How much it cost to go March on Washington last weekend

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Yep – I am one of those Canucks who traveled south of the border last weekend to go March on Washington.  Visiting DC for the Women’s March weekend paired two of my favourite things in the world – protests and good friends.

Despite the nagging frugal half of my brain telling me how expensive the trip would be, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity – you know, cause my favourite things.

Also, what an important weekend.  It was important to be one of many speaking out against atrocious policies and blatant hate speech.  It will continue to be important to be one of those people moving forward – this weekend was just the beginning.

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Marchers crowding the National Mall in Washington D.C. January 21, 2017.

When an American friend messaged to say she would be taking a long layover in DC for the inauguration weekend to visit our mutual friend, I was on FlightHub a split second later. I had a number in my head – what I knew I could swing without wrecking my budget – and promised myself if I could stay inside that number, I would book on the spot. If it was over, I’d try again later or ultimately just have to take a pass on the weekend. My magic number was 300 CAD – and my flight came in at 297. Yes!

One of the potentially more expensive parts of the trip, accommodation, was not an issue thanks to the kind hospitality of my friend housing three of us in her one-bedroom in DC. Seriously, she’s the best.

For someone who was traveled extensively, I have to make a somewhat embarrassing confession: this is the first time ever tracking all of my expenses on a holiday. So I really have no frame of reference to know how bad the damage was, but here goes. The grand total for all expenses to March on Washington was 575 USD.

 

Here’s more of a breakdown

Flight: 226 USD

I think I snagged an inauguration discount on this one! The lovely American guy I sat next to on the plane said he flew that route every week for work and it was often priced above 400-500 USD.

Ground Transportation: 90 USD

Traffic. And road closures. And more traffic. Enough said.

Restaurants and Drinks: 209 USD

More than half of this was treating my friends to dinner one night. Annnddd we might have had a lot of cocktails. Totally worth it.

Thank-You Gift & Groceries: 50 USD

Grand Total: 575 USD

Ouch – I was definitely wearing my pussy hat, not my frugal hat, this weekend. On a more uplifting note, I ballparked some of the money I managed to save on the trip and it came to 441.50 USD!

 

Estimated savings on my trip to Washington DC

Accommodation: 238.50 USD

I assumed a 3-night stay at the median priced AirBnB over inauguration weekend and splitting the cost with a friend (https://www.cnet.com/news/airbnb-packs-in-washington-dc-guests-for-trump-inauguration-weekend/)

Meals at home: 30 USD

Flight: 173 USD

Google tells me American seatmate was totally correct and the average flight from Ottawa to DC is 524 CAD. Seriously, some kind of inauguration discount?!  I’ll take it!

Total Estimated Savings: 441.50 USD

This number gives me all the warm and fuzzies – as in I might only ever travel based on protests of interest where I have a free place to crash from now on.

Although I could have been super frugal on this trip, it wasn’t the most important thing to me. Over one third of my income already went to debt repayment and savings this month. The March was positive and inspiring. I felt so proud to stand there alongside half a million people, and for a brief moment, it made me really hopeful.  That feeling has faded a lot over the last week, but it has not been erased.  If anything, it has only become more clear with each passing day how much work we all have to do in the weeks, months, and years to come.

All in all, this weekend could not have been more worth it.

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Women’s March in front of the United States Capitol on January 21, 2017.

And while I did track every penny of the trip and put it into my regular monthly budget, most of the spending money for the trip came from a stash of US dollars I had left over from some freelance work last year. So it’s almost like it doesn’t count, right? Yusss exactly.

Did anyone else partake in the Marches around the world last weekend?  What have you been doing in the days since the inauguration to make your voices heard?

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Making a financial comeback after a decade of full-blown Millenial YOLO-ing

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The main reason I started this blog was to develop some personal accountability around my finances – I need to confess some of my greatest financial missteps and track my progress as a recovering financial flake. A second aim of the blog, however, is to further the conversation about some of the damaging narratives regarding Millenials, money, career, and lifestyle that continue to be perpetuated. The reason I think this Millenial sociocultural dynamic is so compelling and warrants more attention is because I completely fell into the trap.

It’s this “30 is the new 20” philosophy that makes your twenties seem like a write-off decade where you shouldn’t preoccupy yourself with menial tasks such as building a solid career or saving for retirement. You should travel, volunteer, hook up with countless people, soulsearch, and wander aimlessly for as long as you can – you’ll have time to adult later!

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this TedTalk and Dr. Meg Jay schooled me on how 30 is not, in fact, the new 20: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhhgI4tSMwc

That was a tough pill to swallow since I only found out about all this at age 29…gah.

So why do I need some financial accountability in my life? Confession time: I went full-on Millenial Mode for the last decade. After finishing not one, but two university degrees (man, those pieces of paper are expensive), I ran off to live abroad at 23 and spent almost every disposable dollar I had on travel, food, drink, parties, and adventure.  Then I went back and got another degree!

What was my rationale? You only live once. Weekend in Paris? You only live once. Countless happy hours at rooftop bars? You only live once. Obscene gym membership at the most expensive hotel&spa in the city? It’s good for me – and you only live once.

Before YOLO was even a thing, it was my catch-all for feeling okay about recklessly spending every dime I had. And just about everyone (I am so guilty of this) feeds into it. What are some things I heard on repeat during my six years of travel and work abroad?

“Better do it now while you still can!”

“Better do it now before you _______________(get married/have kids/settle down)!”

“This is what your twenties are for.”

“Your twenties don’t even matter! Your thirties are the new twenties!”

“What if you die tomorrow? Live life to the fullest.”

Ugh. It makes me cringe a little just reading it back. What makes me cringe even more is that I was often the one saying these things to others! I drank the Kool-Aid and I really believed your twenties were a decade that didn’t matter much, financially or otherwise. What I have only started to learn is that this narrative can be super destructive. Your twenties do matter, and in hindsight, I wish there had been more of a balance during that part of my life. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Adventure and travel are rewarding. But so are financial stability, meaningful relationships, and a fulfilling career.

I loved my carefree twenties so much and I don’t regret them. But I think I could have still enjoyed them and not used “being in my twenties” as a license to be irresponsible and wasteful. The cold, hard truth is that my twenties plunged me into horrible financial patterns that I am only now starting to escape.

This blog will document my road to financial awesomeness, and hopefully provide others with some insights and inspiration to take charge of their own financial lives by reading about some of my big f*ck-ups. Even though my twenties were a bit of a financial disaster, it’s never too late to take the reins and get it together.

The time is nigh – let’s make it rain, people.