With social media’s ever-expanding presence it’s easy to be jealous of everyone’s seemingly fantastic lives. Seeing your Facebook friends constantly going to different bear runs or Instagram pictures of someone’s new Apple watch can make your average day seem quit boring. Trust me I’ve felt that sense of envy when a friend checks in at the airport for another vacation as I’m sitting in Subway on my lunch break. Social media makes it easy to feel like you’re the only person missing an event. Also I can’t help but think, “How the hell can these people afford all this?” Am I really that poor or is everyone else just that rich? While there are definitely some wealthy people in the world it can’t be true for everyone. Obviously looks aren’t always what they seem and that’s when it occurred to me that I could be accused of the same behavior. From an outsider’s perspective it could look like I have a lot more money than I really do. Even though I’m far from rich I do like to travel and I also like to post about it on social media. Conversely there are never any pictures being taken when I look at my credit card bill each month. Money is something that’s never openly talked about much and for that reason you have no idea of knowing that I’m not rich. Therefore I thought it was a good idea to have an open and honest discussion about money and the cost of having fun.
All of this happens to coincide with a very busy and a very expensive month of September for me. If you were to see it only through Facebook and Instagram it would look like I was living a much more lavish lifestyle than I am. Before I jump into the nitty-gritty let me also point out that I’m not writing this as a form of backdoor bragging. I simply think that more information is always better. Seeing the real price of things is made that much more useful when you are also able to see how they are paid for.
I should begin by explaining why September is so special. My birthday month has turned into one jam-packed page on the calendar. It all starts the day after my birthday when I fly to New Orleans for Southern Decadence. After NOLA the new iPhone should be coming out and I plan on upgrading as soon as possible. I’m ending the money train with a week-long vacation in Hawaii.
I’m returning to New Orleans for the second time for the fun of Southern Decadence. While it’s not an official bear run it has many similarities. Although there are several cheaper options I really liked staying at the “host” hotel because of their great rooftop pool. It also helps that so many of the other gays stay there too. Once I’m partied out I have a couple of weeks to relax and save before September 18th. That is the rumored day of the new (as yet unnamed) Apple iPhone release. I became upgrade eligible back in June but decided to hold out instead of buying the 6. While waiting I’ve been stalking every Apple rumor blog and 9/18 has been the most consistent date mentioned. I won’t be getting the Plus size phone but I will be upgrading to the 128GB model. If all of the rumored dated hold true then it’s extremely important that I get my new phone on the very first day because on Saturday 9/19 I get on an 8am flight headed for Hawaii. Yes after one vacation and a $400 phone I’ve also added a week on the beaches of Maui. This trip came about sort of last-minute and was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Those are all fancy plans but you’re probably already asking yourself how the hell am I going to pay for it all? Trust me I’m asking myself the same question. With a paycheck of about $1100 every two weeks here is the breakdown.
- Hotel: Approx $500
- Flights: $150
The total cost for the hotel room is $1000 but luckily I’m splitting my room with my best friend Justin so I’ll only be responsible for half. Also I lucked out this month and won an award at work that gave me a $500 bonus. That bonus money will be going directly to the Omni hotel. My flights were booked several months ago and I was able to pay for those directly out-of-pocket without using credit cards. Thank you Southwest for having a sale. So most of the up front costs for New Orleans have been accounted for.
iPhone 6s (or 7?):
- 128GB 6s: $400
My upgrade falls directly in between iPhone releases. Every year I have to choose between the current phone which has been out for several months or waiting another 4 months for the newest incarnation. Last year I looked ahead and decided I was going to wait. I wanted to be able to get the newest features and I figured out that the longer I wait the more birthdays and Christmases I could use to amass Apple store gift cards. For the last year every time someone has asked me what I’d like as a gift I’ve told them to go to the Apple store. So far I have $175 in my iPhone fund and with my upcoming birthday I hope to get even closer to the $400 total. If all goes well I’ll only have to shell out about $150 which by the way will go on a credit card.
- Flight: $645
- Condo Rental: $325
- Rental Car: $62
Hawaii came about because my boyfriend and his roommate heard that September prices were relativity low and they have both always dreamed of going. We started looking and as it turns out the flights were shockingly cheap. Instead of a hotel we used AirBnB to find a great condo for rent and then I got a good deal on a rental to get us around the island. We’re all able to save some money because we’re splitting the condo rental and car three ways. The total for a week in Maui is $1032. I’d like to tell you I had some master plan or secret savings to pay for this trip but sadly that’s not the case. This whole adventure is being paid for by credit cards. Credit cards that will take a long time to pay off.
My goal of being so honest about all this is to give people a glimpse behind the curtain. I wanted to show you that I don’t have a lot of money but with creative advanced planning and deep credit card debt I am able to live above my means. That’s really the point of it all too. Credit cards make it all possible, at least in my case. When you sit home and feel envious about everyone being at a bear run without you keep in mind that they might also be choosing fun over saving money. They may have the same bank account balance as you do but are just more willing to use Visa to pay the way. I’m not saying either one is better but money in the bank is a very good thing even though it doesn’t provide many fun Instagram pictures. While my September is booked solid I should also point out some of the events I chose to skip. This year I said no to Tidal Wave in Orlando, VBRU in Vegas, and Bear Week in Ptown. There were also a couple of gay softball weekend trips that I passed on in order to save money. By the way Bear Week probably would’ve been more expensive than a week in Maui and that’s a little fucked up. So I’ll have my moment in the sun soon but to get there I also stayed home for several travel opportunities. I guess my point is that it’s all a matter of perspective. It may look like everyone else is having more fun than you but sometimes patience and planning provide the best reward.
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