Author Topic: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?  (Read 8905 times)

homeymomma

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Hubs and I are living with relatives to save up money for a home someday (3+ years from now). Family helps us by paying utilities here. We have one kiddo and another on the way. We currently save 60% of our income! but this will drop to 25% when we no longer have this cushy rent free situation.

We have powered through the last year with incredible frugality and super-saver awesomeness and paid off 30K+ in student loans. We are debt free now and maxing out two Roth IRAs.

I'd love to take our current kiddo and the little on the way on a fun family vacation at some point before they are too old and find kitchky family stuff lame :). Is it wrong to put aside some of our money (less than $50/mo, for sure) for an eventual vacation in a few years? Is this wrong to do when we are not yet financially "independent" I.e. family is helping us, or is it acceptable to plan ahead for a fun break while otherwise living very frugally?

(Yes, my dream vacation is Disney world. Sorry. I went there once as a kid and it's been a dream of mine to take my daughter there some day. Don't hate. :) not to say when we actually save for a vacation we would definitely go there, but it's what I inevitably picture when I think of this trip someday)

Argyle

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2014, 06:07:42 PM »
To my mind it's absolutely fine.  I'd recommend Disneyland over Disney World, but to each their own!  :)  You don't have any hair-on-fire debt, and you're saving a ton.  You can always figure out how much your vacation would delay house-buying or FIRE, but I would guess not much, and most importantly, to you it would be worth it.  So go for it.  There has to be fun in the plan, or what's the point?

Dr. Doom

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2014, 06:14:28 PM »
There is no right or wrong.  There is only cost, and awareness of what that cost does to your RE timeline.

If you do the math and figure out how much the vacation postpones freedom, and you're OK with that delay, it's fine IMO. 

Eric

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2014, 06:18:23 PM »
Why are you asking us?  Ask your relatives how they'd feel since you're saving this money by living with them rent free.  If they're cool, then I doubt anyone here is going to admonish you for planning to take a vacation 3 year from now.

LowER

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2014, 06:50:58 PM »
I have looked at vacations from an MMM-type of perspective since finding this site.  If I don't take vacation, I increase my odds of making bonus substantially, so let's just make up some numbers (totally made up), say $10,000 extra dollars annually.  Also, if I sell that vacation time back to my employer, I get (again totally inaccurate) $3,000.  If I was to spend $2,000 on the vacation, and don't sell the time back, then there's $5,000 lost, and if I extrapolate that 1/4 of my bonus is lost, that's another $2,500 lost, for a total of $7,500!  Ok, Uncle Sam will have taken 33% (made up), so an final cost of about $5,000 after taxes, and if you skipped 4 weeks of vacation in a year, that's $20,000.

I'm not advocating skipping vacation, just highlighting some possible hidden costs of that $2,000 vacation.  It really shocked me when I first added this up, so have skipped quite a bit of my own vacation recently, and saved A LOT.

From a tax perspective, it's usually better to take more time off and work more years.  From emotional health and family health and physical health standpoints, that's probably also the better approach, but it has been fun over the last couple of years boosting the heck out of my savings by taking the opposite approach.

Just my 2 cents - and again - I'm not advocating that anyone do this but if you really need to boost savings temporarily, it might be worth considering.

And back to the OP: Yes, I agree with the other posters, a Disney vacation will provide a lifetime of priceless memories, so my vote is that you go.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2014, 08:11:19 PM »
How does not taking vacation boost your bonus?  In my company, if you don't take vacation, you are probably seen as a bit odd.  Because I work in public relations, this is not a good thing.  Not taking vacation would definitely hurt my bonus potential.  We even have to have a personal goal in our annual work plans.  Mine this year was to take on an adjunct teaching role outside of work.  Someone else's was to coach his kid's baseball team.  They really encourage us to live full, active lives even outside of work.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2014, 08:14:32 PM »
Oh, and to the OP: yes i think you should take vacation.  MMM is not about turning life into a hard daily grind.  Quite the opposite.  Go away with your kids every so often.   I wouldn't do Disney anything, because it is so incredibly expensive.  You can take tons of cheap, fun vacations.  My extended family and I all rent a big house together, usually at the beach, once a year, or once every couple of years.  It costs around $1K per family for an awesome week together.

