Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On Frugality and Fun

My wife is wonderfully intelligent (intelligently wonderful?), and last night, before we nodded off to sleep, we decided to…

Not that! If lascivious and prurient items were what was to be written about in this blog, instead of being titled “Pinch that Penny,” I’d have to re-title it “Pinch that … something else!”

But seriously, before we drifted off to dreamland, I asked her what sort of vacation she’d like to go on. You see, the two of us had just spent a long weekend in Las Vegas with my parents and my brother. My family had made the trip under the auspices of my mom and my wife attending a cake/cupcake decorating convention. However, there are things that my dad, brother, and I like to do in Las Vegas, and those things involve sitting at a table for hours and repeatedly trying to count to twenty-one.*

While my wife thoroughly enjoyed her class-time, it is a well-known fact in my household that sitting in a smoke-filled casino is not my wife’s idea of an enjoyable vacation. This is what had prompted my question about what sort of vacation she’d like to go on. She thought for a moment, and then replied something along the lines of, “Well, are we going to try to have a great vacation or are we going to try to save money?” While she says that she generally enjoys any vacation that we go on, she really loved our honeymoon where, due to a lot of saving, we had been able to kind of cut loose and do nearly anything we wanted to do. Our honeymoon mentality was one that believed we were only going to get married one time, and so we’d better make the most out of it. We have plenty of fond and funny memories about our trip to Hawaii (there’s nothing like getting so sunburned that you can’t even really leave the hotel room because it hurts so much to knock a guy down a couple pegs).

I believe that her question about saving money stemmed from the fact that I had signed up for a rewards card at a not-so-exciting hotel on my last trip (The Orleans), and they, as casinos will do, sent me a voucher for a couple of free nights which we took advantage of on this trip. However, the first night of our trip, we stayed at the hotel where the cake decorating convention was held (Green Valley Ranch). GVR is a pretty, new property, and so after spending a night there, The Orleans seemed a little bit older and dingier by comparison.**

This got me to thinking, and us to discussing, about whether the spending of a lot of money on experiences is what makes a vacation superlative and memorable. Something I enjoy is checking out the Priceline Pricebreakers to see what trips are on sale. For our first anniversary, my wife and I went on a three or four day cruise which we paid relatively little for (comparatively), but was still a good time (even though swine flu concerns kept us from our cruise stop in Mexico). Still, both of us dream of taking a grand European vacation, but the price tag daunts and taunts me. It’s not so much the travel when we’re there as much as the cost of the flights to get there. My wife and I live in San Diego, so it’ll probably cost us four or five hundred bucks a piece to get to the East coast, and then another six or seven hundred bucks to get to Europe. All told, it would probably cost us around $2,000 for the two of us to even get to Europe, to say nothing of food, lodging, and so forth once there.

Middle-class problems, right?

Anyways, this got me to thinking how everybody else thinks about vacations. When planning your trips, do you pay top dollar to take the vacation of your dreams? Or do you seek out deals for less exciting, but not as pricy, vacations? Or do you have some sort of trade-off?

*Responsibly, of course. Each of us had a set spending limit for gambling based on what we knew we could afford. While I believe that gambling, in general, is not a fiscally sound course for personal finance, given that my family is on relatively firm footing with our finances, the occasional gambling trip to Vegas won’t throw us too far off course.
**The Orleans is still a nice hotel, in my opinion, and I don’t mean to demean it. I only mean to state that, even though The Orleans is nice, it wasn’t as nice and new as GVR.

No comments: