We’ve been talking about our annual vacation all year, but when it came time to pull the trigger on going, we determined that it just wasn’t in the financial cards. While we’d been looking forward to our trip down to Florida, unfortunately, sometimes fiscal responsibility trumps fun in the sun. And though we are typically able to control costs pretty well while taking a break from all our worries, this year we had some strong financial headwinds to our planning. There were three main elements that worked against us to help push us out of our vacation plans this year.
I keep hearing talk about how gas prices shouldn’t be as high as they are or how they should be coming down, but so far, I haven’t seen much movement. And when what little movement there is only takes the price from $3.99 a gallon down to $3.89 or $3.79 a gallon, it just doesn’t do much us good.
Even using GasBuddy.com to find the cheapest spots to fill up along our route still wouldn’t have been enough to make our travel plans that much more cost effective. With nearly 1200 miles between us and Florida, and adding in travel while we’re there, we’re looking at about 2500 miles for our trip, leaving us with gas costs (even at an average of $3.50 a gallon) at over $500 roundtrip, plus the wear and tear on our vehicle. And with a family of four, it would have been even more expensive to fly.
“Shrinkflation” and “Longevityflation”
The government keeps saying that inflation is low, but are they taking into effect the shrinking sizes of products and how often new items break or how long they last? We’re still using box televisions that we bought at the local resale shop after watching family members burn through new flat-screens versions. We’re still driving the same vehicle, while almost all our close relatives have purchased at least one and typically two new vehicles in the same 12-year period.
But while we are trying our best, it’s becoming harder and harder to avoid inflation dealt to us either through shorter lifecycles of products (what I call “longevityflation”) or smaller product sizes (“shrinkflation”). Smaller cereal boxes, smaller peanut butter containers, tinier granola bars, and all sorts of nearly imperceptible changes to product sizes are eating away at our dollars, making it harder to save a buck even when our consumption and buying habits haven’t changed.
As a self-employed person, I’m not entitled to an annual cost of living increase from my employer. It’s up to me to try to find additional income when times get tough, and currently, times are tough. My income is down about 25 percent compared to the same time last year and I’m struggling to compensate. And when income drops, we look for ways to make up for the reduction. Unfortunately, this year it came in the form of slicing the annual vacation from the budgeted expenses.
Trying to compensate
But while times are tough, it doesn’t mean that all is lost and we should be content to just throw our hands up in the air and sit at home doing nothing. Instead, we must find ways to still have fun as a family but do so in a way that is more affordable.
Such activities include going to our local zoo, watching more movies at home (that we get for free at the local library), going to playgrounds and free area water parks, taking walks, making fun at-home meals like homemade pizzas, and finding more stuff in general to do in closer proximity to our home.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.