Monday, December 17, 2012

My Debt Free Trip to Hawaii

Now that was quite the sabbatical J! I am back from our debt free vacation to Hawaii and I have to say our visit was refreshing and invigorating. During the spring of this year we paid off my wife’s student loan and we decided to take a celebratory trip back to the islands this year. We are also utilizing an earmarked savings account specifically for travel that we prioritize and save for every month so that we can take lots of little trips and an annual one to a far destination. Travelling together and seeing the world is a priority to us right along with saving for retirement and paying cash for our first home and becoming completely debt free has enabled us to realize these plans and dreams.

One of my points of pride from this trip is that we ventured to 2 islands, Kauai and Oahu, and we check marked everything we wanted to do on our itineraries and came under our planned budget by $2,000. What I find even more remarkable in retrospect is that I feel we did not instinctively scrimp and save while we were out on the islands. We enjoyed dining out for lunches and dinners and we both experienced some spending fatigue while out there.

At first though I had to push myself to actually spend money. We were driving along in Kauai and the morning sun began to break through and we stopped along to get some sunscreen because we only brought carry on luggage on the flight to avoid the check fees for baggage. So I ran into a local market and was immediately appalled at the price gouging done on the sunscreen products I was looking at. I was just about to run out of the store, hop back into our rental car and tell my wife to drive to the nearest Wal-Mart when I heard a voice in my head say, “Just buy the sunscreen and quit complaining, stupid!” What helped is that when we vacation I carry along our daily budget and tally our expenses as they are incurred. At this point (first day) I already knew that we were going to come under our daily budget regularly (we did) and have to get really creative to come out of our frugal spending shells just to even come close to our daily budget amount. So I hit a really cool pivotal point where I put my spending shield down and began to live in the present and enjoy life.

With my notes in hand I made sure that my wife and I knew our daily spending limit but in reconciling that along with our daily activity plans I was at ease knowing that we could enjoy our trip, do all of the things we wanted to do and still not even come close to our daily limit. It really helped me downshift from the hustle and bustle of daily life here in Chicago to a relaxed state of mind and I instantly began enjoying every second of our vacation without worry.

To help deflect costs my wife found excellent rates on At that site she tracked down 2 gorgeous resort locations. In essence the resorts she found are time-share centric and these companies rent out their unsold units on sites like Yes we were offered a pitch to sit down for a timeshare presentation, but if you know me at all I am only looking to invest in real estate that appreciates, not prepay for vacations. So we happily said no to attending the presentation.

Call me odd and weird (I’m happy to be so by the way) but I also enjoy making breakfast while on vacation. So we set criteria for our lodgings to have a full kitchen and we picked up some essential breakfast items and made breakfast for our each during the course of our stay. On this note it’s a piece of my frugality that I enjoy doing and probably won’t ever let go of J. To me it’s a delicate balance to walk between frugal and hyper-consumer. Being frugal to me is fun and enjoyable, I love getting a deal and finding unique ways to off-set costs. Could we have dined out for every meal every day and have stayed under budget? Sure, but the quiet mornings of making a meal for my wife and not having to rush out the door to get somewhere is priceless to me.

We had an absolute blast being back in Hawaii. My wife and I met out there roughly seven years ago while in college and had not been back since we graduated. For the most part our old college spots have remained the same but I was surprised with how much Waikiki has changed. The influx of Japanese tourists has dramatically changed the landscape in my opinion. Newer buildings and improved landscapes have given Waikiki such a modern and new feel to it from the place I remember. Nevertheless it was fun to walk down memory lane and make wonderful new memories in the same locale.

We also received the compliment of the year when a student working the bookstore was surprised to learn we were not undergrads. So even though we are close to 30 we still look like we are in our early 20s! I’ll take that compliment to the bank every day of the week J! We even managed to use our alumni discount when buying some apparel so even on vacation I avoid paying retail. But the bulk of our souvenir and clothing purchases were done as we made time to scour through local thrift stores. We both found great apparel at a fraction of retail cost, and I even walked away with a new(er) collegiate duffle bag for work for literally $2.

We had a fantastic trip back to the islands and are now planning to go back at least once every 2 years. But it is great also to be back in the Midwest in time for Christmas. So I’m looking forward to writing even more posts to close out the year. 

1 comment:

  1. You inspire me. It's not easy to watch out your spending when on vacation, but you handled it well. I guess proper planning is really the best strategy to avoid being in debt. Anyway, you accomplished a lot of things; I guess 2012 is your lucky year. This trip is definitely a sweet treat for both of you, and I hope there's more for your 2013. Jaden Allred @