Bienvenidos a Miami

Have you ever had to make a choice between something you want to do vs. something you need to do? Have you ever had to make big financial decisions while unemployed? Have you ever fought to find balance between spending time with your friends vs. saving much needed money?

Recently Mr. Money Squirrel and I had to make some choices like this. We were invited to a friends wedding in Miami and given a year’s advance notice. I was so excited, my first Miami trip, second time traveling for a wedding and I’d get to party with some dear friends whom I rarely saw.

Life Happens

In the interim between knowing about the wedding several big events happened. We decided to move across the country, two of my cousins announced and held their weddings, we took a  family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard and then we moved to Michigan without jobs.

As I write this I realize how blessed my 2018 has been. 2018  has been full of travel and time with extended family. Big life decisions and plans that get turned upside down. It truly was the year of a lifetime.

I have learned so much about myself this year. Looking internally has helped me see what does and doesn’t go well for me. I see how much my relationship with my husband really centers and drives me, for better or for worse if I’m being frank.  Even in the midst of this learning I can take a leap of faith and feel full of regret and keep moving forward. I’ve started to write about my feelings in a very public way. I want to keep learning and sharing not only about myself but about our financial lives and decisions.

“No budget is one size fits all.”

As part of our financial journey we are very careful with credit card spending. We have followed Dave Ramsey’s Money envelope system for years. It is very helpful when you have a very strict budget you need to follow like we currently do. I’m not getting paid to advertise for Dave Ramsey we found “baby steps” to dramatically turn your financial life around quite useful.

Anyway, credit cards are a major no-no in that plan but for our lives there are ways it makes sense to use them. We save the cash for the trip or item, pay for it on the credit card, then pay it off at the same time. No interest to accumulate and we get cash back rewards of many types. No matter whose plan you follow it has to make sense for your life.

Think about your decisions before you act. Seek advice from trusted friends, family and professionals when you can. No budget is one size fits all. You and your budget are unique and your budget and financial decisions should be tailored to fit your life.

Best laid plans…

Miami ended up costing us more than I budgeted. I used a flight tracker app to track prices. It said to wait until 4 days out for the lowest price. Eek, too nerve wracking. We did wait until 2 weeks out. The night I was supposed to buy them we didn’t have confirmation that Mr. Money Squirrel’s new job would be ok with him taking the time off. The following day the price of plane tickets went up $100 each, not budgeted for.

I had reserved the same hotel as everyone else, Grand Beach, it was minimally pricey but right on the beach and my friends would be there. With the increase in flight prices I needed to rethink our hotel choices.

I started searching all the online channels for ways to bring the price back down and completely lucked out by finding the hotel right next door. Miami Beach Resort & Spa, was 45% cheaper along with an online discount via Priceline. It was a little run down but the location couldn’t be beat and the bedroom had a partial ocean and bay views.

I also, either misread shuttle prices from FLL airport to Miami Beach, or prices went up so we ended up renting a car. Renting a car meant paying for valet only parking at the hotel. Now the price was still cheaper than flying into Miami so it was the best offer on the table.

Can’t stop worrying

I had all the tabs open and ready to book for an entire day as I sat indecisive about my choices. I had to spend a lot of time laying out the option with Mr. Money Squirrel before I could commit to a decision.

The week prior to the wedding I spent countless hours being worried about my choices. My decision to move away from my closest family and friends. To devote myself to a new career path. To think in the macro instead of the micro. To not be employed for a portion of time.

My choices affect both myself and Mr. Money Squirrel. I made a decision to leave Philly that heavily influences our future. I had another one laid out in front of me when it came to this trip.  It would take a chunk of our savings and there would be no potential financial gain.

Headed to Miami

Against logic and completely with my heart I decided to book the trip to Miami. It was important for me to see my friends. Women who are like family to me and with whom I have shared more of what I feel on the inside than some family members. We all have those folks in our life and I’m happy to have these women and their partners in mine. 

The weekend was a blast. I got to know the bride a bit more as we had only met once prior. I spent time not only with my friends but also my best friends family. Her mom and aunts have been such a huge part of my life that I had taken for granted. It was wonderful to get to see them for such an extended time. The caught up with the groom whom I friends with through my BFF, his cousin. It felt more like a family reunion and I was so grateful to be a part of this amazing weekend with all of the people there.

Miami is such an amazing town. I have been having trouble with small town Ann Arbor and getting back to such a fast paced city was phenomenal. It’s great being able to go out at the drop of a hat and the city is still awake. I’m a city girl in my heart and as much as I enjoy the quiet of Ann Arbor I know eventually I will need to be somewhere a bit larger. Miami was a good visit and also a good motivator to start getting things back on track.

What’s the cost?

Ultimately the trip to Miami was a great one. But it wasn’t without its ups and downs. The financial aspect being the biggest of them. Mr. Money Squirrel and I saved money over the course of our relationship but we aren’t wealthy by mainstream standards. I had saved some money for the Miami trip but prices went up.

All in all the trip cost us 9.5 % of our total wealth. Now most of us think, “less than 10 %? Not so bad”. But remember we are not bringing in income. What we have is what we have until I am employed and Mr. Money Squirrel passes all his licensure exams to start earning income. 

I know some of our readers are like, “why would you do that?” or something similar. I return always to my fundamental truth, I’m here to live my life, not yours or theirs. It’s ok to reward yourself along the way. This reward means less rewards in the future. I’m ok with that. Until we are employed at or beyond our previous salaries we are limited in our rewards.

We are experimenting with our lives. Trying to see what we can make of it in an unfamiliar place. We aren’t the first nor do I expect to be the last. We are hopeful that this with prove fruitful and even if we don’t reach the level of success we are hoping for we will still have been successful. As I type this I have been away from Philly for the longest time in my 33 years of life. I am living my goal of experiencing life outside of Philly. There are more dreams to live and I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

Thanks for reading

Keep coming back to hear about our journey and please share yours as well. If you would like us to share your story please comment below and we will be in touch. Our goal is financial independence for everyone. It begins in the mind and is realized through your actions. Hasta Luego.

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