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We Paid Cash: Two Night Get-Away to the Oregon Coast

We paid cash!A testimony from Abby who blogs at Oregon Mom on a Mission

My husband and I recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary. While those three years have seen my college graduation, a cross-country move, five months spent living with my family (all seven members), and the birth of our first child, we haven’t had any time away for just the two of us since our first anniversary.

Because we have conflicting work schedules, time together at home is also much rarer than either of us would like. In light of all of that, we decided to make it a priority to save money for a two-night getaway to the Oregon coast. Our goal was to have the money, $400, saved by the end of the summer so that we could take our vacation in the fall, when hotels would be offering off-season mid-week specials.

We didn’t want to take money from any of the areas in our budget, so I knew we would have to get creative.

In the middle of June we decided that any “extra” that came our way would be saved in a newly-made Vacation Jar. With our empty jar waiting, we developed a plan of action:

I began cashing the checks I receive for taking online surveys. In addition, we cashed in the spare change we’d been accumulating for several months. All of that together earned us $123.

I had been reading a lot about selling items on eBay, so I tried that, too. I sold my husband’s PlayStation 3 (with his permission, of course) along with several video games, DVDs, an iPod, and clothes. That netted us a total of $355, after we paid to ship everything.

Oregon offers a refund of $.05 each on aluminum cans and water bottles that you return to the store, so we finally turned in the cans we’d been hanging onto for quite some time. That alone earned us just over $23. I’ve already done the math; we redeemed 470 cans! Yes, my husband has a soda addiction, and yes, we’re working on that.

By the middle of July the Jar held $501.

The goal that we thought would take us two and a half months to reach was exceeded in less than a month, and my husband and I are both shocked that most of that money was just sitting around our house.

We’ve deposited the contents of the Vacation Jar in a special savings account, where it will sit while I browse the internet, searching for an amazing deal. Wherever we end up staying, my husband and I will both be able to completely relax while we’re away, knowing that we won’t be coming home to the added stress of paying off a new debt!

Abby lives in Oregon with her husband, Jonathan; son, Griffin; and pony-size black lab, Tucker. She blogs about saving money and simplifying life at Oregon Mom on a Mission.

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31 Comments

  • Lisa-panaMOM says:

    Good job!! Have fun!!

  • Jill says:

    Wow, good for you! Enjoy vacation!!
    I put aside $20 from my weekly budget for vacation, it adds up, but slowly.

  • Leighann says:

    Those survey checks and rebates add up more quickly than you think. Good job!

    We’re hoping to take a big family vacation to Washington, D.C. next year. “We paid cash” for vacation stories are so inspiring!

  • As a resident on the Oregon coast I approve of your decisions to take a vacation here! 🙂

  • Meghan says:

    I lived in North Bend/Coos Bay for 4 years and absolutely loved it. The Mill Casino in North Bend has a hotel that is very nice (the new tower part) and you could hike Gold and Silver Falls, go ATV-ing on the beach, walk on the beach, etc. in the area. The hotel was very inexpensive in the off season (i.e., not the summer). I miss Oregon and will always have a soft spot for that state in my heart!

  • Meredith says:

    I live in south Carolina now but am from newberg. Totally miss the beauty of the Oregon coast. We all do! We love it here too! Congrats on a great frugal trip!

  • Patti says:

    Way to go!!

  • We’re also saving up for a vacation. My husband and I have been married for 2 1/2 years and have been looking forward to a two week trip to the UK for our 5th anniversary in June 2014. So far we’re about 70% of the way to our goal! It’s hard to wait so long, but we know it’ll be worth it in a couple years. We really wanted to have an overseas trip (just the two of us) before kids come along 🙂

  • Yea!! Good for you. Have a fun get-away!

  • Maegen says:

    I’m a Washington state neighbor, and we Love the beautiful Oregon Coast. Totally romantic, too!

    My fav spot is Cannon Beach, but Manzanita or Rockaway Beach are less touristy and much cheaper.

    South, we love a little town called Yachats.

    Have a great time! It’s wonderful that you and the hubby are doing so well together as a young couple. It took us a while to get on the same page with all that!

  • jennifer says:

    I have a big piggy bank that I throw all my change in, ebates checks, pop can money (Iowa 5 cent deposit) and any loose change from the laundry.

    I’m dreaming big….Disneyland as a family (3 of us) or a weekend trip with my hubby (maybe next year as we celebrate 10 years).

    Posts like these are my inspiration to dream big!

