budgeting & tricks
We usually take a family beach trip once a year. Trust me when I say it’s a sacrifice that is not only important to us, but it’s very very needed. Yes, we’re on our Debt Free Journey, and yes we budget every single dollar for this trip. Some of the memories from these trips are my fondest. My husband would also agree that he is a different man while away. His shoulders relax, he has more patience, and he relishes in watching these babies enjoy their best life.
There are definitely things we do to make our money stretch as far as humanly possible. For the past 3-4 years we’ve always gone to Ocean Lakes. It’s a little community of private homes and they have an amazing outdoor splash zone, a lazy river, and you get everywhere on the property by golf cart (my kids favorite part), but this year we’ve decided to try somewhere new.
We’ve rented a little house directly on the beach and it came out to be slightly cheaper. Now we won’t have any access to a pool or activities for the kids to do right there, but we’re hoping it’s even more of a blast since we are right on the beach. It took me forever to find this place due to a lot of people booking so early, so that’s my first budgeting hack.
*Don’t wait 6 months from your trip to find a location. These places have a long list of return customers.
*We plan every meal and I usually will write it all out while we’re on the drive. That way I have my husband cornered so he can brainstorm with me lol. The plan is to have one meal (dinner) out on the town and the rest of the time we eat at home. I will bring all of our condiments from home so it’s not an additional expense, anything perishable, and lots of snacks for the car ride. I’ll also make each child a lunch to eat on the road so we’re not stopping for food. Most common meals: spaghetti, sandwiches & chips, taco night, any pasta dish because it’s cheap, fruit, and I never buy individual snack packs. We’ll take the entire bag down with us to the beach and all eat out of it.
*I don’t bring an outfit for every day we’re there because that would be insane to pack, so I will usually bring around 4 and wash/dry them while there. Side note: we always book a place with it’s own washer/dryer. Of course I bring our own laundry detergent so I’m not adding that to our grocery budget while there. Every single penny counts so we can spend our hard earned money where it counts.
*We utilize any free activities that are around town. Have a museum membership? A lot of the state memberships will go to more than one place so make sure you’re checking that out. Are you a military family like us? Always ask if they offer a military discount. I even did this with the house we’re staying in that I found. Some of your car insurance companies offer discounts to major attractions. Ask. All they can say is “no.”
*I keep our grocery budget the exact same as if we were at home. Especially when bringing your own extras it can be done. Toilet paper? Bring it. Paper towels? Bring it. A first aid kit? Always. lol
*My friend Jen thinks I’m crazy, but we have a noise maker in every bedroom in our house. I’ve used these things since the kids were little and they have stood the test of time. I’m not even kidding, we have 4 and I bring these along as well. It’s a new environment, new sounds, so anything I can do to replicate how well my kids sleep at home…I’m doing it.
*We usually bring a few beach toys, but many places have them at the house. Most parents don’t want to take all those sandy toys back with them to only house them for an entire year so they kids always find new things to play with. One thing we do bring is a favorite board game that we can all play. I think we’re going to attempt to bring the bicycles this year because as of today, they can all ride them without training wheels.
*The most important thing is to not stress. Forgot toothpaste? It’s not the end of the world. Go to the local dollar store and pick some up. These are the memories your kids are going to remember from family vacations. Make them count.