Fireworks over the beach

June 2016 Plan Update

June was AMAZING. We just got back from our big adventures last night and I’m excited to catch up on all the comments today! We flew to Seattle on June 2nd, spent five days with Mr. T’s family on the Puget Sound, and then Mr. T and I ditched the kids with them and headed to the United Kingdom. We flew into London where we spent a week, then we drove through Stonehenge, Avebury, Stourhead, Bath, and over to Cardiff for a few days. From there, we zig-zagged up through Wales to the Lake District, drove over through Yorkshire, over to Whitby on the coast, up to Northumberland, and finished up in Edinburgh. From there we flew to Paris for the last 3 days and then back to Portland (my family) where we met up with our children and enjoyed a family reunion on the coast.

There will be more on the trip coming up in a few lessons we learned on the UK and London on a budget, but for those who care, I’ll mention a few things here.

First off, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! (That’s right! We saw the SECOND EVER preview of the show! If you don’t care about that, skip this whole long paragraph.) I will follow J. K. Rowling’s request to #KeepTheSecrets, but here are the things I feel I can say: The play opens at the train station with the same scene where the last book ends. And the moment they all run through the barricade, everyone on stage spun once and were immediately in their Hogwarts robes. And the play continued to amaze. The staging of the magic was fantastic. The Crowd was hot and gasped, clapped, and cackled appropriately. Everyone is amazing, though I’m not a huge fan on the guy who plays Draco. He seems too confident, large, and gruff for the little whiny character we’re used to. Harry is just as brash as always and so is his son. The story is really about Scorpius Malfoy and Albus Potter. Lupin’s son is never mentioned, which I found surprising. The magic was great, as mentioned, but the actual wizarding duals ended up a bit hokey, which was actually really surprising because none of the other effects seemed hokey at all. I also cannot imagine only getting tickets to Part 1. It obviously ended on a big cliff hanger and there wasn’t even a curtain call. The lights just went up. And even though you sort of knew where the story was headed and you were totally interested in it getting there, when it did, it was kind of disappointing. The play is staged on a giant rotating stage which helped with the amazing choreography of scenes. It really was magical. We saw Part 2 the following week and it was less magical than the first, though the wizarding duels were much more convincing than the first one and the story itself was better. Rowling said if you didn’t cry, she questioned your humanity. I didn’t cry because we felt like the finale could have gone further. I really expected it to get to the point of tears, but it ended before then. The story itself was satisfying. It redeemed itself after Part 1 being somewhat predictable. Obviously, I’m really ready to discuss it with everyone once you read it! So please message me when you do! Everyone went crazy at curtain call. The cast came out three times to bow. Overall, my favorite characters/actors were Harry and Scorpius. And I’m so glad I was able to go to such a historic production!

Other Trip Highlights:

  • Seeing the Queen at Trooping of the Colour (plus the whole royal family!)
  • Meeting up with Brandon from Mad Fientist and his wife in Edinburgh – This community is so fabulous! We had a fabulous brunch and, though we’ve never spoken, it was like seeing an old friend.
  • Having a traditional Sunday roast with a large, extended Welsh family I stayed with over ten years ago during my study abroad to London.
  • Going to the Fan Zone right by the Eiffel Tower during Euro 2016 (go Wales!).
  • Whitby, Brimham Rocks, Malham Cove, Caerphilly Castle, Orrest Head (lake district), Durham Cathedral, Cardiff Castle, (too much to name! It was all fabulous!)

Blunders of the Trip:

  • We were charged $13.86 from an ATM in the Edinburgh airport that didn’t even give us the cash! (We avoided all other ATM fees by using any bank ATMs with our Capital One 360 Checking Account Debit Card.)
  • Our Bed and Breakfast in the Lake District closed check-ins at 8:30pm (which we did not know). They completely left and when we arrived at 8:45pm, we no longer had a place to stay. Luckily, the kind lady that worked at the B&B next door (who said they were horrible and did this to lots of their guests) found us a room down the road at a lovely hotel her friend worked at. She even talked the rate down by $50. We were just grateful to have a place to stay! The B&B refused to refund our money (for the record, this was the only one we booked NOT on AirBNB… all of our AirBNB experiences were awesome!), so I’ll try claiming it with the travel insurance benefit of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Otherwise, we’re eating the $130 we spent to NOT sleep there!
  • Brexit happened the last few days of our trip, so we really didn’t get to take advantage of the awesome exchange rate. Grrr!

