Author Topic: Can I afford this trip?  (Read 6635 times)

snafuing1

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Can I afford this trip?
« on: November 19, 2014, 11:00:44 AM »
My husband is applying to a specialized school in Seattle, WA, that virtually guarantees a job paying 30k+ more per year than he makes now. He is required to take an all-day, in-person test as part of the application process. So, he is going for at least 2 nights - no way around it. The question is: Can we afford for me to go too?

Plane tickets are about $400/person. Hotel is about $65/night, regardless of whether he goes or we both go.

If we go together, we'll probably splurge on one (maaaaybe two) restaurant meal(s), but otherwise eat from the grocery store. Stuff like transportation to and from the airport will be the same regardless of who goes and how long we stay, and he/we will stay in a hotel such that everything we need is in walking distance so there will be no other transportation expenses. I am calling all this stuff "fixed costs" and saying maybe $150 total, not counting the food at the grocery store that we'd have to buy regardless.

- Option 1 (the minimum, husband goes alone just to take test): $680
- Option 2 (we both go for 2 nights, minimal free time): $1080
- Option 3 (we both go for 3 nights, significantly more free time): $1145

Our financial situation is: we are debt-free and currently maxing our HSA, IRAs and 401(k)s. We have about 20k liquid at the moment, and after maxing those accounts and expenses we have about 1500 leftover every month. Once we move in July that will become more like 500 leftover every month due to increased cost of living in Seattle and him needing to quit his job -- we'll have more leftover if he can find part-time work, which he probably can. My job should not change through the move, and I am the primary breadwinner by far. We are expecting/hoping for two windfalls: a tax return in the 3-5k range (got married and switched jobs halfway through the year), and selling a car when we move for about 3-4k (we can share one car in the city, maybe we can even go carless). His school costs 20k, paid over the course of the 2 years of the program, beginning in August '15.

The practical advantages of me going too are that I can spend the time that he spends in testing, checking out apartment complexes and trying to find one that is cheap and not sketchy/scary, and also is in walking or biking distance of his school, a cheap gym, and a grocery store. This can be done online to some degree, but some things are much easier to see for yourself. The less-practical advantage is that I won't have to move to a place I've never even seen before, and I just REALLY WANNA GO!

Can I afford it?

snafuing1

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2014, 11:36:57 AM »
You've misunderstood or I've misexplained - he is applying to a school in Seattle, and the test is part of that application process. It is not related to our jobs.

Ricky

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2014, 11:41:29 AM »
A reasonable employer would pay for this trip and not expect you to do it out of pocket. I would decline to work for an employer that expected me to pay for a trip to take a test or otherwise.
This isn't an employer, it's a school. Though I don't know why they'd have to physically be present to apply?

I sense you are fairly young? There is nothing that is guaranteed. But, if you're moving for potentially better opportunities then the costs associated with doing so are intangible. And it's better to do it while you're young of course.

With savings alone, of course you can afford it. The $1500 cushion is enough.

This is a non question to me. If it's something you think will improve your income and you can obviously afford it then why ask? That, compounded by the fact that you sound young just as well concludes the answer.


snafuing1

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2014, 11:59:49 AM »
I sense you are fairly young? There is nothing that is guaranteed. But, if you're moving for potentially better opportunities then the costs associated with doing so are intangible. And it's better to do it while you're young of course.

With savings alone, of course you can afford it. The $1500 cushion is enough.

This is a non question to me. If it's something you think will improve your income and you can obviously afford it then why ask? That, compounded by the fact that you sound young just as well concludes the answer.

We are both 26, you guessed right. Of course a job isn't guaranteed after school, but so far this program has a 100% job placement rate within 6 months of graduation, at an average salary of 30k more than his current job. I feel that it's a pretty good financial bet, plus he hates his current job and is excited about the field he'd be studying.

