February was an expensive month thanks to real-time and future vacation expenses dominating our budget. Not complaining 🙂 Our core expenses for February were surprisingly low thanks to the shorter month and an awesome 9-day ski vacation to Colorado which moved some normal living expenses into the vacation bin for the week. When we’re away from home, all transportation and food costs during that time count against our vacation/travel budget.
Summary chart courtesy of Personal Capital’s Free Budget Tracking Tool.
February Spending Details:
Automotive: February deserves an award for this category! This is the lowest I have ever seen our automotive expenses. Due to the shorter month and a week of vacation (i.e. fewer tolls commuting to the office), EZ Pass toll renewal did not hit in February, plus gas expenses were much lower than typical. More importantly – no cars repairs this month. Thank goodness.
Food and Beverage: An extremely low month for this category as well. I have found that when we’re about to go away on vacation, we are far more likely to eat down all perishable items and wait to replenish them until after the trip. The result may be a few “interesting” meals as we put together odd food combinations, but far better than letting the food go to waste. Restaurant spending remained low since we had ample opportunities to dine out while on vacation.
Vacation/Travel: This was certainly the highlight of our spending this month!
Colorado Ski Vacation: 4 days skiing at Steamboat, 3 days skiing at Winter Park and a day of sightseeing on either end. The weather was perfect. The skiing was amazing. The mountain views were ravishing. The food was delicious. We briefly contemplated quitting our jobs and moving out west to become ski bums… but by the 6th day of hardcore skiing I could barely move my knees and ibuprofen became a morning and mid-day necessity. From a financial standpoint, we fared pretty well on this trip. We scored free flights on Southwest Airlines (with free checked bags for all our ski equipment!) due to points redemption, pre-booked a good rate on a car rental, reserved reasonably priced hotels that included breakfast, our existing season pass covered all lift tickets and we found some great happy hour specials for dinner. The $1,400 only covers expenses that hit in the month of February, but a full trip expense report will be coming soon.
Fall 2018 Vacation: This was the single biggest expense of the month. After many many hours of online research and discussions with local tour operators, we booked a two-week trip for the fall! We’ll be exploring a new continent and partaking in a completely new kind of vacation… And that’s all I’m going to say for now 🙂 Our Costco credit card came through in a big way on this purchase. The tour company charged a 2.5% fee for paying via bank transfer or a 4% fee for paying with a credit card. Well, our Costco credit card offers no foreign transaction fees, 3% cash back on travel purchases and travel insurance!
Credit Card Fees: What is this?! We’re getting into the credit card churning game and signed up for two Southwest credit cards in February. The business card has a $99 annual fee and will earn 60,000 Southwest points once we hit the minimum spending requirement of $3,000. The personal card had a $69 annual fee and will earn 50,000 Southwest points once we spend $2,000. 110,000 points are equivalent to approximately $1,600 in airfare PLUS we’ll earn a companion pass for the remainder of 2018 and all of 2019. We’re already discussing next year’s ski vacation… Very excited to start taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and upping our travel game!
Hobbies: The only expense this month was an impromptu skiing accessory while visiting Steamboat ski resort. Not bad. We were lucky that we remembered to pack all essential gear and nothing broke during our trip.
Overall, it was a great month and we really enjoyed our first week-long ski adventure to Colorado. The snow conditions and weather far exceeded our expectations and were 100x better than typical New England ski conditions. But alas, our jobs back on the east coast awaited us and we had to return to reality (and sub-zero, icy ski conditions!).