johnintaiwan

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2014, 08:30:38 PM »


I'm not advocating skipping vacation, just highlighting some possible hidden costs of that $2,000 vacation.  It really shocked me when I first added this up, so have skipped quite a bit of my own vacation recently, and saved A LOT.


I am the same way. I usually don't enjoy taking vacations. I hate thinking about how much they cost both to take them and in terms of lost wages. At the end of March/April I took a week off when I got married and my parents came for a visit. I am still feeling the pain of lost hours in my paycheck (wasn't a problem at all and was planned for, just hate seeing smaller numbers in the plus column). My May check (will get in June) should be back to normal.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2014, 08:58:46 PM »
We recently did a vacation for a family of 5 for 5 days, for all of $250. Stayed with friends and split the cooking duties, did one expensive outing.

dcheesi

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2014, 02:17:55 AM »
How does not taking vacation boost your bonus?  In my company, if you don't take vacation, you are probably seen as a bit odd.  Because I work in public relations, this is not a good thing.  Not taking vacation would definitely hurt my bonus potential.  We even have to have a personal goal in our annual work plans.  Mine this year was to take on an adjunct teaching role outside of work.  Someone else's was to coach his kid's baseball team.  They really encourage us to live full, active lives even outside of work.
Sounds like his bonus is tied to individual performance targets, like sales made or hours billed. And it's hard to make a sale when you're not there.

Ayanka

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2014, 02:35:20 AM »
Honeymomma, if you really would like to go to Disney whatever it is, do a google search on how to make it cheaper. I believe there is a site about how to make disney cheaper somewhere. (sorry, not into Disney myself, but I remember seeing the subject pop up on another forum).

Counting Down

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2014, 04:55:44 AM »
If one of your kids isn't even born yet then you have a long time to go before they will not want to go on family vacations. We are going camping this weekend with my 4 & 6 year old they are so excited. We have to go home to another country for a wedding this summer which will cost a lot with flights, etc...  They are more excited about the camping than this. Kids don't care about the dollar value they just care about something different and fun with you guys.

Plus if I was paying to go to Disney I would definitely want my kids to remember it so they would be 6 & 8. I prefer to do one thing at a time so go all out for house now and then you can worry about a big vacation. In the mean time have lots of smaller ones closer to home.




homeymomma

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2014, 06:07:14 AM »
If one of your kids isn't even born yet then you have a long time to go before they will not want to go on family vacations. We are going camping this weekend with my 4 & 6 year old they are so excited. We have to go home to another country for a wedding this summer which will cost a lot with flights, etc...  They are more excited about the camping than this. Kids don't care about the dollar value they just care about something different and fun with you guys.

Plus if I was paying to go to Disney I would definitely want my kids to remember it so they would be 6 & 8. I prefer to do one thing at a time so go all out for house now and then you can worry about a big vacation. In the mean time have lots of smaller ones closer to home.

This is a really good point, I was thinking they'd enjoy it at like 2 and 4, but everyone would probably have more fun if they were more like 5 and 7, or even older. Maybe it's further in the future than I imagined (although to save up enough might take about that long! Lol). I'll push for a small vacation next summer maybe, so we have something little to look forward to in the meantime.

Through reading your responses I realized that when I asked my question I was really having an internal debate about whether I would enjoy spending that much money on such a short time. I think we'll put off saving specifically for it until we're a little closer to our other goals and maybe by then the spending will feel less guilt-ridden. Is this the curse of Mustachianism? No more guilt-free spending, ever? :( maybe it's just me.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2014, 07:50:52 AM »
We went to Disney World when we were 7, 10, and 15. My sister was too old--not so much too old for Disney World as too much older than the little kids to enjoy it. Brother (7) and I (10) had a great time, but not nearly as good a time as we had the year before, when we "just" went camping (instead of to a nearby beach, as we often went) to save money.

