A testimony from Sylvia
My marriage has seen three promotions: the “purchase” of our first home, the birth of our first child, and the start of my small in-home pet-sitting business. Though the past four years have seen many great things, we were never able to go on a honeymoon nor have we been afforded time for just the two of us.
Between raising our daughter, my husband’s work schedule (training/deployment), my full-time college and pet-sitting schedule, and finding time for our family and friends, quality time together is pretty rare. In light of all of that, we decided to make it a priority to save money for a two-night getaway to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
After a few days of research, we came up with the figures:
- The cabin rental: approximately $600.00
- Gas: approximately $100.00
- Food, entertainment, and souvenirs: at least $200.00
Since we needed at least $900.00, we weren’t confident that we’d reach that goal in just two months. To our surprise, we were very wrong!
At the time, we were still in the process of building our emergency fund to $2,000.00 and paying off some of our debts. That said, I knew we had to get creative. My husband was deployed at the time, which meant we were receiving additional income (tax-free pay, hazardous duty pay, hostile fire pay, etc.).
So I purchased our small plastic “Travel Fund” jar from the dollar store and, together, we developed a plan of action:
- I began putting some of my husband’s deployment money in the jar = $400.00
- All of my earnings from my small pet-sitting business went into the jar = $811.91
- I sold many of the items we no longer had a use for = $510.00
- Surprisingly, I found money in various places around our house = $57.72
Alas, the goal we thought would take us forever and a day to reach, was exceeded in less than two months!
Prior to this vacation, my husband and I had never even considered kicking our debit and credit cards to the curb and dedicating three full days of our lives to a cash-only way of living because — like most people in today’s society — we relied heavily on debit and credit card usage. However, we were able to enjoy every single minute of our paid-in-cash vacation because we knew we’d be debt-free upon our return with the same amount of money in our checking account that was in there when we left!
A cash-only budget not only felt amazing but it also worked. In fact, we’re going to do it again.
We still had $731.00 left in our jar after we paid for all of our vacation expenses. We’ve decided that some of that amount will be spent paying off one of our credit cards and the remainder, plus some of the money we earn between now and then, will go towards two separate vacations to Florida to visit with our families later this year.
Sylvia lives in Georgia where her husband, Kevin, is stationed. They have one daughter, Mariah and two dogs and six cats. Sylvia attends college full-time and runs a small in-home pet sitting business called “The Wright Pet Sitter”.
Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.
Emma K says
Also just want to put out there for those military spouses. Take advantage of the Strongbond Marriage Retreats that the chaplains offer. They vary at different posts, but it’s a great way to spend time with your spouse, childcare is usually provided, and meals & lodging are paid. You can go explore the town it’s at or just relax at the hotel after the sessions.
Nice! Great job! We usually rent vacation homes by owners and I have found that if you offer cash after getting the quote you usually get a big discount. We got a really great deal on a beach house recently – even before the cash offer. The owner assumed we were paying with credit card and we do give the credit card number to reserve it. Then when we pick up the keys we pay cash. She asked how I was going to pay for it and I when I offered cash, she gave us an extra night free, plus waived the pet fees and hot tub fee, which combined was over $300, plus we got that extra night, which is always a bonus!
I had a bad experience with renting from owners and will never do it again. I know so many people for whom it has been great but it wasn’t for us. After getting burned once I guess I’d rather pay a little more and have the assurance of knowing what I am getting. Besides we go on off seasons and shop around til we find great deals so I guess it evens up in the end.
Stephanie Shorter says
Just wanted Sylvia to know that if you go to Pigeon Forge anytime during the last two weeks of August, there is a price war during that time. You can get a place much cheaper then the cost of the cabin you booked. We stay at Shular Inn which usually runs a special for $49.99 a night if you go Sunday night through Thursday night. They have a free breakfast and an indoor and outdoor pool. There are other hotels and specials. If you can go then, you may get more for your money.
Greg @ Club Thrifty says
Awesome job! I love paying cash for things. It is such a great feeling to know that there won’t be a bill in the mail later. Nothing builds self-esteem like being in total control of your finances. Good luck on paying off your debt. You’ll be so happy that you did!
Today a flyer was put on my windshield in a parking lot—‘Need A Vacation? See Carolina Title Loan’. The sad thing is that some will go in and sell their car title for a weekend getaway. It is always good to see this community of readers making wise choices!
One way to get away for a good price is to ask around at church or groups of friends and see if anyone owns vacation property that they rent out. We often have time we would like to rent out but don’t want to go around nagging our friends looking for renters. We rent a 3/2 house for very reasonable rates. But please leave the place clean and take care of the garbage, etc! We have had some renters who did not and it is not fun to keep having to make excuses when they ask to rent again.
MK Jorgenson says
My husband and I haven’t been away for a night since our daughter was born…she’s almost two.
We’ll be visiting my parents next month, and since my mom’s taking the entire week of our visit off from work, the hubster and I are headed for a one-night getaway!
We talked about camping because it would be cheap and quiet and private…but after talking about it more, we realized we really just want to lay around, watch cable TV (which we don’t have), sleep in late, and have food brought to us. We’re going to a hotel with cheap “business travel” weekday rates–the price is nice enough that we’ll order room service and not feel one bit bad about it!
I’ve got you beat. I have teenagers and my husband and I have never been away together by ourselves. We’re probably long overdue…
Us either. Been married 17 years with a 14yr old and a 12yr old. Wish we could but just not in the cards anytime soon. The closest we’ve come has been a cruise with “kids activities” all day so we had a few hours at a time anyway. Not whining at all though. We have been blessed in so many ways and the “kid season” of our lives will be over all too soon. Hubs and I will be here long after they are gone so I just have to be patient.
Jen @ LovingMeSomeBaby says
Great post! Way to go! 🙂
Brenda Van Riper says
I wish I could save like you but i only get 969.00 per month in medical disability from work and 294.00 in child support takes everythign I have to pay bills and that’s just rent, utilities, car insurance and I have to pay 472.12 in health insurance on the Cobra plan from work and 70.00 per month in Dr’s co pays, gas in my van and bathroom products. I usually don’t have enough every month so I ususally pay 2 utuility bills one month and switch to the other 2 the next month and so on. But Ilove reading your posts on how you save money and get this and that. last year with my tax return I did buy a van in cash 1400.00 isnt pretty but it gets us around. thansk for the posts.
Just prayed for you, Brenda. Don’t give up! God is faithful and knows our needs.
Just prayed for you as well, Brenda…..and praying for unexpected blessings along the way for you. Hang in there. (((hug)))
Kelly Logan says
Brenda, I know it is hard sometimes to read stories like this when you are not making enough money to barely get by. My husband has been self employed the last 5 months and has not even broken even with the cost of business yet! He was unemployed the 3 months before that! Yet God in His mercy and grace has provided for us abundantly! We have never had to get in line for welfare or any government handouts either all of it came straight from the Lord! I know there is a season for everything and we need to spend more time counting our blessings than naming our problems! Philipians 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Jessica H says
My husband and I are doing the same thing. He is currently on a short deployment, and I am putting money aside for a long weekend babymoon. It is so exciting to pay cash for a vacation. Our location will most likely be Pigeon Forge as well! 🙂
Heather @ Family Friendly Frugality says
I remember our first cash only vacation. There’s such a remarkable difference when you know you aren’t going to be burdened by the fun you are having now 3-6-even a year down the road!
I’m so happy for y’all!
Tara H says
Thanks for sharing!! This is awesome and inspiring!