Vacation Budget Souvenirs

Top 6 Vacation Budget Breakers

We love to travel, but we hate to spend unnecessary money. So we are always looking for the best deals on hotels, rental cars, and dining. We like to travel well, but we also recognize the reality that our vacation budget is limited. Nothing is more budget shattering than encountering unplanned vacation costs after the trip has begun. So as you sketch out your vacation budget, keep the following budget busters in mind.

Vacation Budget Breakers

Resort Fees

The primary bane of our vacation budgeting has been the increasingly ubiquitous “resort fees”.  Often resort fees go unlisted in the initial pricing of a room. Sometimes they don’t even show up clearly in the online payment, only footnoted or found in the fine print. We’ve had some unwelcome surprises in the past when we arrived at our hotel to discover $30 to $50 a night slapped on top of our “pre-paid” reservation.

Solution: First, make sure you read the fine print before you book. Know if a hotel charges resort fees, and whether they’ve been included, or will be charged once you arrive. Second, examine your other options. In June, we opted for an Airbnb for our annual trip to Las Vegas instead of a Strip hotel. We ended up paying about 40% of what we have paid on our previous “great deals” for Strip hotels. While we missed some aspects of our hotel experience, these were offset by enjoying a whole apartment to ourselves with a bedroom, kitchen, living room, and washer/dryer.

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How To Save Money By Planning to Leave Home

As our Poker Pilgrimage draws closer we’re finding that the mere plan to leave our home in four years is saving money today. We save money in a variety of ways that are all related to this long-term goal. When we devised our country-wide travel plan, we considered how much money we would need to save for it. We thought of the costs of travel and of working less than full-time. And of course, for us, the costs of playing poker.

What we didn’t realize was that we would save money in the years leading up to our journey. Just knowing that we’re planning to leave our home has saved us from buying things that we would otherwise “need”. Along the same lines, we’re no longer planning home improvement projects (remodeling, redecorating, gardening), as we know that we’re a few short years from handing our home over to another family who will have their own tastes and interests. It has also inspired us to sell some of our things rather than paying to store them while we travel. As we near our departure date, we’ll ultimately be selling, donating, and recycling most of our stuff, including our house.

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College Tuition Savings Challenge

The $6,000 College Tuition Savings Challenge

The specter of college tuition has been breathing down my neck for several years now. I, like many parents, spent my daughter’s high school years living in dread that she would get into her dream school, but that financial aid would fall short of what we could actually afford. If you are also looking down the tunnel at a potentially sizable college tuition, this challenge is for you.

In April, my daughter did get into her dream college. Fortunately, the financial package was very generous. College tuition might not be the massive financial hit I feared after all.

The College Tuition Situation

Starting in September, my daughter will be attending a school whose ticket price for tuition, room, board, and fees is north of 70K. I know that sounds crazy-town. But after the school’s hefty scholarship offer, my daughter’s reasonable student loans, and some grandparent contributions, the  out of pocket cost to my ex-wife and I is only about $18,000.

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6 Steps You Must Take Before You Make Hotel Reservations

The 6 Steps You Must Take Before Making Hotel Reservations

When you are planning a trip, be it long-term or short, you will often need to make hotel reservations. On the surface, this seems like a straightforward task. However, a number of factors will determine whether you return home congratulating yourself on a hotel well-chosen, or lamenting your misguided decision.

These 6 steps will make or break your hotel reservation process:

1. Determine Whether a Hotel is Right for Your Trip

The very first step is determining whether you want to make hotel reservations at all. In this day and age, there are a wide variety of options for overnight accommodations other than hotels. At the outset of your trip planning process, you should consider these alternate possibilities:

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Leftovers

Throwdown Thursday: Leftovers Dilemma

I hate leftovers.

There, I said it. I don’t care how good the gelatinous mess in the refrigerator tasted when we had it for dinner two nights ago. In my opinion it now belongs in the trash. I know that’s a terrible, awful, financially suspect opinion. But it’s just how I feel.  Paul disagrees. Just today I had to force him to throw out a Tupperware containing steak from a meal last week. He was planning to eat it for lunch.

Paul: Man, I could just get old school with “There are starving children in Africa, Heather! And you are throwing out perfectly good food! Such financial folly! Go to your room, but eat these old beets first!” But that is too paternal and not the role-playing dynamic I want in our relationship. So I’ll just stick with: throwing out perfectly good food is sacrilege and flies against all that is just and right with the world. You will fry in eternal damnation if you toss that petite sirloin in the trash before it turns into a true bio-hazard.

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