It’s the first “official” week of summer vacation, the neighborhood pool is open and the library summer reading program has kicked off. You’re starting to see vacation pictures posted on Facebook and Instagram. You want to take some time away from the mundane tasks of everyday life and go off on an adventure and make memories with your family.  The only problem is that you don’t have any money saved. The car broke down and so did the washing machine and then you had to pay the doctor $366 to get a popcorn kernel out of your son’s ear canal (true story). You just weren’t able to save enough for a trip this year, maybe next year…

You don’t have to wait until next year to hit the road with your crew! I’m here to help.  With a little determination and a few lessons on frugality, in eight weeks you’ll be enjoying the summer vacation you didn’t think you could afford. I’ve worked out an eight week plan to make your dream a reality! Go pull those dusty suitcases out from under the bed and let’s get started!


Week One

This week’s tasks are going to lay the foundation for the rest of the eight weeks.

Think of a few places you would like to visit.  Be practical, you haven’t saved any money so it’s unlikely you’re going to Hawaii or Paris this summer.  Think about some places that are within a day’s drive from you.  Is there a National or State Park or a beach that you’ve been wanting to check out? Maybe the good ol’ American road trip is up your alley? Get some input from your spouse and kids to find out where they would like to go.  We’ll dig in more to the planning aspect of your trip next week.  Don’t try to do everything this week, just start collecting ideas.

Our first family vacation. We went to Galveston, TX for around $800.

Our first family vacation. We went to Galveston, TX for around $800.

The next thing you need to do is write your budget out and be honest with yourself about it.  If you spend $100 every week going out to eat, make sure you put that in your budget.  You need to see what is coming in vs. what is going out and where it’s going. Once you have your budget written out find out how much money you have left over every month. If there is nothing left over at the end of the month don’t worry, we’re going to work that part out!

Click here for a free printable budget worksheet.

The Money Saving Task

Your last task this week is to stop going out to eat. Don’t freak out!  I know you’re busy. I know you don’t have time to cook homemade meals every single night.  You don’t have too, you just have to stop swinging through the drive-thru or stopping at your favorite Italian restaurant.  Going out to eat is crazy expensive.  My family can easily spend $60 at our favorite Mexican food restaurant. I could make at least SIX dinners at home for $60. It’s only for the next eight weeks, you can do this! Your summer vacation will be worth it!

Make sure you always have everything you need for sandwiches on hand. On the nights you’re hauling kids to baseball games and swimming lessons throw some sandwiches together to eat in the car.  You can eat a sandwich in the car the same way you can eat a cheeseburger in the car, except the sandwich cost you a lot less money and is healthier anyway.  I try to always have plenty of peanut butter, jelly, lunch meat, cheese and bread on hand. If we are in a huge hurry I’ve been known to throw everything in a bag, including the entire jar of peanut butter with a knife and plates, to make when we get to where we’re going.  It takes me 5 minutes to slap some sandwiches together, that’s less time than it would take you to order something in the drive-thru.

Keep plenty of snacks in the car.  I keep crackers, granola bars and other snack bars in my glove box.  They’re cheap and work out perfect when we are out and about and get hungry.

Keep a refillable water bottle with you all the time.  The expense of buying water or soft drinks at the ball park or drive-thru really adds up.  I usually have my kids fill all our bottles up before we leave the house.


Our glove box snack stash.

Our glove box snack stash.


Traveling and making memories with your family doesn’t have to cost a fortune!  With a little planning you can take a fantastic trip on a budget. I’m excited about the next eight weeks!  I can’t wait to hear about where you’re going this summer!

Don’t miss Eight Weeks To The Summer Vacation You Didn’t Think You Could Afford-Week Two.