Vacation StoryPosted: June 13, 2011
Last night we got back from a long weekend in Charlotte NC. Yes, it was a vacation during a total money makeover. We agonized over this vacation–would it get us off track with the budget? Would we lose the momentum on our debt snowball? As it turns out things went great despite a visit from Murphy (refrigerator died the night before we left).
The Past: If you define “vacation” as a trip in which you stay at least one night in a place other than your home, then we hadn’t taken a vacation in 3 years. I know…wha wha wha! The “hardcore Dave Ramsey follower” in me says that vacations are luxury items and shouldn’t happen until after you’ve paid off your debt. End of story. The other side of me says that our family was excited to see a dear family that we’ve known for 15+ years (and hadn’t seen in 5 years) and their daughter was getting confirmed…what a great opportunity to visit!
The Options: My wife was the sponsor of the girl being confirmed so she had to be there. Technically, the rest of us were optional. We worked through some options together:
- Solo wife trip (cheapest): My wife could have driven from Atlanta to Charlotte, stayed for the confirmation, and drove back on the same day. The cost would be the rental car (prevent putting hundreds of miles on our old cars), gas, and sundries. Probably $120 total. Probably the crappiest option since it’s not pleasant to drive 8 hours in a day and see your friends for a few hours after not seeing them for 5 years.
- Partial family visit: Wife and kids drive up and stay at their house for a couple of nights. I stay home and save on the dog sitter cost. Probably about $300 total including rental car, gas, and sundries.
- Whole Shebang: This is what we ended up doing. Everyone goes for the weekend (3 days, 2 nights) and we stay in a hotel. And because we were visiting a family with 7 children, we knew that it would be low-key since doing anything significant with 10 children (7 + 3) would be costly and exhausting. We focused on visiting their home and kept it simple. We just hung out at their house for 3 days and played inside / outside all day!
Rental Car: $106 for 3 days (it would have been more expensive to take our own car since it is due for a major tune up)
Hotel: $183 for 2 nights ($78 a night plus taxes)
Pet Sitting for 3 dogs: $418 (one dog is high strung so has to go to a special kennel and they all needed to be updated on their shots)
Total: $887 (about $300 a day for 3 days)
We saved $900 over the course of a few months so we actually came in under budget! And we’ve stayed on track with the monthly budgets and debt snowball!
The Lesson: Our kids were surprised that a relatively short time away could be so expensive! It was good to teach them that vacations really are a luxury but can be done on a tight budget if you save ahead of time, keep it real simple, and plan ahead! I was skeptical that it could be done but 15+ months into the total money makeover I see how you can have a life and win financially.
Here are some other great stories about cash vacations. Anyone have a “Dave Ramsey vacation story” out there?