How I Saved It: Paris Edition | The Frugalista

How I Saved It: Paris Edition

by frugalista on September 7, 2010

Hi Frugalistas! I’m so excited about this guest post today for my “How I Saved It” series. It’s from my sister from another mother, Natalie Wardel, who blogs at We share the same name and the same views on saving. :) Please check out how Mrs. Natalie saved for a trip with her hubby to Paris! Love it! xo, Natalie (Fruga)

Courtesy of Natalie Wardel

How I Saved It by Natalie Wardel

My husband and I finally took our honeymoon, last month. We headed off for a week to Paris and I was appropriately over the moon.

We’ve been married for three years, but when we first spoke our vows – the traditional time to take the trip – we weren’t in any position. We had just quit our jobs to move to California, where my husband was going to law school. We were living in an apartment that was twice the rent we’d ever paid in Utah and three times as falling apart. It was going to be an adventure, but we decided since there was no income in sight, we probably shouldn’t take an exotic vacation.

Dang it to being sensible. Instead, we spent two nights in a hotel – and while at the time I thought it was nice, turns out I was blinded by love because when we returned this year to celebrate our anniversary, we wondered what we’d been thinking.

So about a year ago, and two semesters shy of my husband’s law school graduation, we decided we were going to take a fabulous trip to celebrate graduation and life together. We wanted to go to Paris because while we’re both relatively traveled, neither one of us has ever been to Paris. Also, you can’t deny the romance.

So with one income between us and a lot of law school debt piling up, we started saving. Here’s how we did it.

First we opened up an extra savings account. We did this in an interest-bearing checking account through out bank. It is easy to create an account within an account at some banks such as ING. Washington Mutual let us label the account “Paris.” Every time I logged into my accounts, there it was, staring at me. Saying don’t spend, save!

Second, we saved first spent second. My husband worked as a summer associate during his school breaks. The sudden boost in income from 10 hours a week to 40 hours a week is more than noticeable. The first summer we used it to purchase many needed items that we were doing without and splurging at the Nordstrom sale. The second summer we acted like adults and saved it. We shoveled as much money as we could into the account on payday so that we didn’t even realize we had the extra money.

Third, we evaluated our finances. We were getting a little nest egg in the Paris account, but we were also paying a car payment. So we used the nest egg to pay off my car, freeing up an extra couple hundred dollars a month. We easily recouped the nest egg after that. We also realized that we were paying for the best health insurance my company offered – but had only gone to the doctor once between us. So we switched to a more modest plan, freeing up an extra hundred dollars. It really is amazing what you can do when you take a moment and step back.

Fourth, we just cut back. We didn’t need to eat lunches out all the time. We still wanted to do date night – but we were more conscientious of our menu selection. I stopped treating myself to pumpkin bread at Starbucks. That was a hard one. We’ve always challenged each other to find free gifts for holidays and birthdays but this time the race was on. For Christmas, Husband surprised me with a vintage wood table he salvaged – it is amazing. When he mentioned he wanted tennis gear, I found some balls for free to go with his racket.

When we saved money from another part of the budget, we would move extras into our Paris savings account.

Now – a fifth tip or a disclaimer. We had to also realize that we weren’t going to be able to pay for tuition. We were going to have to use loan money. While it seemed silly to save for something while we were so in the red, we are prepared with a savings plan to handle the student loans when they come due. I’m now back in school to get my MBA and we’re adopting the same plan.

When we had enough saved for a hotel and a flight, we booked the trip. I don’t always advise it, but nowadays with sites like that let you know if the flight drops in price more than $50 to get a refund, it is becoming OK to book early. We even worked the student card and used a student-oriented travel site, STA travel.

Having tickets (we flew Tahitian Air and they still use paper tickets) and knowing that we were going made it more real. Plus, knowing that everything we saved for the next six months was for food and fun really made me want to save. When you’re dreaming of the scarves and macaroons, suddenly it is easy to not buy carne asada for lunch everyday.

Good luck in your future travels! I’m thinking Costa Rica next, but not sure. Jerusalem is also calling my name.

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