It is time to share the next installment of our “Deep In Debt to Debt-free” story. That this hasn’t been an easy series for us to write, especially as we haven’t shared the details with anyone prior to now. We seriously plan to speed up this story, but there are two issues we continue to encounter: #1 – we are not sure how to tell it and #2 – we spend so much of our time blogging about other things that this series seems to takes the back burner 😉
But.. here is the next part of the story – our 2nd and 3rd honeymoon just four months into our marriage.
But of course we need to share with you some context! Many people accuse young newly married couples of moving too quickly in life as they want to have everything that their parents have. Now we are not sure if this claim is really true for everyone, but it certainly was in our case.
Thrifty Cas grew up in a home where her family spent money to travel. It was important to them and they made it a priority as it was something they enjoyed. Her family would take many trips each year. Thrifty Cas developed a love for traveling and wanted to keep doing it even as a young newly wed! She didn’t want to give up this type of lifestyle so taught me to love it too. I mean, the livin’ it up honeymoon was definitely not a trip to disappoint, except that big, fat loan that came with it!
But hey – it was fun, it was worth the money and it was memorable! Right?!
After one month of marriage and getting ourselves into $22,300 in debt, an opportunity to take a little vacation seemed like another opportunity for more fun! Our attitude was “memories are priceless” and who doesn’t want to make more memories?
A trip to St. Louis was just what the medicine the memory-making doctor ordered. We didn’t have the money “saved” but we still had “money in the bank” from the $16,500 honeymoon loan, which we technically considered “savings.”
We planned this trip in a 2-day notice which means we didn’t find great deals (you actually can score some amazing last minute travel deals, but we were not that frugally astute). Off we went to the “show me just how much debt we can get into” state. We stayed downtown across from the Busch Stadium home to the St. Louis Cardinals. We wanted a room up high in this hotel, stadium side, so we could see the game from our room – it was so memorable that I have no recollection of the game’s outcome. Ironic, eh? The next few days were spent eating, playing and spending as we made “memories.”
Honestly, as we think back on this, it surprises us that we didn’t even think of how much trouble we were getting ourselves into – it just came out of that pretend savings that we had. It didn’t occur to us that 30 days previously, we had to get that loan on our honeymoon because of a trip we couldn’t afford…which was the exact reason THAT money was there. We didn’t talk about the money part of what happened 30-days previously. But, in our minds we justified these trips by saying “it was okay, because we could work later to pay for it.” Besides, who seriously saves and plans for a vacation? Doesn’t everyone just “put it on their card” and pay for it later. That is just how you do it.
Well, exactly 11 years ago on this first week of December, we found ourselves making priceless memories again. After being married for four months, another vacation opportunity presented itself! But this time was different – it was a wise trip and a wise investment and really dumb to not take advantage of it! Why? Well, I was going to be flown out to Orlando for a week long training – the hotel during the week was paid for, my airline tickets were paid for, my food was paid for so…how often would you be able to go on a trip to Florida for half the cost? All we had to do was purchase a plane ticket, some food, and three extra nights of hotel so we could maximize our stay! WOW, what a bargain. Besides, we knew that this was the right way to travel.
So off we went to Florida. We arrived a couple of days before I had to start work and spent the weekend at Disney World and Universal Studios. We wanted to maximize our time (and our pocketbooks) and visited four parks (2 Disney and 2 Universal) in two days. It was not cheap…not even close! We stayed in luxury, dined lavishly, bought expensive souvenirs, and did not strike a deal on any tickets or events!
During the week, we still enjoyed nice dinners out and evening activities. During the day, I worked while Thrifty Cas lounged at the hotel and enjoyed the sites during the day. I remember her stating how “wise it was for us to come together as we really saved so much money.”
And we did manage to create the most memorable vacation memory we have had yet in 11 years of marriage (not just our financial memories). We will never forget our trip to Universal Studios. We literally jumped out of our rental car and dashed to the ticket counter – without noting the row, the level, nor the parking garage we were parked in.
We didn’t realize at the time there were many ginormous parking garages for this theme park. When walking out of the park at 11pm I thought we had parked in King King and she thought it was Jaws. In addition, we could not remember what our rental car looked like. It was awful! We wandered around until 1:30 in the morning in parking garage level after parking garage level to finally find our vehicle. As the night went on, the garages became emptier and emptier and scarier and scarier. If it wasn’t for my exhaustion, anger and frustration from this little incident – looking back on the “walking around empty parking garages at 1:30 in the morning” situation, I probably should have been more scared than I was. Thrifty Cas says that “Thinking about it now scares me.” Despite our stupidity God was protecting our safety during those wee hours in the morning!
We did eventually find that stupid car. What a memory we created with a huge life lesson learned (always remember where you parked your car – duh!). We have never lost our vehicle since and are usually obsessively noting where we park when in a big city and parking garage or lot.
The cost of this memory and this life lesson – THOUSANDS.
Between these two trips, our “pretend savings” was now $6,000 lower and the debt-load became $28,300.
We share these two trips because they really become “the rest of the story” for the next few years of our marriage. Over the course of the next three years, traveling become one of our top financial pitfalls. We took several trips that ultimately cost us thousands more in debt. We never left the country (who knows what sort of financial state that would have put us in) but it was primarily those quick weekend trips – we were a fun young couple wanting to live it up! Most of them are unmemorable, but we paid for them for a long time.
Even now being debt-free, we still have a love for traveling. But we take an entirely different approach: Plan ahead, save the funds before, find incredible deals and find alternative ways to sleeping, eating and playing that cost much less. As a family of 6, we have and can travel at less than half the cost as the trips we use to take as we did when it was just the two of us.
We’ll be sharing our next huge pitfall soon!
Catch up on previous installments of our Deep in Debt to Debt-Free story in our previous posts!
If you’re new to the series or just want to catch up, we encourage you to check out our whole Deep in Debt to Debt Free series! Here’s those articles!
- Part I: The Newly Unthrifty Couple
- Turning Our Apartment Into an Unthrifty Home
- It’s A Crystal Affair
- The Show Me Just How Much Debt We Can Get Into State
- The Most Insane Way to Buy a Car
- Our Seven Debtly Sins of Eating Out
- One Year Later and Our First House
- Will This Business Get Us Out of Trouble?
- Why Didn’t This Couple Realize What They Were Doing?
- The Baby that Saved Us Financially
- You Want Us to Eat What?
Photo Credits: Mint.com and NPS.gov