Building a frugal box makes so many aspects of money management effortless. This weekend, I jet-setted across the country for a spa day with my stepsister. Sounds luxurious and quite expensive, doesn't it?
Luxurious? Very. Expensive? I don't think so. Worth it? Absolutely. High fun, low stress, and just the kind of thing I love to do.
- $81.78 for the round-trip plane ticket on Spirit. Yes, I picked a cheap day where my calendar was free.
- $5.83 for Starbucks at the airport. I brought it on the plane and enjoyed it during takeoff.
- $154.80 for pedicures for me, my stepsister, and my niece at her favorite nail salon.
- My stepsister covered brunch and sushi while we lounged around the house watching a movie.
- $4.12 for a McFlurry from McDonald's on the way home. It just sounded so good.
- Total cost: $246.53
I don't consider it expensive. I didn't even think twice or notice how much money I "saved" until someone specifically asked how planning ahead saves money. It's just second nature.
- I chose a cheap airline. I looked for the cheapest day that worked with our calendars. A "fancy" (read: customer friendly) airline or upgraded seat would have cost way more.
- If you spend a lot on a ticket, you want it to be "worth it." Time off work to extend the trip, anyone?
- I flew up early Saturday morning (5am flight! Ouch...) and flew back late Saturday night (9pm flight), which meant I had the whole day to spend with my stepsister. More "convenient" plane times would have cost double, at least.
- I didn't have to book a hotel or check a bag. I didn't even have to pack a bag. Astronomical savings right there in money and time and stress.
- I picked the right(?) season. During the summer, the flights are four times as expensive.
- I have winter boots, a warm coat, and SO. MANY. SCARVES that I keep tucked in my closet from when I lived in Michigan eight years ago. Sure, my Florida wardrobe is thinner, but I layered up to ensure I stayed warm. No purchases required.
- My husband dropped me off and picked me up, Tampa side. My stepsister picked me up and dropped me off, Detroit side. It could have cost hundreds for an Uber or a taxi service.
- I hate waiting for food, so I automatically put protein bars ($2 each from Target) and a banana in my purse. I hate being without water, so my water bottle was with me and promptly filled once I was through security. No airport food needed for the way up, but you can bet I enjoyed my latte.
- My kindle was fully charged and loaded with books. I didn't purchase a new book or in-flight entertainment or Wi-Fi or whatever other miscellaneous things to keep me busy. No idea what they'd cost because I don't actually care.
This trip could have cost thousands of dollars. Instead, my frugal box is so sturdy that the frugal choices just come naturally. None of the plans required thought. None of my choices felt like "missing out." And at the end of the day, my spending was exactly in line with what I value: quality time with family.
None of this comes at the expense of my goals. We set aside the dollar amount we want to save automatically using our 401(k)s, our HSAs, and my Roth IRA. When I know I'm accomplishing my goals, whatever they are, there is no guilt in spending money or time on the things I value.
It's a privilege to be able to do what I do and to have the head start I did, and I acknowledge this first and foremost. I also acknowledge that there is power in the frugal choices I made. I acknowledge it was choices that got me here. These choices allowed me to save large portions of my income for many years, which has turned into a powerful retirement money engine that I don't even have to think about anymore, and which makes the $250 for a spa day a drop in the bucket. Meanwhile, the memories will last a lifetime.