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By the author of the online course Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture
These days on my homestead, I have a new passion: learning my native language, Irish! There is an opportunity this summer for me to attend an Irish immersion camp, and I would love to attend. The only problem: Hmmm, not a lot of extra cash lying around! At first, I was convinced (and quite sad) that it simply wasn’t possible. I’m sharing how I am managing to do this with the Frugalite community in the hopes that it might inspire some of you to reach for something you think might not be possible for you.
How Much Does It Cost?
The Irish Immersion week is a camp, and the fees cover breakfasts and dinners and setting up your own campsite on their land, as well as all classes. As this is run by a committee of volunteers, I feel the fee for everything included of $200 is pretty sweet. For my lunches, I can buy some ice in the nearby village (a few blocks will be around $10) and bring my usual food from home, so that won’t cost any extra.
I own my tent, air mattress and cot and sleeping bag, and lanterns. I have cousins who are expert campers, so I can probably borrow any camping gear that I don’t already own. The only other expense that would need to be considered is gas for all the driving. Based on current gas prices, I would need a full tank to do this, and it would cost me around $40. That would include running into town for ice if required. So, my dream vacation costs a pretty reasonable $250.
Well, ummmm…….I’ll be blunt: the problem was that I didn’t have the money. I have a very organized budget. I do well milking on a local farm. However, building an eco-cabin was a major, major expense, and I’m still paying my way out of some of that. I’m actually pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished in the past several years.
However, when I looked at my budget with an eye to maintaining my debt payments, there just wasn’t any extra. I mean none: nada, nothing. I was pretty upset. I don’t take vacations. I don’t even get sick, so I don’t take sick days (farm workers don’t get paid sick days anyhow). I asked myself this question: “Am I willing to reduce my debt payments to take this vacation?” The answer was no.
I was pleased to have negotiated a locked-in interest rate for this particular debt with my bank. It is quite low compared to rates now, and it expires in October. Although I wanted my special vacation, I was not willing to jeopardize my payment plans on this debt. I want it paid off before the interest rate DOUBLES in October!
So, that was the problem. I had a strict financial plan for the next several months. I reassessed it and confirmed that I was committed to my higher goal. However, this modest vacation meant so much to me that I looked at my budget again….Hey, wait! I found a way. I think you’ll be surprised how I managed it!
Having confirmed where my wages were committed: to my debt payments, I went back to my expenditures. I reviewed everything I was spending. Could I cut anything? Food? Nope. My food spending is quite low as I continue to draw on my food stores of potatoes and root vegetables I stashed last fall.
OK, I found one item on my spending list. Every week, after the Saturday morning milking, I have been stopping at a local café and buying a breakfast sandwich. Made with a local free-range egg and handmade cheddar cheese from a local artisanal cheese company, it was absolutely delicious. It was my only “treat.” My only “eating out” every week at all. Well, this little thing only cost $4.50. What possible difference could THAT make to my vacation funds?
Reluctantly, I punched the numbers into my laptop calculator…OK….$4.50 times….how many weeks until mid August…ummm…OK, around 23 weeks until the Irish Immersion camp, give or take…so giving up my little sandwich would save me….WHAT???? Over a hundred dollars! This light bulb moment was the beginning of being able to find my budget space for my little vacay.
Feeling encouraged, I looked deep into my budget and found a couple of other little corners to cut. If I gave up one extra trip in my car per week, for example, I was confident I could save ANOTHER $4.50 per week. That would put me at a savings of $200, which was the cost of the program.
As for the other $50 for gas and ice: I realized that eating all my breakfasts and suppers at the camp would save me some food money from my regular budget. Ca-ching. I wouldn’t be driving to work that weekend: that would save me half a tank of gas…Ca-ching ca-ching….I realized I could do it!
A Weekly Sandwich or a Vacay….Who Knew???
Even with a very tight budget and a strong priority to pay down my debt, I found a bit of wiggle room to afford a treasured vacation. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Could you see yourself trying any of the thrifty tips offered here for a special goal? Do you have a special goal you have saved for that you can share with us? How did you do it? Have you ever tweaked one small savings that made a big difference?
Please tell us about it in the comments!
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient. Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!