I have a very piercing memory from when I was 12 or so, sitting with my dad at our dining room table, with him a notepad and a pen. I had asked about finances (credit cards, loans, mortgages and such) and my Dad was scribbling numbers on a paper explaining to me how these things operate. I was old enough to understand percentages and interest rates but most importantly, I was old enough to understand as he explained it, that people who have loans, credit cards or mortgages were getting screwed up the ass. I remember the feeling of first shock and disgust that anyone was stupid enough to have a credit card and then feeling despair that having a mortgage was just about unavoidable if you wanted to own your own home. I told my dad then I would, at least, never possess a credit card.
And that is the absolute truth. Why would someone ever spend money outside their means? Obviously millions of you do it everyday, but I surely never got sucked into it. What I did do, however, when I was 16 was I got a job. When I was 18 I got 2 jobs and for most of my college life I balanced 3 jobs at any given time. I spent my mornings teaching, my afternoons coordinating after school programs and my evenings and weekends I worked at Borders. Somewhere in between I took my classes and had a nightlife. Why is this relevant? Because I knew I had some goals and I would need money to reach these goals. What I did, and still do, is take a set amount of every paycheck and deposit it into an account I tell myself is untouchable until I’ve acquired the money to reach my said goal, and then drain it. This works really well for me. When I graduated college I spent a summer roaming Europe (ahhh cliche) and when I got home I bought myself a brand new jeep wrangler. All with cash.
I am sharing this story because once again, several years ago, I started saving for a trip to Belize (#7 on my list). At the time I didn’t know I wanted to go to Belize, but I knew I wanted to travel and I knew I wanted to do it right. I did my homework, researched the best hotels and excursions and restaurants, etc. Last May I boarded a plane with Blake and set out for Belize, only to get stuck in Dallas due to that Joplin, Missouri Tornado. We watched helplessly from our seat window on the tarmac as our flight to Belize took off without us. Devastated ( I think I cried most of the flight back) but I knew it wouldn’t be a giving up point for me. Amazingly, for the first time in my life of travel, I had bought insurance. The phone lady says “would you like trip insurance? It’s only 45$ per person” I think insurance is a complete scam, but I figured Blake would be upset if I didn’t buy it. Travel insurance IS a scam, and tried to scam us out of our money when our Belize trip got cancelled, but between Blake harassing them and me harassing American Airlines for a few months, we got all of our money back in full, cause we hadn’t charged anything- we had paid cash. It was no easy task, but my anger in having worked so hard and to have it taken from me drove me to call and write and email and harass everyday.
So that’s part one of our Belize story….