Notable Expenses:

  • $519.59 – The total amount we spent on food this month! We ate at some really nice places in expensive cities, but since we don’t drink, that helps with cost tremendously when traveling. We also had breakfast at most of our accommodations, so we went out for an early dinner and usually only ate two meals a day.
  • $38.41 – Books we bought the kids for souvenirs to bring home.
  • $5.98 – A Golden Snitch necklace and a time-turner Harry Potter necklace shipped from China to my children “from the Harry Potter studios” (you can find anything on eBay!).
  • $407.69 – Transportation costs (not counting the rental car which was prepaid a few months ago). This includes all public transportation in London and Paris (underground, bikes, buses, trains), petrol for our rental car in the UK, parking charges, and the toll to cross the Severn River in Wales.

The Numbers:

WE DID IT! We broke $100,000 in investments! And guess what? We weren’t even paying attention! THIS is how I want my finances to be all the time. Mr. T and I were gallivanting around Europe while our finances did their thing without us and they treated us to our FIRST BIG NUMBER! As of market close yesterday, our investments were at $101,100. Our mortgage now has a remaining balance of $70,218. Momentum is building! Here’s to rolling faster! Happy summer, friends!

Financial Phrases will return next month. I heard lots of interesting things whilst on vacation, but failed to write them down at the time and don’t want to misquote anyone. I’ll get back into my groove this month. 


The Blessings of Freedom (Repost)


Northern Expressions: Virtue, Wealth, Liberty, Power


  1. Congrats on the investing milestone. Woohoo! Major momentum. Sounds like an amazing series of adventures! And I absolutely love how you bring back books as souvenirs.

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Penny. It’s the only thing worth spending real money (I’m sure the China Harry Potter necklaces will break quickly – but they would have if we spent more than $2.50 on them in the Harry Potter store as well!)

  2. While I’m glad you had such an awesome trip, it’s great to have you back. I am definitely looking forward to reading the new Potter stories – we will have to chat afterwards. Surpassing $100k is amazing and so admirable! Keep up the good work – you need to be retired when we come visit Alaska 😉

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Harmony! It’s good to be back in the groove of things! We actually missed all of you. And I can’t wait to talk Harry Potter with you!

  3. Glad to hear that you had an awesome trip. Your experience with that B&B showed that there are lots of friendly and helpful people out there.

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Tawcan! I know! We were frustrated with the experience, but those two people saved our vacation. The hotel was fabulous and they were so nice to us!

  4. We need pictures!! 🙂 Welcome back — we missed you! But so glad you had an amazing trip. What was it like being in the UK during the Brexit campaigning and vote? It must have been intense! And that’s cool you met Brandon and his wife — I love our community and how open everyone is, including the big deal bloggers! Harry Potter — we will have much to discuss once I read it, though right now I’m like number 38 on the library list. Harumpf. Maybe I’ll just suck it up and buy it, because I’m afraid of hearing spoilers otherwise!

    And, last but not least, congrats on hitting $100K!!! Such a wonderful milestone. It all gets easier from here. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks so much! And pictures are coming next week! (After the laundry gets done and we manage to get sleep!)

  5. Kim from Philadelphia

    Maggie- wow, wow, and wow!
    I’m so thrilled you had an awesome trip!
    I also think the way you managed to see both sets of parents plus the fact your kids got to spend quality time with them? Perfect!!
    So happy you hit the big 100k!
    Autopiloting finances is the way to go. You’ll see a larger and larger separation between your investments and your mortgage balance every month.

    I’ve actually recorded your travel itinerary as it sounds very much like what my husband and I talked of doing- minus Paris since we were fortunate enough to visit 2 years ago.

    • MaggieBanks

      The only reason we flew out of Paris is because the UK charges a tax to fly out and it goes up based on how far you go. Flying from London to Alaska was nearly $500 just in the leaving tax. I was cheaper leaving from Paris. 🙂

  6. Wow – sounds like an awesome trip! We have yet to venture overseas – but we have the miles banked in our accounts so we are waiting until next year when the youngest goes off to college. Looking forward to all you have to share! The community is so awesome at sharing all of the best places to go!

