Yesterday we decided to change plans and cancel our trip to Aruba. I’d booked the trip speculatively and had got as far as 4 nights (2×2) at the Radisson, which is now a Hilton, and booked us flights one way on JetBlue. We were scheduled to go on Feb 4th, and still debating whether to extend the trip, or return us on the 8th.
Eventually, we decided that we weren’t so excited about Aruba. It certainly has a nice beach (I’ve been there about 20 times I guess..) but it is 4-5hrs of flight time, and our little cherub is at that cute stage where he wants to be a pain in my arse on flights.
We decided that a cruise might be a good alternative, even with a flight to MIA, it would be less stress for more reward, and then we found something even better – the newest ship on Royal Caribbean – The Anthem of the Seas departs from NJ on a crappy 7 day cruise.. perfect!
The run (itinerary) isn’t exciting, but we could walk on and start to relax much sooner than schlepping through airports, and the ship looks pretty cool. We started looking at Royal due to the comped mLife cruise offer we received, and its a decent enough deal – a free 3-7 night cruise (inside cabin) to the Bahamas or Caribbean. The snag is that 3rd guest in the room, who is expected to pay full fare. Quotes for two people on this new ship came in at $147 + $90 pp. The $90 being prepaid gratuities, so all in, super cheap. The rate basically excludes the base fare, which is $850 pp. So we would pay under $500 instead of over $2200 for that trip.
Add in Dylan though, and the $500 pops to $1400… and it’s an inside cabin. We pay about half that for a Balcony or Mini Suite on NCL.
We looked at the Anthem, and it looks like a fantastic ship, lots to do, and even more kid friendly than NCL. We’re excited to go try it out. But can we afford it?
That’s a really tough question for me… “can we afford it?” Oh, and while we’re talking cost, I would probably be upset with the Inside Cabin as my Inside Drama Queen wants a balcony, so let’s think about a $2600 rate for that.
We have the money in the bank to pay for it. But diverting money from my bank into Royal Caribbean’s means we lose something in the future. The $2600 we have isn’t truly named for a task right now, so it seems more accessible (vs saying it is for the rent etc). Basically, we’re exchanging money for experience. At what point does that decision impact us negatively? When can someone just ‘spend’ for convenience. People think points avoid this conflict, but they do not. The conflict is being comfortable in the knowledge that money is for things like experiences, money shouldn’t be the end goal, but a tool.
The struggle is compounded by low hanging financial fruit. We could fly to Nassau and have 4 nights at ‘The Cove’ for the price of some Avios, or go pretty much anywhere and use points for the room. Can I use real funny money instead?
Real Funny Money
If we paid $2600 for the trip, I’d seek to eradicate the invoice using funny money. It would come from Cap One Venture and Arrival Plus money. I’ve just dropped the balances on these to quite low, let’s pretend that there’s $0 on them. My strategy would be split the $2600 over 4 cards, not because I don’t have the balances, but because I have 4 charges generated that could later be wiped clear with points. Earning $2600 at 2% would require $130,000 in spend, which may have some costs attached to it, but let’s pretend it was $0, and the only issue was velocity.
- Velocity in MS is Credit (or Transaction Limit/Time
I built a plan where we could get this in about a month in our PJs, asking Mrs Saverocity to help out to take the pressure off, but then hit the struggle again.
Funny money = real money when MSing. It is so easy to say that ‘oh it’s only points’ when you have the balances already, and signup bonuses seem even more like this. But if I was to swap out the Crap ones and the A pluses for DoubleCash, that same velocity would create $2600 of real money, and while we don’t have debts, we do have obligations.
Coming full circle – spending is hard
Even with free MS in our PJs, spending that money is hard, because it changes things later. It’s like the butterfly effect. We seem so attached in trading our time or money today in exchange for a short term goal like the cruise (or a fancy flight) that we don’t realize what the spending does to the rest of our lives. I don’t actually earn $2600 per month on this form of MS right now, but I could if I changed things.
So do I stop being ‘lazy’ and start earning more, or does the price of that earning cost too much, in that I lose hours of time that I could otherwise use? What would happen to my business if I spent an extra 10 minutes per day on the phone earning money for travel? How big an impact would the butterfly effect have?
When it comes to spending, I’m saying it’s time to cash in funds (points, miles, funny money, real money) in exchange for fun. The biggest fear that I have of that is that is being of the mindset ‘I deserve it’. But that is constantly challenged by the fear of not saying ‘I deserve it’ soon enough, and I end up over saved, and under nourished by experience.
Spending ain’t easy.