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Posts tagged with: allowance

Frugal Vacation Tips from Orlando

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As you know, I’ve been saving money every month towards Universal Studio tickets for a mini vacation this week over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I requested and was approved to work remotely for two days this week (Tuesday and Wednesday,) and have hotel points for three nights. These are my frugal vacation tips for making this trip work within our existing budget…for the most part!

Should I Cancel the Trip?

After I found out about my job situation, I did contemplate cancelling the trip, but decided that I really need this break. We left Monday night after work and drove down. It’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders already. While I had to work yesterday and today, the feeling of freedom prevails and let’s me breathe a bit after the overwhelming amount of stress I’ve been under. (I also have to work in the wee hours Friday morning and Sunday morning to administer all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday digital content even though technically the corporate office is closed.)

Frugal Vacation

Without further ado, we are ON VACATION and I couldn’t be more happy to be here. Here’s what I have done to minimize the costs and keep this trip from impacting our monthly budget too much:

  • Gas – there will be no impact for the cost of this travel on our budget because the difference between the miles driven to FL versus driving to Gymnast’s training 4 days a week is minimal.
  • Hotel – we split the trip down into 2 days because I was wiped from starting work at 3am on Monday (another midnight web flip.)  I had to pay for one night in the midway hotel. The rest of our trip nights are covered by hotel and credit card points. Cost $98

Our view Monday night from our midway hotel. Got a great deal booking last minute!

  • Food – I went to Dollar General before we left home and bought a ton of snacks and drinks. And we have saved the bulk of our typical $400-600 grocery budget so we can eat out at some fun places. In addition,
    • Our breakfast is free at our hotel;
    • The kids have been told we will be drinking water at every meal out; and
    • Our favorite method of saving money while trying cool places is the Appetizer and Dessert meal.

Our favorite frugal meal out tip – Appetizers and Desserts. Last night, our desserts came out first, they were delicious!

  • Entertainment – I have saved the money for Universal. And we have some movies we would all like to see. The kids all know that any entertainment is on them, out of their allowance.  They can choose to participate or not. Other than that, we are enjoying sleeping in, wandering around City Walk and just goofing off.

 

Chosen Family – Our Old Nannies

On a personal note, the little kids’ nannies (3 sisters from the same family) all now live in Orlando. They have been part of our lives since Princess was born 13 years ago. We are hoping to get to see them while we are here.

The oldest sister began with us after I returned to work after my maternity leave (was still working in the corporate world then.) The next sister took over two years later when the eldest got married (Princess was in her wedding.) Then the third sister took over when the middle sister left for college, and she was with us through the birth of her two kids and even when the twins arrived 6 years ago. (When the twins first arrived, I could not leave them alone with the younger two, so I always had to have a baby sitter for them for those first couple of years if I had to leave.)

Do you have special family or as I call it chosen family you will see this holiday season?  Because I am not really close to my immediate family, my chosen family which is quite abundant plays a big role in our lives. I think it’s made it easier as well being a blended family / foster / adoptive family to see those not related by blood as important members of our family.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Whether you cook, go to someone’s house or go out to eat like we do, enjoy the time you have with your loved ones!


Converting to Cash

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Going back to my recent post on The Cost of Convenience – Snack Time, I am finding the temptation to overspend or spend in situations where I don’t need to has become more of an issue as my debt load and monthly obligations continue to drop.  I have more available income and carrying plastic around…well, I have found myself making some bad decisions.  So effective immediately, I am converting to an all cash system.  I’ve cut up two of my cards and put the others away.

I will still pay my monthly bills online using either my debit cards or bank bill pay.  But for any “spending money” I will be withdrawing the money at the beginning of the month and sticking to it.  This money will be my grocery money and the money I would pay the kids for work (since they no longer get an allowance.)  And I’m debating the car money.  Obviously I have to get gas at least twice a month, and paying with a plastic is most convenient.  Not to mention maintenance, etc. that is not always predictable.  I’m considering opening a car only account (checking, that is, not credit) and using that card only for card related expenses.  Thoughts?  But since on most months there are monies left over for that budget item, I really want it in an interest bearing account.  So I’m still figuring that one out.

