Thursday, May 2, 2013

Vacation {Budgeting} Planning Mini Sessons: Lesson 1

Since I mentioned that I taught a vacation budgeting class locally on Monday night, boy, has my line been buzzing. It seems that some of you want a walk-through on how all of this works too.

In an effort to keep you from getting overwhelmed all at once, I'm going to break it into small mini-sessions. After you read today's lesson you can go off and complete this particular task and be ready for the next lesson in a few days. I will take a week to do all of the sessions, so by this time next week you'll be a vacation budgeting queen (or king). Try and contain your excitement.

If you happen to want to be brilliant all at once, you can check out this post which sums it all up. I will be more detail oriented on these mini sessions, so check back in with us each post.

I want to back up a little first and tell you why we make vacations a priority. Life is stressful, vacations (mostly) are fun. We can relax and enjoy ourselves without the everyday normal we have at home. I used to think people in debt didn't deserve vacations. I took a class, that was the main message. I no longer agree. 1. My kids will not be kids forever. 2. Our main source of debt comes from medical bills that will never stop regenerating themselves. In that case, we would never go on vacation, ever.

What I do think is this: we work hard, we pay our bills, and sometimes, we need a break. That, for us, is a vacation.

To get started you need to decide when and where you're going. We're headed to the beach. We searched and found a place for us in our price range with some specifications we had in mind, and we sent in a deposit. Then we held a family meeting. Note: we don't ask our kids where they want to go or stay. We (as parents) plan that based on what we know is feasible for our family.)

I bring my vacation notebook (small, fits in my purse) to the meeting and we make two lists.

The first is the "we always" list. Since we travel to the same place almost every year we have a list of things we always like to do. There's ice cream at that favorite ice cream shop, Tuesday's (free) fireworks show, a trip to feed the fish and ducks, etc... Not everything that goes on this list costs money and not everything on this list is guaranteed to be done.

The second list is the "we would like to" list. Each family member has a chance to say something(s) he/she may want to do on vacation. This could include an activity or special meal. Some of these things may cost money, and some may not. They are not guaranteed as well.

Next, make a calendar type page showing each day you will be on your trip. You will want to write down every meal for each day and then decide where you will eat each of those meals. Keep in mind, this isn't set in stone. It's to help you plan how much money you will need to save for vacation. Use your list from earlier to try and honor any special requests for meals. We have a specific request this time for a nacho bar for dinner one night. We will do that in house from our grocery budget.

After you've done this make a second calendar with larger squares and plug in your activities.

Doing this is going to help you to honor everyone's requests and not overload your calendar.
This will be where your cash envelopes come from and your basis for creating a budget for your trip.


Decide where you're going. Pick a date. Find a place. Hold your family meeting. Write out your meal calendar. Create your "our week" calendar.

I'll be back.


God is good, all the time!


  1. This couldn't be better timing for me. We just reserved our beach house and I am really exicted to be able to follow your posts while actually putting it to use. Thanks so much for this!

  2. i like your style!!!
    you amaze me!

  3. We kind of had a vacation spot drop in our laps so I'm now in fast budget/planning mod. Very much appreciate you taking the time to share these things. Going to work on my homework.

  4. I completely agree that vacations are a necessary time to relax and recharge with your family. Despite the fact that my husband and I are both full time students that live off of a GA stipend and our rental property income, we manage to set aside a little each month to help make a yearly vacation together a possibility and I am never sad that we went without a little bit each month to have a whole week where I get to hang out with my hubby :)


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