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Super Savings Saturday: The “I-Didn’t-Cook-Clean-or-Shop” Edition

Those who are frequent readers here may have noticed I was rather absent last week. That’s because I spent all week with my husband on a cruise!

As I’ve mentioned before, we purposefully chose to go on a very inexpensive honeymoon because we knew Jesse was going to be going to law school soon after we got married. We’d both agreed that if we made it through law school debt-free and paid cash for a house by the time I was 30, we’d save up to go on a cruise. But I’d sort of assumed this was just one of those dream vacations which would never actually become reality.

So I shoved the idea to the back of my brain and pretty much forgot about it.

But Jesse didn’t and near the end of 2010, he completely shocked me by telling me he had a big surprise for me. I was baffled as to what it could be and totally giddy when he presented me with two different cruise vacation options.

Since we’d never traveled outside the U.S. before, never been on a cruise ship and never left all of our children, this was a really big deal (you moms with young children can likely empathize). In fact, just to make me feel better and more at ease, we actually left our children in December for two and half days as a trial run while Jesse and I went to Branson together. They survived beautifully and we truly had a wonderful time.

So, early last Sunday morning, we boarded a plane for Florida, leaving our three young children in the able care of our wonderful mother’s helper, and took off for our “Second Honeymoon” Cruise.

While I missed the children so much, it was really wonderful to be away with my husband — by ourselves. With no phone and little internet access, no dishes to wash, no meals to make, no diapers to change, no laundry to do, no children to wake us up in the night and basically no agenda but to just have fun and enjoy one another.

It was absolutely wonderful, though very weird. I realized that I hardly know what to do with myself without a long to-do list (not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing)! We experienced all sorts of firsts and we soaked up every minute of it, got lots of time to talk through goals and areas in our lives we want to improve, we took hundreds of pictures and we laughed harder than we’ve laughed in a very long time.

We are so thankful to our mother’s helper, Jesse’s assistant and the wonderful MoneySavingMom.com team who covered all the bases at home so we could be gone this past week. We’re indebted to each of them and could never have had such a relaxing vacation without their help!

And now, back to reality and our regularly scheduled programming here. 🙂

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95 Comments

  • That is awesome! I’m so happy that you had a getaway! My husband and I want to do a weekend alone for our 5th anniversary coming up, but I am not quite sure I can leave the kids. We don’t really have anyone we trust. Maybe when they are a bit older!
    Glad you had a great time! You deserved it!

  • Rae says:

    Wow how fun! I’m glad you got such a nice break, you deserve it. We didn’t go on a honeymoon at all (and in fact got married in a courtroom because my husband was set to deploy). But our 10 year anniversary is coming in less than 3 years and we are planning on doing a cruise (never been on one) as our belated honeymoon. 🙂

  • Victoria says:

    That is awesome!!!

  • Daisha says:

    So excited you took a trip together! You deserve it and I think every marriage needs some extended alone time! Nothing better than leaving the cares of the world/home behind for a few days (as long as you pay cash, right:))!

  • Jessica says:

    So nice Crystal! Glad you two were able to enjoy each others company for a week on such a relaxing vacation!
    Now I am curious – would you recommend a cruise? I don’t think it’s my style of vacation, but I can’t truly make that statement having never been on one and am curious about your thoughts on it.

    • Crystal says:

      Hmm, I guess it would depend upon your personality.

      If you’re able to get a great deal online and you only eat the free food and drink the free beverages, bring your own water bottle and do the free activities, you can actually go on a cruise really inexpensively. However, you could also spend a LOT of money since, if you want any extras, you’ll be nickled and dimed.

      I loved the fact that we were so disconnected from the pressures of everyday life (when you have no phone service and sketchy internet that you have to pay for, it helps you stay almost completely disconnected!) and I loved all the new things we were able to do and experience. However, by the last day, the rocking of the boat was really getting to me and I was ready to be on dry land!

      • Becky says:

        I’ve never been on a cruise either, but the extras are what stop me. I, personally, like resorts on dry land. You can get an all inclusive plan that covers every meal and every drink you could possibly want and then some.
        You can pay for your vacation ahead of time, and once you get on the plane you can put your wallet away and leave it in your suitcase until you get home if you want.

        I really enjoyed laying in the pool at the Moon Palace in Mexico and finding a waitress standing over me asking if she can bring me anything for lunch– and with 7 four star restaurants to choose from, it never got boring.

  • Kristen says:

    It looks like a great time, and gorgeous weather! I’m glad you were able to go!

