Mr. TTF’s birthday was just a few weeks ago and we decided to spend it with family, away from work, at the Happiest Place on Earth. I feel like that might be trademarked because, well, it’s Disney. But we got a sweet little taste of FI, as we do with any trip to Disneyland. So we wanted to put together a quick post on how to save money and stay happy.
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For me, vacations are always a must. I am always dreaming of where we could go next. I have at least 5 Pinterest Boards of all my dream trips. Many of which are involving beautiful scenery and of course food… lots of food. I am always searching where the cheapest flights are and calculating my PTO. It’s really a problem. I was even tempted to start my own travel agency, you know, on a whim. But I really love the planning and the anticipation just as much as the trip itself.
However, we are on the frugal train to FI and that is far more important to me (and Mr. TTF) than a trip a year, draining our savings. This was always the norm for my family growing up. We would plan one “big trip” a year and my parents took my brother and I on some unbelievable and unforgettable trips. We also did smaller trips here and there, and my grandparents would take us places as well. Travel has always been a part of my life and I am not ready to give that up now.
Trust us, we know we need to make sacrifices in order to reach our FI goals anytime soon. And we are willing to make so many of those sacrifices. Travel and well needed relaxation time are just not some of those things I can forgo.
Especially, seeing friends and family travel so much. My younger brother, for instance, just came back from a week-long trip snowboarding in the Swiss Alps. And one of my college roommates travels the world full-time. The things she sees and the experiences she has had… I can’t even imagine.
Here’s a picture from my brother recent trip to Switzerland… I know, tell me about it.
And I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to others. And I certainly am not, but I do know what my goals are more and more everyday.
Change Your Perspective
Instead of sitting on the couch sulking while we scroll through way too many Instagram stories, we looked around and guess what? We are incredibly lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world: Southern California.
We are actually both in the hospitality industry so we KNOW that people are traveling from all over the world to come to our city.. where we LIVE!
Whenever I travel somewhere, I always go through that mini freak out realization that people LIVE where I am traveling. And they could just as easily walk to that same bakery and see those views every. Single. Day.
Well, time to turn that perspective around and realize that there are people out there thinking that very same thing about where you live. Whether that is Southern California, Chicago, or a small town in South Dakota. You have to find beauties in your own backyard and run with it.
So, Why a Disney Pass?
For us, we love a little thrill and a little magic. So we took a look at our finances and decided to make the jump into a Disney Annual Pass.
It started when Mr. TTF’s parents were coming into town and we were planning a 1 day trip to Disneyland already. Luckily, there were a few pros leaning us toward getting that pass:
- We already drive through Anaheim so often anyways to get to my parent’s house
- We’re already going to be paying for a $147 ticket for just the one-day with his family
- Purchasing the annual pass would take the stress out of going for just one day and that “we need to do everything because we are only here once and we spent a lot of money” feeling that so many families there face.
We were able to buy an annual pass for that same down payment as the one-day pass and pay with monthly installments of $48.50 a month, each. It definitely could be cut from out budgets, but to us it is not unnecessary spending. We absolutely love going to Disneyland and California Adventure those 1 to 2 times a month and we are still able to save over 50% of our income every month.
We realized what is to important to us. For some it may be cars or interior design or dogs! The possibilities are endless, but it’s just so important to ensure you don’t give up the things that make you happy.
And we have, in turn, found ways to compensate for this extra expense. For instance, I am able to throw on a couple extra hours of overtime each month to pay for the added $48.50 of my pass. We have also cut down on our previous dining out expenses that would account for our date nights.
One of our “rules,” per se, is to have a date night every month. It does NOT have to be anything crazy. It’s just dedicated time for each other without interruptions. And don’t get us wrong we try to do this daily over dinner or in the car. But life can just get crazy sometimes. We work late, we have family in town, etc.
Now that we have the Disney Pass, we make that our monthly date night. We pack a picnic lunch every time, saving money on food and cutting that normal dining out expense from our budget which is usually more than the $97.00 tab that Disney has for us. We also get to see my family a lot more as they provide our lodging for those weekends too!
Find your Disneyland
So, maybe you think Disneyland is just for kiddos. Or you despise being in the same place as alllll those people who pack into Disneyland every day. That’s okay but that’s not the point of this post.
This post is about how you need to make sacrifices to reach Financial Independence BUT it should never take away from your happiness. Your quality of life should still be high and you should always be happy with where you are at in the process. Remember the journey is half the fun.
In the must-read FI book, Set for Life, Scott Trench advocates that you should live a frugal life and that is the first step towards FI. He encourages you to cut your housing costs and car expenses. But not your entertainment expenses. In fact if you are in line with the National Average, with 5% of your income going towards entertainment, you can even afford to increase that!
Don’t get us wrong, we definitely wish we could buy all the fancy cocktails and stay at the Grand Californian hotel when we go. But we pack our lunches and show up early to miss the lines. And we absolutely couldn’t be happier with our Disneyland Annual Passes. And we have a little something to look forward to once we do hit FI… Maybe like, 4 more of these, please!
I hope you are able to look over your finances and see where you are able to cut back and find areas that are okay to spend a little on because life without them, just wouldn’t be life. Don’t be a hermit unless that’s truly what you like to do. Which 9 out of 10 times, that is what we like to do, so that’s okay, too!
Tell us how you are still able to keep a happy life while saving a butt-ton of money, even if you have to spend a little more to indulge in it! We know we aren’t the only ones!
Here are some more tips on how to save money in your sleep.