Tuesday Miscellany

Am I the only person in the world that doesn't like pumpkin spice lattes?
Am I the only person in the world that doesn’t like pumpkin spice lattes?

Just little bits of stuff too small for their own post:

  • I am feeling very whiny right now about this whole house showing business. We had a showing Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m., another one yesterday morning at 10:30 and will be having another tomorrow morning at 9:45 a.m. This time the agent wants us to be out of the house for over an hour so once again we have to figure out somewhere to go and something to do (this time it’s some sort of realtor open house). It was bad enough doing it for our own home, but for someone else’s home I’m finding it to be downright annoying. If I were a landlord I would be apologizing profusely and taking $100 off the rent for the trouble to my tenants, but that’s just me. Brett said he is going to tell the landlord though that since we are jumping through all these hoops to sell his house (i.e. keeping the house in pristine condition and having to accommodate showings), that we expect that our deposit will be returned to us quickly and without question when we move on. Of course, after this burst of interest maybe the house will go another month with no one wanting to see it and we can relax again.
  • We are already looking for a new place to live and I discovered the condo we had planned to buy has been listed on Craigslist as a rental! But, in the small print it says that it’s for sale and tenants will have to agree to showings. Please see the above paragraph for why we won’t be calling.
  • Today Brett and I stopped in Starbucks for a drink while we had to be out of the house, and I felt a pang of nostalgia when I saw the sign for pumpkin spice lattes. Not because I like them (I don’t), but because, I realized, I missed fall just a bit. There are subtle seasonal changes here: the days are cooler and there’s less humidity, but I always did love seeing the leaves change, wearing a sweater for the first time after summer, and putting soups and stews back on the menu. Then I remembered the cold and the rain that came along with fall, and that fall segued into winter . . . and the moment passed. Lucky we live Hawaii!
  • We’re feeling very grateful right now that we don’t have those college application fees to submit. After sending off WenYu’s test scores, financial aid paperwork via priority mail (it needs to be at each school by November 1), and the College Scholarship Service Profile (CSSFinancialAid Profile) to each of her seven ranked schools, another $250 went out of our pockets and over to the post office, the College Board (the people who run the SAT) and the ACT testing service. It almost feels like you need financial aid these days just to apply to go to college!
  • I am burned out with Swagbucks and plan to throttle back at the end of the month. I have earned more than enough this year to give us a very merry Christmas, but I need a break for now. I’ll pick it back up again in January to start saving for next year. Using Swagbucks means the money we would normally put away for Christmas can be used for travel, groceries (thru Amazon) and other fun things.


It’s All Fun and Games Until You Have To Save Some Money

SaveDreaming about travel, thinking of places you want to travel, making plans, and making the actual trip are fun. But, actually getting someplace takes money, often lots of money. And, unless you are independently wealthy, travel requires some saving. And saving is work. It’s fun work for some, but it’s still work, and takes determination and persistence.

Brett and I are not independently wealthy, to say the least.

We live on a not-very-big fixed income in one of the most expensive places in the country. We have children who either are or will be setting off to college soon.

But, travel is a priority for us and always has been, and we’ve always been able to find (sometimes creative) ways to save for travel without compromising other areas of our lives.

And that’s the secret really: We make saving for travel a priority.

This time around though we need to save a lot. Like $33,000 a lot in order to upfront fund at least three years of travel. We have the luxury of three years to put this much away, but to say it’s not going to be easy would be an understatement. There’s no inheritance coming, no extra property to sell, no extra stuff to sell (we did all of that before we moved here!). Brett and I could work, except any extra income we earn will potentially mess with the girls’ financial aid awards, so we would rather not get jobs if we don’t have to.

But, we have a plan:

  • Keep up with the not buying stuff. I can’t began to say how much we save by not spending. We used to be able to talk ourselves into buying just about anything. These days we’re even more skilled at talking ourselves out of buying just about anything. It’s actually fairly easy because we don’t seem to need much these days.
  • Keep saving our change and $1 bills. We had been saving change and $1 bills for our mystery trip next spring, but it looks like we won’t need to use those funds after all. So, we’ll keep saving toward our first trip in the fall of 2018. Our goal is to have a minimum of $2500 saved this way. We already have over $800, so we’re off to a good start.
  • Continue to save credit card rewards. The reward $$$ could be used toward plane ticket purchases, but for now we’re thinking more about getting a nice check from our credit card company one day and depositing it into our savings. Our goal for these savings is a minimum of $500 (obviously we don’t use our credit card very much). I know there are those who use their credit cards for everything in order to earn more rewards; we found we actually get more each month by using cash and putting away the change and $1 bills. We use the card for a couple of regular monthly bills, and put all big purchases on it (like airline tickets).
  • Keep earning Swagbucks. Earnings from Swagbucks this year will completely fund our Christmas presents for the girls and our grandson, and I should be able to earn enough Amazon credit by the time we travel next year to get myself a new camera. Although Swagbucks don’t provide direct cash, they free up money in our budget that can go directly into savings.
  • Dedicate my retirement savings account to travel. My retirement plan from Oregon includes, along with a monthly pension, a small individual savings account. It never accumulated very much while I was working, certainly not enough to retire on (it might last a whole couple of months if we had to live on it), so it will be rolled over into an IRA, collect interest for a few years, and then be withdrawn as needed for our travel. Thankfully we have enough in other retirement accounts to not have to worry about the loss of this small amount for retirement.
  • Other savings. The balance will be saved from our regular retirement income as well as all refunds, gifts and any other unexpected funds. Because we have no debt (other than my student loan), we have enough left over in the budget every month to save toward travel and costs, like the girls’ future travel to and from college. We are still setting aside funds right now for next spring’s trip, but after we reach that goal the savings will go for our future travel.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – William Hutchinson Murray

Nearly five years ago, Brett and I faced nearly $66,000 worth of debt. With dedication and a lot of hard work we paid that off in four years, saved like mad, and were able to make our dream of retiring and moving to Hawai’i a reality. We are facing this next saving challenge with the same determination. We can do this!