The other day I was grooving around my room to Beyonce, as I often do. 7/11 is her latest hit and a great dance song. The video is Bey dancing around in hotel rooms and it is amazeballs. The sight of hotel rooms reminded me that I haven’t saved a single penny for San Diego. How am I going to pay for my own damn hotel* room at this rate?
My trip to San Diego is in 4 weeks and I am so excited. I leave two days after lacrosse season ends, so I’m viewing it as the perfect shift from my crazy 5 job and 7 day work week winter and spring to a more mellow summer, where I only have three jobs. It’s a much needed break.
Yet I haven’t prioritized saving for it at all. I’ve had some unexpected costs come up this April that have really dealt a blow to my budget. I have a $500 medical bill staring me down, toll fees, and higher than usual gas costs. All these thing are slowing my debt payoff and are currently preventing me from tucking some money away for San Diego.
I do have a few tricks up my sleeve though! As a certified planning nut, there’s no way I’d be caught totally unprepared for this trip. Here’s what I’ve got in the works.
Coin jars, post-it’s and flowers
1) My trusty coin jar and dollar bill fund. I’ve been saving my coins and my one dollar bills for the last 6 months. I don’t often use cash so it’s slow going but I’ve still managed to save a bit of money. I’ve got $110 in cash and about $15 in coins in that jar. I’ve decided to start saving my cash tips from catering from here on out, so hopefully this will be between $175 and $200 by the time I get on the plane.
2) I just got most of my ticket price back. I spent $260 on a plane ticket for this trip. My credit card offers a 20,000 point bonus (the equivalent of $200) when you spend one thousand dollars in the first three months of having it. I recently hit that mark and redeemed 21,003 points for a $213 ‘purchase eraser’ on my credit card. I
Just for a second, let’s talk about how much this trip is going to cost me. I’m hoping to get out of this bad boy for $550 total. That might be optimistic but setting a goal will help me as I’m trying to keep costs down.
$47- Flight (after the point bonus from my credit card)
$182.78- Housing for 3 nights and 4 days. We’ve booked through vrbo and have already paid. We’re pro-rating housing costs as some of us are staying for longer than others.
$120- Food. I’m only going to eat one meal out. The rest will be cooked at home. I also have no plans to buy any drinks while in SD. This is the only wiggle room I really have in my budget so I need to make sure and stick to this!
$???- Car rental. We are renting a car and I have no idea how much it will cost. I’m hoping in the neighborhood of $150 (including gas) but I really can’t say. There are 7 of us too, so we’ll need a big vehicle to get around.
$100- Miscellaneous fun. This will be for whatever I need. Maybe a paddle board rental, maybe some back-up food money, whatever! I’m going to try hard not to go over in any category above but if I do, this will be my ‘just in case’ stash. I also plan to bring my credit card and hopefully use that to rack up some more rewards points. I’ll pay off the entire bill of course!
So now the question becomes- where exactly will this $550 come from? I’ve already got $125 in cold hard cash through my coins and dollar bills, so I need to come up with $425 by May 13th.
Looks like it’s about to rain up in here!
Luckily, we are still four weeks away. I have time to pick up an extra catering shift, which usually nets me about $120 and put that directly towards San Diego. I am also open to the idea of using my credit card for the trip costs for two reasons: point accrual and purchase tracking. Using my credit card means each purchase is automatically recorded, and I don’t have to make a quick note in my phone about where or when I’m spending money. Additionally, if I don’t use the card for anything else between now and then, I’ll be able to make that payment pretty easily.
My friends and I are planning on on person paying for things like the rental house, the rental car and our big dinner out and then using an app to split the costs later and have every one pony up. I’m fine with that and it can also mean that I don’t spend that much money during the trip but instead PayPal my friends later.
All in all, I do need to get a move on in terms of saving, but I’m not that worried. I will make it work. I am super glad to have taken a look at expenses now, at the one month mark, though. It ensures that I won’t get caught with my pants around my ankles when the trip comes! I like having everything in place and I still have time to do that.
*Technically it’s a house rental, not a hotel room.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.