Michael and I are leaving for England tomorrow. We’re going to spend almost two weeks in Windsor, Oxford and London. This is, by far, the longest and nicest vacation I have ever been on – including our honeymoon – and I am really, really excited about it. The boys are staying here in Texas with my in-laws while we’re gone, where their every whim will be catered to and they will be loved within an inch of their lives.
I feel this overwhelming need to justify how we’re able to “afford” this trip. I’ve often noticed a tendency among my middle class peers, myself included, to play this odd game of who is worse off. As in, “It must be nice to be able to afford…” a new car, new house, new iPhone, new whatever. Or “I have this nice job but you wouldn’t believe my… ” credit card debt, student loans, home mortgage. And while sometimes there really are wide discrepancies in personal income among us, for the most part we’re all in fairly similar financial boats. What we do or don’t spend our money on really comes down to personal financial priorities and opportunities.
So rather than say “I can’t afford this,” it’s probably more accurate to say, “That just isn’t in my budget.” Two weeks in England IS in our budget because we have generous, hospitable friends who are putting us up in their guest house for a week and Michael is receiving stipend funds for the conference he is presenting at in Oxford and we had an unusually large tax return this year (and the last nice trip we had together was a long weekend in St. Louis four years ago DOESN’T THAT COUNT AS A REASON???). What isn’t in our budget is a second car and a second cell phone and DVR and a Wii and any non-second hand furniture or appliances and spending more than $200 a month on groceries.
Or, to put it another way, it isn’t in my budget to spend much on food while we’re in England so I’m taking about 37 granola bars with me. But it IS in my budget to invest in a few, or a lot of, pints at the pubs.
Excuse me while I go jump up and down like a little girl.