UK on a Budget? Part 1

Have you ever been bitten by the Travel Bug? I was infected back in 2006, my husband in 2008. We both had major travel flair ups in 2012 and we both are suffering again. Or should I say our budget is suffering.

I’ve had the delusion in my head since we decided to go to the UK that we could do the UK on a budget. I guess technically we are on a budget, it’s just becoming an expensive one.

I’m starting to think of this trip as a Debt Repayment release valve. It’s a little embarrassing that after 8 months of gazelle intensity, I need a break from my debt freedom journey. I’m expecting my journey to take another 16 months.

Embarrassed or not, I’m labeling this vacation a celebration of three important things. 1) I have a job, that’s awesome and I’d like to celebrate it. 2) We will be celebrating Hubs’ birthday while we are gone. We haven’t been able to do anything for him the last few years and this is being used as a make-good. 3) We celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary in August, so why not celebrate in England!

Gosh I can’t wait to go.

How will we pay for it?

Money to pay for the trip is coming from 3 sources. 1) Our designated Travel Fund; 2) Our paychecks over the next 2 months; and 3) a very generous grant from the Awesome Parents’ Foundation.* There will be no debt incurred on this vacation. Certain expenses may be charged, but the Credit Card bill will be paid in full when we return

(*We have awesome parents and they are enabling our travel habit…. enablers)

What we know so far

Airfare: The grant was enough to cover our airfare. Not paying for airfare meant this trip was a lot more manageable.

Lodging: $1407.  10 nights with AirBnb. Staying in London is a large part of this expense. We are working out the kinks of possibly staying with family for 2 nights in London. If that works out, this will drop to $1101.

Car Rental: $264.02. Too expensive for my liking for a 3 day rental. I tried my best to get a deal. Don’t worry, we won’t be driving in London.

Total Spent: $1671

What we don’t know

Gas: Estimate $100. I can’t imagine we’ll burn through this much petrol, but it’s expensive and I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I’d rather budget high.

Activities: Estimate $200. So much of what we want to do and see in London and Scotland is free. For expenses, we are planning to go on the London Eye (Hubs’ request) and I’m sure we’ll find other ways to spend money. We aren’t planning to see any shows,  but if we do, this budget is out the window.

Food & Alcohol: Estimate: $600. This will be interesting. I’m emotionally preparing myself for a lot of food cost. I’d like to go to markets and grocery stores and prepare our own food, but we’ll see. I can’t imagine spending this much money on food for 2 people over 10 days, but it’s London and the exchange rate isn’t favorable. I really hope I’m wrong on this one.

Public Transport: Maximum $180.  London Tube, Thames Clipper and the Emirates Air line. I don’t expect to max out our Oyster Cards every day, but just in case.

Airport Transfers:  Estimate $95  Three airport transfers. Sadly, we are in and out of three different airports so we can’t benefit from return fares. We may be able to get this down but time is money. We’ll see.

Estimate: $1175

Total Estimated Trip Cost: $2846

Am I missing anything?  Do any of my numbers seem way off? 


If not paying down debt, then what?

I passed a big milestone with my debt last month. I am officially under $30,000 in debt. That’s a huge deal. It is hard to imagine that just 7 short months ago, I was $45,000 in the hole.

Progress. Wow.

Passing such a milestone caused me to reflect on my debt repayment journey. I ran a calculation on my student loans to see where I would be had I only been paying the minimum payment.

Current Debt: $29, 167

Minimum Payment Debt: $43,139

I am $13,972 ahead of schedule. That’s nearly an extra $14,000 that could be in my bank account(s). When talking with Hubs about this crazy number, I asked if he would have done the last 7 months any differently. We both whole heartedly agreed that getting rid of these student loans was the best choice for us. But that got me thinking…..

What else could I have done with that money if I wasn’t going to spend it on servicing my debt?

Likely Options

Max out our Roth IRAs for last year and start tackling this year (boring).

Take an excellent trip for many days abroad (Australia, Europe, Japan, oh my! So many choices!).

Possible Options

New living room set (so boring, but it’s on Hubs’ gripe list).

Upgrade Hubs’ electronics. (long overdue. I’m thankful he’s patient).

Down payment? (if we hadn’t spent it yet, the $14k would be accumulating to buy a house soon).

Probably Not Options

Upgraded car (so shiny and fancy!)

PARTY. (‘eeerrr body in the club gettin’ tipsy).


the only other obvious choice. 🙂

A swimming pool for my money. Just like Scrooge McDuck.


Once you were aware of your debt, was paying it your focus?

If I gave you $14,000 and you couldn’t pay off your debt with it, what would you spend it on?

Obituary: Loan 3

Obituary for Loan 3.

Early in the morning of Friday August 8, 2014, Loan 3 was sent to its final resting place. Loan 3 had a short battle with Kate’s Financial Fortitude (KFF). There is no cure for KFF. Once stricken with KFF, all loans eventually succumb to the disease. Loan 3 is preceded in death by Loan 1 & 2.  Loan 3 is survived by its identical twin brother Loan 4 and big brother Loan 5 (“Bubba”).  Unfortunately, Loan 4 has recently come down with KFF. Doctors predict Loan 4 has approximately 5 months to live.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to your own financial obligations.