The reason I am asking the question is basically that, while it is necessary for him to go to take that test if he wants to change his career, me going with him for this visit is not actually required. The extra expense for my going would basically come out of the money we would be saving over the next 6-8 months to keep an emergency fund after school was paid for, all the more important once we are living on just my salary alone in a more expensive area.

Also like many here, I have a hard time spending money on stuff that's just for fun. FIRE is still a long way away!

I did misunderstand, but to be fair, a school can also employ people. My reading was that the school was offering him a job paying him $30k more than he makes now, on the condition that he attend for this test. I apologise for the misunderstanding.

No worries! I can see how it might be ambiguous.

andy85

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2014, 12:01:37 PM »
$1200 is not going to ruin your financial well being. Go. Have fun. Live a little. As long as something of this dollar amount is not a reoccurring expense, I don't think there is a reason to over-analyze it.

FarmerPete

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2014, 12:20:30 PM »
Of course you can afford it.  You could bankroll the entire trip out of one months excess income.  So if one is going regardless, the incremental cost is just $400 to send a second person.  So your real question is, "Is $400 so that I can go see my possible future home a good investment?"  The answer to that is a resounding "Probably".  There are multiple outcomes of this trip.  If everything goes well, and he's accepted, you might be glad that you went with.  If he isn't accepted, you just wasted an extra $400 that you didn't have to, on top of the $680-745 that you were already going to and did spend.  You make enough that this shouldn't be a big blow.  Even compounded, $400 isn't that much in the grand scheme of things.

Just be honest with yourself.  You're skipping a couple options that may be cheaper and still accomplish most of your goals.  If apartment shopping is important, your husband could go by himself and spend 4 nights there for cheaper than both of you going for 2 or 3.  He could do the looking and you'd still come out ahead.  If seeing the place is important, he can video the "tour" with his phone/camera to show you when he gets home, or even "Skype" you in live with his phone.  There is nothing wrong with going, but it certainly isn't the only way to accomplish most of your goals.  Yes, seeing the city might put you at ease, but you've already decided you'll move there if he gets in, so I don't see how it would change anything either way.

Cassie

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2014, 12:34:46 PM »
Go & have fun. You can afford it!!!!

Cromacster

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2014, 12:37:14 PM »
Isn't there a saying along the lines of "If you have to ask....."

snafuing1

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2014, 12:38:03 PM »
Of course you can afford it.  You could bankroll the entire trip out of one months excess income.  So if one is going regardless, the incremental cost is just $400 to send a second person.  So your real question is, "Is $400 so that I can go see my possible future home a good investment?"  The answer to that is a resounding "Probably".  There are multiple outcomes of this trip.  If everything goes well, and he's accepted, you might be glad that you went with.  If he isn't accepted, you just wasted an extra $400 that you didn't have to, on top of the $680-745 that you were already going to and did spend.  You make enough that this shouldn't be a big blow.  Even compounded, $400 isn't that much in the grand scheme of things.

Just be honest with yourself.  You're skipping a couple options that may be cheaper and still accomplish most of your goals.  If apartment shopping is important, your husband could go by himself and spend 4 nights there for cheaper than both of you going for 2 or 3.  He could do the looking and you'd still come out ahead.  If seeing the place is important, he can video the "tour" with his phone/camera to show you when he gets home, or even "Skype" you in live with his phone.  There is nothing wrong with going, but it certainly isn't the only way to accomplish most of your goals.  Yes, seeing the city might put you at ease, but you've already decided you'll move there if he gets in, so I don't see how it would change anything either way.

You just listed all the reasons that I am second-guessing spending the extra money so that I can go! The truth is that even if I don't visit, if he gets in we'll move there, and yes, for the expense of one more night at a hotel he could do the apartment shopping instead of me. That's the reason I'm "asking permission" here - because ultimately the biggest reason I want to go is that.... I want to go!