My mother took just me and my brother when we were 17 and almost 15. That was actually much more fun. My mother didn't have to spend all day at the boring kid stuff and my brother hustled us from ride to ride in the exact order prescribed by our guidebook. I'm just saying, there is no ideal age!

catccc

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2014, 08:04:49 AM »
How old is your kid?

Generally, I say yes, if you are debt free and saving well, take a vacation if you value it.  But Disney is an expensive one, so weigh the value to you personally, the value to your kid (maybe a 2 year old would not get as much out of it as a 4 year old) and decide accordingly.

A couple of years ago, we took our family to Turks and Caicos- it was luxurious and I loved it.  The following year, we spent some time in a cabin in the mountains.  Way less expensive w/o all the plane tickets and beachfront lodging, and I think the kids (4 & 2 at the time) enjoyed it every bit as much as Turks & Caicos.  (We asked the 4 year old which she would rather repeat, and she said the cabin in the mountains.)  Personally, I preferred Turks and Caicos.  But I'm glad she thought the cheap Mountain vacation was so great!  (This year we are doing the cabin again.)

I'll admit, vacations are my soft spot.  On top of those aforementioned trips. there have been multiple camping trips, a ski vacation in Lake Tahoe, and a San Francisco trip to visit family.  But I try not to feel guilty about it because it just happens to be something that I value.

tmac

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2014, 08:13:54 AM »
I'd definitely clear it with the relatives first. Honestly, if I were putting you up so that you could save, I'd be a bit resentful if you took a multi-thousand-dollar vacation. A more frugal get-away would be totally fine. But you should probably ask how they'd feel about it to avoid any hard feelings.

If/when you do go to Disney, definitely wait until the kids are old enough to go on most of the rides, be be self-propelled, and to actually remember it years later. We went two years ago when the kids were 7, 9, and 16. The 16-year-old was a bit too old, but he liked being able to wander about freely, and he and my husband went back late at night, which he also liked. The little kids were the perfect age to enjoy it, get on all the rides they wanted to, and to have enough stamina to get through the day with out melting down. We saw so many miserable families with screaming toddlers.

norabird

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2014, 09:10:18 AM »
Definitely let yourselves vacation when you feel it makes sense. Besides disney, a family camping trip is also always on the table and can be frugal.

shotgunwilly

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2014, 09:10:47 AM »
I try to keep all my normal savings and spending patterns the same, and my plan is using CC rewards to fund vacations.  For example, after sign up bonuses, cash rewards, and mileage built up over a couple of years, I am using them to go to Las Vegas this summer.  (I know, I know... the epitome of anti-mustachian, but I LOVE it!)  I will repeat this every few years to travel different places. 

Also, common sense but, I try to take a two or three weekdays off connected to the weekend.  So a 5 day vacation costs you 3 days PTO. 

Eurotexan

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2014, 09:50:40 AM »
I say a resounding yes! Even though we all have a similar goal of FIRE, we are all a little different in how we achieve that goal. I budget $100 a month on travel so I can fly back home each year (UK, flights aren't cheap!). That is very important to me and so long as it's in the budget, I feel like I am on track.

My advise would be to stick on budget when you are actually on vacation too, that's the hard bit! As MMM would say, avoid ALL gift shops!

Cpa Cat

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2014, 09:57:49 AM »
I would wait until your kids are tall enough to go on most of the rides for something like Disney. I know that what I remember of my first ever trip to Disney is crying on the sidelines while my brother got to ride all the "cool" rides that I was too small for.

At the very least wait until they're both old enough to be excited about the Disney characters. 