  • Bethany R says:

    That is wonderful! I LOVE cruises altho haven’t been for a long time (since having little ones) — the pampering, the food, the meeting new people (or not depending on what you feel like doing) — the baileys in my morning coffee (oops that slipped in 🙂 ). Glad you had a great time

  • Debi says:

    It’s so nice to know y’all we’re able to get away together, I’m really excited for you! It’s awesome to be able to take time off and still have all the bases covered! I noticed there were fewer posts during the week and just figured you had something big planned for us, I guess I had it all wrong.

  • Lisa H says:

    Awwwwwwww!!!!!
    From a longtime loyal reader, I’m so pleased for you and Jesse! What a romantic guy, to surprise you in such a way. The longest I’ve been away from my older daughter is one night, and now that we also have a nursing 9-month-old, I can’t even imagine being away overnight! So I’m very happy for you to have a whole week with just your hubby.

  • heather says:

    How wonderful for you both! Enjoying time along is such a treasure!
    You have worked so hard helping everyone and I can not think of two more deserving people to be able to enjoy that time on a cruise!

    Congratulations to you both!

    Welcome home!!

  • Congrats on your “honeymoon”!! I thought you were pretty MIA this week, and my guess was morning sickness. 😉 Glad to hear it was something more fun (though morning sickness is a good thing too in a sense, I suppose!). I’m so glad for you guys!

  • Sounds like such a wonderful time!! Your story is very inspiring to I and many others I’ve seen comment on your site! Glad you got to get away and enjoy sometime with your husband!

  • Samantha R says:

    We’re so glad you got to go!! The picture of you two is cute; you look so young! 🙂
    Was this your 8th anniversary?

  • Mary says:

    So, jealous, but in a good way! Your pictures are beautiful, but I don’t think I could have handled the wildlife so bravely : )

    • Crystal says:

      I didn’t even post the pictures where we were in an airboat right next about 30 big alligators! That was a bit unnerving to me. The things we endure for our husbands. 😉

  • Becky S. says:

    Cruises are great!! So glad you were able to go on one! When we are debt free my husband and I plan on taking a cruise. It looks like that may be happening in the next few months! : )

  • Jennifer says:

    I love it! My husband and I were fortunate enough to send ourselves on a cruise for our honeymoon. Now I am so glad because 3 years into marriage and we already have two kids and the chances of another cruise in our near future are very slim! I did notice there wasn’t much going on from you last week so glad to know you are back to bring us more bargains.

  • sandy says:

    So happy for you. You deserve it! Looks like you had a great time, thanks for all you do for us.

  • Denise says:

    So glad you got to go on your cruise! It is a little strange not having to cook, clean or do laundry. Reality comes back all to soon though.

  • WOW! Good for you! I would LOVE to do this but like others don’t have family or anyone close by to leave our daughter with that we trust for that long. Looks like you had a wonderful time. Welcome back

  • alison says:

    this post brought such a smile to my face! i am so happy for you crystal. you deserve everything that comes your way. thanks for sharing

  • Ashlee says:

    Wow that sounds so wonderful! My husband and I made a pact that we are taking a mini vacation somewhere by ourselves before baby number 2 gets here in September. My family has a timeshare and often get offers for a quick 2 night stay somewhere close for $100. It can be hard leaving young kids but I really think it’s important for the health of our marriage and overall stress.

  • How wonderful, Crystal! I’m so thrilled for you to have that time away with your husband! My husband and I are starting a travel jar. It may be some time before we get to go on our cruise and / or to Alaska, but we’re content to save and dream.

  • Donna says:

    Wonderful that you were able to get this time away, Crystal! As far as leaving the kids, my husband and I sure don’t get away often enough, but when we do, I always think of it as a sort of “re-fueling”. It’s so great to have some one-on-one time & then get back to the kids feeling re-energized. 🙂

  • alison says:

    How wonderful! I’m glad you and your husband were able to get away and enjoy such a lovely vacation together. But the alligator? Ick!

    We only have one child (age 9) and my husband and I have not been away together since she was born. Perhaps it’s time? Wait, we did spend one night away, but that was the night before we ran a marathon.
    Hardly a relaxing getaway. 🙂

  • What a great time! I am looking forward to a fun “debt free vacation” once we finish step 2!!!

  • lorrie says:

    Congrats!! My husband and I never went away together much when the kids were little because of no family to take care of them. Well, last Sept we went away for 2 nights to a REALLY nice bed and breakfast. We rented a convertible and drove up the California coast with the top down. We were celebrating our 25th anniversary and the kids are now 14 and 18 so it’s easier to leave them. We spent 3 glorious days together and it was all debt-free (made the vaca even better). So glad you aren’t waiting 25 years to spend time with your honey. FYI–My hubby and I plan to get away much more often.

