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Posts tagged with: frugal travel

Saying goodbye to my mom

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My mom is dying. It’s imminent. She has Parkinson’s along with a plethora of other health diagnosis. And my dad made the tough decision to enlist hospice just over a month ago after months of encouragement to do so by my siblings and I. He and my little sister are her primary caretakers.

She has become unmanageable for any one person alone. While the equipment has been purchased to make everything as easy as possible, a single person just cannot do it alone anymore. We have a hospital bed, a lift, shower chairs, diapers, waterproof mats, stretchy clothes, body alarms and straps, lift chairs and much more.

We have been made aware that the end is coming. It may be a year or it may be a couple of months per the hospice nurse. But our bodies know “how to die”. After we received this news, I booked a flight to come out at the end of October, knowing it would be the last time I would see my mom. It didn’t cost me anything as I was able to use the flight credit from flights my dad had pre-booked in anticipation of our annual family trip out for Thanksgiving, but we are not coming this year. (I think I already wrote about that, but let me know if I haven’t. My brain is definitely a bit foggy these days.)

Time to hop on a plane

But this past week the calls started coming and the text messages came…

From my brother, “Hope, I didn’t know she would go down this fast. If you want to see her while she can still respond at all, you need to come.”

From my sister, “She won’t eat. We have to spoon feed everything and even then, she won’t open her mouth a lot of the time.”

From the hospice evaluation, “She is just going to get weaker. You may have another week or two where she will respond. But the body knows how to die.”

From my dad, “Come.”

There were a plethora of others, but as I was lazing around my house Saturday, I felt the sense of urgency significantly increase. So I changed my ticket and hopped a plane to Texas the next day.

 

Landing in Texas

The increased cost…$270. I used the remaining flight credit and then paid the remaining $200 out of pocket.

The cost for this ticket in total $600, the most I think I’ve ever paid for a an airline ticket. The true cost PRICELESS!

I will have several other un-budgeted costs for this trip…

  • Parking at the airport = $40
  • Extra tank of gas = $36
  • Food = $20ish

Here’s the point

Here’s the point to this post. Even just 3-4 years ago, this crisis would have sent me into a tailspin. I would have had NO WAY to get out here to say goodbye to my mom on such short notice. I certainly wouldn’t have had the $300+ needed to expedite the trip so quickly. And if by some miracle, I had that money on hand at just the right time, it would have most certainly messed up some other “payment” I needed to make.

I just can’t imagine the outcome had this happened sooner. I am not a big Dave Ramsey proponent. But if you are just starting out or thinking of starting out on a debt free journey…that first step of getting a solid emergency fund that is quickly accessible is CRUCIAL! And this is just one example.

Side note

My mom is at peace with what is happening to her. I know this. We watched this happen to my great-grandmother. My mom accepted her fate and I KNOW I will see her again in heaven. We had many long talks about this over the years. The end will be a relief for her. I know my sadness is for my loss, my kids loss.

But if you still have your mom…send her those flowers, write her a note, go visit her. Do all the things before you can’t anymore.

Holes In My Budget

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Budgeting

In my last post, I wrote about the new budget my spouse and I are trying to follow. Things went well for a few weeks, but this week I’ve discovered a few holes in our budget that we need to plug. 

Staycation Fund

My older sister is visiting us this week. Since we planned to mostly eat at home and hang out around the house, I didn’t think I needed to budget much for her stay. However, we ended up deciding to take a spur-of-the-moment day trip to Mackinac Island since she’s never been there and doesn’t know when she’ll be here in Michigan again.

Mackinac Island has always been expensive, but prices have definitely gone up since the last time I was there two or three years ago. The ferry tickets for three people were $80, some fudge and a pecan log was $24, and a rootbeer float and a cup of ice cream was a whopping $32. Thank goodness we packed our own lunch and were willing to walk around the island instead of renting bikes or taking a carriage ride! By the end of the day we calculated that we had walked nearly six miles, so we definitely got our steps in. 

We also went out to eat twice—luckily not on the island so it was cheaper—and visited a museum. These unplanned expenses made me realize that we probably need a staycation fund. To everyone who commented that I didn’t account for travel on the last post, you were totally right!  

Even though my spouse and I don’t like to travel, we do have guests visit us sometimes, and it’s nice to be able to treat them to fun experiences while they’re here. Plus, there are some concerts coming up that my spouse and I may want to go to, so it’s good to have some savings set aside for special events. So maybe I’ll call it an “experience fund” instead of a travel fund since we’re homebodies who like to stay within a two-hour radius of our house at all times!

Health Fund

I also realized this week that I don’t have a line item in my budget for health and wellness spending. Last year I set up a home gym, mainly because the nearest gym I could join is 30 minutes away from my tiny rural town. Because I don’t have any health-related memberships or subscriptions, I forgot to account for health spending beyond our health insurance premiums and copays in our revised budget. 

Lately I’ve been trying to lose the 20 pounds I gained during COVID quarantine, but haven’t been making much progress. I thought it would be helpful to try out a dieting app like Noom to support my efforts, which costs about $15 per month. My therapist also suggested I see a nutritionist to lose weight in a healthy way since I had restrictive eating habits as a teen. Working with a nutritionist can be costly, but you can’t put a price tag on health. If a few hundred dollar sessions is what I need to kickstart my weight loss and get in shape, then that’s money well spent in my book!

Where Is This Money Coming From?

Luckily the money needed to fund these two new sinking funds should be hitting our bank account soon. My spouse works in sales and closed a huge deal a few weeks ago. So this month’s bonus should be double what it usually is. That check should be big enough to put $200 or $300 in each of these new sinking funds to start things off.

How often do you reevaluate and revise your budget? Do you have any budgeting tips on how to create an accurate budget that doesn’t leave anything out? Sometimes I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to budgeting because it seems like I forget to factor in occasional expenses. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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