Recently I have returned from a short holiday that took me from the west coast of Vancouver Island to San Francisco. It was an amazing trip, and in many ways I wish it was still happening, but it’s good to be home and back to routine. Part of my new holidays routine is to review my spending whilst I was away. While this may not sound fun, it is vital to the health of my finances and can help to dictate when I can travel next.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to pack many travels under my belt. I started as a child when my parents took my sister and I to France, on camping trips throughout British Columbia, and to visit friends who built a house in Mexico. The travel bug bit and I spent my teenage years toiling away at McDonald’s so that I could save enough money to backpack through Europe for three months between years at university. And in the nearly ten years since I graduated I have been hopping around, adding new stamps to my passport and also exploring all the wonders that are close to home (some of which have been my favourites!).
Looking back over all of them, there is a clear progression of my spending maturity. Obviously as a child I wanted everything right away, when I was 21 and backpacking I put no thought into my budget and in three months spent every cent of the $10,000 I had saved over five years. Nowadays I am a lot more aware of what I spend my money on while I am away, which in turn translates to spending on regular days.
What I’m realizing is that I am no longer feeling that urge for immediate satisfaction from material goods (at least, for most things). For example, in San Francisco there was a market vendor who was selling very funky jewelry, and I saw a cute ring that had an apple on it – as a teacher it really spoke to me. I thought about what others would say when they saw it, and how that would make me feel when people complimented me on it. On the tail end of that, I thought about how much more I would prefer not buying it, finding satisfaction in what I already had, and using that money towards treating my husband to a nice anniversary meal. Could I have afforded to do both? Yes. Would it have benefitted me in the long run? No.
By switching my thoughts towards long term goals I have started to successfully transition away from instant gratification towards more thoughtful spending. In this way I am far more satisfied with my purchases and my bank account is steadily growing. This is not foolproof by any means, but it can only benefit me as I move forward.