  • HollyG says:

    I did a similar thing with all of the rebates, refunds and sales that we did except I put it into one of the bank accounts that paid us 75$ for opening it. I checked the balance at the holidays and had enough to get my husband a refurbished iPad. He always insist that I use the newer car, phone or computer and is just a wonderful guy. It was fun to be able to give him a splurge.

    • Lisa says:

      This is what I’m doing this year for Christmas. Is it a necessity? Nope, but I’d love to buy him a toy just for him, because the man takes care of me in a way that’s beyond sweet. And he’s the same with our children 🙂 I know, totally off topic, it just tickles me to see someone else as fortunate as me!

  • jac says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary and your debt-free trip!

    One thing that struck me was how quickly and easily you were able to save so much. I wondered whether you might surprise yourself just as much if you set another financial challenge like this. It’s amazing how a goal and a plan can be so motivating!

    Enjoy your vacation. 🙂

  • Debbie says:

    Awesome! My husband and I split the cost of our vacations and have a competition to see who can earn their share the fastest by taking on extra work, selling things on craigslist, etc. The loser has to pay for gas. Then we take our change jar and cash it out right before we leave and use that money for food. Keep your eye on Groupon and Living Social, etc. — I’ve seen some good deals on there for getaways. We always rent vacation homes which are sometimes cheaper than hotels but definitely have a lot more privacy and a kitchen and other amenities you can’t get in a hotel. We always vacation off or slightly off season as it’s cheaper and less crowded. Our last vacation we rented a home right on the Oregon coast, on the sand with sand dunes between houses in a gated community and it was cheaper than the nice hotel down the street. The view, peace, and privacy were priceless. Have a great time!

    • Lisa says:

      Whenever we go to the beach, we shell out the small amount extra for a house vs a hotel. We save a TON of money by being able to prepare meals since we’re there for a week, rather than eating out the whole time like we would almost have to do being in a hotel with no amenities whatsoever. Not to say we don’t eat out, cause it’s vacation, of course we do some, but mostly we cook there and it saves a ton!

  • We’re originally from Washington state and would often go to the beach for quick getaways. One of my favorite trips we went for one night middle of the week in February – we got an AMAZING deal on an AMAZING hotel since it was midweek and off season. We had no hopes for good weather…because let’s be honest it’s the northwest! But we lucked out and it was 60’s and sunny!

    Good job and finding ways to get the extra money without hurting any other areas of your budget!

    -Meg

  • Way to go! Our tax return will finish off the last of our student loans (hubby graduated in May–thanks to MSM, the loans were minimal!) It’s thrilling to finally be able to start saving.

    It’ll be a while before a vacation makes it to the top of the list, but when it does, I’m sure paying cash will make it all the more enjoyable! Have a lovely time!

  • Niki says:

    Hey there! I have seen all kinds of sites for surveys that pay money but I am so worried about getting spam and it not being worth my time. Any advice or tips?

    Thanks!

  • Boyzmom says:

    My family (2 adults and 3 children) saves our change all year long, we go to Orlando each year during spring break. Normally we fly but this year we decided to go to Myrtle Beach and drive the 14 hours instead of flying so we will use the money to rent a van, so we don’t put the miles on my van. Plus we also have a vending machine at our company and we use the proceeds to pay for any extras that we do on vacation. It is hard to believe how fast change can add up…

  • Elise says:

    Wow! That’s really awesome! Hubby and I have been talking about saving up for a vacation to the Smokies this fall. Don’t know if we can swing it, but you’ve inspired me! 🙂

  • This is really cool. I used to live in Oregon and I know how beautiful the coastline is 😉 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  • congrats on reaching the goal and I just wanted to say (if you haven’t already gone) that Living Social does deals for the coast all the time. You can sign up to get their deals for places you want to go, even if you don’t live in that area. Enjoy the vacation!

  • Abby says:

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone! We actually didn’t get to take our trip, because I couldn’t get the time off work, but we’ve continued to grow our fund. It’s now over $1000, and we will use it for a trip to Florida in May for a friend’s wedding. We’re glad we didn’t end up using the money last Fall. This trip to Florida is something we wouldn’t be able to do if it weren’t for that money, and with baby #2 arriving in July, it should be a fun babymoon!

  • I love how you got real pro active with the surveys and cans and selling on ebay!

    We completed the Dave Ramsey ‘Financial Peace’ a few months ago and one of the first things he suggests is to have a big garage sale to find extra cash.

    dee 🙂

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