  • Amanda says:

    Congrats! I’m glad you enjoyed some R&R!

  • awww how fabulous! congrats on the second honeymoon. 🙂 so fun!

  • Jenn says:

    Sounds like a fun trip!

  • joanne says:

    OMG!!!! Tell me you are NOT holding a baby crocodile?? LOLOL. How cute is that !! I am so happy you had fun. I bet it will leave you super refreshed and a happier mom too. Not to say you are not already a happy mommy but you knwo what I mean!. Good for you both!!

  • I am so happy for you Crystal! How exciting!!! We never took a honeymoon as we didn’t have the money either… but we didn’t have the money for a wedding and God provided for that in ways we couldn’t believe!

  • Sarah says:

    Thats great you definitely deserve a Second Honeymoon. Me and my husband did not take one either just felt the money was a waste rather goto savings until we had a house etc.

  • YAY!!!! Glad to hear you were able to get away!!! We were able to go on a cruise in January and LOVED it! It is so nice to have some time away to rest, relax, and have fun with your spouse!

  • Kacie says:

    Good for you! Cruises are such a fun way to have a relaxing vacation. We went on one for our honeymoon (we could NOT afford it. Took on debt to do it. Shame!) but thankfully now we know better and all future vacations will be paid for in advance :).

    I haven’t yet left my children for an overnight or a vacation, but soon enough we’ll do it. My son was away from me when I had my daughter two months ago, and that was still hard!

    But I think it’s important to have some time to relax with just your husband so that you can recharge and reconnect. A happier marriage = a happier family all around, and that makes for happy kids, too 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      I so agree. It was really hard for me to leave them the first time I did a few months ago, but I’m realizing that a strong marriage is one of the best gifts I can give to my children.

      • Tricia says:

        Amen!! When my oldest says anything about us kissing, I just tell her, “You should be glad your parents love each other!”

  • jan says:

    how fun! hubby is cute!

  • Cassie says:

    Ahhhhh live like no one so that later you can LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE!!!!! WOOT! Glad you had a great time investing in your marriage! Best gift for your kiddos!

  • Denise C. says:

    Yay! Fun! Are you holding a baby alligator?

  • Kristen says:

    I didn’t know you had a mother’s help! We have a nanny that comes a couple days a week that is a huge help and gives me time to work on things. Have you ever posted about your mother’s helper? Are they live-in or full-time?

    • Crystal says:

      I’ve posted about our mother’s helper quite a few times before as she’s such a blessing to our family! She comes one day a week for about five hours and helps with laundry, cleaning, watching the children so Jesse and I can go on a date, etc. It’s been such a huge blessing to our family and I’d recommend all young moms consider doing something like this — even if just for a few hours per month.

  • Kara says:

    Congrats on the belated honeymoon!!! I bet you guys had a blast and lots of memories.
    I’m in the same boat with Rae and Alison. Got married on a beach in Hawaii (though some say that was our honeymoon), but Dh had duty 2days later. We just celebrated our 4yr anniversary almost a month ago, on 2 different continents (again). Maybe when he comes home we’ll make a small weekend trip somewhere.

  • Char says:

    What a fun trip!!!! I think a Cruise is the best vacation…just don’t fall into the trap of all the extras on the boat…I do recommend do things on the islands if at all possible or just sit and look at the beautiful ocean God has given!!
    For those of you who say you have never left your children and gone somewhere with you husband alone over night…GO!! My husband and I try to spend at least one night alone every year for our anniversary. Even if they leave and we stay at the house! Find someone you trust at church or a friend…REALLY you need this time. The kids will be fine..trust me. I left my first child at 6 months…I was a breastfeeding mother and my husband won a trip through his work (all paid for by them) so what was I going to say NO…we packed our bags and his and left him with a dear family from out church and went on an 8 day cruise!! It was not easy, but if I knew then what I know now I would have enjoyed it even more!!! Like I said we did not pay for this or we would not have gone!!! 🙂 Really get away and spend time with your husband alone for a night!!!! The first time is hard, but after that you will relize it is needed and it does not have to be on the scale of a cruise just a night at a hotel 10 miles from home works…Groupon often has hotel deals!!!

  • Tricia says:

    SO happy for you!! You deserve it, but I know how hard it would be to leave the little ones. We just went on an overnight couples retreat with our church and I missed mine. We’ve never left them all for more than 1 night at a time, and that’s probably only once a year. This year is our 10th anniv. and we’re hoping to do something. I just have to tell myself that they will be fine!