I think 7-12 is the sweet spot for Disney. Any younger and they're not able to fully participate. Any older and you're better off taking them to ride-oriented parks like Six Flags (or whatever local equivalent exists near you).

socaso

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2014, 11:22:33 AM »
I live near Disneyland and we haven't taken our 2 yr old because 2 is kind of young for Disney. There aren't that many rides he could actually enjoy. However we are socking money away into our own vacation fund for nicer trips in the future. We very nearly went to Hawaii this year but decided we want to save fancier trips for when our son is old enough to remember taking them. This year we are going on a couple of long weekend camping trips. We did have to buy a larger tent because our family is bigger now but the cost breakdown is like this:
Tent $500
Sleeping bag $200
Campground fees $60 (per trip)
Food $100 (per trip)
Gas $100 (per trip)
Considering that the tent and sleeping bag are long term investments I feel good about how cheaply we got away with our vacationing this year.

superone!

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2014, 11:38:13 AM »

Campground fees $60 (per trip)


Camping is my go-to getaway. I camp/backpack pretty much every other weekend.

Just FYI - if there are national forests near you (NOT national parks--national FORESTS) - camping is free outside of a campground and often free (or always low cost) at a campground.

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2014, 01:05:46 PM »
Through reading your responses I realized that when I asked my question I was really having an internal debate about whether I would enjoy spending that much money on such a short time. I think we'll put off saving specifically for it until we're a little closer to our other goals and maybe by then the spending will feel less guilt-ridden. Is this the curse of Mustachianism? No more guilt-free spending, ever? :( maybe it's just me.

This hits close to home for me--it can be tough to allow oneself to spend on things that are important. I don't think frugalism should be equated with a life of penance and sadness; rather, I believe it's about only spending when it brings value to your life and is within your savings budget. I think you should take a vacation with your family, but as others have suggested, perhaps something less expensive than Disney. You can probably have the same type of family fun experience on a cheaper trip.




Fishingmn

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2014, 01:18:34 PM »
We took kids to DisneyWorld 3 times. I'm sure I have more memories of it than they do but I love it there and I love the memories of the kids there.

That's a good thing but keep in mind that some of our favorite family memories of going to Disney have nothing to do with being in the parks -

- The time our 3 year old son had to pee on the 15 minute drive to Epcot so we had to stop on a busy road and take him over to the woods. He did really have to pee.

- The time we had pizza by the hotel pool and I got stung by fire ants on my foot which stung like crazy and they thought was funny

- Swimming at the hotel pool each day after the parks

- The excitement of the plane ride (which wasn't that exciting any more after takeoff)

- Surprising the kids one time by telling them the day we were leaving of our trip

- Our son's irrational fear of people in large disney character suits

We much preferred our plan of "only" saving 25% and spending on things like travel along the way. Won't retire until mid-50's but that's fine with us.

Emg03063

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2014, 02:09:35 PM »
Yes.  Take the kids camping.  Let the grandparents take them to Disneyland ;).

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2014, 06:37:00 PM »
I don't get the appeal of Disney products other than a few of the movies.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #26 on: May 14, 2014, 07:09:49 PM »
If you want the family vacation to be fun, let the kids pick the location or the activities. If parents pick everything and the kid doesn't have a choice, they are going to hate it, even if it is an activity that they typically enjoy.

If you can enjoy yourself, take the vacation. If there is something important that I need to save money for, I typically wouldn't take a vacation at that point in time because I wouldn't enjoy the vacation, even though I could technically pull it off financially.


homeymomma

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #27 on: May 14, 2014, 07:42:47 PM »
I don't get the appeal of Disney products other than a few of the movies.

I was raised on Disney movies (for better or worse) and Disney magic was very much part of my childhood. I know it's overpriced and ridiculous, and I'll probably be horrified at a lot of it while actually there, but the fact remains I'd love to take my kids there some day! (I agree with many on here that I was being overly optimistic imagining going with a two and four year old. Two year old tantrums might indeed make that miserable.)

