Back to Cali, Cali…Cali, Cali (take a listen)
The Warrior family is heading from the Rockies back to Mr. Warrior’s homeland of California for an entire week. Talk about spoiled. I can’t wait to put my feet in the sand and build sand castles with my son. It’s going to be amazing.
With all of that gloriousness stated, I will say that this vacation has been anything but easy to plan. Between flights, three motels in three different locations, and scheduling time to show off 6 month old Baby Warrior, we have been working the finances to make sure we are able to enjoy ourselves while not destroying our finances. It’s been tough.
Today, I’m going to share how we budgeted accordingly and have gamed the system to afford such a long vacation in one of the most expensive states in the U.S.
Vacation…without Killing Our Finances
Rather than detail each and every financial decision, tip and trick we applied to making this vacation happen cause that would bore you, I am going to share the Top 5 Steps We Took to Save for and on a Cross-Country Vacation.
- Built Up the Credit Card Points | Though we are in some credit card debt (see August Net Worth update), we have managed our credit cards fairly well over the last year to take full advantage of the rewards opportunities. Once we knew we had Baby Warrior on the way, we started using the Southwest credit card for any and all major costs and bills. This helped us accumulate a lot of rewards flight points. I bet there was a better card for flight miles/points, but we knew what we were getting with Southwest and love flying with them so that’s the card we went with. Over a year’s time, we have been able to accumulate enough points to take multiple roundtrips including the one’s for our California vacation. Along with that, I opened a few credit cards, met the minimums to get the rewards bonus’ and was able to use those for multiple hotel stays. All in all, we have taken advantage of a lot of these credit card reward opportunities. I caution others that it can be easy to charge for rewards, but buy only what you can pay off immediately.
- Stashed Cash | For spending money and food, we have been stacking cash in a super secret place in our house aka a place only the wife knows so that I don’t go spend the cash. It’s a lot less painful when we put $10 here and $20 there towards the stash and soon enough we have a couple hundred bucks in there.
- Used Simple.com | My Simple bank account has been one of my go-to awesome bank accounts. Extremely easy to force saving. I highly recommend you get an account with them. We made individual savings goals for things like the rental car and gas so that when we hit each goal, we would move to the next. Love Simple.
- Paid Bills Ahead of Time | We decided to pay a few household bills ahead of our vacation. Why? It just brings peace of mind while on and when we come back from vacation that we won’t be fighting over finances. Most of the bills being paid ahead of time (or accounts prefunded) was not as painful as say if we had come back from vacation broke and stress over bills right after getting all relaxed.
- Limited Our Small Pleasures Pre-Vacation | One way to enjoy the pleasures of vacation even more is to “starve” yourself beforehand. By “starve” I mean reduce or not go out to dinner and/or do anything fun that costs money. Sounds boring right. Well, for the last month, we’ve been boring. It’s okay though because a vacation is where we will enjoy life and spend a bit (not a lot) of money enjoying ourselves.
- Money Baggies | I do this on almost any and all vacations these days after the budgeting success I had doing it while in Europe in college. I take small plastic baggies and place an allotted amount into each. Then I write the day it’s to be used on the outside. Each morning, I wake and use only those funds and any saved funds from prior days. Yes, this make me sound super cheap and like one of those couponer’s that counts their coupons every night, but it’s the best and easiest way for me to succeed budgeting wise while on vacation. I do suggest only doing baggies for a week or less as you don’t want to be caring around all of that cash and lose it or get it stolen. If your vacation is longer than that, then just keep the baggies and reload them appropriately every few days.
I hope those tips and suggestions help you as much as they have helped me.
If you have any other vacation savings tips for pre-during-post vacation, share them in the comments.