In December we found ourselves sitting and really thinking about the past year and where money had gone, what we wished we had done more of, and less of, and differently. We were SO GLAD we went to NYC but we also found ourselves a little stressed around the weeks following our trip when we realized we didn’t save as much as money as we wanted to throughout the year to prepare for the winter.
Although I have digital products and run a small shop out of our house, my photography is seasonal… so the majority of my income comes in between May and August. We asked ourselves.. did we really pay attention to our money this year? We DID become DEBT FREE in January which was a HUGE HUGE HUGE blessing, but instead of us being super diligent with our money after… we definitely feel like we probably weren’t very intentional about saving money and we were way too chill about going to get carryout food… especially because we found a few places we love here on Hatteras Island that made it hard to resist especially during the busy season.
When we said – “let’s save money now that we’re debt free!” – we didn’t get granular with it. We didn’t say, okay, let’s put aside X amount of money per month, or every two weeks… we just kept saying, let’s save money! But if you don’t have specifics, you don’t really have accountability, and then how do you follow through on that? Well.. mostly, you don’t.
So as we sat there in December asking what we would have done different… we came to the conclusion that we could/should have done the following:
1. Choose a SPECIFIC NUMBER of dollars that would go in savings bi-weekly or monthly
2. Cut out carryout spending by 75%
3. Been REALLY intentional with groceries, which we’re actually pretty good about but we could have done better (don’t buy that bagged salad unless you are REALLY GOING TO EAT IT, LOL!)
4. Traded stuff (which, we don’t buy a lot of… but sometimes we give in just to “treat” ourselves) for EXPERIENCES. Airline tickets & hotel stays instead of things. At the end of the year, am I REALLY happy I got that thing from Amazon/Target/wherever instead of going to NYC again? Or somewhere else?
I really wanted to see how this would play out if I put together a couple of online shopping carts and compared them to airfare/hotel. Now.. just a note, when I pick up new clothes, I usually only do $25-75 at a time, but when you do that a few times – it adds up. So these carts may not have been typical “all-in-one-day purchases” but definitely realistic over a month or two or three. Let’s compare!
First… let’s look at the two shopping carts I put together from Target & American Eagle. I added things like a purse, hat, jeans, tapered pants, tops, etc. The carts weren’t even huge and filled with stuff.. it just adds up!:
In total, these carts equal $395.37
I went to Expedia and put together a weekend getaway in NYC including airfare and hotel and the total was:
A difference of only $166.89!!! That’s IT! So where’s a place we can find $160-ish hiding? If we didn’t do take-out about 3-4 times (see screenshot of our carryout orders from our fave pizza place below) – we would have plane tickets and a hotel stay for NYC.
This perspective was so helpful for us because instead of just floating along, blindly spending and giving into impulsive/lazy decisions throughout the year – we could add more of what we want and that’s travel and experiences! This is NOT for everyone, and we totally get that… but I value a trip to NYC so much more than carryout over and over or clothes that I tell myself I need and I really don’t. And if I value something more – I should pay more attention to it and just have this general awareness front and center in my mind.
This doesn’t mean I won’t shop and pick up carryout at all – I just KNOW we can be more intentional about it as we look back at the year and how it went for us personally.
Look – there is no right or wrong. I’m never telling anyone that… I am Enneagram One and I can not STAND when someone tells me what to do or what I should do… so I don’t do that to people, LOL. We just LOVE to share what we’ve learned and discovered and decided to offer another perspective to people who feel like they want something different than what they’re currently experiencing. Maybe this applies to you, maybe it doesn’t… but we are glad you took time to come and hear out our perspective on experiences versus stuff 🙂 HAPPY NEW YEAR! XOXO
*Side note – for a weekend getaway to NYC… what additional costs would there be? For US personally, we don’t go all out on meals/shopping when we’re there for the most part so with the taxi rides and general meals, we wouldn’t break $200-$250 typically. Sometimes even less! We wouldn’t need to check a bag with the airline for a quick getaway either, we would only need a small carry-on… so we would avoid that $30-ish (x2) check-bag fee.