Kind of wished I hadn't mentioned the Disney thing, because who knows? But the time we save enough, maybe we'd want to go abroad or something totally different. I was kind of just wondering where vacations fell in the priorities of others on here, when you've not reached FI yet, and specifically while we are still getting parental help. On that subject, actually, checking with the family in question feels totally inappropriate. We decided to have another baby while loving here, and did not seek group approval for that decision either. Just because they are helping us out doesn't mean they get to dictate what we spend our money on. Now obviously, they feel we are responsible or they wouldn't let us stay.

Argyle

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #28 on: May 14, 2014, 07:59:16 PM »
I totally get the Disney thing, and I don't actually think it's overpriced for what you get.  I went as a child and it was a wonderland to me.  That said, I do think ages 7-12 are the best 2 is definitely too young, because the child won't understand many of the rides, will find others frightening, and one parent will always be trying to amuse the 2-year-old while the other kid and parent go on the ride.  I know some kids who were okay with most of the rides by age 4, but my kid was 9 before he would go on many of them (for instance Haunted Mansion).  So you have many years to save up!  There are also ways to make it cheaper, for instance taking in all snacks, searching for coupons, hunting down a cheap motel.  If you know anyone local you can get a local-person's discount.  I believe AAA has discount too, if you happen to belong to AAA.  The other Disney parks (EPCOT, California Adventure, etc.) are comparatively lackluster and I wouldn't bother with paying for the ParkHopper ticket.  There are whole forums devoted on how to make Disney visits better/cheaper, the tricks of getting FastPasses, and all that, so you can maximize the fun per dollar.

SJS

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #29 on: May 14, 2014, 08:04:28 PM »
I do think vacations are good for many reasons.  Mentally - you just need a break; get away, unwind, relax.  It's also good bonding time with spouse/kids/family.  I would, however, plan to do the vacation as frugally as you can - meaning go "off-peak" when most things are going to cost you MUCH less.  Be aware of what you are spending - set a daily budget that you can afford---and stick to it!!    Forget the extra, over priced  crap (hats/t-shirts).  Take lots of great pictures for the memories. 

Like someone else mentioned, though - I would discuss with the relatives who are "supporting" you right now to see how they feel about this. 

obstinate

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #30 on: May 14, 2014, 08:31:20 PM »
The science is very much in favor of you taking vacation. You perform better at work if you take vacations from time to time.

I wouldn't wait three years to do it -- you can go camping for the price of the gasoline it takes to get where you are going. But Disney is OK too. I like what the other dude said about tradeoffs -- as long as you're aware what you're trading away for this vacation, it's absolutely fine to go.

Argyle

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #31 on: May 14, 2014, 08:36:09 PM »
Also, the people who say they can't enjoy vacations or are too worried about the expense I think that's erring too far on the side of being driven.  If we can't relax and enjoy things when we can afford it, what's it all for?

LowER

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Re: Vacationing while trying to improve finances... Yes or no?
« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2014, 06:12:22 PM »
How does not taking vacation boost your bonus?  In my company, if you don't take vacation, you are probably seen as a bit odd.  Because I work in public relations, this is not a good thing.  Not taking vacation would definitely hurt my bonus potential.  We even have to have a personal goal in our annual work plans.  Mine this year was to take on an adjunct teaching role outside of work.  Someone else's was to coach his kid's baseball team.  They really encourage us to live full, active lives even outside of work.
[/quote

I get bonused in widgets.  If I'm gone, no widgets.  And in my profession, the workload required to prepare for and return from vacation is about the same as just working straight through instead, so I really try to make my weekends (though I have to work quite a few), big-time stay-cations.  It works for now and may not next month or next year, but for today, I'm okay with this plan.

The numbers I used are exaggerated, in the opposite way most exaggerations go, so it's kind of a big deal.