Exploring St. Louis, MO

Being that I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, you would think that I would have already taken the three hour drive down to visit St. Louis, Missouri at least once in my life…

Surprisingly, this is untrue.

Me and T wanted to take some type of road trip while he was home on leave and my friend had told me that the St. Louis Zoo has a penguin tour where you can meet and pet the penguins. T’s favorite animal is a penguin so we easily settled for St. Louis as our road trip.

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How to Budget Your Travels into Your Monthly Expenses

 

For two years now, Charleston has become my second home and it wasn’t too traumatic on my wallet most of the time. My airline tickets averaged around $300 and if I couldn’t do that I could drive.

The next stop on our military journey, however, is going to be Hawaii, a trip that will most definitely not be too kind on the old wallet. But I have recently put in place some tips and tricks that will get me, stress-free, to Hawaii and back… I might even be able to afford a nice dinner while I’m there.

The key to making all of this easier on you is to answer four questions:

How much will your trip cost?

The first step is knowing how much your trip will cost for the big stuff such as hotels, rental cars, gas, plane tickets, food, souvenirs, etc. Keep in mind that it is best to over guess prices than under guess. Also, keep in mind that many places, if you are married to the military, you can get discounts! You can make a rough calculation based on these prices…

Food: I know that, personally, I spend about $20 on each meal when I go on vacation. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it is less depending on where I am going and what meal it is. All in all, I give food about $60 per day. Take that and multiple it by how many days you are staying.

Plane tickets: A round-trip ticket to Hawaii is about $850 give or take. Look around on Google or there is a really helpful app called Hopper that will tell you pricing and pick a median price that sounds good to you.

Gas: If driving is your choice of transportation, find out how many miles it will be and find out what your car’s miles per gallon rate is. Divide the miles it will take to get there by the miles per gallon of your car. Then find the average gas prices in your area and multiply it by the numbers you just figured.

EX:) It used to take me 923 miles to drive to Charleston, SC. My little Honda Civic drives about 33 miles per gallon.

923/33= 27.97 gallons of gas to get to Charleston

I usually round up just to be safe so we’ll say about 30 gallons of gas. (I tend to get lost a lot.)

The gas prices around Chicago are about $2.20. So, 2.20×30=66. It will cost me about $66 in gas to get one way to Charleston.

Also, keep in mind that you will be driving around while you are there. Take that into account when finding out how much you will spend in gas.

Rental Cars: This one you should do a bit of research on. This all depends on the company, the type of car, the size of the car and how many days you will be renting it for. Β This will require a bit of your own research to figure out, however, USA Today wrote a good article to see what the averages are.

Hotels: Again, this will require some research on your part. Based on where you stay and how nice you’d like your hotel or motel to be, these prices can range greatly.

Ex:) Whenever I go to visit my boyfriend, I already have my transportation and sleeping accommodations taken care of so really that just leaves my plane ticket, food and souvenirs and money for the things we want to do.

Plane ticket: I averaged this out to $850.

Food: I will probably spend about a week in Hawaii so my food will come out to about $420.

Souvenirs/things to do: I gave myself a budget of about $75 a day for things I want to buy and things we want to do. This adds up to about $525.

 

All in all, my trip to Hawaii will cost me $1,795.

When are you planning to go?

Whew! You’ve now have the first and maybe hardest step done! Next comes planning when you’d like to go. Pick a month and calculate how many months that is from today.

Ex:) I would like to go to Hawaii at the beginning of September. That is about 3 months from now.

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How much money do you make a month?

Take your paychecks and add them together! If you are a bartender, waitress or anyone who has varying paychecks a month, figure out an average. About how much a day or a week do you normally bring home in tips.

Ex:) One of my paychecks a month is about $800 and the other one is about $900. I also freelance a little so I added in about an extra $50.

Turns out to be about $1,750.

After paying your bills, how much “fun” money do you have to spend?

I have a whiteboard next to my desk that lists out all of my bills that I have to pay, when they come out and have a space for me to check mark them when they have been paid. I know, I know, I’m a really big dork.

But it helps! Write out all your expenses, take what you make monthly and subtract them.

EX:) I make about $1,750 and lets say, for the sake of this post, that my bills come out to be $1,000 a month. That leaves me $750 to spend on whatever my little heart desires.

Put it all together!

Take how much your trip will cost and divide that by how much time you have between now and then. Take that number and look to see if you can feasibly afford to put away that much every month. If not, you may need to think about moving your trip a little farther back.

EX:) My trip is going to cost $1,795 and I have three months to save up.

$1,795/3= $598 per month that I need to save.

We already figured out that I have $750 to spend on what I would like every month. With that being said, if I put away about $600 a month toward my trip I would still have about $150 dollars to spend on going out with friends, new clothes, etc. which is fine for me.

 

Once you have figured out a good monthly budget for you, now it is time to start saving! Once a month, place that money into a savings account, under your bed, a piggy bank, and save up for that trip you’ve been dying to take.

Life is way too short to not travel. Don’t let your financial status stop you.

 

 

How to Save $50 By Not Checking a Bag at the Airport

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A few months ago, I became familiar with the idea of minimalism or the idea that we don’t need things to be happy. We only need what is essential to life to be happy. So, I purged out my room and got rid of 16 bags of things that just didn’t make me the slightest bit happy anymore or things I haven’t used in months.

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The Solution To Your Airline Ticket Troubles

My best friend at work bought tickets the other day for her and her boyfriend to fly round- trip to Denver, Colorado…for $50 dollars each. That blew my mind. Fifty dollars?! Round trip?! That’s insane considering my flight tickets are always at least $200 a pop. So, I asked her how she did it.

“Look at this!! This could be something that could be really useful for you,” she texted me later that night.

As I found out, “this” was an app called Hopper, an absolutely beautiful thing for MILSOS.

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Airline Prices Got Your Wallet Feeling Skinny?

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Air fare literally gives me anxiety. Every time I go to book a trip, I have to do some yoga breathing and cross my fingers and toes hoping that airline prices are in my budget range. For a long time I considered getting a credit card that rewarded with airline miles (still in consideration) but I have it good at the bank where I currently am so I am kind of eh about switching over.

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Navigating Chicago for Your Sailor’s Bootcamp Graduation

Your sailor graduating bootcamp is a HUGE deal. So, it makes sense that you’d want to be there for their big day. But since bootcamp graduation is the first military event that many people go to it can be tricky and really confusing. So, I rounded up a few pointers and tips that I remembered from Taylor’s graduation that may be helpful.

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Best 7 Places to Eat in Charleston, SC

Charleston has always been one of my favorite places even before I became the girlfriend of a sailor. I grew up in Chicago and have found a lot of the Windy City’s qualities in Charleston which makes it feel like home for me. All the history, the bars, King’s Street, the different kinds of people, having a big body of water nearby. It all feels very familiar.

And one of my favorite parts of Charleston is the food! While I have never lived there and don’t 100% know the area, I have been there enough times to throw out some good recommendations when asked.

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