Debt: Choose Your Battles

Eiffel Tower
Venice

This month, I was floored and my jaw dropped to the ground. My credit card balance ballooned to triple its normal amount! What on earth happened?!?! I quickly reviewed my card activity from last month. “There must be a mistake! I’m a victim of identity theft! This can’t be my balance! I’m a very frugal, penny pinching, and live within my means kind of guy!” Unfortunately, every line item checked out.

Now before you call me a hypocrite, petition for my removal from the Yakezie challenge, or demand my webhosting company shut down my blog, I have a reasonable explanation. Last month, my wife and I took an amazing journey through Europe. You might be thinking, “This guy is a joke! Here he is preaching about personal finance when his own finances are out of control!” Upon first review, I would agree with you completely, but hear me out. After winning this tour package from Trafalgar several months ago, I was hesitant to even claim the prize. “What about airfare? What about the value of the dollar? What about daily expenses? What about souvenirs and excursions?” On top of that, my wife and I were headed to Asia for a trip we’ve been planning for awhile. “This is too much travel! We can visit Europe when we retire!” My partner in crime countered, “When is the next time we win an all expense paid European tour package? What if you never get to see Europe?!?!” Then it hit me. Like Keanu Reeves said so eloquently, “Woah…”

As you know from my latest credit card bill, we ended up going. No regret as it was one of the most memorable vacations of my life! (When things settle down, I will dig through my notes for my attempts at travel writing. Stay tuned.) Knowing what I know now, I can’t even believe I thought about NOT going. This is not a justification for splurging and being frivolous. On the contrary, this is my personal story on why it is so important to wisely manage your finances. Since I keep my expenses in check and had a nice cushion of savings, we could safely dip into our emergency fund for this once in a lifetime trip. I know, I know, a vacation isn’t an emergency, but take a step back and look at all the facts. If you were in my shoes, I hope you would come to the same conclusion. Choose your debt battles wisely and may your emergency fund be solvent enough to handle once in a lifetime “emergencies”. 🙂

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23 Responses

  1. MoneyCone says:

    I never regret traveling! Opens your mind in unbelievable ways!

    You might have to tighten your belt in the coming months, but traveling is is worth it!

    • Buck says:

      I totally agree. Every time I travel I see the good and the bad of where I came from and where I am vacationing. Definitely mind opening. 🙂

  2. Aloysa says:

    I think I will petition to remove you from the Yakezie Challenge. I am outraged! LOL Just kidding. I love travel and vacation. We have our share of debt but, hey, you still can have a wonderful vacation AND be responsible with your $. I never regret any of the trips we take.

    • Buck says:

      Thanks for understanding! 🙂 Come to think of it, I don’t recall any trips that I did regret. Been lucky, but also, vacations are soothing, eye opening, and recharges you!

  3. I LOVE VENEZIA!!!! I could so live there…for a few months…once I’m debt free! I’m hooked on jelato. Ahh the memories. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    • Buck says:

      Bonjourno! Ah, Venezia! 🙂 I see you too have been touched by the wonderful city of canals. Gelato, oh boy! What other parts of Europe left an impression? If you want a nice view of the city again, catch The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Movie fell flat for me, but it takes place in beautiful Venezia!

  4. I love travel. We make sacrifices in other areas so that we could travel, so if I petition for your removal I will be a hypocrite 🙂

    Glad you had a nice trip. My credit card bill shooted up (no paid expenses here, I would to win something though lol) but I went to my home country after 3.5 years for my sisters wedding and it was a blast. So I completely agree with you – choose your battles!

    • Buck says:

      Thanks for not being a hypocrite! 🙂 Glad to hear you enjoyed your vacation as well. May have to collect favorite travel posts. Hmmm, an idea for next year!

  5. Squirrelers says:

    Have to say, I can relate to this post. Years back, I went with my wife to England, France, and Italy on a wonderful 19-day trip that we had absolutely no business taking, based on our low level of savings at the time. However, it was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. I wouldn’t ever trade those experiences.

    • Buck says:

      We stopped at Heathrow airport for a layover, but we didn’t have enough time to venture out. Next time! 🙂 19-day trip? Wow, must have been amazing. I dunno how you pulled it off though. After 8 days, I was ready to head home. The tour schedule was pretty fast paced with early wake up calls. Plus we squeezed a ton of sights in a short amount of time. But like you, wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  6. I’ll say you are crazy to even contemplate not going. Trafalgar is first class man. That’s what I heard anyway. We went back packing for 6 weeks in 2003. It was mostly really great, but the Mrs. had a bit of health issue so it could have been better. We love traveling and would love to go back again.

    • Buck says:

      Some people do think I’m crazy, how did you find out? 🙂 Yeah, thank goodness we went. I never did the backpacking thing, but I hear that is an amazing adventure as well. What countries did you visit? Good times!

  7. Mark says:

    It sounds like you found the trip a worthwhile cause for using your credit card.

  8. I would have lobbied to kick you out of the Yakezie if you did NOT take the free trip. 🙂

    What good is money if not to use it? Sounds like a wonderful time and I’ll hit you up for those travel notes when we travel to Italy in 2013.

    • Buck says:

      I would have kicked myself out! 🙂 Great point about not using your money. I think there is a happy medium to saving and spending. Let’s find it ourselves and help others find it, too! I’m going to push myself to post some of my travels. But Italy is amazing… When your trip comes closer, definitely hit me up! 🙂

  9. Eliza says:

    Oh wow! I wish I could win a vacation in Europe! I want to visit Spain the most. The photos I’ve seen from there are incredible! Unfortunately my financial situation isn’t good enough to sponsor the full cost of a nice two-week vacation 🙂

  1. January 1, 2011

    […] Buck Inspire has a big credit card bill from traveling in Europe. I am with Buck on this one, traveling is worth the cost. He suggests you choose your debt battles wisely, and I agree with him 100 percent. Sure we could retire sooner if we didn’t travel as much as we do, but the experiences we have shared as a family are well worth the cost. […]

  2. January 10, 2011

    […] Inspire presents Debt: Choose Your Battles posted at Buck […]

  3. February 10, 2011

    […] Learn more about this trip in Debt: Choose Your Battles! This entry was posted in Travel and tagged europe, france, italy, sight-seeing, […]

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