Surprising Financial Lessons From A Caribbean Cruise

Do you ever tell yourself, “Some day I will…” ?

After going 16 straight months in my new entrepreneurial life without taking a single day off, I slammed head first into a mental wall.

So I sought help from business strategist Alexis Martin Neely.   I figured we’d dive right into my business model, but one of the first things Alexis asked was what I did for fun.  Silence.  Terrified that if I slowed down for a nano-second in this economy I would plunge into the deep dark abyss of permanent career mal-function, the only word that I could manage to utter was a feeble… “Work?”

So Alexis asked me what long-term dream I’d fulfill after all this work was done and I’d finally “arrived.”  No hesitation. “Take a luxury cruise,” I immediately blurted out. That was something I’d fantasized about for over 15 years but never felt I could afford to take the time off to actually do.  With the encouragement of my wonderful husband and Alexis, I finally went on a Caribbean cruise.

On the enjoyment scale I’d give the cruise a 5, but on the life lesson scale it was an absolute 10. Here’s what I learned and how it can help YOU spend your hard earned money & time more mindfully.

1.     Experiences give you the ultimate bang for the buck.   The average age of my fellow travelers was roughly 75 (by comparison, I’m 40 years old).  Many had climbed to the top of their respective industries.  When I chatted with them about the most memorable moments during their working years – time and again they spoke of simple experiences:  a good meal, a memorable outing, a daily ritual that brought them joy.  Not one mentioned the acquisition of THINGS.

2. Few female breadwinners = no men in the laundry room. Given the age of the average traveler, it probably comes as no surprise that virtually none of the women I talked to had careers outside the home. But what really struck me was that not once during the cruise did I see a man in the on-board launderette.  Instead I saw female guests of every nationality washing and ironing their husbands’ clothes.  That really got me observing the dynamic between the couples. Time and again I saw the connection between earning money and having choices in a relationship.  And as politically incorrect as it is to say… it was very clear to me the first often drove the later.  For more on this – I highly recommend reading Leslie Bennett’s wonderful book, The Feminine Mistake.

3.     Test driving your dreams can save you money and time.  Because I booked the cruise at the last minute and deliberately sought out ships that were close to sail date and had extra rooms, I was able to find an Italian liner with a nearly 50% off special. It was lovely to save that money.  But what was really wonderful was realizing this “dream” that I’d had for so long really didn’t make me that happy.  Cruising is for many people – I’m just not one of them.  So now I know.  And I’ll waste no more time day dreaming about the month-long cruise I’d once thought I’d wanted at 5x the price I had paid this go around!

What about you – what dreams are you waiting for, and what can you do today to take them for a spin?

12 Replies to “Surprising Financial Lessons From A Caribbean Cruise”

  1. Thank you so much for these kinds of post…it helps to put life into perspective..I also want to say that I have enjoyed reading “On My Own Two Feet”.

    1. Aw, Deanna – thank you so much for your sweet comment, makes my day to know that these posts are useful to you & thrilled to hear you enjoyed OMOTF! If there are every specific topics you’d like me to write on, don’t hesitate to let me know!

  2. A cruise along Italy?? Agh….I sooooooo wish I could’ve gone! I totally agree and have to say I am in the “someday” club. Someday I’ll have enough money to take that “fabolous” vacation…someday I will actually travel to Spain, Italy and France (although I speak horrible spanish..no italian..and no french!). The “someday” thoughts always seem to get crushed by my “practical” thoughts…save your money (which came in handy since I’m currently “in between” roles)…invest your money for retirement (this one is beginning to make me LAUGH) and finally it just costs too much. Would love to take these “somedays” and turn them into “today is the day I…”. Your post may be the tiny step toward my goal.rnrn As usual you give every woman something to “think” about. Can’t wait to hear you speak at the TX Conf for Women!rnrnKimberley Howard

    1. Boy do I ever hear you – the more I observe the women & money dynamic the more I realize that almost all of us ladies can use some help in finding the right balance for our individual lives between “someday” & “today” …. too much or too little of either is what causes life angst and/or financial stress. So glad you found the post helpful & am rooting you on as you take those important tiny steps forward!

  3. I made a reservation for three weeks in the Picadilly Hostel in London, England this spring. Not sure yet what I’ll be doing besides free museums and as much theater as I can afford, but I’m going, dammit.nAm also going to Chicago tomorrow (all expenses paid for a conference), to Anchorage for a month for my birthday and the holidays (using a buddy pass that a friend gave me), to Los Angeles to house-sit around New Year’s (the house-sitting fee just about covers the airline ticket) and from there to Phoenix to see my daughter ($59 flight from L.A.? I’m so there!).nI don’t always know where I want to go, only *that* I want to go. So I’m going.nAs I wrote in a post on my site recently, “I’m 52 years old — when am I going to allow myself the luxury of life’s surprises if I don’t do it now?”nNow: Do any of you know folks in London who want to share insider tips and maybe buy me lunch? 😉

    1. Donna – Good for you! I love how you say even though you don’t always know WHERE you want to go… you keep putting yourself out there and just doing it.rnrnReaders – Any nice Brits you can refer Donna to? 🙂

  4. That is a keen observation in regards to the Laundry room.rnrnBut, I think we (you, me and other women embarking on FI) are just too independent spirited women to feel comfortable with such a complacancy in letting the man build the financial part of the empire. Women who stay home to support their man – I have to give it to them. They are a big part (50% or more) of keeping the house in check. A happy house – frees up pressure on the husband to focus on money building tasks. Where is a ‘wife’ when I need one? ;)rnrnI am sure the cruise was still much needed even if it only hit a 5 on the richter scale. I really want to travel to Europe, but paying off debt while raising kids doesn’t leave for much choice in the matter right now. But I am happy making great strides on paying that debt off and camping in the beautiful mountains, right now.

    1. WhooHoo, huge kudos on the progress you are making on paying off your debt – and the memories of your vaca mountain views are priceless, literally and figuratively :). So the way to do it! rnrnAnd yep, hear you loud and clear – I have such mixed feeling about my Laundry room observations. No easy answers, are there?

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