The odds of him getting in are very good I think. In the preliminary testing, he scored 20 points above the average score for past admitted applicants (100 point scale). Sorrynotsorry to brag. :)

$1200 is not going to ruin your financial well being. Go. Have fun. Live a little. As long as something of this dollar amount is not a reoccurring expense, I don't think there is a reason to over-analyze it.

Go & have fun. You can afford it!!!!

Thanks guys. I was honestly expecting a face punch or two. It's nice to get some validation instead!

snafuing1

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2014, 12:39:50 PM »
Isn't there a saying along the lines of "If you have to ask....."

Maybe I spoke too soon - do you think I can't afford it?

Argyle

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2014, 12:42:12 PM »
Of course you can afford it.  You can absolutely afford it.  Go, and don't look back.

Cromacster

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2014, 12:45:41 PM »
Isn't there a saying along the lines of "If you have to ask....."

Maybe I spoke too soon - do you think I can't afford it?

Well, you have the money and it won't put you into debt.  By that definition, I would say you can afford it.

Chranstronaut

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2014, 01:01:19 PM »
Like others have said, it sounds like you can easily afford it under one month's excess cash.  Whether you WANT to spend the money is something only you and your husband can answer.

Having lived in the Seattle area and also just prepped my SO to move cross-country and pick out a house without me, I would recommend (whether you go with him or not):
--Go in with a plan.  Pick out areas or houses online together before you go that you both like.
--Scout those areas and take notes of what you do and don't like.
--Update your craigslist/zillow/whatever preferences to cover the areas you know you like and seem affordable.
--Look 2-4 blocks away from where you want to live.  Some neighborhoods change from creepy to nice very quickly, so make sure you that cheaper house "down the street" is actually a good deal.
--Pick up some bus maps to get a feel for the routes.  Some areas are more convenient for buses than others.  Also look online at King County Metro and OneBusAway.

--If you're going full tourist, go to Pike Place in the morning when the stalls open.  Get some mini-donuts and try the pepper jelly stand.  It closes at 5pm.  I don't care what other locals say, Pike Place is still fun.

Have fun, bring a raincoat and don't use an umbrella.  PM if you want more details about finding places to live in the city.

Kansas Beachbum

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2014, 01:09:46 PM »
Yes you can, and IMO you should, and you should stay the extra day.  He's going to spend $700 anyway, hotel and transportation are already sunk costs.  So for $400 or so more you can have a nice little 3 day trip with each other.  Your finances are solid, so it's not an issue there.  Experiences are what make life fun.  This would be a nice experience, with comparatively little additional out of pocket.  Have fun!

frugaliknowit

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2014, 01:37:03 PM »
Go for it.  I would, however take the cost of you going out of the vacation budget.

tracylayton

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2014, 01:41:56 PM »
Definitely go with a clear conscience!

Cwadda

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2014, 06:19:59 PM »
Go with Option 3. Personally having a SO with me would make me more at ease and supported.

Goldielocks

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2014, 06:35:14 PM »
You can afford it, for certain.   Whether it turns out to be a "vacation" or not, well....   

I have done this a couple of times and it really does feel like a work weekend, so either add the extra day, or stay home.  Your minds, if nothing else, is focused on "non-vacation" issues. Ask yourself if you would rather have a "real" vacation weekend together, closer to home another time for the same money.

Spondulix

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2014, 11:34:58 PM »
Like ChransStache said, if there's a chance you'll move there, and you've never been, it's not just a vacation. It's a scouting trip. See if you can check out places for rent just to get an idea what you'll get for your money. Get a sense if you guys even like the town. Then if he gets in the school, you'll have a better idea what it'll cost to live there, if you can live by school without a car, help you set a budget, etc.

IllusionNW

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Re: Can I afford this trip?
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2014, 11:04:41 PM »
I think you can go, too, but I'm curious about your $65/night hotel room.  That seems really cheap for Seattle.  Are you staying outside of the city?  Is the hotel on Aurora?