The bridge in Monet's garden at Giverny. My own photo, taken in 2008, when I fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting the picturesque little village where he lived.
We try to have a big overseas trip every two or three years. We prefer to travel comfortably and stay in nice hotels or houses. Not for us the cheap airfares, economy hotels, and bus tours with 50 other people.
Suffice to say, that we don't go cheap.
We don't consider ourselves part of the 'moneyed set', though, and these trips mean sacrifices in other areas.
We are off on such a trip this year, so I thought I'd use this year on my blog, to document how we can afford to fly comfy class, stay in a five star hotel in London, cruise the Mediterranean in luxury, have a relaxing stopover in Singapore on the way home, and arrive back refreshed and with not a whit of guilt, and without battering the credit card.
I find it highly amusing that friends and family in much less stable financial situations than our own, find it embarrassing to talk about saving money. Gosh kids. If we hadn't saved, we wouldn't be where we are today. Where's the shame in trimming a little here, to allow greater expenditure there, where you really want it?
They insist on upgrading their car every second year, buying their kids designer clothes (seriously? What baby of two or even ten year old cares whether their rompers are Ralph Lauren or Target??), eating out regularly and entertaining lavishly.
And NOBODY is game to be the one that says 'but what if we just entertain at home or make our own sushi or buy the kids clothes from the clearance rack at Target for next year' (when everything is marked down to three bucks and is the same stuff that was $30 a couple of days ago). Nobody needs to know but you, so where's the shame in it? When did the idea of home made, marked down, heavily discounted for today, or even *gasp* thrifted (the celebs call it vintage dahhlings...) or handed down from a friend, become icky, and why?
And really, no matter how much we earn, it's still a FINITE amount kiddos. Everyone's income is limited. Even if you're earning gazillions, it comes to an end sometime. If you keep spending, all you'll have in five years is a lot of stuff, and an empty bank account. Why do you think all these ageing rock stars suddenly pop up doing a revival tour when they're all old enough to be my grandfather? It's cause they too have a bank manager breathing down their turkey like, scrawny necks. It's just undignified, I tell you. Some interesting reading on this topic here.
My husband and I decided long ago that we'd rather drive our cars for ten years before upgrading, that we'd prefer to DIY our garden and home even if it took longer and meant living amongst sawdust indoors while we sawed and painted our way to perfection, and dust outdoors while our garden, lovingly landscaped over six long years, took hold. It was a sacrifice we were prepared to make to then be able to afford those trips and have a few other little luxuries. And when I say 'luxuries', I mean a plan for our future, for our kids future and even a bit for the grandkids for their future.
I've had my own children tell me that our ideas are old fashioned. Well that may be so. But all I see is that things don't change that much. You can't live like a rock star or royalty at 30 and expect to be able to continue doing so when you're 60. I know because we're nearly there, and even we have made our mistakes. We could have invested differently, hung on a bit longer there, declared defeat there, and been better off, sure. But overall, we're okay. And not through upgrading our cars, technology, shoes and bags every five minutes. Rather through sacrifice and prioritising.
Now I can't tell you how to trim your budget to be able to afford your luxuries, but I can tell you how we did it, and how we continue to do it even now as we edge very close to retirement.
Lesson no. 1 coming tomorrow...