This weekend, I went up to my alma mater for a football game and met up with more friends from college than I can count. It was an amazing weekend and I’m still recovering from the lack of sleep. I roadtripped out to campus with two friends. It was just under a 10 hour drive, including quick stops for gas and to grab food, and even with gas prices as they are and crazy expensive tolls (Pennsylvania, why does it cost $3 more to travel east?), it came out to be about $50 a person. That doesn’t count the cost of the snacks we bought for the road, but with the exception of sandwiches, most of what we ate was purchased at the grocery store before we left. I haven’t tallied up that number yet, but I know I spent under $20 on food. So the traveling part of the trip cost me less than $70. Plus it was a good way to get to catch up with the two friends who rode with me.
One of my friends flew in for the game and she continually mocked us for driving. She didn’t understand how we could stand to drive and how it was such a waste of our time and how we could have been there so much earlier (we didn’t get in til around 9pm because one of my passengers had a meeting she couldn’t miss). She brought up the subject more than once. She also countered that with gas prices, there was no way that driving was cheaper.
I don’t think her math was right, because I think that anyone would realize that three people splitting road trip costs would be cheaper than three people flying. I think she might have had a few tailgating beverages in her at this point.
Looking at the numbers though, even if I had driven alone, I’m not sure I could have done it for $170. I’m not sure that I could even find a flight for that cheap, and even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to find one into my college town – I would have to fly into a city about an hour’s drive away and then rent a car. Or find a friend also flying in and split the cost of a rental car. I think there might also be some sort of a shuttle bus, but again, that’s not cheap.
Would I have saved that much time? Probably a little. It’s not a long flight, maybe 2 hours or so, and even with getting to the airport early and waiting for luggage, I don’t think it would have taken a full 10 hours. The advantage to driving was that I could do it on my schedule. We left when we were ready to go.
Mostly though, I’m just glad that I got to go and I saved a bunch of money in my vacation fund. And that’s a good thing, since after seeing all of my friends, I realized I need to make plans to visit a few of them.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.