The title is not an error. (Actually I just googled and apparently a “fun fund” is a thing). Anyway, my intent with this post is to explore the idea of collecting a stash of a points that can be converted into cash that you set aside to serve one particular purpose – to inject added enjoyment into your trip. Use it only in situations when your frugal tendencies would otherwise block you from loosening the purse strings.
The Cost-Conscious Traveller’s Burden
If you’re travelling on a budget or just thrifty by nature, it can be difficult to turn off that compulsion. You’d like to buy that pricey souvenir or eat at that nice restaurant but it feels out of bounds. Or, maybe you just can’t stomach paying for something you believe is overpriced.
Indeed, many travellers face dilemmas over what’s worth paying for to enhance their trip. Should you spring for the express train over the regional one? Do you pay up for good seats at the game, or instead settle for the nose-bleed section? The cost-benefit analysis extends to many aspects of your travels.
But what if you’ve already earmarked some money to be used precisely on frivolous expenditures? Its sole purpose is to be used for guilt-free spending. Does anyone do that?
The Appeal of Spontaneous Splurging
The inspiration for this post was the recent announcement that Disneyland Paris will be implementing a new paid FastPass system. They were previously free to anyone who purchased a park ticket and allowed guests to skip the line at a few attractions selected in advance. Now if you want to get to the front of the queue you’ll have to pay an extra fee per ride and per person.
If paid FastPass comes to the US Disney parks, there will surely be people who decide in the moment to spend the money, no matter the price. They desperately want to ride Soarin’ but just can’t bear waiting 90 minutes. And there will be others who agonize over it. Do I pay the extra for this ride or for that other one? A single splurge is not a huge deal, but what if you also really want that $37 T-Shirt? It all adds up.
How many people wish they had sprung for something on a previous trip? I wish I had paid for better seats at a couple of musicals where I opted to cheap out. My mother wishes she had bought that leather jacket in Italy back in 1994. (She also wanted to buy a Fart Gun at Universal but I managed to talk her out of it.)
A Points Strategy For Discretionary Spending
Obviously money can’t buy happiness, but when you’re travelling, it can come close. So what about creating a points-earning strategy where the objective is to prevent those moments of indecision about whether to cough up the cash for something you want, but are worried about the cost?
I wonder if it could even spur a few folks to get into collecting points and miles more seriously? I find it interesting how many avid or semi-avid travellers pay little to no attention to loyalty programs. One reason might be that they know they can afford the trip and therefore don’t have the necessary motivation to devote time and effort to earn and redeem rewards.
The key would be to make it simple. Collect points from everyday spending, redeem for groceries, and set aside the savings for the fun fund. The easiest programs for this purpose are Air Miles and PC Optimum as both are very accessible here in the Maritimes.
AIR MILES Cash Miles and PC Optimum
If you’re not saving your miles for a Dream Air Miles redemption, ensure your account is set is to 100% Cash miles.
Remember to load your Sobeys/Foodland offers every week and pay close attention to flyer promos like Blue Friday, Max-a-Miles etc. Watch for the big promotions like Mega Miles and Shop The Blog and try to capitalize on any online shopping bonuses through airmilesshops.ca. Keep an eye out for targeted email offers from Shell or Lawtons. Sign up for the no-fee BMO Air Miles Mastercard (current welcome offer is 1500 bonus miles – apply by Oct. 31, 2021) to receive targeted bonuses that way as well.
Wait for Cash mile redemption promotions from Air Miles partners. Redeem for necessary items and put the savings away in some form and try to keep it earmarked for your trip. If you’re actually headed to Walt Disney World, you could also put it into Disney gift cards.
Use the same approach for PC Optimum points. Always load your offers, check the Superstore and Shoppers DrugMart flyers and watch for big promotions. Monitor your email for a targeted offer to sign up for the no-fee PC Optimum credit card. (There was a recent one offering 125,000 points – that’s $125.)
Through these two programs you’ll earn a lot of points on everyday expenses. So long as you don’t spend more than you otherwise would to earn them, they will naturally add up over time and provide you with some bonus bucks to use on your travels.
Aside from loyalty programs, you might find other ways to contribute more cash to your fun fund. Things like savings from coupons, redeemable recyclables, or cash-back rebates. However small, they will add up and if you’re dedicated to the goal, it will pay off in the end.
I recall a travel YouTuber saying he had a $20 rule. If he can fix or improve a situation with twenty dollars, he does it. I think that’s a good policy but it would be nice to boost that amount a little and extend it to include those times when your sensible nature holds you back from enhancing your trip. Points and miles could help do that. It would take discipline to build up your fun fund, but when the trip rolls around, you might be really glad you made the effort.