spending money to do these things when we are saving for such a big upcoming expense. However, we don't want to lose sight of the journey we live each and every day simply because we are preparing for our long-term adventure. That would be like saving every last drop of money for retirement without enjoying some of the best years of your life. I don't know anyone who has that much discipline and focus and frankly, I don't think it's a strength. You never know what you'd miss along the way, and would you really be living your life? To put all of our focus on the trip ahead might allow us to save a bit more money, but it wouldn't be worth it to us if we lost our sanity and hibernated in our house all year. If we can make it work, why not? We're both willing to work a little harder to make additional money so we can take advantage of small adventures along the way.