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Estimating the Vacation Budget

I will be on vacation this summer, and although we thought we might go to Washington, DC or some other location, it simply won’t work out to be gone for long given all the other activities that the kids have going.  Our daughter has a soccer game on Sunday of one weekend and something the following weekend.  We didn’t want to drive all day on Friday and expect her to have to be somewhere on Saturday, so we would have only had from Monday to Thursday at best.

Of course, wanting to pay off debt and keep costs reasonable is another consideration so only taking a few days away should help on that front as well.  Ultimately, we decided that we would head to Cedar Point in Ohio and enjoy the roller coasters for a few days.  So, with that in mind, I want to estimate what the cost might be for the trip.

Outlining the Costs

The plan will be to leave after the soccer game and drive to Cedar Point, so gas expenses will be one cost.  We will need to have a place to stay Sunday night.  We plan to spend two days at Cedar Point and won’t want to drive home on Tuesday late, so that means Monday and Tuesday night lodging as well.  Since we have 6 kids, that either means two rooms or a large enough suite.  We will have to look into suite options.

Of course, entry into the park is an expense as is food.  Breakfast will be at the hotel before leaving for the park.  Dinner can be had after leaving the park with either lunch or snack type foods in the park.  It might be possible to pack some sandwiches or something as well.  We will have to see how that works out, but will budget otherwise.

The final cost will be to have someone staying at our house to watch the dogs and the two puppies that are there.  This shouldn’t be as costly as boarding them, but will have to be considered as well.

Estimating Costs

Knowing what I know about hotels and where we might end up, I am estimating $150 per night per room or $300 per night for 3 nights of lodging.  We will probably stay somewhat close to the park so will be in a resort area which is why I have added some cost.  Plus, I have to figure that there might be some sort of special hotel tax or something.

I am estimating $50 per person per day to get into the park so that would add up to $800 for admissions.  Hopefully, there might be a way to snag a discount.

Knowing the cost to feed 8 people on the road, I am figuring $200 per day for food or $600 total.  Breakfast can often be the hotel breakfast.  We will probably eat a little in the park and try to find something better afterwards for one good meal each day.  Hopefully, this is an over-estimate.

Gasoline prices have come down (I saw it at $3.45 per gallon this morning), but I will still use 15 miles per gallon and $4.00 per gallon cost in my estimates.  It looks like it is 300 miles one-way.  Of course, the soccer game will add some miles so let me figure 800 miles.  That means I would need 53 gallons of gas so fuel costs will be $220.

Finally, I will be having someone stay at the house with the dogs and caring for them.  It will be easier than boarding them.  That will cost $150 or so.

Total for Trip

Lodging:  $900

Park Tickets:  $800

Food:  $600

Gas:  $220

Dog-sitter:  $150

Grand Total:  $2670

That is about what it might have cost to rent a house for a week had we gone elsewhere.  And the good news is that I won’t be putting it on credit.  I may use a card for convenience, but I have the funds available to pay for the trip whereas it might have been a stretch to do something bigger.

I will keep the receipts and update you on the actual cost of the trip when we return.

In the meantime, do you have any vacation plans for the summer?  Any big trips?  Feel free to share in the comments.


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8 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - June 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

Categories: Spending   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s Your Method?

Perhaps you’re battling credit card debt or your lack of follow through on budgeting tips.  Maybe you need to work on educational savings goals for your children, or your retirement savings.  Whatever the case may be, you must find your method for meeting your financial goals and budgeting needs.

Choose Your Budgeting Style

One of the major elements is in respect to your budget.  When you do this, you must consider some important aspects with you and your budget:

  • How technological, or “un-technological,” must it be?  Consider any devices that you have which could lead to an obvious choice in terms of convenience.
  • What features do you need?  From the basics that a notebook could take care of, to the advanced features that an advanced program on your notebook computer can demonstrate, there are many sides to this story.
  • Do you need to keep multiple budgets?
  • Identify any weaknesses you have with keeping a budget, or remembering to use it.

Some of these points will lead you to a certain direction.  If you’re old school, you might prefer to stick with your pen and paper.  A smartphone that you use every day could mean that an app is right.  Take some time to consider how you currently keep a budget, as having something that works well for you is extremely important – how else will you pay off credit cards and  save for your children’s education?

