How to Realize a Dream When You Have No Money

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Have you ever wanted to do something but knew you couldn’t because you didn’t have the money?

Have you dreamed of a place you’ve always wanted to visit, but just couldn’t see a way through the financial maze to get there?

For a long time that, for me, was going to England to see my closest friend. I couldn’t go. Believe me, I wanted to.  I just couldn’t afford to go at that time.
But when she called and said she was getting married, I had to find a way.
Then she asked me to be her wedding photographer.  “I wouldn’t trust anyone else to capture it,” she’d said.
Well crap.  Now I really had to find a way.
My budget however, wasn’t as malleable. I was working as a freelance photographer and I didn’t have the extra funds lying around for a trip across the pond.
But how could I not go? 
This was the woman who had stuck by me through thick and thin.  The woman who stood next to me as I gave birth to my daughter thirteen years before.  The woman who brought me food and love and support when my first husband left me three weeks after giving birth to our child. The woman who had been my savior, helping with all the details I didn’t have time for, when I married Rich.
I had to make it happen.  Some way.  Some how.
So, I sat down at my computer with determination.
How could I miss this?
How could I miss this?
First, I looked at the dates.
I knew I needed to arrive a few days ahead of the wedding to help my friend with last minute details and to set up for the photography.
With dates in hand, I set forward and researched flights. I looked at Kayak and Expedia. Then I looked on about 10 other sites, trying to find a cheap flight around the dates I needed.

Reality crushed me.

Of course, it was around the time of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. That increased the cost of flights considerably. The price of the flight alone was enough to prevent me from going.

I got creative.

I looked at my frequent flier miles and then at my credit card. My frequent flier miles looked sparse– lack of funds ergo lack of travel to boost them.  There was no way I would book a flight on my credit card with no plan to pay it off.
I’m frugal remember, but I’m not silly. I don’t keep a credit card balance. Ever.  I learned that lesson the hard way and I’m happy to keep it that way.
I looked instead at my credit card rewards. I had a Capital One Venture Card and with the wedding still six months before me, I realized that if I put ALL of my expenses on the credit card, I’d have enough miles to pay for the flight and maybe even some for accommodation.
I was already paying for incidentals like groceries, petrol and gifts on my credit card, and paying those off every month. Then lightening struck. If I paid the big-ticket items like my mortgage, car payment, utilities, and all the incidentals on my credit card instead of from my checking account, I could rack up frequent flier miles much more quickly.

Risky?

Not really. I was paying for these directly anyway.  By using the Capitol One card, I would benefit from earning points while still paying my bills on time. (By the way, I’ve used this trick ever since!)
But there was a catch in this giddy-up:  I was restricted to certain travel dates if I wanted to take advantage of the lowest mile offering by using the rewards card.
If I wanted the lowest miles, I had to tack on some extra days.  That took it up to 9 days in England.  (Yeah, I know, poor me.)  But that meant extra days for accommodation, food, and transport…
I was now between a rock and a hard place.
The traveler in me spoke up:  If I had extra days, couldn’t I visit some of the places I’d dreamed of AND attend the wedding? (Seriously, sometimes it’s like the angel and the devil on my opposing shoulders.)
I ran the numbers. When it was all said and done, using miles and finding ways to save, worked out cheaper than paying for the flights outright.
IMCloister Arches 2, Salisbury

I got creative.  I researched.  I figured out how to make it happen. 

When something drives you – and I mean really drives you –  you find ways to the solution.
I always ask myself: “Will I regret not doing this?”
There was no way I was missing my best friend’s wedding.  I wouldn’t allow money to stop me.
I figured out how to make it happen. And you can to.  The answers may not be right in front of you but they are there if you look hard enough for them.
  • Could I have taken a second job to pay for the trip? Sure.
  • Picked up some extra freelance work? Yes, of course.
  • Could I have sold off some extraneous things I had around the house, like the bicycle I wasn’t using or CDs that I wasn’t listening to? Yep, no doubt.
But I found a way that worked for me.  And amazingly, it’s still working for me.
With a little ingenuity, you can make your dreams a reality.  Even when at first glance you don’t have the money to make it happen, there is always a way.

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