Yes, my other sister is getting married too! Hooray!!
My younger sister announced her engagement to her British boyfriend on Christmas! We are so excited for them! They want to set the date for summer 2014 so it's a bit of a ways off. Unfortunately, they have loads of complexities to figure out now with visa issues. Leave it to the border agencies to suck the romance out of a wedding. Sigh.
Anyway, I am really excited to travel to Cambridge, UK to their wedding. I have been to England a number of times but I haven't been able to visit my sister since she moved there in 2006 because I unfortunately didn't make saving up for the trip a priority when I could afford it and for the past few years I haven't been able to afford it. :( But, at least my sister comes home to DC once or twice a year so I still get to see her.
My family and friends are very important to me and traveling to weddings and other important events, or just to see people, means a lot to me. The good thing about weddings is that they nail down a priority date for me to see someone rather than saying, "oh yes, I will totally come visit you", but without a firm reason to go at a specific time the trip can end up staying a dream rather than a reality. Another reason that I want to get my financial house in order is because I want to be able to travel to see my loved ones whenever I want or need to. If there is an important reason to travel (funeral, wedding, baby born), I want to be able to hop on a plane and not have to stress about how I can't afford it.
So, how am I going to make this trip to England happen? I can't afford it, meaning my husband and I are trying to keep our heads above water while paying his tuition and slowly paying off debts, but that doesn't mean I can't make it a priority and save, save, save! No, I don't have the money in the bank to buy plane tickets right now but I can make a plan to make sure I have the money to do so in a year.
In the past, I have planned trips and told myself I would save up for them since they were many months off but I didn't lay down a savings plan so I never set aside money for it. Then I would end up putting it on my credit card or unable to go. Very lame. So I find that a structured plan with monthly savings goals is the best route for me. I did this to save for travelling for my older sister's bachelorette weekend and wedding last year and it really helped.
First thing first, I had to devise a budget. I did a bit of internet research and here's what I roughed out:
Airplane Tickets x2- $2,600.00
Hotel x7 nights- $1,050.00
Rental Car x 7 days- $220.00
Spending $S- $700.00
Bridesmaid Dress- $200.00
Shower/Wedding Gift- $150.00
Hen Party- $100.00
Yikes! So my savings target is $295 a month for the next 17 months. Ugh. Well, I have to get cracking on more mystey shops and saving more. I am going to look into more ways to increase my income through side work. Maybe freelance article writing? Also, I will try by best frugal tactics to cut this budget, like using Priceline to name my own price for a car rental or hotel. Maybe we can stay with friends or family in the UK. Hmm...
How do you budget and plan for big expenses? Do you see weddings and special events as always worth the cost to be with the people you love?