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My dollar dilemma this year revolved around what to do with a defunct travel fund. The pandemic has blown all of my carefully laid plans of 2020 and corrupted 2021 plans. In many ways, it forced me to confront things like a dollar dilemma: what to do with a large chunk of money intended for travel.

In prior years, I would be gleefully exploring with what little I had saved. But this year with the lockdowns, uncertainty, and stay-at-home precautions, I have explored but to the local mountain wilderness and I have traveled but to the local library.

The question that pestered me until I addressed it was: what am I going to do with $5,000?

The Dilemma

This was my travel fund. I had saved a ton of money because I figured I would be paying for plane tickets, rooms, and other travel goodies. My husband and I were talking about going to New Zealand.

Then the pandemic hits.

All of our plans were dumped with our hopes of New Zealand were dashed. I went into a bit of mourning over the loss. I have just gotten to a point where I could aggressively save for travel and it ended up being for nothing. On the scale of loss, it was on the lesser side. However, when I deny my emotions it doesn’t end well.

The Change

After allowing wallowing a bit, I rallied. After all I had experienced years of self-help book therapy, I forced myself to become an optimist.

Damn it if I didn’t look on the bright side and focus on what I can control – personal growth. I have been exploring the personal finance world for a while but I have only visited the kiddy pool areas: no-spending months, budgeting, and cashback rewards. I could only save so much before I had to start looking at other ways to generate income.

It was only after exploring all the other options, that I looked to the deep end and began thinking about investing. Investing in the stock market always gave me extra pause. I prefer stability over randomness, which is why it took me so long to jump into the deep end of investing.

But I had all my little floaties attached in the form of sinking funds, 15% retirement contributions, and a 9-month emergency fund. It felt like I was ready to test out the deep end and go all-in with my travel fund.

The Deep

I didn’t make this decision lightly. Once I made the decision, I ensured I was at my top form by reading a team of investing books before I felt comfortable with the lingo of index funds, ETFs, and shares. When I did finally take the plunge, and started transferring funds, I did it gradually. I was afraid they would sink overnight.

It has been two months since I dumped my dollar dilemma and I am already impressed with the returns. As with discovering anything new, I find myself watching my brokerage account. A lot. A habit I hope to shake as the “newness” wears off. It is fascinating to see numbers rise and occasionally fall with the waves of the stock market.

More than anything, it feels like a swimming success to understand what I am seeing and realize that what I am watching is my future growth.

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