Thursday, July 25, 2013

Adventures in Spending: A Year of Opportunities

I always love it when Chrissy shares a new “Adventures in Debt” post.  Money is such an interesting lens through which to learn about people’s lives, and I think talking about money in an open, nonjudgmental way lets us exert some control over our money rather than letting money control us.  I’ve been wanting to talk about the money side of my summer for a while now, so let’s go!

(And because this is kind of a pithy topic for me right now, I’m going to break it up into a few posts.  Today: where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, and what it took to pay for my adventures.)

I’ve been all over the place this summer, so let me give you a bird’s eye view of my life as of late.  Jobwise, I left my last position on May 17, and I’m scheduled to begin a new job on August 1.  That means I’ve been off (and free!) for about two and a half months.  I’ve put that time to good use with a lot of travel.  In early June, Paul and I visited friends in Houston and Dallas—easy trips and lots of fun.  After that, I spent most of June in Michigan with my family, making my semi-annual pilgrimage north.  I returned home from Michigan with just enough time to prep and pack for a big trip out west with Paul.  From Texas, we drove to New Mexico and Colorado for an amazing, trip-of-a-lifetime to see the mountains.  After the trip out west, we returned to Texas, I had a freaky accident, and I have been relaxing, cooking, cleaning, writing, and reading.  Oh, and walking, as I’m preparing to walk/run the Detroit Marathon in October.

It’s been a big summer for me, filled with a lot of new adventure.  The cost of all this adventure, including my living expenses?  An estimated $7423.38.  (My expenses for July are estimated at $1700.  I won’t know the actual number until all my July bills arrive, of course.)

Without my accident, the number would be closer to about $6000.  The trip to Colorado cost me about $1650; Paul paid about $640 for our trip.  (The trip out west was my idea, so I footed the bulk of the bills.)

“Wow,” you might be thinking to yourself.  “$7500 is a lot of money for one unemployed person to spend in less than three months.”

To which I would reply, “Yes, but allow me to explain.”

First, after my last job ended, I was so emotionally spent by that roller coaster of a ride that I really had no choice but to take time off.  If it was at all possible, I needed to be away from the world of work for a while.  I was drained.

Second, the opportunity for me to do big travel to anywhere but Michigan does not present itself very often.  Seeing my family is always my number one vacation priority.  They are my rock, my foundation.  So when I knew that I could make time this summer to see my family and have a big fun trip, I jumped at the chance.  Once I made that decision, my mind was set.  I would be taking off some real time this summer, not just the amount of time it took me to transition from one job to the next.

Third, life is short.  Who says work should dominate our lives, especially during our years of good health and energy?  I have spent the better part of the last ten years working very hard, between graduate school and my postdoc.  To choose not to work for a few months was refreshing.  It was an exercise in intentional living, and I do not regret it for a second.

Fourth, my accident was hardly a choice.  Accidents happen, and that’s why we bank money “in case of emergency.”

It’s been an incredible, if somewhat expensive, summer.  As far as 2013’s money goes, I owe myself about $4650—that is to say, if we add up my earnings for the year so far and subtract my expenses, I have spent $4650 more than I have earned.  Which is okay—seeing Colorado alone was worth the money, the time, and the long drive.  And sharing that experience with Paul was very special to me.  On that note, how about a few photos from Colorado?  And stay tuned for Part Two of Adventures in Spending.

On the road in Colorado…

Forest Mountains Clouds

  Red Rock Formations

Coming Into Routt

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