Are you wondering how we can afford to take a family vacation once a month? Well, a number of things make that possible.
- Big Dad works hard and makes money so that we can do what we do. We are thankful to God for his job that allows him to work from home, make lots of money, and have flexible hours so as to take time off to go with us when we go out of town. He often will work the Saturdays on either end of the week we go out of town to make up for missing Monday and Tuesday. Also, most hotels have internet, so he spends time each night and morning checking in.
- We are debt free. Except for our house. We have no car payments, no school loans, no credit card bills. We operate on a cash only system – except for hotels. You need a credit card to book a hotel. If you use a debit card for this, you will tie up your money for a week or more. We found this out the hard way. So we budget our money ahead of time (about $30/week) and pay cash when the credit card bill comes for the hotel stays. Everything else, gas, groceries, gifts, going out to eat, etc., we pay cash. If you’d like to learn more about going debt free, we recommend “The Total Money Makeover”, by Dave Ramsey. That is how we did it. It works.
- It’s all about budgeting. Everyone (even the richest person alive) has a finite amount of money they can spend without going into debt. A budget isn’t about saying “You can’t spend money on that!” It’s about deciding what you want most to spend your money on, and making sure you have enough money to do that. We love travelling and spending time as a family, so we make it a priority when we budget.
- We save money in other areas. By cooking and growing our own food, we save money. We don’t buy the things that we could make cheaper (and usually better) ourselves. We make our own yogurt, cheese, and bread. We have chickens and they make us eggs. We are planting a garden for “free” fruits and vegetables. We cook from scratch whenever possible and avoid buying premixed, premade foods which cost much more money. This was a process. We started with one thing we make, and keep adding. This month, I made toothpaste and it was great. Won’t be paying money for that anymore!
- We shop for deals. When I was looking for a hotel to stay in, I checked several and had them in a bidding war. The Holiday Inn won out. Not only did they give me a great price, but the kids eat free! When comparing hotels, be sure to check on parking prices. Many hotels in big cities charge for parking, and it’s not cheap. Be sure you know what your costs will be before you go.
- We bring our own food on trips. Eating fast food is extremely expensive and bad for your health. We bring home made crackers and bread, and top them with cheeses, hummus, chicken, salami, tuna, PB and J, whatever! The kids love this picnic food. I fill up the cooler before we leave, and we refresh it with hotel ice if needed. We usually eat breakfast and lunch on the road, dinner in the hotel room, pay for only one breakfast at the buffet (the others are free), and eat lunch in the car. We try to get home in time for dinner. That way, meals only cost us about $15 for the whole trip.
- Museum memberships are a great deal. Most museums have a membership that is good for the whole family, and has reciprocal membership in other museums around the country. We found last year that when we bought a membership at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum in Poughkeepsie, NY for $99, we could go to New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego and see many museums at each for no cost. What a deal! Also, museum memberships usually get you reduced parking, meals and gift shop prices.
- And my last and best idea for “Vacationing on the Cheap” is Mooching. But that deserves a post of it’s own.
Wish you were here!