You say potato…..I say….Can you get that cheaper?

My husband and I are very different people and 99 per cent of the time, this is a very good thing. We are like salt and pepper, he is the Yin to my Yang and all of that.

When it comes to our attitudes towards money however, we are so different that it can sometimes quite difficult to reconcile our views. We have worked hard to come up with a coherent and workable financial plan, and one that won’t end up with a visit to a divorce lawyer.

Our difference in attitude has been perfectly illustrated by a little incident that has happened on our holidays this week. Before I share with you, I should just like to point out that neither of us are “right” or “wrong”. I’m not sharing this to point out how wonderful I am, or how terrible he is, or vice versa.

So, what happened?

The zip on his Samsonite suitcase broke.

Is that it? I hear your collective disappointment.

Yes. Really. That’s it.

My initial response was to fiddle with the zip a bit (whilst pulling my best zip expert face) and assert that it’s still functioning well enough, and since it is hand luggage it will never be out of our sight and so there is probably a good 3 or 4 trips left in it. And we have several hand luggage sized suitcases to use when it ultimately and inevitably takes a trip to its final destination, suitcase heaven. If we ever really do need another small suitcase, we can pick up a good one from TK Maxx for about £20.

His response was to spend several hours meticulously researching hand luggage on the internet and he found the ideal replacement for £200. His justification is that he flies frequently with work, and so needs something that is up to the job, will last a long time, and very importantly, looks professional. (Such a shame that this is one of his criteria, as I found a great Spider-man one on Ebay for £5!).

Impasse. He will not be moved. Several lengthy and heated discussions ensue, and eventually, he reluctantly finds another suitcase that will do, for £90.

Now, in his mind, he has already sacrificed himself to our thrifty cause to the tune of £110. He has ‘saved’ £110. To my mind, £90 is still more than the £20 I would spend, and therefore he is about to ‘waste’ £70.

I see the £70 as a sum of money we now can’t use somewhere else. He believes that there is no point in working if you can’t buy nice things with your money. I do kind of agree here. Who doesn’t like nice things? But I really don’t view a suitcase as a nice thing.

Neither of us is right or wrong, but what to do?

There really is no point in arguing, it is only a suitcase after all. Ultimately, this single purchase will not send us spiralling to financial ruin. The fact that we are discussing this purchase with each other is a very good thing. Good financial management involves making these micro-decisions every day, and each one won’t make us or ruin us. As long as we keep our eyes on the bigger picture then I am sure that all will be well.

And at least I can be confident that I will never find myself in the embarrassing position of having to retrieve my underwear from the floor of some departure lounge!!

Does this ring any bells with you? I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to comment.

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Supporting Teens to Realise their Financial Dreams

This blog was started not so long ago with the intention of merrily charting how my husband and I went about saving a sum of money to go on an adventure holiday with our three teen children. Easy! That’ll make an interesting read I thought. I can chart our travel research and our saving tips.

First things first, as we surveyed our finances, we realised that we are carrying quite a lot of debt, and so my attention quickly turned to how we should pay it off. I like a challenge, I’ve made a plan, and I am confident it will be done. No worries.

Now, as we know, life is what happens when you are making other plans, and whilst my head has been buried in budgets, travel research and side hussling, one of my lovely boys has been offered the opportunity of a trip of a lifetime to Tanzania, with an organisation called World Challenge. The project aims to build young people’s personal and social responsibility through a combination of physical challenges, and participating in charitable projects.

I am genuinely thrilled for him, and pleased that he has signed up for it so wholeheartedly. In order to go, he needs to raise nearly £3000 over the course of a year. The organisers are keen to emphasise that the young people need to raise this sum for themselves, and that it isn’t gifted by parents. (No chance of that! Ha ha!) It is a brilliant way of teaching them about resourcefulness, entrepreneurship, deferring gratification, and ultimately, financial literacy.

We have jointly worked up a list of ways he can make the £3k, which include services to friends and neighbours such as babysitting, gardening, and teaching the family elders to use computers (he is very patient). He is a great baker, and intends to join me at car boot sales selling cakes. Car washing, bag packing, and organising a party are all on his list. I have encouraged him to think of the £3k as 600 x £5. This makes it feel more manageable. He has made a chart with 600 little squares on his wall to plot his progress. He has researched the best bank account that will give him the best rate of interest.

In short, I have no doubts that he will achieve his goal.

Which is a bit of a bittersweet realisation for me, as I have to acknowledge that his travel dreams are not the same as mine. He is a young man about to enter the world in his own terms. The Tanzania trip will take place during the window that I had earmarked for our family adventure.

My wish was for us all to have one long family holiday together before my children grew up. It seems I am too late. They are grown up. And I could not be prouder.

Budget Holidays with Teens…

Budget Holidays with Teens

We had to think long and hard about whether taking a fortnight’s holiday was allowable within our current financial constraints. Would taking a holiday just involve wasting money we don’t have?

On balance we decided that we should, because, life being life, we may never actually manage to take our intended sabbatical next year, regardless of whether we manage to save the money (more on this later).

Everyone needs a chance to kick back and relax. We haven’t managed a full two week family vacation for over 5 years. This has been mainly due to husband having set factory shut downs which have not corresponded with school holidays, or have clashed with children’s exams, race fixtures (my son is a runner) my work, or other unbreakable family commitments.

This year, the hubster has been able to take two weeks off, over the Easter holiday!!! We have no weddings to go to, no exams to be sat (although both lads have bought mountains of text books to revise for exams when they return) no important races to compete in, and no house renovations to be done. This may never happen again, and so the decision was taken, and we are now settled in a lovely little house on the Bodrum peninsular in Turkey.

Bliss.

Two sunny weeks with which to do… not very much.

We still need to be conscious of the pennies though, and I think we have managed to get here very reasonably indeed, with change from £1500 for flights and accommodation for five of us. Not bad eh?

Here are some of the ways I have managed to minimize my financial guilt trip!

1. Check the age the airline charges ‘adult’ prices from. We managed to get my 13 y/o a child’s priced airfare by shopping around.
2. Don’t think you have to fly there and back with the same airline. We saved quite a bit by flying with 2 airlines.
3. Some airlines accept Clubcard points or airmiles. We have taken £150 off the cost of the flights.
4. Watch the extras, and pack carefully. At £20 a bag, hold luggage is expensive, and £6 each for advance check in, these extras all add up. Don’t feel pressurised. We have managed to get everything in hand luggage and one hold bag, which admittedly contains mainly text books for revision. Without impending exams, we could probably have done without hold luggage altogether.
5. Cashback. We have managed to get Cashback on our airport parking and our holiday insurance from http://www.topcashback.co.uk/home
6. Like many large families with teens, hotel accommodation just doesn’t work for us. We need a house or apartment, and we have found that Airbnb offers great accommodation at very reasonable prices. Basically, the concept is that people put up their own properties for rent while they themselves are on holiday or not using it. The choice ranges from “pretty basic” to “OMG That’s a castle”. We are currently situated in a three bed house, a little away from the main holiday resort, but with the most amazing view over the bay, all for just under £600. Check out http://www.airbnb.com/ for some ideas.

I intend to check out houseswopping for future holidays, and am currently working up an Airbnb listing for my own house, to try and make a bit of extra money in the school holidays.

I’d love to hear how you have saved money on your family holidays…

Ta at speak later xxx