The first month of my Spending Fast involved a few unexpected spending speed bumps. The second month of my Spending Fast involves going on vacation. You can see the trend that is evolving here…
The first three weeks of July, I was at home in the UK wrapping up the UK school year, which ends later than it does in the US. It involved working long hours and carefully planning my gym time and meals to ensure no excess money was spent. It also involved three school trip days that got me free trips to Harry Potter Studios in London and to Alton Towers (a theme park) in exchange for accompanying groups of screaming teenagers. I saw this as a fair deal as, at the moment, I couldn’t afford a trip to either!
I already had made the decision to buy souvenirs for my family and friends in the US, since I hadn’t seen them since December 2015, and I wanted to bring them presents. I put a lot of thought into the presents that I bought and made it so I could give my loved ones gifts while avoiding blowing my budget.
And so, I am writing this update from sunny Nashville, Tenn., where I have spent the last few weeks being absolutely showered in love. Although I am spending money and am not strictly sticking to my Spending Fast while visiting friends and family (because Blizzards (delicious ice cream treats) are a thing here), I must admit I am being much more thoughtful about my spending.
Normally, when I visit home, I take advantage of the exchange rate and buy all the things I can fit into my suitcase. After a decade of living abroad, my packing skills are pretty impressive, I must say. This year, I sat down and made a list and a budget for my trip. I recently have lost some weight, and was looking to buy some new work clothes for the upcoming school year. On my list were two dresses, one pair of work shoes, and a pair of jeans. During tax–free weekend I bought two dresses, two pairs of work shoes, one pair of jeans, and one sweater. I took the sweater back a few days later, because it really wasn’t a need, but I couldn’t return the second pair of shoes due to the store’s return policy for store credit only. So, I went $26.99 over my budget. Comparing this to how much I spent on clothing during my last trip to America is still a huge difference that leaves me with more money to put toward my student loans at the end of this month.
I have been going out to eat with my family and friends –– a huge treat! –– but I have been honest when I can’t afford to go out, and a positive result is I have spent a lot of time both cooking with and for my family. I cooked with my dad for the first time that I can remember, and have been able to enjoy my family’s amazing cooking skills and hospitality. I am happy to help clean up, and we have had some delicious meals while making amazing memories that don’t put me into any more debt.
My suitcase is still full –– the generosity of my family and friends is pretty amazing –– but I have limited my spending so I can enjoy my vacation and my family without having to pay it off for the next few months. I have used cash to pay for my entire trip. I have learned that, although it is fun to go out all of the time and to buy new things, quality time with family and friends is much better, and I can enjoy this time without adding to my debt. In fact, I was able to pay off $1,013.65 of my student loans this month.
And the best thing about being on a vacation in the middle of my Spending Fast? Being grateful for the time I get to spend with my amazing family and friends costs nothing.
To see all of Mandi’s Spending Fast journey posts click on her name at the top of the post, and to follow all of the Spending Fasters click here.