A testimony from DeAnna
My husband and I only take one vacation a year and usually try to plan it around October 4th in order to celebrate our wedding anniversary as well.
He is a truck driver and I am a nanny and full-time student (recent graduate, actually!), so money and vacation time are both pretty tight. However, we managed to save up enough money to not only go on a five day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico but to also take his mother and my grandmother along for the ride — all expenses paid! They’ve never been on a “real” vacation before, and his father died just six months ago, so we felt that it’d be a lovely gift to share with them. Both women live on disability/social security, so we knew that we’d be covering the whole bill.
How we saved for our trip over three months :
- We used $1500 from our tax returns to pay all but $150 of the cruise. This included two staterooms, tips and insurances. The additional $150 was taken from my savings account.
- I worked extra hours at work and dropped our grocery budget down to $25 a week (from $40ish) to come up with the $300 it would take to board our four dogs for a week.
- My husband made an additional $3000 by staying on the road for six-week stretches instead of coming home every four weeks.
Saving for more than just the cruise
We used the $3000 to pay for gasoline from Kentucky to Miami, Florida (roughly $200 roundtrip; my car gets 40mpg, thankfully!), two hotel rooms for two nights, food for the trips down and up, spending money for everyone on the ship and ports of call and $250 for the overpriced but beautiful on-ship photos.
My husband also set aside $400 of that money to cover bills for that week, since he does not get paid vacation. We did not end up spending all of the money set aside (had $800 left!) so when we returned and learned that one of our dogs caused $66 dollars of damage, we were able to pay without blinking an eye.
Already thinking about another cruise for next year
A cruise worked well for our family because it was an all-inclusive vacation and provided many activities for everyone to do at all hours of the day.
Additionally, by booking and paying ahead, we saved a great deal of money. We saved $200 per stateroom just by booking three months in advance!
I think that my husband’s favorite part of the whole vacation would have to be the amazing food and 24-hour room service, since he never gets waited on at home and we’re too busy to cook elaborate meals.
For me, a week of pampering and getting dressed up for dinner was worth the small sacrifices made along the way and not having to work, study and keep house definitely has me saving money already for next year’s trip!
DeAnna is a recent graduate of Austin Peay State University and a full-time nanny who is currently applying to law schools and hoping to keep her family’s debt as low as possible. She and her husband of two years, Brandon, are parents to six special needs “furchildren” and are striving to be debt-free and career-secure before having children some day.
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