This could alternatively have been titled "A Non-Frugal Fortnight" I think! There's no doubt about it, a fortnight's holiday for 2 in the Hebrides really isn't going to win any awards for frugality! Having said that, we had a fabulous time, and came back rested and content with life, and the whole thing was budgeted out and paid for and we don't have months and months paying off a hefty bill, so all good there!
Howmore Church, South Uist
We sat down a couple of days ago to go through our budget figures to work out where we need to adjust things ready for next year - I keep track of things like how much fuel we use in the car, and what we spend on food shopping while we're away - and we put relatively little on the credit card, and again, we note those things that we do pay for that way. The fuel economy on the car fell a little this year, and we did more miles than we have in previous years, meaning we went over our Diesel budget by around £30 - so we've increased that figure for next year. Realistically as the cars get older we have to expect that we won't get quite so many miles to the gallon from them, but as both still do somewhere close to 60mpg we can't really complain! As ever fuel prices while we were over there were high. We filled the tank as much as we could at Fort William where it was roughly the same price as at home. The diesel price in Stornoway at 141.9 per litre wasn't too bad, but when we filled up in Uist we paid an eye-watering 151.9! The rental of the cottage we stay in can be expected to increase by around 10%, as can the main ferry costs. We are agreed also that the route back travelling via Oban is definitely one we want to use in the future. Travelling this was this year cost us £35 more than our old route, but was very definitely preferable - we'll be doing that again!
Lochboisdale, South Uist
We have worked out with our good friends at the pub a very agreeable way of dealing with the small change that we collect through the year towards our holiday spending budget. They go through masses of change - from 5p upwards - over the bar, and of course when they get change from their bank they have to pay! This year we took up our bagged up cash and exchanged it for notes with them, thus saving us the hassle of having to pay it in, and saving them both some of the cost of additional change, and costs for paying in - an arrangement which very definitely works for both parties! On the subject of spending money, we're increasing that budget a little going into next year too - although we will probably not end up using the full amount of the increase, and thankfully prices on the Islands, although higher to start with than mainland, don't seem to have increased at quite the same rate as elsewhere. Our holiday Food budget has been set at the same level for the past few years - we do our "main" shopping on the Credit Card (to earn cashback) and then the little odds and ends when we just pop in for a loaf of bread or something tends to come out of our regular spending money, so there is some cross-over here.
Sculpture, Sidinish, North Uist
Although we stay in a self-catering cottage, we do tend to mix up meals out (quite often at lunchtimes) with cooking for ourselves, and generally eat in a couple of the local hotels a few times, and a couple of times at the pub too. picnic lunches on the beach are always great options of course, and there are so many wonderful things available there for those sorts of meals, Salmon pate & oatcakes, smoked salmon with good bread, or some of the wonderful Highland cheeses that we can't get down here. The sandwiches we got from 40 North on Lewis definitely count as one of the nicest lunches we had this year! The meals we cook for ourselves at the cottage vary between the same sort of staples we eat at home - pasta, roasts, curry, to the delicious local scallops and local black pudding we cooked on our last night. We're quite happy to pay a bit more for our food than we usually do - thanks to our budgeting and saving through the year we can afford to do so, after all!
Tea & cake - important to budget for.
Remember, while we're spending the amount we do on the holiday, the cost is spread across a full 12 months, and is one of the standard payments that comes out of our bank account before we really notice it's gone. It doesn't affect our 50% plus overpayment on the mortgage, and we're not borrowing money to afford to go on holiday and then having to pay it back. If you're physically paying down "regular" debt then it makes sense for holidays to be one of the things that you put aside for the time being in order to achieve your debt-free status that much sooner, thankfully we're not in that position and we definitely appreciate our break away from it all!