This is a post from Make Love, Not Debt staff blogger, Abby.
Recently, my husband stumbled onto a bit of fellowship luck for part of his graduate program. As a result, our loan burden for the coming year is somewhat reduced. Obviously, this resulted in much rejoicing, in large part because we won’t have to worry about the lack of interest deferment on Stafford loans in the coming year (I had a whole post on this planned, and it was going to pulse with rage). We can do a lot with this news, including an accelerated repayment schedule for the loans we DO have for his graduate program.
But shortly after we found out about the fellowship, my sister emailed me to let me know that she would be remaining in Israel (where she is currently living and working/studying) for an additional year. We had put off visiting her this year for a number of reasons – prohibitive cost to the Middle East, lack of vacation time, and a previously planned trip to Spain to visit my husband’s sisters on their study abroad semester. But in light of this new financial situation, we started to consider a trip to Israel a possibility.
And then I started to look at plane ticket prices. Because this would be quite a bit of a distance to travel, and because in addition to my sister, I have family members scattered throughout the major cities in Israel, we want to spend a significant amount of time over there. After all, there’s a lot to see (in addition to family); my husband and I come from two religions that have many interesting (and different) points of interest in Jerusalem, and we’re not likely to repeat the trip anytime in the coming few decades. We would like to make it a substantial escapade. This means looking at tickets over the holiday season, when we both have a significant amount of time off. This also means that tickets are SO, SO EXPENSIVE.
Obviously, once I saw the upwards-of-a-thousand-dollar price-tag on tickets during our travel time of choice, I started to brainstorm ways to save. It’s so much cheaper to travel over Thanksgiving! We could definitely stay in the Zurich airport for 22 hours to save on travel, whatever! It will be fine! Slowly but surely, a creeping sense of stress and panic overcame me, and I confessed to my husband that nothing about planning this sounded fun anymore. After regarding me like I was insane, he asked me what was wrong.
“Tickets are SO EXPENSIVE over Christmas. But if we go over Thanksgiving, we won’t have any time and it will be rushed and miserable and we’ll be jet-lagged and it will just be a stressful misery.”
“Then let’s go over Christmas.”
“But THE MONEY! THE MONEY!”
“Abby . . . we have the money. It will be fine.”
And he’s right. As he correctly pointed out, this is the best time in our lives to take this trip. We’re financially sound (knock on wood), we have the time, we’re young and childless, and enough people are over there and happy/willing to host us and see us that if we don’t do this trip now, we’ll regret it. My sister will not be there for much longer; and sometimes, you need to value your life experiences over an unnecessarily accelerated loan-repayment plan. Sometimes, the extra few-hundred dollars to ensure that you get the most out of an experience, and aren’t rushing through it with an underlying sense of panic are worth it. Therefore, I am going to push the guilt-monster associated with spending more cash than I should, and taking two international trips in a year, deep down inside me (where I hide the rest of my feelings), and look forward to planning the (or at least, a) trip of a lifetime.
How do you prioritize spending when a great opportunity arises?