Vacations with the Happy Hour Ladies


Vacations with the Happy Hour Ladies

Today is the last Friday of the month and my regular listeners know that on the last Friday of the month, I host a happy hour, where I gather great friends to drink cheap drinks and talk about money topics. I know it’s literally one of the last weeks of summer but this week we’re talking about vacation, the importance of it, how we like to take our vacations, how we pay for vacations, and what we like to do on vacation.

What are we drinking?

Melanie from Dear Debt — Riesling

Tonya from Budget and the Beach — Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Liz, Mrs. Frugalwoods, from — Black Box Malbec

Shannon — Gin and Tonic (Bombay Sapphire)

Podcast Notes

  • Tonya’s post about moving.
  • Shannon instituted mandatory vacations at the Gym. They are closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s and one week in the summer that is voted on by the team.
  • Shannon wrote an article in their newsletter about vacation and how important it is to take, but she wasn’t planning to set up an out of office on her email. The Sunday before, she decided to actually take the week and unplug.
  • Vacation is the time to remember why we are working.
  • When was the last time you took a vacation and how do you view vacation in your life:
    • Tonya: Loves vacation! It depends on the year. She was supposed to go to the Canadian Rockies in June, but she had to cancel it because of a death in the family. She likes to visit her family in Detroit, because it is inexpensive and she doesn’t feel like she needs to do anything. She doesn’t have anything planned for 2019, but she will do something. Tonya set up an auto draft into her savings account for vacations.
    • Liz: It has changed because she has two children. You are always working when you are with your kids. Before kids, she and Nate traveled abroad at least once a year and did other regional trips. They would still do that if they didn’t have kids. Her in-laws live in North Carolina and her parents live in San Diego. Last summer, she and her husband went alone to Portland, Maine, and nine months later her second daughter was born. She looks forward to traveling with her kids when they are older. Liz has the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card (recently merged with Marriott) and racks up points on that card to use on vacation. If you travel for work, see if you can use your personal credit card to get the points. They would choose a week to travel and find the cheapest airline tickets to any destination. Traveling internationally during the week of Thanksgiving is cheap, because nobody in the US is leaving the country. Only pay for one meal out a day – try to get breakfast included at your hotel and buy food at the grocery store. Plan your itinerary around free activities.
    • Melanie: The last couple of years she has had working vacations, because she is a freelancer. She uses credit card points. In June, she went to Mexico City and stayed in an Airbnb. A couple of years ago she went to Spain and Portugal for two weeks and stayed with friends and in hostels. This vacation gave her clarity around paying off her debt and it gave her motivation to keep going. Vacations are a great way to reset.
  • There is a right way to take a vacation when you are in debt repayment. Don’t put your vacation on a credit card, if you have a credit card balance!
  • Is staycation a vacation? No! You have to get out of your house, otherwise you will still feel compelled to be productive.
  • If travel hacking stresses you out, don’t do it! It is not for everyone.
  • What are your philosophies on travel hacking:
    • Liz: Once she and her husband are ready to start planning trips with the kids, she will get more organized about it. She is concerned she will not meet spending limits, since she doesn’t spend much in a month other than her mortgage. She currently has the Starwood card. The best way to do it is to know where you are going. She does plan to take a vacation with just her husband next summer – possibly Scotland.
    • Tonya: She goes back and forth on travel hacking. She knew she was going to be moving, so she got a Citibank American Airlines credit card. For 50,000 points, she had to spend $2,500 in three months. Tonya doesn’t plan her cards around where she wants to go. The Chase Sapphire card is one of the more flexible cards. She has thought about traveling to Hawaii to visit Kauai. She has been to Hawaii four times, but never to Kauai. There are Airbnbs and other ways to save on the cost.
    • Shannon: She promised to take Will to Universal to see Harry Potter land. Other than that, she is interested in taking him to Ireland. She currently set up an auto draft to save for vacation. Shannon got the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but there is a $450 charge to have the card and it is charged on day one. They give you a $300 travel credit, which she used on a vacation, but it still cost her $150. Don’t overspend just to get points!
  • What is your ultimate goal of vacation?
    • Melanie: New experiences, relaxing, and practicing Spanish
    • Tonya: Europe is sightseeing and history, Hawaii and Costa Rica are more for relaxing. It depends what she needs and wants. She doesn’t need to be sightseeing hardcore every vacation. She likes to have balance.
    • Liz: They vacation by walking around and stopping for coffee and then stopping for beer. They don’t usually have an itinerary. Now, vacations are about relaxing. She is a fan of the Sheraton and loves hotel points.
    • Shannon: She would rather stay in a hotel than an Airbnb. She wants new towels every day and her bed made every day. She would rather save longer and spend a little bit more and it has to be relaxing. Shannon uses vacations to unplug.
  • How do you feel about the work you leave behind? Do you feel stressed about it?
    • Melanie: She used to get stressed, but now sets expectations by telling people ahead of time that she is going to be on vacation. The work is not going anywhere. Thinking about work detracts from the point of a vacation.
    • Tonya: No
    • Liz: Being away from her children is a vacation. She finished her book when they were on vacation. It was relaxing, fulfilling, and she could get uninterrupted work done. She wasn’t answering emails.
  • Set vacation goals for yourself and the plan becomes easier.
  • Allow yourself to really enjoy your vacation. We get too caught up in work and it ruins your vacation when you think about it. Don’t miss the opportunity you are given to unplug and relax!

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that we all work hard and plug into our jobs on a regular basis, and we need to take vacation as an opportunity to unplug from work and plug into what it is we’re working for. For me, I unplugged from the gym and plugged into reading and relaxing and being fully present in the day, and I shared all of this in my Insta story and felt it was so important that was saved. I encourage you to find the time and money to unplug from work and plug into something more fulfilling as much as you can.

If you need help finding the money to go on vacation, I encourage you to sign up for a free warm up call with my team at the Financial Gym. There’s only a few more days left of summer and we have great summer promos going on right now. So head over, or send friends to, to sign up today.

If you have any topics you would like for us to talk about during happy hour, please feel free to email me at or tweet to me at blonde_finance or join the private martinis and your money facebook group and let us know. Until next time, take care!!

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