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A Family Vacation


I was not expecting the backlash regarding my idea of cash flowing a family vacation in a couple of years…at all. In fact, I thought the forethought was a big step on my part.

While it’s certainly not a done deal. It is definitely something I want to consider and work towards…even if cruise isn’t the right idea or Princess graduation summer isn’t the right time.

Vacation Response Clarifications

But here are some clarifications in response to all the comments on my idea…

  1. I was not anticipating paying for either the twins (in full at least) or their girlfriends (at all.) While I would like to be able to help or cover some part of the trip for each of them, this would be a family effort. They have both had steady girlfriends for 2 and 3 years respectively, and all of them work. With a year and a half notice to plan, they could certainly save the money for the trip. (Princess and Gymnast can be expected to contribute to savings although certainly not the whole cost of the trip.)
  2. We have not all been together as a family for over 3 years now (there was a month overlap when History Buff moved home and before Gymnast moved to his dad’s in 2019, but that certainly wasn’t an easy or fun time for any of us.) So a fun family vacation will make it in 2021 will make it almost 5 years since we spent a holiday or trip all together.
  3. While I am certainly open to other vacation ideas, I have no interest is just going somewhere else that I will have to cook and clean and feel like I should work or plan entertainment. A cruise eliminates all those needs…I cook ALL the time at home and when we visit my parents. It would not be a true vacation for me without a break from that.
  4. I understand that cruises have lots of additional optional costs. But I also know that most of them would not apply to us/me. I don’t drink alcohol…ever. I don’t drink soda. And shore excursions are all optional, we could plan for one or two, or none at all. I would be perfectly content sitting by the pool with a book, taking dance lessons, nightly dinners with the family (that I don’t have to cook or clean,) putting together puzzles and sleeping. (I have been on 5 cruises in the last 16 years, beginning with my honeymoon, so feel that I can be quite confident in this assessment.)

Personal Attacks over Personal Finance

Now to address the personal criticisms…

  • All over the place? You are right. I have certainly been all over the place, especially the past year. Gymnast leaving the home has rocked me to the core, made me question EVERYTHING about myself as a parent, as a provider and so much more. This is a personal finance blog, but there are a lot of things outside of the numbers on the sheet that come into play. And some very, very personal.
  • No personal responsibility? Are you kidding? I have been the sole financial provider for a family of 5 for 12 years now in a world that pretty much requires dual income to live. This is not playing the victim or feeling sorry for myself, both of which I am definitely guilty of, but this is a statement of fact. But we have been through more than our fair share of hardships. And we are still here and we are thriving. I am VERY personally responsible for this…the good and the bad.
  • A mess? Yes, sometimes. More often than I would like to admit, but I truly am trying to change that. I have been extremely introspective about a lot of things this past month, especially with the new year, new decade upon us.

I appreciate the commentors who recognize that personal finance is just that…personal and give me constructive feedback versus constantly criticizing every idea I have. I am committed to getting out of debt. But I also recognize very, very clearly that my time with my children is extremely limited…and making some good memories is very important to me.


  • Reply Cwaltz |

    I’m sorry you feel attacked. At the same time you should recognize how frustrating it is to see someone all over the place asking questions or asking advice without the person being asked having any idea of where you are financially or even what your priorities are at this point. It feels like these questions become pretty rhethorical. You had a post that said in the beginning of the year you were looking at paying $250 a week for the car and $100 a week for the student loan. That addition to the budget means you would be adding $400 to your budget($300 for the car and an extra $100 to the student loan) without the obligation for school for princess which was going to be somewhere around $450 a month to give you $3600 for her final year of school(since you waited until January) That is $850 of the not quite $1000 in excess you had after paring down travel last budget. It does not include a retirement fund something you also expressed an interest in doing. So what happens? Help me understand what I’m missing because as it stands if you put $100 towards retirement you end up at almost all of the $3850 you say you earn being utilized. Something either gets put off or you can’t have this vacation no matter how much you might want it.

    My advice at this point is start setting some milestones and budgeting for a family reward if you meet them. You owed roughly $33,500 on the student loan and $19,500 in the car. Set a goal of getting the student loan below $30,000 and the car to $15,000($8000 paid down on both loans and loans below $45000) and reward yourself with $500 towards family time. Set your next goal at $500 for every $10,000 you pay off. Give yourself $500 again when you pay that final $5000. If your motivation is family travel than USE that to make yourself pay down this debt. Using this guide you would have $3000 towards a cruise when your debt was gone. It would require you though to pay down debt not just say you want to do it, but actually do it.

    • Reply Jazz |

      I think cwaltz laid out a very solid plan for you. It’s like a game that would allow you to accomplish at least a few of your goals concurrently.

