As you read this, I am in San Diego soaking up the sunshine and lack of humidity while visiting my dear daughter, Naomi, and aunt and uncle. When Chad got his full-time job this spring, he surprised me with a plane ticket to San Diego to see Naomi. We were really hoping she would have been able to get time off from her job to come home this summer, but alas, that wasn't to be.
We also have been on a few trips, Gettysburg and NYC to name a few, and are taking a few trips more this summer and fall. People have wondered if Chad got a lucrative position at the college because we travel so much. We just laugh when we hear that. While we are very thankful for a regular paycheck (and benefits!) again, after almost two years of living off of savings, lucrative isn't how we would describe it. But that doesn't matter, really. Chad makes two thirds less that what he did in Nebraska and the cost of living is higher....so how are we able to do what we do on a limited income?
Well, it's a variety of things. NYC was a work trip for Chad, so the only cost for us was my portion of a train ticket and food, and Chad's food for the extra day we were there. His job is very family friendly, so they have no problem with me tagging along, as long as I pay for myself. This makes for a very reasonable trip. And you can bet I will do it again if the opportunity comes up! The train ticket was a good $200 cheaper than flying, so a few extra hours spent in route was worth it.
Another way is using more economical ways of travel. When I spend a week in Chicago this fall with my best friend, we will be staying with a host we found on Airbnb. Staying with a host is less than half the price of a hotel; plus, we can use her kitchen to make some of our meals, further saving us money. Thinking outside the box when it comes to accommodations makes trips so much cheaper!
By driving to a big city 2.5 hours away, I was able to get a round-trip flight to Chicago for $140. Traveling with only a carry-on saves me money, too. Most airlines charge $25 each way for a checked bag. I have even traveled on long trips with just a carry-on suitcase. If I run out of clean clothes while I'm there, I do a load of laundry....much cheaper than $50.
Since Chad was able to get a full-time job before he finished his degree, we had some savings left, so we set aside a small portion in a "travel fund." The most important way we will move forward with adding to this fund for future travel is with priorities. We cut back on other parts of our lives so we can do what we love. Part of my cutting back is with my capsule wardrobe. I have made the commitment to buy less so I can do more.
One example I can think of came just recently on a shopping trip to find a suitcase for Chad. I found a lovely Michael Kors bag on clearance at TJ Maxx. I love a good handbag, even though I have carried the same two bags for 3 years. In my shopaholic years, I bought expensive bags every season, and still I love beautiful bags....... just not the cost. But this one was reasonable!! It isn't August yet so I really shouldn't be shopping for my fall capsule, and a handbag isn't even on my list, but I tried to justify my purchase. I had the cash. I was headed to California and the bag would look great with everything I packed. I hadn't bought a bag in a long time, so it was ok since I have officially conquered my handbag addiction.
But what about my commitment to the capsule wardrobe? What about the jeans I want to replace this fall? I need to save my monthly spending allowance if I am going to afford them. You know what made me put it back though? When I realized that the cost of the bag was half of the cost my plane ticket for my upcoming trip to Chicago.
If I want to travel, to see my daughters, my best friend, and places I've never been before, I need to cut back in other areas of my life.
This handbag is just an example of cutting back and how priorities keep me in check. We live on a limited income, but we are doing far more activities than we ever did when Chad had a well paying career. Plus, we do it debt free. We do it with priorities. I have talked about how we live a simple life and the the things we do to save money. I will continue most those of things, even though we have a regular paycheck coming in.
If you would have told me in 2012 that I would be living my little country life, gardening, traveling, all on a small income, I wouldn't have believed you. If you would have told Chad in 2012 that he would be able to pursue his dream of learning more about the Bible, all while working in an office with people who treat you like family, he would have never believed you either. We both are able to do SO much more of what we love than in the past.
It's all about priorities, friends. Are you stuck in life and want to make a change? Maybe not even a drastic change like us, but something smaller? You have to prioritize your life. What can you give up to get where you want to go? I can guarantee that you won't even miss those things you give up if you are pursuing what you love.