But essentially I am taking away all possibility of over-spending on a whim or giving into the temptation of convenience or acquiescing to the kids’ “mom, can I have this?”  And when the money is gone for the month…it’s gone.  The kids are used to this on a smaller scale as I’ve been trying it out on a weekly basis…and I’ll just tell them, we are out of  spending money for the week, we have to make due with what we have.  And they are getting that.

Teaser: New monthly budget coming soon as we have cut back on some other expenses to keep us on target for our 6 month credit payoff goal!


Monthly Item Updates

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My numbers for April will go up this afternoon.  In the meantime, I thought I would just give some quick updates on other things that happened during my first month here on BAD:

  1. New Job – I’m on week three of my new part time job and it looks like I’ll average about 11 hours a week.  I haven’t received a paycheck yet but have set the direct deposit up to feed 50% into a new emergency fund and 50% into a checking account to go toward debt.  Needless to say, it will not be a lot, but every penny counts and I’m really enjoying this new schedule.
  2. No More Allowance – The kids have acclimated quickly to no longer getting a weekly allowance and almost daily ask for paid jobs.  I’ve been writing them on a big whiteboard we use for school stuff a couple of times a week and refusing to pay for poorly done jobs.  It’s a hit! (And right now, I’m paying out far less than previous allowance amounts and getting things done that would have otherwise languished or had to have been done by me.)
  3. No More Coke – I went cold turkey a little over a month ago and have not had a single sip of soda since.  The temptation has been strong but I’ve held out and am really proud of myself.
  4. Groceries, groceries, groceries – The kids continue to do our weekly shopping, feeding 5 for seven days on $100.  It’s still a struggle, but I see improvement on the quality of our food.  We still squeak to the end of the week with little that they want to eat, but that’s part of the lesson, I suppose.  In an effort to help with the “healthiness” of our meals, I have joined Relay Foods for weekly deliveries of fresh, locally grown produce. This will not only make sure we get some fresh veggies in our diet, but forces us to try new things, which we all need. *Note: the Relay Foods link is an affiliate link which if used, will give us credit toward some food.
  5. Dogs – We found a local teacher in training who is graciously house/dog sitting for us while we travel beginning at the end of next week. A big load off both my mind and my budget!
  6. Birthday Party – I have decided that we will not be having a birthday party this year.  I haven’t told the kids this yet, and the cost will not be wholly eliminated as I’m going to find something small but special to do for them.  In the end, I have decided that I just don’t have the mental/physical fortitude to take on a birthday party on a stringent budget this year.
  7. Emergency Fund – I will begin funding an emergency fund this month. I cannot bring myself to stop my debt payoff in its entirety to do this, however, I will be siphoning off some income to be put away.  Still working on the details, but the account is set up and ready.

Our summer travels begin this month which will bring on a whole new set of circumstances so stay tuned to hear more about that later this month.  And as mentioned at the beginning of this post, my April numbers will go up this afternoon.


Pay Day

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After a recent change at my company my husband and I now get paid every Friday.  It is sort of like being in high school again with a weekly paycheck.  I’m thankful for the timing of the change b/c it has helped make this all feel more doable. 

We each get $200 per week out of which we have to pay for groceries for a family of six (I’ve made HUGE strides in grocery spending since the first of the year), gas and anything else we need for the week.  I’m getting pretty good at making it a game for myself–to see how long I can hang on to the full $200.  This little game has already made an impact on decisions.  I was in such a terrible habit of using the debit card and not keeping track of the many swipes.  My goal is to use whatever I have left at the end of the week and pay down debt…even if it is only 10 bucks! 

It has also been a great lesson for the kids.  In this world of debit cards they’ve grown up in seeing cash is somewhat unusual for them.  The 12-year-old hadn’t gone into a gas station to pay cash for a tank of gas before—and that was a great experience for him, the other kids and me!  All of the kids are at a great age to learn from our new spending habits. 

So, it’s Friday night and I still have ten 20 dollar bills in my wallet.  🙂