I’ve been thinking a lot recently about spending less and saving more so that we can become financially independent much earlier than our current projections. In looking through our budget, of our top five spending categories (mortgage, childcare, insurance, vacation and groceries/dining) the easiest to significantly trim is vacation.

I do not want to sacrifice good experiences in exchange for retiring early. I want to enjoy my kids while they are young (and still want to spend time with me) and enjoy life while I am still somewhat young. But there are some fairly easy moves that we can make to still have great experiences while still not spending nearly as much on them.

That is why we have decided to teach our 3 1/2 year old how to ski this winter instead of putting him through another year of child care at the ski resort (hence the “first world problems” title). His season ski pass is free this year and season ski rentals are only $100, so we are looking at a total cost of $100 for the season. Compare this to childcare at the ski resort costing close to $100 a day, or lessons costing well over $200 per day, and we will likely save $2,000 or more this year by teaching him to ski now.

The trade off is that Christy and I will each be spending more time on the bunny slopes working with him and less time skiing together with our other two children, who can reasonably handle blue and black slopes. Although we initially wanted to enjoy higher quality skiing more this season with the big kids, we have instead decided that the cost savings, plus helping our youngest catch up with the other two as quickly as possible, will pay off more in the long-run and be more enjoyable for him.

We have many other ways that we plan on saving money, including more driving vacations (instead of flying), cutting cable, eating out less often, and simplifying our home cleaning process. I look forward to sharing our successes and failures in these efforts in the future.