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Weekly Debt Update #18- A Birthday Party and Disney Planning


Hey everybody! I hope you all had a great weekend.

With not much to discuss this week- I want to touch on a couple of items. Firstly, a very good friend of mine and his wife had a birthday party for his son who just turned 1, on Saturday. The party was in Ohio, a couple hours away from where we live. I drove down and spent a majority of day celebrating with them and their family. Instead of getting them a new toy, since I figured everybody else would be doing that, I gave them $25 in cash to start an ESA account for their son. Once the present opening began, I realized my suspicions were right- they had more toys and clothes than I think they knew what to do with. I told my buddy how to quickly set up an account (much like I did for my nephew) that will allow the money to grow for the next 17 years.

Secondly- the money saving planning for Disney has begun. So far, we know of 2 ways that are going to save us a ton. 1) We’ve been talking to GF’s mother, who lives only a couple miles away, to watch the dogs for us while we’re gone. She agreed to come over, let them outside, and play with them a couple of times each day and we’re going to give her $200. When I was looking into having the dogs boarded for the week, the prices ranged form $350-$450 depending on how much activity we wanted the dogs to get. Besides the financial aspects, I don’t really feel comfortable keeping our dogs in a kennel where they have limited space. I feel that keeping them in our house, where they can roam anywhere and play with all their toys, is a much more inviting scenario. 2) Since we’re driving to and from Disney (16+ hours away) we’re going to pack as much as we can for the drive. GF has already started couponing and buying foods that we can eat on the way that won’t go bad. The day before we leave, we plan on making pasta salads, normal salads and fruit salads- food that we can eat straight from the cooler, are healthy, filling and will give us plenty of energy for the drive. This will certainly keep us from hitting the gas station food when we stop for gas, at least on the way down. We haven’t yet figured out what we are going to do for the trip back up.

For anyone interested in my current debt totals, here they are:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,896.61$3,940.63$0.00
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,750.50$3,449.52$0.00
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$6,271.63$4,078.55$305.85
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$0.00$6,096.03$0.00
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00$0.00

I hope everyone has a great week!


  • Reply Rachel |

    My favorite road trip snack is dry cereal. Relatively healthy (depending which kind you get), takes a while to eat so it passes time and satisfies the munchies. Even if you go for the sugar bomb varieties, still healthier than candy or chips.

    • Reply Matt |

      Great idea Rachel. I know GF can always find good deals on cereal, too. We’ll def be doing that!

  • Reply Julene |

    We took food for snacks during our days in Disney. We took things like beef jerky, granola bars, some candy, crackers, anything portable and baggable. Each morning we would package up snacks and that just kept up from purchasing more expensive snacks in the park. We even used the microwave in our room to pop microwave popcorn and bag it up for a day or two. We also brought our own flat of water bottles. We each took bottles of water into the park so we didn’t have to buy any. There were places to refill water bottles in the park, however we didn’t find the water very tasty. We carried a backpack so it was never a big deal to reach back and grab a snack. Definitely a money saver there. We usually ate breakfast at our hotel, lunch in the park and then dinner outside of the park to save a little bit.

    Whatever your choice, enjoy the time and try not to focus on the money while there. Make good decisions but let go and have fun too!

    • Reply Matt |

      Thanks for the tips Jolene. Just one comment- we’re on the Disney Dining plan, meaning we get a snack, a counter service meal and a sit down meal everyday of our trip. This is why I’m not too worried about in park foods too much. This has held us over pretty well when we’ve gone in the past. Except when I eat too many Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwiches- love those!

  • Reply KLM |

    On your way back up, I’d hit a supermarket for snacks–maybe not as cheap as for on the way down, but definitely going to be cheaper than a gas station. You could also just bring extras or prepackaged food that will keep (hummus, baby carrots, peanut butter, etc) and store in the hotel fridge until it’s time to go.

  • Reply Sue |

    We did the same thing – just got back from a 6000+ mile drive across the country (ended up in New York – your neck of the woods) and found that the best snacks that kept us satisfied were beef jerky, nuts, and string cheese wrapped with ham, salami, or turkey.

    Have a fun trip – enjoy the ride along the way as well as Disney….where enjoyment is a no-brainer 🙂

    • Reply Matt |

      Yes- GF has already bought enough beef jerky that will last us a trip or two, lol. We also picked some new Sargento products that are a mix of nuts and cheese. Pretty cool, and they were like %50 off!

  • Reply JayP |

    Wow, great job in paying down so much debt. Its amazing how much those interest rates are! I imagine those who aren’t diligent would have no hope against these kinds of numbers. No wonder we are in a student loan crisis in this country!

    • Reply Matt |

      Thanks Jay! My interest rates aren’t even “that bad”. What’s the federal student loan rate at now? I know my brother has a loan at 8%, but I’m not sure if it’s private or federal. My 5.75% could be a lot worse.

  • Reply Judi |

    Great job on snack planning for your trip! We take log road trips all of the time and I would suggest stopping at some historical sights and hikes along the way to get out and stretch. A huge part about stopping for food is the idea of just mixing up the monotony of driving and with bringing food you’ll be tempted to power through and save time. But with all of that distance you’re going to pass through some really different terrain and a short hike is a great way to experience it!

    • Reply Matt |

      You may be right on the getting out and stretching part and hiking, but we’re gonna make the trip down there as fast as I can. I’ve done a ton of long road trips in my short time driving, and that was before you could plug in an iphone and listen to what ever you want, lol. I don’t think we’ll have any problems going there and back making only the necessary stops for food, gas and restroom visits.

  • Reply Jill |

    My husband and I drove from syracuse, ny to disney this past January. (my daughter got married there…yes, she was a bridezilla) I’m known for not going past PA (ha,ha) It was interesting. We made it as far as Georgia before we called it a day. I packed lots of cereal bars and sandwiches and lots of water. Just make sure you stop at South of the border in SC at night. 🙂 jk

    • Reply Matt |

      I heard only horror stories of stopping at South of Border, haha. We’re going to be avoiding that place like plague, lol. how was the trip back? Did you do that in multiple days, as well?

  • Reply debthaven |

    There are things you can stock up on beforehand, like cereal bars, trail mix, water, etc. I assume you’ll be driving with a cooler.

    I certainly hope you’re not planning to drive 16h straight on the way back! Personally I’d book a night in a decent (not fancy) hotel that offers free breakfast, ideally near something you’d like to visit. Once there, stop at a supermarket and stock up on fruit/sandwiches/salads, or fixings for the rest of your trip, either that evening or the next morning.

    It won’t be as inexpensive as making them at home, but it will be less expensive than stopping on the way.

    We have done many long road trips … in my experience if you have a good breakfast, you can have either a proper lunch or dinner, and “wing” the other meal.

    • Reply Matt |

      We are (at least, I am) actually planning on driving the whole way back in one shot. I don’t like dragging out driving when I could be there on vacation already, or home in our own bed. Guess it’s a matter of preferences.

      We’ll be bringing cooler with us so we’ll stock it for the way down and stop at a Publix (like someone suggested) to stock it for the way back.

  • Reply Cynthia |

    If you are going this year, entertainment coupon books are currently $8-$9 with shipping. (Usually $30 or $35.). Buy the Orange County, CA one for savings on fast food you would buy anyway while on vacation. It will pay for itself in a meal or two!

So, what do you think ?