When people hear “budget” you get one of two responses: “UGH! Those are SO hard to create and stick with” OR “Heck no, this is vacation!” And let’s be honest, as Americans we have a difficult time saying “no” to our wants. We feel we deserve it and instead of waiting and saving for it…we charge everything. It is the sad state of the entitlement nation we live in.
However, I digress. Budgeting CAN be done and it CAN be fun! It just takes a little forethought and ingenuity. Excel always helps, too! This is what the hubs and I did for Maui, Hawaii. We budgeted. After having a horrendously expensive trip to Vegas and looking at the spreadsheet….we had to regroup. We definitely did not want to end up in that leaky boat again. We preemptively took steps to assure this wasn’t going to be habitual.
We FIRST sat down and talked about where we were financially. We looked at what would be coming out that month (tithing, savings, investments, emergency fund, rent, utilities, daily expenditures [gas, dates nights], & groceries, etc.), and we discovered the bottom line we would have to work with. We also were able to cut back until the trip to ensure we had more wiggle room. We determined that we would use CASH for our food, budgeted activities (snorkeling, going on a snorkeling tour to the Molokini Crater to see fish and turtles…etc) and any miscellaneous things that may pop up.
Another huge component that contributed astronomically to the success of this trip was that we were able to fly completely FREE!!! Yes, exciting. We thought so anyway! We are unconventional in our approach to credit cards. We believe that they can be a tool that benefits the consumer…not the creditors. We pay off our balance monthly; never incurring interest. We also (Jon knows ALL about this—more than me) open credit cards up that promise the best points. We spend the amount needed to garner those points, pay it off, and then set the card aside. Do NOT close the card because that can wreak havoc on your score. Make sure you gradually close them. Here is a great website that tells you the best credit cards to go with and also cautions you to use responsibly!
When we arrived in Maui we were able to get our rental car, go to the grocery store, and check into our hotel. We rarely ate out and had our lunches all in our mini-fridge. We also purchased fruits and dried snacks that helped fill our belly so we weren’t spending unnecessary money. However, what made us go over budget was shopping trips and souvenirs we didn’t factor in.
My advice is to budget for everything. It really can be fun! I know that when we came back from Hawaii and looked at the numbers—we were so excited! We went over our budget by a little over $200….a far cry from Vegas. We had budgeted out $2,250 and because we failed to think about souvenirs we went over. However, that budget included all of our food, Resort (with a COMPLIMENTARY buffet breakfast each morning, plus the fifth night was free), rental car, gas, dinners out, and misc. expenses. We never felt deprived one bit on that trip and LOVED every minute of it!
An analogy I like to use is this: when you leave on vacation you want your house in order, right? No one wants to come home to a messy house or you will be dreading the return home! The same concept can be applied with finances. No one wants to come home after a fun-and what was supposed to be-relaxing vacation to a huge unexpected credit card bill! It leaves a sour taste in your mouth about the whole trip. Make budgeting fun and soon you will be having vacations that are actually relaxing; returning home without feeling as though you have a huge burden on your back!
***Did you know that the Bible speaks about being a good steward? Indeed He does….it is His idea, after all. Here are some great verses (and/or passages) to check out:
Luke 16—The Unrighteous Steward
1 John 3:16-18