We live very seasonally in Alaska. That’s just the lifestyle. The summers are glorious, but short, so any day where the weather isn’t terrible, we’re doing something outside. Our house and garage get all kinds of messy during the summer because our bikes are always out and ready to ride, we have a million projects going on, and we’re exploring this state as much as we can.
August began with the death of my Grandfather and a trip to Oregon for the funeral. Then Mr. T’s bike got stolen. Things turned around when mid-August brought a visitor to the Banks home. M, a dear friend from my youth, flew all the way from NYC to experience as much of Alaska as four days could provide. Our family drove all over, climbed glaciers, picked berries, explored gold mines, ate out, looked at furs, watched Beluga whales, hiked, used a hand-tram, and laughed a lot. It was a fabulous visit and we all had a great time.
School also started which means we now juggle trying to keep up our adventuring before winter comes while also trying to find a schedule. It’s a tricky transition, but things seem to be going fairly smoothly so far.
We were able to throw some more at the mortgage this month and bring it down to $87,536. Chipping away. And after the roller coaster of a market month, our investments are down at $57,926. We’re actually hoping the market stays down for another month and a half so we can drop our PFDs into a down market on the cheap!
Notable Expenses this month:
- $2.99 – Sam Lustgarten’s new book, Frugaling. This was a great $2.99 read about his interesting experiences and how to navigate saving and giving and paying off debt. It is inspirational for a lifestyle change toward frugality and I recommend it.
- $4.55 – This is my most disappointing money spent this month. I got peer-pressured into getting a soft serve ice cream. As soon as I ordered it, I regretted it, and then when it came, it was gross. And then I came home and Mr. T had homemade some delicious raspberry cobbler from berries we picked and then I felt really bad about the stupid ice cream. (Of course, I totally ate a whole bunch of cobbler as well… lest you worry I passed it up.)
- $1108 – AIRPLANE TICKETS! These tickets are for next summer when Mr. T and I are going on a 10th anniversary trip to London and flying home out of Paris (a good way to avoid the British Air Passenger Duty that can cost like $200-300/person). We used Alaska Airlines miles (with a free stopover to drop the kids off with the grandparents), so the $1108 involves the taxes and fees on two tickets from Anchorage to Europe and back to Oregon, cash tickets for Mr. T and I to get home from Oregon (we couldn’t get miles to go all the way from Paris to Anchorage for some reason), and cash tickets for all three of our kids to fly from Anchorage to Seattle and then from Portland back to Anchorage. (We also had some flight credit I used for these tickets from watching the price of flights and re-booking on Alaska Airlines when the price goes down – you can change your ticket fee-free up to 60 days before your trip and get a flight credit for the difference in fare.) I also flew down to my Grandpa’s funeral last minute this month, but between flight credits and miles, it was free.
- $68- Pizza and breadsticks at Moose’s Tooth and Brunch at Snow City Cafe for the clan. With M here, we ate out twice to show him the best restaurants in Anchorage. I never regret this food (and we eat out very rarely).
- $35 – the price you pay (literally) for the privilege of hiking on Matanuska Glaicer. Totally worth it.
- $10 – Parking at the state parks.
- $25 – Wildlife Conservation Center entrance fee.
- $190.76 – GAS. I won’t bore you with the minutia of all of our expenses, but I do want to periodically throw a glimpse into the high cost of living we face in Alaska. Gas is one of them, which is ironic, because we produce the oil up here but have to ship it elsewhere to get it refined. Gas is currently around $3.20/gallon at Costco.
Extra income this month:
- $19.25 – Another payment from an out-of-towner that paid me $25 to send him his mail in a $5.75 flat rate envelope. Not a bad tip for a trip to the post office.
Financial Phrases (overheard or said in conversations with me):
- “Commercials are just dumb T.V. shows that try to get you to buy stuff.” – My very own Penny. So proud.
- “I worked really hard to pay off my student loans. I told myself as soon as I paid them off, I would hire a maid, but once I got them paid off, I decided I could just take fifteen minutes a week to clean up my apartment since I’m hardly there anyway.”
- “I wish someone sat me down when I took out my student loans and said ‘This is how much you will have to pay every month until it gets paid off.’ Instead, it was just a whole bunch of free money.”
- “You’re young. You should get out of the market and invest in something much more stable.”
And now for September! What does August mean for you? Do you live as seasonally as we do?