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.



Filed under beer please, money matters, rule britannia

8 responses to “Affordability

  1. Have a great trip! And enjoy it. Every parent deserves a little break now and then, regardless of finances and without any need for justifications. You guys were just smart enough to work a really great one out with the opportunities you were given. Can’t wait for pics!

  2. Have a WONDERFUL trip! It is definitely well deserved :)

    (And ah, I am so familiar with the “affordability game.” I love how you’ve written about it here.)

  3. laurameadorphotography

    I’ve never thought you’ve had to justify your trip. You and Michael have always been smart with your money and God has clearly made this trip possible with extra funds. No one should begrudge you that.

    Have a fun and safe trip!

  4. Nancy

    My friend and I call this activity “poor mouthing.” And it’s very important in the Appalachian culture we grew up in. One doesn’t want to come off as snooty or bragging. We laugh because my mother and her father constantly say things like “I don’t know how I’m going to pay for my medicine this month,” or “we just can’t afford to come visit you because the gas prices are so high.” Then, they quietly buy new cars, flat panel tvs, and give our children video games and hundred dollar bills. But it is very important to at least say you are poor. Even Nate does it. He used to say “when you grow up poor in Eastern Ky…” until finally I said “Uh Nathan, your dad was a doctor and you lived in a huge house with 5 bathrooms? What do you mean poor?” He laughed and repsonded “they sure made us think we were poor!” And truthfully, I was the only child of a lawyer, and though I was able to get most of the things I really wanted, I was always afraid to ask for something because my mother would say “that’s just too expensive – we can’t afford it.”

    I completely agree with you – it depends on your priorities. I never think we can afford a new roof despite it being necessary but the same amount spent on several smaller things seems perfectly doable to me. And a trip to anywhere is always in the budget for Nathan.

    I hope you are having a great time in England. I don’t see any reason for you to have to justify it. A blessing from God is to be enjoyed!

  5. Pingback: This is How I Roll « Marshins

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