The Problem of Motivation

As we continue our casual look into financial methods, another incredibly important issue is brought up with motivation.  In financial articles, it is perhaps not spoken of more often.  After all, the best budgeting tips in the world will do no good if they are not followed, of course.

You have to take a deep, hard look at the ways needed to motivate yourself.  For instance, some consumers needing to cut their expenses down or save more may find success of the following:

  • Give yourself a goal.  For instance, as part of your budgeting changes, you could invest a small amount into a savings account each month.  With that money you could go on a small trip, thus giving you incentive. Or you could be saving for a deposit on your dream home.
  • Put your budget in plain sight.  You might “see no evil” if you ignore views of your budget.  Let yourself see the debt you have on a regular basis; it might drive you to act upon it and remain disciplined.
  • Inspiration.  Do what it takes to follow through.  Maybe you can have your household keep each other honest with spending money, or post reminders (i.e. notes around those high-priced restaurants’ phone numbers).  Put a picture of your future trip via the first point.

Overall, there are many aspects that can impact your financial well-being that are not directly about money.  The manner in which you keep your budget and motivate yourself with your budget can make a big difference.  Approach these items carefully to make implementing your financial plan much easier on yourself.  Sometimes you just have to do what it takes when it comes to your budget, and these examples can certainly help with execution and practice of good habits.

The preceding post is a guest post.

8 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - May 1, 2012 at 8:01 am

Categories: Spending, Saving   Tags: , ,

Dealing with Debt in the New Year

From the American consumer to the European Continent, there is more than enough debt to go around.  In fact, there is too much debt and everyone who has been borrowing from the future to pay for today will need to continue dealing with debt in the new year.  There are many ways of dealing with debt from ignoring it (not a good idea), to refinancing, to paying it down, to debt management services, or even to bankruptcy.  So let’s look at some these various methods of dealing with debt in the new year.

Ignoring Debt

This is really not a good idea since the end result is an increase in debt making finances more difficult in the future.  Ignore debt long enough and bankruptcy is inevitable.  This will likely happen to some of the European countries who have been spending more money than they have taken in for years.


With record low interest rates, the time to refinance has never looked better if only there was a supply of credit.  Decreasing one’s interest expenses can help with the budget and increase cash flow in these troubled times.  The only problem is that the decrease in interest rates has resulted from the Great Recession and the supply of credit has been decreased substantially.  In all likelihood, if you need to refinance, you aren’t able to do it.  Those who are able to get credit in this environment probably don’t need it.


This is undeniably the best option and the one that I will be working on over the next several years.  The savings rate in America has been too low for a generation and now payback is going to be painful.  Living within one’s means comes from accurate tracking of expenses, paring those that are unnecessary, budgeting, and applying extra cash flow to debt repayment.  A detailed plan and commitment to execution is vital to achieving a goal of debt reduction.  The benefits of reduced interest costs only accelerates the debt repayment once the ball is rolling.

Debt Management

Some people simply end up with too much debt to handle it individually and need the help of debt management services who can negotiate with creditors to stop additional late charges, decrease interest rates, and lower balances and payments.  There are many companies able to provide these services which are vying for increased business these days.  Many are reputable but there is a need to watch out for scams.  Be sure to do your research when looking for such services.  And remember to never pay up front and get all fees disclosed.

If you have gotten to this point, you will need to make some serious lifestyle adjustments.  You simply cannot keep spending more than you make and need to spend less or make more.  It is simple in theory, difficult in practice, but absolutely vital or you will be heading to the next step.


The last stop in the debt continuum is bankruptcy.  Sometimes bankruptcy occurs as a result of profligate spending but at other times a major life event such as divorce or medical emergency can be the cause.  If discharging debts become necessary, be sure to consult a good attorney experienced in this matter.  Also know that certain debts such as governmental student loans cannot be discharged.  Your credit will be severely affected for many years, but it is possible to survive a bankruptcy and thrive afterwards.  Just ask Donald Trump!

How Will You Deal with Debt in 2012?

Whether you choose to deal with debt in 2012 or not, eventually you will be forced to deal with it.  I know many of you readers are debt free.  You should be congratulated.  But for those of you who are not (like me), how do plan on dealing with your debt next year.  What are your plans?  I will be sharing mine in a few more weeks when I go over my SMART goals.

The preceding was a sponsored post authored by yours truly.

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12 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - December 16, 2011 at 5:30 am

Categories: Credit/Debt   Tags: , , , ,

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