  • coupon woman says:

    Good for you – you deserve it! My hubby & I make it a priority to get away once a year. I think every couple needs it – even it’s just a short distance or time away. Many people ask us how we can afford it. We have money directly transferred each month into a special “vacation savings” account. It’s not much each month, but it adds up quickly.

    • Crystal says:

      I love this idea; it’s similar to what we do, though we just have a budget column that we set aside money in every month for vacations and marriage enrichment.

  • Carrie Kirby says:

    You guys are both adorable and it is so great to see you out having FUN. With all the responsible things you both do, and the advice you are able to give, we forget until we see your picture together how YOUNG you both are. You look like a couple of college kids on spring break!

    • Crystal says:

      The couple at our assigned dinner table asked us first thing if we were on our honeymoon. It cracked us up since we’ve been married for eight years, have three children and don’t necessarily feel like spring chickens anymore. However, if people want to think we look young, we will never turn down that compliment! 🙂

  • amanda c says:

    I am so thrilled for you! I have been reading since the beginning, we are similar in age and thought, and I am SO proud for all that you have accomplished, still maintaining your beliefs and acting them out! Way to go and congrats, you deserved it!

  • Gwen O. says:

    Crystal,

    I have been reading your blog now for about a year. You are an inspiration! My husband is in graduate school now and we have a baby daughter. I am trying to be wise with our resources and your website has been an enormous help and source of encouragement. Thank you!

  • Jennifer says:

    I am so happy for you! My husband and I actually got a small break earlier this last week because his mom took the kids for a few days. I won’t ever turn the grandma’s down when they want to keep them for a little while. 🙂 I need the rest!

  • Hey Crystal,

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Are you still doing P90X? If so did you do it while on vacation?I know those cruises have such an great assortment of food to choose from, it’s so hard to stick to a healthy diet. 🙂

  • Rachel says:

    this is something i have such trouble with, and my kids are 9 and 4. i just dont know if i would have fun thinking my kids might be in peril.
    my mother promised when my 9 year old was born she would not smoke around my kids….and she doesnt….but only when im around, otherwise she lights up if im not there. this just broke my heart, we moved up to be close to family and i cant even trust my family to watch my kids.

    we cant afford to pay someone for a week or even a weekend, and really i dont want to swap time and watch someone else’s kids for that same amount of time.

    im glad you had a wonderful trip. i will have to live vicariously through other people until my kids can watch themselves. 7 years?

  • Rachael says:

    So fun! My husband and I just went on a cruise vacation in January – leaving our two little ones at home. We paid for it in cash, which made it all the more enjoyable. No guilt, no worries, just a lot of fun! And I agree, I hardly knew what to do…wake up whenever I want? Eat whenever I want? Its too good to be true. Thanks for coming back. 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    I’m sure you and your husband had a wonderful time! It’s always nice to take a break from reality and refresh. My husband and I take a trip on our own every year and it’s something I look forward to throughout the year. We’re off to Estes Park in a few weeks and can’t wait!

  • Crystal says:

    Kind of surprised that you didn’t want to go on a trip until your house was paid for in cash. There are some really inexpensive cruises out there, so a vacation is possible for people who manage a budget, have money for savings, and think smart with their money. I understand that was your choice and I respect it, I’m just saying that seems to be a very strict rule to not going on a cruise before your house is paid off!

  • C.B. says:

    Oh Crystal!

    Wow! Just…wow! I’ve been following your blog since Biblical Womanhood, and I’m thrilled you and Jesse were able to get away together! I’ve been married for nine years, and I finally gave myself permission to go away from the kids for a weekend with my husband. I realized I should have done this so much sooner-prioritizing my marriage is the best thing for my family.

  • Ashley Bradford says:

    Crystal! How fun!!! My husband and I just went on a celebratory cruise last week as well! We told ourselves that if we could both get through grad school only paying cash and also paying down around $50,000 dollars of debt during the last 2 years we would celebrate our graduation and paying off all our debt with a cruise! It felt soooo good to celebrate with a vacation paid for in cash with nothing hanging over our heads! Way to go…I am sooo glad you enjoyed it!

  • Kate says:

    So glad your back! Congrats on a wonderful trip!

