Progress to Date

  • Original Loan Amount: $204,000.00
  • Balance at Beginning of 5-year Goal (1/1/08): $188,983.82 @ 6.00%
  • Balance at Refinance in February 2009: $148,000.00 @ 4.625%
  • Outstanding Balance: $0.00 (PAID IN FULL!!!)
  • Latest Payment Date: April 2011
  • Latest Additional Principal Amount: $17,623.22
  • Amount Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): $121,462
  • Time Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): 7 years 10 months
  • Interest Saved Last Month: $23,972.48
  • Total Interest Saved: $28,435.55 ($1,037.74 on original mortgage; $27,397.81 on current mortgage)
  • Months Remaining in 5-year Goal: 20
  • Average Monthly Principal Needed to Meet Goal: N/A (Goal achieved)
  • Progress List Explained

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Royale (with Cheese)

My wife and I recently returned from our big vacation trip of 2008. We packed up our little car and drove from New Hampshire to Grand Portage, Minnesota, where we caught a ferry to Isle Royale National Park, which is located in the middle of Lake Superior. On the way to Minnesota we stopped in Chicago to visit with some friends for a day. Our goals for the trip were to have relatively low-cost (or free) experiences, to see a new part of the country, and to enjoy ourselves. We accomplished all three.

There were three main expenses associated with the trip: the cost of driving to and from northern Minnesota, the cost of taking a ferry to and from Isle Royale, and the cost to have someone watch over our dogs in our absence. Our main activities while on the island were backpacking (hiking and camping). Since both of us like to do this on a regular basis, we didn't need to buy much in the way of new gear, though we did spend some money to purchase a few key items (a new backpacking stove and a new water filter). We also replaced my wife's old sleeping bag and backpack, but we partially offset the expense of the new equipment by selling her old stuff.

Here is the expense report for the trip:

  • Round-trip ferry fee (two adults, paid in February): $248
  • Park user fee ($4 per person per day, paid in February): $56
  • Gasoline: $341
  • Highway tolls: $48
  • Vehicle maintenance: $229
  • Lodging (Grand Portage, MN): $43
  • Meals (including treating our Chicago hosts to dinner): $114
  • Entertainment: $14
  • Gear (net cost): $204
  • Pet care: $358
The total above comes to $1,655, or about $828 per person. Our trip lasted 11 days, so the cost per person per day was about $75. Since we paid for the ferry and park fees back in February, we were able to spread some of the cost over several months. Because our car was due for a tune-up anyway, I was unsure whether or not to include the vehicle maintenance cost in the overall trip expense list; but given that we drove over 3,200 miles round-trip, we put enough additional wear on the car that we'll be taking it in for regular service again soon. Therefore, that expense stays on the list.

Given the experience we had, I'm satisfied with the cost of the trip. Of course, we could have stayed home the entire time and potentially had around $1600 more to put toward the mortgage, but we both feel it's important to treat our vacation as part of the yearly cost of living, and we've been budgeting and saving for this trip for months. While on the island, away from the stresses and pressures that make up our daily lives at home, we were able to make lasting memories, catch a glimpse of the natural world unspoiled by human exploitation, and simplify our day-to-day thought processes (our most complicated daily decisions were which campground to hike to and which meal to cook for dinner). The rewards we received from taking the trip were definitely worth more to us than the potential benefit of a $1,600 reduction in our outstanding mortgage balance.

For those with a love of the outdoors, an interest in seeing wilderness for miles in any direction, an appreciation for peace, solitude, and simple living, and a desire to challenge yourself physically, Isle Royale is a great place to spend a week (or more). I highly recommend it. It's a shame that there aren't many truly wild places left in the world, but this island is about as close as you can get to an unspoiled landscape in the lower 48 states.


SavingDiva said...

What did you have to do with your pets?!

The Executioner said...

We paid a friend to take care of our two dogs for 11 days. Even at $350, this was a better deal than boarding them at a kennel, which would have been even more expensive, with less personal attention for our pups. Plus, we don't mind paying for a service when a good friend is involved.

change is a good thing said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic time! Yeah! And I love that you acknowledge that while you could have put the money toward reducing your mortgage, but feel there is importance in living while paying it off! Good job!!

The Executioner said...

This project is really an exercise in making choices between our current selves and our future selves. In this instance, we chose to spend a week and a half living in the present. It was worth it!

Jerry Critter said...

I and a friend hiked from one end of Isle Royale to the other way back in the late 60's. One of my best trips! Nothing but moose and wolves.

The Executioner said...

Awesome. Not too many people who visit the island get to see the wolves. If you did, you're one of the lucky ones.