What Price an Experience ? What Price a Memory ?

As I write this I am on holiday on a small island in the Bay of Naples. Not the prettiest island, but the hotel has an awesome view of the wider bay that is very hard to get tired of.

Why say this ? Am I gloating ? .. nope .. just reflecting on the value of an experience.

A good friend of mine in Scotland is divorced so only gets his two boys for around half he time. They gave him a glass jar for Fathers Day (yesterday) with pieces of paper in. They explained that on each piece was a memory so when they were with their mum he could read them and they would be with him … awwww .. in bits .. fine boys. To say he was chuffed was a total understatement…. soppy sod .. can’t wait to see him for a beer and rib him ha ha.

It got me thinking about the price of things verses the value of things. As my late father used to say in his Lancashire accent shouting at me and my brother for our latest adventure gone wrong ‘you know the price of everything and the value of nowt’.


So back to FiRe

There is is notion of a spectrum of Lean-fIRE TO Fat-Fire. Lean-Fire being where you have enough to pay the bills and live modestly, Fat-Fire effectively means doing whatever you feel like (within reason). Where do we sit. Hard to say but probably around the Mid-Fire point right now, but the portfolio is doing very well so the Fatty-Arbuckle end of FiRE is certainly a goal.

So what is the point of the article ?

Well, as I finish a lovely lunch of Sea Bass in Lemon with a rocket salad and lovely glass of red overlooking the bay, I so sort of thought about how much we wanted to spend for a quick get away, how much it has actually cost. and was it worth it ?

We could have booked a week in the Canaries including everything at one of the many All Inclusive (AI) hotels. We would spend for no more that £1,500… Flights, hotel, food, drinks, parking, taxis.. the lot. We have often over the years done this, partly because we had limited budgets and partly (mostly) the convenience of just having it all done for us. Tired from work and just needing a break was the usual thing. Now, we have both stopped work, we still need a break, but from other things and for other reasons.

In our village a neighbour is a personal travel counsellor. She does bespoke stuff and we have never used her as usually its been a defined budget, defined time, and frankly its so much easier to just book a Tui or Thomas Cook getaway. But this time, we were very restricted by time windows due to our combined commitments (and we are supposed to be returned !!) and just wanted a week away somewhere sunny. We decided to ask Lucy (the travel counsellor) if she had any suggestions. A few questions later and basically she had a remit – something we would not have booked, something different to where we normally go, a bit of an adventure perhaps. Funnily enough I surprised myself by putting the budget at the bottom of priorities. What we wanted was something a bit different.

Several suggestions come back after a couple of days, but she did say, “try Ischia, I went there with my family – not the prettiest island, not vast amounts to see and do, but ‘this hotel’ has an amazing view… and that is really what you want”

Oh my, TripAdvisor is great .. lots of pics and sold on the view. She did say its a bit over the target budget and there is other stuff, but what do you think ?

Sold !


So what about Budget ?

So the circa £1,500 was paid to cover the flights and hotels (yes a shorter trip as the ferry times make it very tight to make the flight home so one less night and a stay by Naples airport). We had to book the ferries ourselves (link provided) and get from the airport to ferry terminal (rip-off taxi). It is not a package holiday after all – leave your bucket & spades at home !

By the time we have done with UK airport parking and getting to the hotel we are knocking on the door of £1,750. And this is just B&B – lots more to add yet.

Then I find I left smart trousers at home and the hotel won’t let me in the dining room without any … so a quick trip into town for a ‘designer’ pair of German yellow trousers (I know … but they really are nice – since going ‘FIRE’ I am discovering the colours ha ha).

So now £1,880…

The hotel is not that big, limited menu, hotel priced drinks etc so we had always planned to eat in one of the may harbour restaurants. Again, not that cheap and as we discovered, this island is a weekend retreat for the great and good of Naples being no more than a 90 minute ferry trip.

So a night out including food, drinks and taxi back (hotel is out of the town on a hill overlooking the bay) then a spend between £120-£150 per night so far…. nice food (a Pistachio Tiramisu just to utterly die for) but cosmopolitan prices. Yes we could eat cheaply and get a bus, but why bother. We are on holiday right, we are not on a fixed budget or we would have booked bucket & Spade right !!

So a back of the fag-packet calculation would rather suggest that (including the cattery fee for our moggies) we will probably not be far of £2,800 for 6.5 days in the end. I find it ironic we go on holiday and cats get a prison 🙁

The point is not one about budget control, having or not having money, but on the general principle. The whole point of RE is to enjoy life and the experiences it brings. The experience we can get. The joy we can see, do and give … right ?

Earlier in the year when I started blogging I did so mainly so I could organise my random thoughts and force myself to write them down. Make sense of them. Try and figure out have I just been plain lucky, or is there more to give.

The blog is a means to share and hopefully makes others think in the way I have after reading other articles and thoughts. One of my earlier blogs was about budgeting and just understanding what we spend money on. As a result, I created a nominal amount for this year of £8K for holidays, travel etc and fed that into my forward cash-flow plan. Just a random amount starting from the ‘I have some money available this year’ + ‘It costs X on average for a week away’ + it costs ‘Y on average’ for a weekend away…. how may weeks and weekends do we think we can do ….. have we got enough money available … £8K … nominal. … I have no idea how else to do his really and this is a transition year for us anyway.

I know its there if I need to use it, but also I have the option of spending less (or more if I choose). There is no glidepath, just an amount I know will not cause a cash-flow problem this year if I choose to do it.

So the fact I thought ‘a few days away somewhere sunny for say £1,500’ and we have ended up spending not far off twice that does not matter. We still have ‘budget’ left and if it became an issue later in the year we can just not go on one of the trips we plan to do for example.

My wife said yesterday at dinner a mumbled ‘we can afford this ?’. “Yes” came the reply. It is not that £8K for the year is sacrosanct – we could spend more and if I go visit some friends in New Zealand later in the year (a possibility) I most certainly will. The point is I blocked of a lump in a plan for us to use and at least notionally draw against. I have a rougher budget for the next 2-3 years and then on so I know what we need, what options there are and what we definitely cannot do without stressing our investments.

A household spend budget/profile is just that… a plan for us to keep control. It matters not if we spend less and if we spend more, it just means we need to re-visit a more forward view to keep control.

However, the real point was that whatever we did we enjoyed, and we created memories.

This is surely the only point of Fat-Fire !!

Could we have spent less and had a great time ? – yes

The hotel is OK, not the 4* it claims, the food is OK, nothing dazzling, The staff are OK, Town a bit grubby, Island not that interesting (which we knew from other people), but the view overlooking the end of Bay of Naples is to absolutely die for…. a glorious place on the hills overlooking the town (and dull castle) to watch to boats, ferries, see Mount Vesuvius in the distance and just relax with a nice glass of Red wine.

Memories of the town will fade as one of any number of also-ran holiday/fishing ports. The view of the bay is etched and will stay a lifetime ….

A glass jar with some children’s scribbles, £3 grand on a view overlooking a bay ? .. it maters not. What matters is we create beautiful memories.

so what price a beautiful memory?

Go create memories and don’t worry too much – make a future adjustment if needed, but don’t let a fixed budget stop you creating memories and seeing our beautiful world.