So, bad news first - I failed in my shopping ban. Utterly. Spectacularly. Only 10 days in, I actually spent several hundred dollars.
The good news - I feel totally justified in doing it, because I'm going to Iceland!
Alright, before you judge (not that any of you would, because you're all very lovely and understanding of human frailty, right?), I've actually been pretty successful in not doing any other shopping. No clothes, no shoes, no makeup, nothing. I haven't even looked at any of the shopping sites where I used to spend half of my day. I used my new-found downtime to learn how to count to 29 in Turkish, learn about the principles of photography, and about famous shipwrecks, among other things. But one of my Facebook friends posted a link to an article about an airline offering inexpensive trans-Atlantic flights, and of course I had to check it out.
It was actually legit, and even though I was excited about it, I was going to wait until March to pull the trigger. I read a few more articles about the company, though, which warned that the extremely low prices were introductory offers, and wouldn't last forever; sure enough, even a couple of days later, the price had started to creep up on their website. The flights that was $166 (one way, don't get too excited) on the 7th were $188, then $208. When my tax return came through, I decided waiting might actually not be my best choice.
So, for only slightly more than it would have cost me to fly there solo on most airlines, I was able to get two tickets to Iceland for Brian and I. We'll have to fly to Boston first, and maybe spend the night there on the way back, but it will still end up being one of the least expensive trips I've ever taken to Europe.
Brian and I had a pretty serious discussion about money, spending, and good decision making before I bought the tickets. I've mentioned before that he's trying to get his furniture business off the ground, and even after I made it clear to him that I'm happy to cover any and all travel expenses, he's still not sure that taking a big trip like this is a good idea. He's got a point, but I've always felt, rightly or wrongly, that while it makes sense to be prepared for an unexpected turn of events, what's the point of working my ass off at my job if I'm not going to get to enjoy some of what I make?
While I did slip up (or, alternately, while I did make a rational and well-thought out decision to violate an arbitrary ban that I set on myself in order to further one of my major life goals, i.e., to travel), I truly am working to be more responsible and smarter about my spending. I made an Excel spreadsheet to track my finances, and it helped me come up with a budget sensible enough to actually get some money into my savings, but flexible enough that I won't get frustrated and go on a "fuck it all, I hate life" spending spree. I'll go into that in a little greater detail later in the month when I do a wrap up post for the challenge, but a couple of things that I've been doing have already proven helpful.
But anyway, Iceland! Assuming Brian goes with me, we're going to rent a car and drive at least partway around the ring road. We're going there in September, which is late enough that we should be able to catch the Northern Lights, but early enough that there shouldn't be too much snow to interfere with outdoor activities. There's a beautiful canyon about 3 hours from Reykjavik where I want to go hiking, and one of the glaciers is not far beyond that. I've haven't planned in much detail what all I'm going to do, but I'm really excited to get there and start exploring. I've been trying to learn standard courtesy phrases in Icelandic, but apparently, and thankfully, most folks there speak English. Icelandic is hard.