    I am pretty surprised on how many people will not leave their children for a getaway with their spouse. I believe it is so important for a relationship. I had a marriage before I had a child and there will be a day when my kids will be grown and move away and it will be just my hubby and I again. We need that time away to reconnect. I feel it’s good for my son to get away from us on occassion too. I honestly believe it makes him a more secure child. When he was 6 months old we left him with grandma for a night and when he was 10 months old he stayed with family again while we took a week long vacation to Hawaii. (All paid for with cash of course!) It was so awesome for our marriage, which in turn is great for our son. This summer we will be leaving him with grandma again while we spend a week together in Europe! We are lucky enough to have family he can stay with when we vacation, but since our family lives far away we do have some college age baby-sitters we pay to watch him for our monthly date night

    • Lisa says:

      Not everyone has the opportunity. I would love to, but I have 4 kids and no one to watch them and there is no way I could afford to pay someone to watch them for even a weekend. Every now and then my parents or the in-laws will take one kid but not all four. What’s a girl to do? We are debt-free but we still don’t have a lot of wiggle room in our budget and dh works 2 jobs still, 80 plus hours a week. Once a month we trade sitting with another couple (they got the short end of that stick-they only have one child lol), so we get about 2-3 hours to ourselves once a month. I love my babies, but I long for the day when they are old enough to care for themselves and dh and I can go away. As it is our vacations consist of staying with friends and family, whirlwind tours, and usually long drives. When we get home we usually need a vacation from our vacation! My dh and I have said that when our kids are older we will commit to them to taking our grandkids regularly so they can each have getaways with their spouses. It’s SO important!

  • Those pics are just gorgeous!!!! Last time hubby and I got away was 16+yrs ago, while I was 8 mos preggy w/our 3rd child. We’ve had 7 more kids since then, and I’ve always joked that my hospital stays were my vacations! LOL! Hey, they bring your food, newspaper, and what not!! It was 3 days away from the norm anyway! LOL!! Our baby is 4, so maybe one day soon we can have a get away…

    • Crystal says:

      I’ve only stayed in the hospital after one baby since my other two were born in a free-standing birth center and I went home within a few hours of giving birth. It was really nice to have that time to recuperate and have people wait on you hand and foot!

      I hope you and your husband are able to have a getaway soon!

  • Sherry says:

    My aunt and uncle were on a cruise last week. Just out of curiosity, where did you all go? They went to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and somewhere else I can’t remember 🙂 It sounds like you had a fabulous time spending one-on-one time with your husband. I hope my husband and I can go on another cruise soon. We had went before because of an organization we were a part of (it’s cheaper to have a board meeting on a cruise than book hotels and restaurants). Now he keeps telling me we *have* to go on another one. I’d be game!

  • Sara says:

    I talk about you like I actually know you sometimes. I told your story to my husband and he said, “Well, if we pay off our house by the time you’re 30 then we can go on a cruise too!” I’ll be 27 next month…3 years get it done! I’m “in charge” of the budget in our household…that’s some real motivation to tighten the money bags!

    Congrats on finally having that honeymoon, and for all you and your husband’s achievements and accomplishments that lead to you being able to have it!

  • Kimberly says:

    That is soooo awesome! Glad you had a great time!

  • Hannah says:

    What a wonderful surprise for you! Congratulations! We are hoping to take a cruise soon too, but it will be as a family with all 7 of our children! 🙂

  • Good for you and Jesse!

    My husband and I just celebrated our 10th in November and he surprised me with a weekend getaway at a bed & breakfast. We haven’t taken a trip together without kids since before our oldest was born 5 years ago. We had the most wonderful time and we realized that while we love our children dearly, our marriage REALLY needed that weekend alone. That single weekend changed our marriage for the better and we are now making more of an effort for a date night (in) through the week and we ship the kids to grandmas for one night a month. Great idea to have a separate budget line item for ‘marriage enrichment’. I might have to add that to ours.

  • Christa says:

    Good for you! My husband and I always said we would go on a cruise on our 10th anniversary, which is also around my 30th birthday. I also thought it was more of a dream with my husbands ministers salary… But, we celebrated out 10 year this past summer and went on a cruise! Leaving our 4 children was hard, but it was so nice spending that time away with my husband. We also paid cash for everything, which goes to show God’s blessings are amazing!

  • Julie says:

    We did the same thing this last summer! We also didn’t have much of a honeymoon and were celebrating our 10 year anniversary! My MIL watched our girls for the week (leaving them was the worst part of the trip)! It was WONDERFUL, and so good for our relationship! We said we were not going to wait 10 years to do this again, but are now expecting #3 and I don’t see it happening again anytime soon! So worth it though! Good for you for doing it also!

  • What a special indulgence, made all the more sweeter knowing that a credit card statement isn’t looming over your head.

    Loved the photos and so glad you were able to enjoy yourselves as a twosome!

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