Saving While Spending – The View From the Cheap Seats

A bit of a mixed up post this week – one which saw us celebrate an anniversary of sorts, spend a lot of money on what’s important to us while trying to avoid the mindless spends, and also win 2:0 against British Airways. (Although they did get us there and back in one piece, on time and luggage intact – worth a point, maybe….?).

This little corner of cyberspace I’ve been carving out is now 6 months old and I am still amazed to find I’m not talking to myself. Being able to connect with like-minded people has been invaluable, cliched as it may sound – I hope this is helping you as much as it is helping me.

Forgive the little Oscar speech – it’s not long, I promise, but I do want to say a big thank you to everyone who has been reading and for all the thoughtful comments that have been written here plus the support shown on Twitter @Firethe9to5

And as if to celebrate this little milestone, last week brought some very welcome surprises.

Monday saw this post being featured on Camp FIRE Finance. (If you haven’t already visited, head on over there and take a look – you’ll find a solid set of informative articles and resources on all things FIRE related).

Tuesday saw this post being “noteworthy” on Rockstar Finance and then Wednesday brought a huge number of visitors (relatively speaking!) when WordPress featured this one.

If you were introduced to this blog from one of those routes, welcome and thank you for returning! I hope you find more of interest and if you want to join the conversation, please jump in.

The View From The Cheap Seats

So…. nearly a week since our holiday ended and we are safely home and holding off reality as much as we can. School Summer holidays are in their final week and I’m using up some extra time off to maximise my break from the office. All is well at Casa Firethe9to5 😊.

An Orlando holiday from the UK is not cheap by any means but we found ways to reduce the cost wherever we could on the things that weren’t important to us. So paying extra for theme park fast passes to avoid the queues was a definite yes, while paying the £225 ransom to guarantee seats together on the plane was a big fat no.

Despite not paying this charge, we set a reminder for check-in 24 hours before departure and not only did we get seats together, we bagged the emergency exit extra legroom seats. For free 😄 (1 : 0)

A few months ago the BBC reported:

British Airways is introducing a boarding policy that means those buying the cheapest seats will be called last.

“From 12 December, passengers will be assigned a number between 1-5 printed on boarding passes, with the highest figure reserved for economy fares.”

There was some uproar at the time with calls of an embarrassing class system and everyone knowing who paid least.

Of course we paid the lowest we could for the plane tickets. Holiday memories last a lifetime but the plane journeys blend into each other and are forgotten almost instantly. So we duly boarded last.

Admittedly, we would love to upgrade to Business or First, who wouldn’t? But since that’s not an option, my eldest and I saw our Group 5 status as a badge of honour and walked proudly last down the aisle, pitying all the poor saps who paid more for the same (or worse) seats as us.

For me the benefit is obvious, but for my son it stems from the fact that since around age 14, I have given him the holiday reigns and tasked him with finding the best hotels, flights and transfers to fit a tight budget.

Travel is his passion and he knows the better deal he finds, the more holidays he will get. He spends hours every month scouring the internet for the best options. He knows which days prices are likely to be lower with which airlines or hotel groups, and what airports are cheapest departing to particular destinations. You might be surprised at the differences in pricing he has found.

It’s a win-win for me since I get the best value holiday there is with none of the work. And watch this space as I may have a budding “travel consultant entrepreneur” on my hands.

Something For Nothing…

The WiFi on the plane was surprisingly good. Enough for the boys to watch YouTube with no lagging which is high praise indeed. And once the free hour had passed, with the ingenuity only seen in teens separated from their devices, they found a loophole which gave us free WiFi the whole way. (That’s 2 : 0, thank you very much BA 😀).

…And A Little Money Saving

This isn’t really a blog that focuses on money saving ideas or being frugal (although that is a cornerstone of my route to financial independence – other people just write it better). But just this once I will share a few tips that saved a small fortune.

  • We were room only in the hotel so stocked up on snacks, drinks and fruit from a nearby supermarket for cheap breakfasts (and a bottle of vino for me for the evenings 😉)
  • The cheapest way to eat a main meal was to order online from local takeaways and have it delivered to the hotel – room service at a fraction of the hotel prices with a wide variety of options.
  • Cold drinking water is free at the theme parks and you can get your bottles filled at any drinks station. You can take your own snacks in too.
  • Using Uber every day was cheaper than hiring a car and paying daily parking. Using the shuttles costs nothing but a big investment of time.
  • Total spend on souvenirs, Mickey Mouse Ears and Harry Potter wands = zero. I was astounded to see what other people were buying…. I mean, I’m not here to judge but no wonder the average person’s finances are the way they are.

