It’s been two weeks since my last post and I’m sure you can guess why. I haven’t been doing so well sticking to my financial goals lately, even though this last week I was camping and you’d think it’d be easy to resist spending money when you’re out in the mountain wilderness. Not for me.
Camping in the mountains for us is a tradition, we try to go every year so I’ve built up a pretty good camping stash. I have the tent, the beds, sleeping bags, cooler, chairs, stove, hammock, axe, and tons of decks of cards. I should have been set. But that wasn’t the case. I ended up spending far more than I thought I would on needs and wants that all turned out to be wastes.
This year was a little different in that it was the first year I had to bring two little babies (well, one’s a toddler, but I still call him my baby). Think about how much stuff accumulates in your house when you have kids, then imagine having to bring it all with you into the forest. I drive a small, hatchback car, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get four people’s worth of living essentials plus the four people who were going to use them all to fit if I didn’t do some strategic planning – and that planning involved buying.
The big one was the stroller. My current stroller takes up pretty much the entire trunk, and I did not want to leave home for a week without one, so I had to get a small compact one. I was looking at one in the store that was $44, and I very nearly bought it, but had the flash of inspiration to check Facebook sell-groups and I happened to find the exact one advertised for $20. I offered $15, and she accepted. Except, I had to pick it up from a location 40 minutes from my home, so that sort of negated some of the savings.
Then I realized I needed compact sleeping pads because I used to just use big foam mattresses, but I also used to have no kids and relatively large SUV. I figured if I bought good quality ones, they’d last a long time, so I bought a couple self-inflating mats on sale at $40 each.
I bought a mosquito net to go over the playpen, some warm clothes for both the children because it was forecast to rain for three days straight (turned out the forecast was incredibly wrong), some sunglasses for my oldest, bubbles, games, extra sunscreen, bug spray, and a whole lot of food that was the absolutely biggest waste.
I feel sick when I think about how much money was spent on food that was not eaten this trip. I bought about $150 worth of groceries before I left because I know the stores in the mountain towns are really expensive. But the problem was my cooler was terrible! And it was VERY hot! It was hovering around 30’C (86’F) most of the time, and I had spent a lot of that money on meat that I ended up storing in a cooler that didn’t cool. Such a waste. After the first day, the food was pretty much done for.
So not only did I waste money before the trip on groceries, I then had to utilize the mountain town’s grocery store for the rest of the food where food cost 2-3 times as much as they did at home. Plus, I used the extra gas to get from the campsite to town nearly every day because I couldn’t store more than a days worth of food.
The trip was a total budget-buster!
Since I know that I go camping every year, I do have the item in my sinking funds, but I’ve been terrible about actually doing the sinking funds savings. Plus, I learned that the $360 I had budgeted wasn’t enough, especially when the site alone is almost $30/night. I need to start doing better to beef up that category.
I suppose the one good finance-related thing that happened was that I managed to take out Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Fisker from the library just before I left, so I had some good reading material on the long trip there and back. I had heard about the book from another blogger I follow who reviewed it here. It’s really an amazing book that mixes frugality, philosophy, and minimalism together. I haven’t finished it yet, but in my next post I’ll be writing about some of the ideas (and there are many!) that really stood out to me.