    • MaggieBanks

      I’ve got some great places coming next week (with pictures!).

  7. The Green Swan

    Wow so many great updates in this post! First, congrats on the milestone, very well done!

    Sounds like the family had a blast on the vacation, it sounds fabulous!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thank you so much! I’m currently feeling pretty excited about everything! If we can hit important milestones while traveling the world, we can do anything!

  8. Congrats on breaking the investing milestone, that’s awesome! The trip sounds amazing as well, and I am going to have to check out the new Harry Potter series. I keep forgetting about it until something like this reminds me, “Oh yeah, I was going to read that…” Can’t wait for a longer update!

    • MaggieBanks

      They’re just publishing the script of the two plays in one book in script form, so it should be interesting to talk to people after they read the script.

  9. Looking forward to hearing more about your awesome trip! Sounds like we almost crossed paths in Seattle; just missed you by a few days! That’s a huge milestone — pretty nice to be growing your net worth while touring another continent. The stock market: it’s like magic!

  10. Mrs. FI

    Oh my goodness I’m pretty sure you just went on my dream trip. I’ve wanted to visit Edinburgh since I went to Europe almost 10 years ago AND you saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?! In FREAKING LONDON?!?! Get out. So jealous. And obviously happy for you and even more excited to read the book. Which I have pre-ordered and I may or may not have plans to obtain said book at the midnight release party because I’m 12 and don’t care if I’m the only adult in B&N. Also congrats on breaking $100,000! So many good things! Now excuse me while I try and convince Mr. FI to completely change our Europe plans for next year to include more Harry Potter…

    • MaggieBanks

      Don’t worry, I’m wearing the T-shirt today. I like to make the whole world jealous before the book even comes out! 🙂

  11. Sounds like an awesome trip and congrats on the investment milestone!

  12. Glad you had such a great trip, Maggie! Good for you for taking some time off. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks! It was definitely needed. We’re refreshed, excited about life, and ready to tackle all of our goals!

  13. Glad you had a good trip and really hope you enjoyed Bath and Stourhead! Definitely an interesting time to be here in the UK with our Brexit vote. Am still trying to get over the shock and avoid the news about our plummeting currency, huge drop in consumer confidence and other economic woes. All I can say to your followers in the US is use your vote wisely in November! A lot of us didn’t and quite a few are regretting it…..

    • MaggieBanks

      We love Stourhead! And I agree with your politically. Thank you for your perspective. I hope our country doesn’t choose to vote for a joke because they are upset about the conditions of the country. A protest vote can end up becoming a winning vote.

  14. Welcome back, Maggie and Mr. T! I’m glad you guys had a blast and that you had a safe trip. I’m excited to read more about your travel stories. Congratulations on reaching $100,000! That is such a huge financial milestone! Didn’t they say the first $100,000 is the hardest? I guess it will only be easier from here.

    Happy summer to you! Are you going salmon fishing again this year?

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks so much, J. And YES, in fact, fishing is THIS WEEK! We go on Thursday!

  15. I’ve never been to the UK, and it’s on my bucket list to hit sometime in the next 5 years. I really want to go to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, hit London, and tour the Lake Country.

    • MaggieBanks

      When I was 11, my mom took me on a self-made Jane Austen tour and we went EVERYWHERE related to her. I’m over it. 🙂

  16. I don’t know which is better; the vacation or the investment milestone! 🙂

  17. I signed up for the early release tickets for the HP play. Unfortunately, I couldn’t snag a ticket until OCTOBER. While I plan on getting the book, i will be exercising every ounce of will power and won’t read it until after I see the play. My trip to London will be two weeks long! My sister is coincidentally going to be there on business at the same time, so I can probably stay with her for only ten pounds a night! And my flight only cost $467!! I’m still struggling to decide if I want to go on the Warner Bros HP tour though……

    • MaggieBanks

      We did the Warner Bros HP tour and, though expensive, as Harry Potter fans, we really loved it. I recommend getting the first time slot though as it just gets more and more crowded as the day goes on.

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