Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pack It Up

Brent and I are taking the kids on our first official "family vacation" and we are hoping to fulfill every stereotype along the way.  That would include impossibly long car rides, too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lots of public restrooms.  We may even turn off the a/c in the van, so they can have a real taste of a family vacation.

When I mentioned to Brent, way back in February, that we should book this vacation to the Wisconsin Dells, the first words out of his mouth were,"if we do this, you WILL NOT freak out about how much it is going to cost and WE WILL spend money to have a good time."  After my cold sweat broke, I agreed to not be stingy and booked the resort before I could talk myself out of it.

I have a problem.  My name is Heidi and I'm a Saver.  I will probably go through several 12 step programs in my life, one of which will be Savers Anonymous.  God blessed me with a gift, the gift to budget.  It's not that I'm against spending, I just prefer to do it after I've saved for it.  If there was a contest for delayed gratification, I would take home the 3 foot trophy.  Thankfully Brent is the free spirit in this relationship and he has a way of talking me off the ledge when it's time to let go a little.

Returning to the original plan of this post, it was time to prepare for the vacation we leave for today.  We budgeted $1,500.00 (holy cow, that's a lot of $$$$$$!!!!!!!!!) because we had to have a definite amount to save towards so I could let go of the money when the time came.  Here is the plan I have worked out on paper to make sure we would have enough:

Hotel-$541.83.  Since we are staying 3 nights they gave us a 30% discount so the upgraded family suite was only about $150/ night but it goes up about $30/night with added fees and taxes.

Food-$300.00.  This will actually be $400 because we always budget $100/ week for food, so we are just lumping our regular grocery money in with it.  Only the $300 came out of the vacation account though.

Family Fun-$220.00.  I thought we would use this for ice cream, extra activities outside of the resort, little keepsakes that we may find along the way, etc.

Emma-$40.00 and Owen-$40.00.  So they each have a little spending money for when they inevitably say "mom, can I get this?"

Gasoline-$200.00.  I figured out that we would most likely need about three tanks of gas based on the number of miles we are traveling.

We are used to using an envelope system for things that are easy to pay for with cash.  For us, it is easier to control our spending when we use cash. Think of it like ordering off the menu as opposed to getting the buffet.  It's a little self control built right in!  I know a lot of people are uncomfortable carrying that much cash but for us, it's a system that works.  Plus, you DO NOT want to see me take a vacation using my debit card and then look at our account when we get back.  I would spend an entire week analyzing how much we spent.  Trust me.

Another easy way for us to make this trip affordable is to eat most meals with stuff from the grocery store.  Lots of fruit, veggies, peanut butter, popcorn and water.  We have been putting a few things aside for the last few weeks when they would go on sale, like chips and snacks for the kids.  These little waters will be great because they are only 8oz.  If our kids have a big bottle of water, they either lose it or it gets warm before they can finish it.
We throw all of our snacks in a plastic tub so they don't get squished by suitcases or children.
So when we return, you can be sure I'm going to add everything up and see just how much this vacation really cost us!