      One of the things I always struggle with is delayed gratification. It’s so easy to justify short-term spending with the rationalization that there’s no time like the present. But I think you need to buckle down and make some progress on your debt payoff before committing to your vacation savings. Having said that, I think you can dream, but you have to acknowledge that that dream won’t be a reality for awhile. Our son is 9 months old. We’d love to take him to Disney when he’s 4 or 5 and do it big. But we also still have about 16k in credit card debt that I’d like to knock out first. While I do sometimes actually go through the Disney trip planner to map out costs, I don’t actually budget anything towards it because I know my money is better spent elsewhere right now.

  • Reply Angie |

    Your twin’s are 21. They’re living on their own and learning to be adults. You need to stop pushing what they should be doing with their own money. If I was that age and my parents were pushing me to spend 1k on a “family effort” vacation. I’d be pretty miffed. Last time I checked Americorps only pays 1200/month. A cruise would obliterate their budget or savings, if any. $500 for the cruise, $250 for plane tickets, $140 for a passport, another $150 for incidentals. That’s about 1k/person (a full month of Americorps stipend!). Let’s say the second twin is making $20 an hour (which seems high to me), that’s still nearly 60 hours of work to pay for it!

    What if they feel obligated and end up picking up credit card to make up some of the difference (with or without telling you) or pay for some of the extras? How would that make you feel?

    • Reply Drmaddog |

      Remember that one of them also accumulated medical debt because he had surgery and no insurance. That has to come out of that too.

      • Reply Hope |

        Actually, that has already been dealt with. But this blog is not about my son’s finances so I try to honor their privacy where it does not overlap mine.

        • Reply drmaddog |

          Yes, yes. Tell us all about the surgery he had, debt he incurred, and the income he makes (posted, ironically I would say, immediately below), but then tell us it’s not our business when we point out inconvenient truths.

          • Hope |

            I actually stated that his debt had been taken care of, and yes, the details of how he did that are not mine to divulge.
            The Americorp stipend is readily available on their website, I’m not giving away his private business. I was correcting the commentor who said he received $1200 per month.

    • Reply Hope |

      Neither of them is living on their own. And I certainly wouldn’t “push,” I would ask. And believe that I know them well enough to know that they would love the idea.

      Americorps paying NOTHING! He gets a stipend of $140ish every two weeks. I am covering his bills ie phone, car expenses (History Buff pays for maintenance and gas) and insurance for this last half of his commitment. He will return home in May.

      But I don’t think either of them would see saving $25-50 per paycheck as a burden for a family vacation…but it would definitely be ask, not a tell. And neither of them has a credit card, other than the one we share. We speak about finances constantly and how important that they remain debt free and make good financial decisions.

  • Reply jj |

    I have to say, your kids having passports is something that i agree with. everyone should have one. but honestly, this family trip is going to feel good, and wonderful – but your debt and retirement should be your focus. why not an all inclusive trip to somewhere??? you can choose the place, and everyone who wants to go can book – and save towards it. all inclusives have tons of events/excursions/fun too.

    • Reply Hope |

      Definitely a trip idea I had not thought of, I will have to check it out.
      But you are right…debt and retirement, essentially me, should be my focus. I’m getting there.

      • Reply jj |

        I can totally understand why you want to do the trip. As the almost youngest child, when I graduated from university my mom took me on a trip – she didn’t do it for any of my other siblings – because she had the $$. But she also would not have done it if it put her retirement in jeopardy – and I graduated after she and my dad split. So I think you can find a happy medium, but everyone who reads your posts truly wants your debt paid down, so you can get it off your back!

  • Reply paige |

    I think it would be more beneficial to look at your overall net worth for perspective on where you are. Total assets minus total debts. Is it a negative number? Which direction is it moving? Should you be spending money the way you are based on what your number tells you? You may see balances in your accounts that are making you overly comfortable spending; however, the older you get, the higher those balances need to be.

    • Reply Hope |

      I can certainly appreciate this perspective as well.
      Unfortunately, other than my EF, I have little as far as assets go, so it is still negative, but I am very grateful that it continues to move in the opposite direction…
      But perhaps posters are right in that being new to having this “savings” perhaps I am being a little to generous with myself as to what I can do next. Definitely something to consider. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply amy |

    If princess is graduating and the cruise is a graduation gift (or even a response to her graduation), then i have a few questions
    did the twins get similiar extravagant gifts?
    If not, why are you paying for her (who at that point is an adult) and not the twins?
    The favoritism that you show princess over your other kids comes through loud and clear, and it makes me sad. I get that she is an easy, good kid that works hard, but that doesnt mean you owe her the world.