I have to be honest, my usual attitude on holiday is what the hell, let’s have a great time no matter the cost. But things are changing. The closer I get to financial independence, the more tantalisingly within reach is the end goal and the more focused I become.

I mean, I would never have bought those Mickey Mouse Ears…. they wouldn’t suit me anyway.

Back To Work…?

So back in Blighty once more – I refuse to think about work until the morning of my return. I have never done this total switch-off before, but now my FU fund is firmly in place I am putting my well-being first and I can tell you – it feels great.

I have been dropped from The Tower of Terror, turned upside down at 73mph on Mako and terrified to a quivering wreck on Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey (….they let kids on this thing???)

The work stress has melted away with each twist and turn and been left in a puddle at Typhoon Lagoon. Sadly, the enforced closeness of three people in one hotel room has also dissipated. 24/7 to zero in one slam of the front door – each has now retreated to their own room and I’m left with the run of the house.

Not so bad after all, now I come to mention it.


15 thoughts on “Saving While Spending – The View From the Cheap Seats”

  1. Congratulations on your features! And I’m going to need to hear more about this WiFi loophole if you don’t mind sharing the secret 🙂 . And thank you for the vacation tips! I haven’t even thought of (at least) half of them. Genius!


      1. Congrats on getting your blog featured – I’m sure you will enjoy seeing your blog traffic go up!

        That’s a great tip regarding delivery to hotel – I never would have thought of that one.

        When I go away to new places, I do still buy the occasional souvenir but usually they’re fridge magnets for myself and the family!

        Anyway, sounds like you had a great holiday, hope the feeling continues for a while longer before you head back to work – it’ll be a doddle compared to ‘The Tower of Terror’?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks Weenie, I doubt I’ll get even close to your traffic but you’ve earned that over many years, so that’s the way it should be. And a few fridge magnets won’t break the bank – if they remind you of your holidays when you open the fridge – enjoy 😀


  2. I just wanted to say that, as I mentioned on Twitter, I have only recently discovered this website and am really enjoying it. Starting with the first blog post “A Dream Of Financial Independence” I am reading them all in the order in which they were written, currently being up to No.24 “The Just in Case I Quit List”.

    The story that these posts tell is really inspiring to me as I continue my own quest to FIRE, and although there are quite a few differences between us – I’m not a parent and I earn an average salary to name two – there is so much in there to identify with and take ideas from so thank you! They are beautifully written as well.

    I can’t comment on this particular post though as I haven’t read it! It is No.31 in the series and I still have Nos. 25 to 30 to enjoy first. To “have a peek” so to speak would be cheating. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Steve – good to see you here. Thank you for the praise, I am glad to be helping. People following this route have a lot in common despite the differences in family situations, income levels etc. I love that it is something everyone can do at their own pace.


  3. I have also enjoyed your blog as much for the Frank honesty of the personal stories as well as the numbers. I’m very jealous as I keep umming an ahhing about starting a blog but I’m worried about running out of stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks FBA – you of all people should start a blog if you want to (and I know I’m not the first to say that). I see you comment on loads of blogs, always with a point of view and your story to tell. I think it would be great and you have a ready made group of supporters since you have been so supportive yourself.
      Don’t worry about running out of stories. If I don’t have anything to say one week, I won’t post at all until there is something I want to talk about. I don’t feel qualified to write the “this is how you do FIRE” type of blog, but other people do it well. I treat it more as a type of diary – so there’s usually something to talk about.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad to see you had a great holiday and all managed to share one hotel room without any major upsets – that is an achievement in itself with kids – well done!

    And congrats on all the features – they are all great posts worthy of featuring and attracting more readers.

    And you should hire your son out as a travel planner – he sounds an ace budget holiday finder. Actually – does he want a holiday to plan, I can send him my future holiday connundrums!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post, read it all with a smile!

    I checked my most common route, and return prices were £1,300 economy, £3,700 business and £6,730 in first. At 9 hours each way, the saving would be a bonkers £300 PER HOUR by sitting in a perfectly acceptable economy seat rather than first.

    Fair enough if a company is paying, or if hacking an upgrade using miles, but I think paying for business or first class travel could be the least FI thing possible? Is there anything else that burns money so much money, so fast, for so little return?

    Nice work with the free Wifi! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hence why I travel business every 4 years using airmiles and a companion voucher. Two business seats to new york and a hotel. Total cost 1000 pound

    Liked by 1 person

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