Apr 14 2009

My biggest financial blunder


Two years ago, I was eagerly planning a wedding. I was a senior in college and at the helm of the student newspaper. Funds were low, to say the least.

We were preparing for a rapid set of life changes: graduating from college, getting married two weeks later, moving 400 miles away right after that, and starting new jobs a few days after we arrived in town. It was apparent that if we wanted to have a honeymoon, we’d need to wedge it in before we made our Pittsburgh debut.

The only problem? We had no money for any sort of honeymoon. Our limited incomes were devoted to regular living expenses and wedding costs.

Still, we wanted to go on a nice trip somewhere. 

A cruise to Alaska seemed to be a wonderful choice. But how to pay the $2,000 or so that it would cost?

Between Shane and I, our credit cards were each approaching their limits. We wouldn’t be able to use our current cards to fund the trip.

Shane applied for a new card and was denied. That should have been a clue that hey, maybe we shouldn’t do it.

I applied for a 0% interest card and was granted a $2,300 credit limit. Perfect.

I booked a 7-night round-trip cruise from Seattle to points in Alaska, as well as our flight to Seattle and a few nights of hotel rooms in the city for before and after our trip. 

It was the classic, “I deserve this, and I want it now,” mentality.

I figured that we’d be able to pay it off before we started accruing interest six months later. After all, Shane had landed a great job and I had a paid internship waiting for me. Surely money wouldn’t be a problem, right?

We went on our incredible cruise and had the time of our lives. 

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Fortunately for us, we were able to pay off the card quickly, though we did end up paying some interest. 

I consider ourselves extremely lucky. If we had tried to pull that stunt last year or this year, I’m certain that neither of us would be approved for a new credit card. It could have been such a disaster. Shane could have lost his job (his company has reneged on offers to new hires to his initial position this year because of the economy). 

Had we said, “Let’s be realistic — we can’t afford this trip. Let’s book an affordable weekend at a nearby bed & breakfast instead,” we could have paid off all of our credit cards much sooner.

I don’t regret our honeymoon, but I wish we could have come up with a better way to pay for it. I mean honestly, who takes out a credit card for the sole purpose of going on vacation, since no other funds are available? I did. I won’t do it again.


[All photos taken by me. Isn’t the scenery amazing? To view more, you can visit my album here.]

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8 Responses to “My biggest financial blunder”

  1. Ah, stupid tax, haven’t we all paid some! Too bad mine was much more than yours. Though not debt (I’ve never borrowed a cent), I stupidly loaned money to someone who later became my sister-in-law.
    When my husband and I married a few years later, I told him about it and we forgave the debt. All $11,000 of it, which was probably half my salary at the time. It was a very expensive lesson to learn!

  2. Wow, those pictures are beautiful!! I think we’ve all done money things we’re not proud of. We went to Hawaii on our honeymoon with no budget! You live and you learn, right? :)

  3. For your next vacation hop on over to Tim Ferris’ blog post regarding Ramit, who will teach you how to be rich, and will show you how to take your next trip without the credit card. Or, if you put it on credit card, it will only be to gain points. You will know that you have the cash to pay for it :) Here is his

  4. Sorry, the blogs post reference did not go through, but here it is in raw, unvarnished form: http://TwitPWR.com/c8b/

  5. The difference between you and most others is that you learned! We all have something that we regret. Mine was 20 years ago. No furniture but had to have a leather couch and financed one couch over 2 yrs. Two years later I had a bed, a couch and a tv. Not much else. Thanks for sharing…now we know you are human.

  6. At least you’ll have great memories and pictures:-) We did the same thing but subsitute Disney World. It wouldn’t have cost nearly as much but I wanted a honeymoon suite at the Wildnerness Lodge which meant concierge level. I think each night was almost as much as our mortgage!

  7. I’d love to go to Alaska, its definitely on my to-do list in life!! You’re right too, you did get lucky with the credit cards and I’m glad it worked out for you. My basic salt test is if I need to pay for a vacation on credit, then it means I can’t afford it and I better reprioritize my spending habits to start saving for it!

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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