From Fancy Spa Resorts to Camping. How my Pursuit to Reach FIRE has Impacted our Anniversary.

My husband and I just recently celebrated our wedding anniversary. We haven’t been married that long but I feel that any anniversary, whether it’s a large or small number, deserves to be honored. After all, marriage is tough so let’s celebrate it. We set the precedence on our first anniversary that we would prefer to spend time together instead of exchanging gifts so usually we spend an evening going out to dinner and seeing a movie or attending a concert. We have also spent our anniversary enjoying an activity that’s hard to do with our kiddo around, like taking a long hike on a strenuous trail. 

A few months ago I got the bright idea that we should do something a little more luxurious and  travel to a spa resort for this years anniversary. This particular resort has been voted as having one of the best spas in the nation and it has an amazing golf course that my husband could play on. I have been lucky enough to visit this spa before and I can vouch that it’s fantastic. It’s the location of choice for my annual “girls trip” that I take with a girlfriend of mine. Every time we go I think about wanting my husband to share in the experience with me. I want him to see why I enjoy this place so much and honestly, as it is one of my favorite places, I look for any reason to go.

As the trip approached I realized it was an incredibly stupid idea and completely out of character for our anniversary celebrations. I talked to my husband, then I cancelled our reservation immediately. Before I started my journey to financial independence I wouldn’t have hesitated on this trip at all. In fact, I probably would have gotten more than one spa treatment and my husband would probably have played more than one round of golf. But I have to think differently now. It’s more important that I decrease our spending so I can achieve my goal of working less. Every expenditure must be challenged.

As tempted as I was to say “the hell with it we deserve a nice anniversary” I sat down with my husband and we looked at the cost of this trip that I had planned. 

Wait, it’s how much?

Seriously, what the hell was I thinking? When I added everything up this overnight trip was going to cost us almost $1200!! That’s right, TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS for one night! I thought my husband was going to lose his mind when he saw how much it was going to cost. Even though my husband is not a supporter of the concept of FIRE and he believes financial independence is a risky game he is by nature a frugal person on most things.

He is one of only a few people in our neighborhood who cuts their own grass and washes their own cars. My husband’s philosophy is that “you don’t get rich by paying someone to do what you can do for yourself” and in spite of a few really nice car purchases in our history, he mainly spends money on fancy bourbon, nice clothes for work, and golf. So, $1200 for a one night trip seemed insane to him.

Let’s consider this for a moment, shall we? What exactly made this trip so expensive? The room was over $400 for one night as it’s the resorts “busy season”. The resort is surrounded by trees that are full of fall’s glorious leaf changing splendor right now making the room prices double their normal amount. The spa day for myself including the couples massage for me and my husband was going to be just over $400. The golf game for my husband was $95. The steak dinner with a bottle of wine would have been about $200, add to this food and alcohol while at the spa and during golf, plus parking and taxes we are easily around the $1200 price point. 

Was it just the money?

We cancelled the trip for three reasons. The first reason is the expense. I’m actively trying to plug all leaking holes in our non-existent budget so that we can increase our savings rate. I’m deliberating over every expense. For three months now I’m trying my best to see what changes we can make so an expensive anniversary trip seemed like an easy expense to cut.

The second reason I cancelled the trip is this…my husband and I are madly in love with each other and there is no trip that’s going to demonstrate that love. The reason is simply that gift giving is not either of our love languages. If you aren’t familiar with The Five Love Languages you can follow this link to read up on them. Basically, everybody has a way in which they feel love and demonstrate love. Some people feel love and demonstrate it the same way while others are a combination of the five. The five languages are:

  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Gifts
  • Quality Time

I highly recommend knowing this information if you are married or in a serious relationship. It can save you a lot of trouble in the future. There are quizzes online that you and your partner can take to determine what your love languages are. There’s even a quiz to determine your child’s love language.

My husband shows love by doing “Acts of Service” for me. He shows love by taking care of me. He does this in many ways such as taking care of my car, cleaning up after dinner, making the bed because he knows I like a clean room, and doing my laundry. Acts of service can present as a sacrificing type of love. He gives his energy and time to do things he doesn’t have to do because he knows it will help me. An example is this, when we were dating he took my car to run to the store to grab some food for us and he noticed I needed gas. He didn’t have much money at the time but he filled my gas tank up anyway, charging it to a credit card. He wanted to take care of me and this is how he shows he loves me. 

My husband feels love with words of affirmation. He loves hearing that I think he’s amazing, that I respect him, that I need him. Hearing my appreciation for him lifts him up, especially when I praise his acts of service. He gets validation that he is showing me he loves me and knowing this is how he feels love gives me reason to affirm him as often as I can.

I show love and feel love with physical touch. Simply put, I’m a hugger. Nothing says love to me more than a big bear hug after a long absence, whether I’m giving it or receiving it. Snuggles with my kiddo equal love. My husband rubbing my feet after a long day at work equals love. A friend greeting me with a pat on the back equals love in my world.

So if a fancy trip to a spa/golf resort isn’t the way that either of us shows or feels love then why spend our money on it? Yes, there would have been quality time together…but only a little. Thus the third reason I cancelled our trip. The itinerary for our one day and night at this resort was as follows: 

  • Arrive and check in to the spa at 9am
  • Spend the day reading, relaxing, swimming in the spa while the husband plays golf
  • Couples massage at 3pm 
  • Dinner
  • Bed 
  • Head back home

Six hours of the day would have been time spent apart participating in activities we each liked but not together. To ask my husband to skip golf and spend the day at the spa with me would have been a sacrifice for him as he loves golf and this course is one of the prettiest I’ve seen. To ask me to skip the spa and drive a golf cart would have been a sacrifice for me. Surely there is a way to spend time together, doing something we both love away from home to celebrate?

Something Better

That’s when I suggested camping to my husband. We both love to camp. We love to hike and sit under the stars next to a camp fire. Being outside, listening to the crickets, is a pleasure for both of us. We already had child care provided so camping for a night seemed like a much more enjoyable experience for the both of us…not to mention cheaper.

My husband and I treated ourselves to steak over the campfire with a bottle of merlot. City and Colour played over the battery operated speaker. We had a lovely dinner followed by a lovely evening by the fire. It was decided that since we would have the tent set up, why not get the kiddo and let her have her first camping adventure for the two days that followed. We spent the next two days with our girl, taking small hikes, petting horses, napping, and playing card games in the tent while it rained. 

We spent three days camping, for a grand total cost of $243.40 including the camp site fee, gas for the drive, food and wine. We already owned all the camping equipment so no additional cost was incurred. A savings of at least $950.

We arrived home, feeling just as in love, had way more fun, and created lots of new memories. I’ve realized that celebrating love doesn’t need to be expensive, only meaningful.


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