    • Reply Hope |

      It would certainly not be a “graduation gift.” But ALL of my children have been well provided for and equally at that. When the twins were 15 there were things I provided for them that I did not for Princess and Gymnast. Just ask the younger two, they will spell them out…
      Princess is the only one at home that I am responsible for now, so of course, there appears favoritism, but it’s just this time in our lives. And the way our family is blended is very different than the “norm” – and frankly, it’s just too much to explain. But in a nutshell, the twins have a bio family, a foster family and us, the adopted family, and the little kids have me, their dad and of course, the same extended family the twins have via adoption. Keeping things “equitable” is insane. And my kids know this…I can’t make up for what the little kids dad does for them for the twins and I can’t make up to the little ones what the twins bio and foster families do for them.

      When they were younger I ran interference to make it less apparent if there was a disparity, but now, they understand and recognize the differences and realize it is not a matter of anyone being loved more. Etc. I realize this is a hard concept for people who don’t live it. But believe me, if you spoke with any of my children, they would immediately tell you that I have provided for each of them equally and in their own way at the appropriate time. So please stop with the favoritism.

  • Reply SMS |

    Cwaltz’s plan is good. Not meant in a mean way, but you can’t afford a fancy vacation now, even if the kids pay part of it. They might prefer something smaller anyway.
    Hope, you need to think of the future, your future. You need a good emergency fund and retirement savings. Otherwise nothing will change for you.

    • Reply Hope |

      I guess I am feeling pretty good about my $10K in savings and even though my plan is to double that this year…it’s certainly not a retirement fund.
      And you are right, this budget, this year is all about me.

  • Reply Joe |

    ~8 weeks ago it was about aggressively saving for retirement.
    ~6 weeks ago it was about aggressively paying off all debts to be debt free.
    ~4 weeks ago it was some grand words about “The Power of Contentment”.
    ~2 weeks ago it was about holding the line on extravagant purchases (class ring, etc).

    The writing always sounds great, execution and follow through not so much!

    Having said that, I think you live near a cruise port (might be imagining that)? That’s a plus. Being flexible on timing also a plus. With this much advance notice I’m sure you can get a good deal. But it will still be a hefty chunk of money!

    • Reply Hope |

      I wish we lived near a cruise port…but definitely a someday goal to have the finances and freedom to just get up and go when I find deals like that. But that’s definitely years down the road.

      As for my “all over the place,” yes, I definitely have been…

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    A year ago(December/January) she was pondering a no spend January so that she could work on paying off the $45,000 in debt she had in two years. One year later she has $53,000 of debt and is planning on taking a cruise(The cash flowing is an improvement for sure but it’s still not addressing the elephant in the room, the large sum of debt that is a financial anchor that can sink her.) ) I’d call that backsliding. I get that life is difficult and it’s hard coming to terms with your kids becoming their own distinct people who will have their own separate lives(I had 4 of my own after all) but if she wants to get anywhere in terms of finances and “blog away debt” than she needs to learn the first thing that everyone learns in microeconomics, you have limited resources and therefore can not have all your unlimited wants. If she does not get this SOON we’re going to be here 2 years later with tens of thousands in debt, no retirement and still living in a financially precarious position. I actually want Hope to be able to travel a bit and perhaps own a small 2 or bedroom home for her kids to come home to. However that isn’t going to happen much if she does not get real about her finances and start addressing debt. She sees what I’m telling her as attacking her since I’m saying things she doesn’t want to hear but the truth is its less of an attack and more of a hope to give her a wake up call. She has a debt calculator. It will take her over 10 years to pay off her student loan if she pays $400 a month she is looking at 93 months or over 7 years to pay off her student loan. If she sticks with $700 then she is looking at over 2 years to repay the car.

    • Reply Hope |

      I hear you, Cwaltz, and always appreciate the facts you present.
      I guess I don’t see myself as living in a precarious position any longer…I have stable work from multiple sources. I have nearly $10K in my EF, which was only set back because of the client not paying. And we have a steady housing situation.
      And I think by doing this very detailed and extensive budget, I can push myself to do even more while keeping the bottom line very clear.

      • Reply Jen |

        If you don’t have retirement savings, you still have almost 50k in debt and you work for yourself, you are in a precarious position. 10k in an EF is great, but if things go sideways how long is that actually going to hold you.

        I assume the reason you blog here is to get advice and help (and ultimately pay off debt since this is about “blogging away debt”), but the second anyone gives you advice you say it’s an attack. The advice my father always gave me was “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”. If you want to do whatever you feel like, that’s fine, but I think you either have to start taking people’s sound advice (or at least take getting out of debt seriously) or consider not blogging anymore.

  • Reply Jessica |

    Is a cruise what you would advise your young adult children to spend what is most likely a month’s worth of pay on?

    • Reply Hope |

      I think the time to do this type of thing is now while they are young and free and have no debt.
      If it can be worked around their school schedules, yes, I absolutely think they should travel the world if they can.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    All of you are wasting your breath. It is like the car, Hope will do what she wants and then say the cruise was alot of money but we had the experience. Will she get out of debt, who knows.

So, what do you think ?