Thursday, August 30, 2012

How Much we Saved Ditching This Year’s Summer Vacation

It was a tough call to make to ditch this year’s summer vacation plans. We actually started off the year planning two summer vacation trips, but ended up taking neither. We expected to be taking a trip out west to Washington and another trip down south to Florida, but due to several factors, neither of these two trips came to fruition.

While this was somewhat of a blow to our summer fun, it certainly ended up saving us some money to put to use in other areas. Here are some of the issues that came into play with our various vacation plans, how they affected our decision, and how much they saved us in the process.

Transportation Issues
As our vehicle ages (it’s over 10 years old now), it moans, groans, creaks, cracks, coughs, and hiccups a bit more than it used to. When we used to travel on vacation to Florida, we typically took our own vehicle since it provided us transportation while there and kept us from having to rent one; however, while we still like our vehicle, we don’t have the same confidence in it we once did. Therefore, we nixed this year’s summer drive to Florida.

Savings: $500 in gas for the drive there and back, $400 on food and entertainment while there, $30 for an oil change, and undetermined wear, tear and general depreciation on our vehicle.

Baby on the Way!
Since my wife is now well into our second pregnancy, doctors don’t really recommend that she fly. This therefore, cut out any thoughts about flying to Florida or Washington for either vacation (and since we weren’t driving to Florida, we certainly weren’t going to drive to Washington from Chicago – a 2000 mile trip).

The cost to fly to our destinations would have been about $800-900 with either trip.

Savings: $800-900 for our trip to Washington or $300-400 to Florida (since we would have paid $500 to drive otherwise).

Family Matters
Instead of us going to visit my mother, she came to visit us from Washington. This gave us a vacation of sorts, since we do many things with her that we don’t normally do when it’s just us. And since she stays with us rather than having to pay for a hotel room, she covers most of the additional costs of these family activities. This helps us save money, yet enjoy special activities such as going out to eat more often, heading out for a train trip downtown, taking road trips, and taking part in similar activities, relatively cost free.

Savings: $200-300 for meals, activities and entertainment around town.

New…or at Least Different Home
When we bought our new home just a couple of months ago, we looked for a location that would provide us with cheap and convenient entertainment. Knowing that my wife was pregnant and having experienced a duller, more subdued suburban location in our previous home, we wanted a place that provided ample opportunity for activities in close proximity.

The abundance of things in to do just blocks from our home in our new location, acted as a sort of replacement family vacation this summer. Exploring the area, taking trips to the library, doing walking tours of the area’s historic homes, going to nearby parks, heading to the zoo, and conducting similar activities made for fun, yet affordable family entertainment that helped buffer the loss of our two planned vacations.

Total Savings
Overall, from ditching both summer vacations this year, we likely saved between $1,500 and $2,000 total. These extra savings have helped us not only purchase our new home, but save for the birth of our second child. And while we likely could have scraped by either way, having this extra cash as a cushion relieves some of the financial stress that we might have encountered otherwise and makes things just a little easier and more comfortable when covering some quite significant costs such as a home purchase and having a baby. Plus, it will allow us to put a little more money toward the “new car fund” that we’ve recently started.

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