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Saving Up to Explore the Tundra: Meet a Super Saver

By Emily E. Smith

  • PUBLISHED March 25
  • |

Jackie Beck had dreamed of visiting the pristine, icy continent of Antarctica since she was eight years old. “I liked the idea of adventure,” she says. “And penguins, obviously—they’re adorable.”

As Beck and her husband, who live near Phoenix, AZ, chipped away at their goal of paying off their home mortgage, they decided to add an extra incentive to keep themselves motivated. Once their house was paid off, they resolved that they’d each save up for something on their wish lists. 

Once they finished paying off their mortgage, Beck’s husband started stashing cash for a new car. Beck chose to save for the trip to Antarctica she’d been imagining for all those years. She gave herself a year to save $10,000 for the 10-day trek. “You can go for less than that, but I went the expensive way,” she says. “It was worth every penny.”

This would be the trip of a lifetime, so Beck wanted to be comfortable. She’s prone to seasickness, so she picked the costlier way of getting there: flying from the tip of Chile instead of boarding a ship and withstanding the rough waters of the Drake Passage. She also extended her trip, adding extra travel days in Chile to bookend the Antarctica visit.  

Beck and her husband had already overhauled their budget when they got serious about paying off their mortgage, so she was used to being careful about her spending. Beck opened a new savings account, labeled it “Antarctica” and made monthly deposits. 

Automated savings deposits can be great for some goals, but Beck went for a more hands-on approach. “For special goals, it can feel more motivating to make deposits manually,” she says. 

Her efforts paid off: In 2013 she left home and set out for the southernmost continent. She spent the trip going on hikes and reveling in the wildlife. She watched klutzy penguins tottering across the ice, a pod of 25 whales and countless birds of various exotic species. 

“I could hardly believe it was really happening,” she says. “It’s more than five years later and I still get super emotional thinking about it. You really don’t know what awesome is like until you’ve seen Antarctica.”

A longtime friend joined Beck on the trip while her husband stayed home. “He was busy saving for his car,” she says.

Emily E. Smith is a freelance writer in Bozeman, MT. She writes for national and regional publications on topics ranging from personal finance to crime to wild animals. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, Smithsonian magazine and Atlas Obscura.

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