Vacations, Surgery, and Money

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cruise ship

Photo by Bruno Castelli

I feel like I have a pretty dull, predictable life most of the time. It’s a very simple life for the most part. I work (a lot!), have book club once a month, and have a core group of friends that I hang out with. I hang with my kids when they allow it, and that’s basically it. Oh yeah, and I take an annual trek for a day or two to a small amusement park a state over each summer and other than the occasional trip to visit my son one state over, that’s been it for a long time as far as any vacations per se. In fact, I had to do some research to see when the last time I took a “real” vacation was. 

I went to Cancun in October 2010 and February 2014 and Jamaica in September 2012. Those were very nice trips and my former company paid for those. I took a trip to a friend’s condo in June 2013 and took a trip with friends to South Carolina in July 2014. So yeah, it’s been 8 years since I’ve had a nice vacation.

Big Plans-Good and Bad

That’s about to change. Covid cancelled a planned vacation to Washington D.C. in 2020 and thanks to a generous relative, she’s gifted those plane tickets to me and Michael since she can’t use them. That trip we’re going to attempt to take at the end of October since they have to be used quickly. 

I also have a cruise that I will be going on in mid-February 2023. This was also a postponed/rescheduled trip due to Covid. 

Oh, and did I mention that somewhere between those two trips and a super busy time at work, I will probably need bunion surgery that is going to greatly limit my mobility for a few months. Just typing bunion surgery makes me feel like an old lady. I live in a second-floor condo and, more importantly, I am not the type of person that can sit around my house immobile for very long (like 2 hours or more…lol), so this is going to be quite the challenge.

So, 2 trips scheduled and an unexpected surgery that is all happening within 6 months. That’s going to be pricey but I certainly can’t turn down these opportunities and unfortunately the foot issue needs to be addressed so it’s time to go on budget lockdown and come up with this money so I can have a fabulous time and not have to worry about money considerations with the trips. 4-6 weeks with no weight on my foot and another 2-4 weeks with limited weight will not be fabulous but at least I can console myself with books after I figure out my out-of-pocket insurance costs.

First Things First

Good news is that I have the main costs of the cruise outlined. Plane tickets have already been purchased, cruise ticket due by end of November, and our drink package has to be paid before we board the cruise. Also have to renew my passport (ugh, more $$). Oh yeah, and splitting one night in a hotel and then that trip is pretty much paid for.

Plane tickets for our D.C. trip have generously been covered. We hope to stay somewhere in the middle of everything so we can walk or take public transportation there. From what I understand, a lot of the spots we want to hit there are free. So, hotel and food will be our biggest expenses to watch.

I’ve already had some medical expenses this year that I’ve incurred. Assuming I can fit this surgery in before December 31st, I think the most I’ll have to come up with to meet my out-0f-pocket expenses on my health plan is $800.

Also have Christmas, several birthday gifts, and 2 baby shower gifts here but luckily I am a fantabulous budget shopper so not too worried about these. 

Budget Lock-down Begins

Now I have a general idea of the money I need to come up with over the next 6 months. It’s a good chunk of money for me but it’s “time to take the trips” as my friend says.

Here are some of my plans for coming up with the money I need:

  • I was already paying $85 a month towards some interest-free financing on some expensive car repairs I had done last year. Just paid that off last week so I’m going to throw that in my vacation fund now since the amount is already in my budget
  • Keep earning and use my various rewards. I have one cash back credit card with my bank.  I also do various survey and rewards type programs that pay out in cash or gift cards (Shopkick, Receipt Hog, Ibotta, and Surveys). Currently I have $588 saved up between those. 
  • Earmark my expenses that I get back from work. I get reimbursed for mileage at work. That adds up in the summer months when I’m handling our pool stuff and making daily cash deposits at our bank. I’ll have one more decent check there and I’m going to dump that into my vacation fund.
  • Sell anything I don’t need. I have a few books I know I can sell. I may try to flip a few items again, haven’t done that for awhile.
  • Reduce my variable expense categories on my budget (Groceries, gas, entertainment, and restaurants).
  • More free activities until our trips. Library, hang out with friends, catch up on some tv shows, bookstore browsing, etc.
  • Worst case scenario, I’ll dip into the emergency funds and pay them back ASAP with any tax refund.  I  really think this is manageable though and that won’t be necessary.

It would definitely be nice if I could have spread these things out a bit more but I’m definitely going to make this work. Plus, the cruise is an early birthday trip for myself. I’ve been working hard these past few years and it’s time to slow down a bit. Plus, the oldest man-child definitely needs a vacation. The youngest man-child had 2 big trips this year already so don’t feel sorry for him, lol. 

Bonus: A cruise has long been on my bucket list.

Anything special that you’re saving up for?

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