Trading Less Stuff For More Memories

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that vacations and such are a very big thing for our family.  We love to camp.  An annual trip to an indoor water park is almost required.  We’ve had a couple of great trips down to Florida.  We have really come to notice how our family just works so well when we’re on the move.   Over time, we have created many more memories through our travel than in many other areas of life.

Experiences Turn Into More Memories

After our last trip, we sat down and talked as a family.  Even though our kids are young (7 and 5), we talked to them about our trip and how great it was.  We also talked about how much vacations mean to us.  Part of our discussion centered on how many things they remember from our various trips.

The kids got it right away.  They started talking about trips that we’ve taken for as many years back as their young minds can remember.  Remember that time at Disney?  Oh yeah, and that one time at the water park!

It was really cool to watch.

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It’s OK If Your Savings Account Doesn’t Make You Money

One of the basic pieces of advice is to make sure that your money is working for you.  And of course you want that work to yield maximum returns.  Finding good investments at low cost is a perfect example of a way to make this happen.  While you definitely want to make your money work for you, don’t get carried away.  See, some people fall into the belief that every single dollar has to make money.  While this would be nice in a perfect world, it isn’t always possible.  This is no more true than with a savings account.

The Savings Account: Then And Now

Until the recession that started around 10 years ago, a savings account was a great way to earn a little money.  You could stash money away, risk free, and still earn some interest.  It wasn’t a whole lot, but it was generally enough to keep up with inflation.

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Breaking Down Our Madeira Beach Vacation

A couple of weeks ago, I was enjoying life a little bit more.  As they say, life is always better at the beach!  We took a family trip down to Florida.  Here are some things I thought I’d share about our Madeira Beach vacation.

Familiarity Helps

We rented a condo that worked out great for us.  What really helped is that we’ve stayed in this condo complex before.  Back in 2010 we took a trip, also with my in-laws and stayed in a different unit.  On top of that, this area was where my wife and her family vacationed when she was a girl.  So, knowing so much about the area in general was a big help too.  Familiarity definitely helped improve our Madeira Beach vacation.

We Saved On Travel But Added Stress

Originally we were planning to drive, but ended up flying.  However, since all public schools in Michigan are off at the same time, the airlines all jacked up their prices flying out of Detroit.  We found some great fares out of Columbus, Ohio, which was about a four hour drive.  Saving money was great, but the added stress of driving kept me on edge.  After all, it would only take one accident along the way to take away our cushion.  Luckily, we were fine, but I was nervous.

Walking Distance

Because of our familiarity with the area, we knew that we could survive without a car.  And we did just fine!  We

Madeira Beach Vacation 2017

ended up taking Uber rides wherever we needed to go. All told, our Uber rides added up to about $125 plus tips, which was a significant saving over renting a car to drive while there.

Pool And The Ocean Added Up To Fun

We had warm, sunny weather for most of the trip, which was great.  However, a good portion of our trip was very windy.  This made being near the water very difficult with blowing sand.  But, having a pool right there definitely kept us exactly where we needed to be.  Having both options was great.

Renting A Condo Was Great

We had a really great condo that we found.  It was two bedrooms.  Each bedroom had a TV.  Having a TV in the kids room was great because they could have some down time after coming back tired from being at the water.  It was also fully furnished and had lots of supplies needed for the pool and water.

Supplies When Renting A Condo

The condo had just about everything we needed, but we ended up forgetting a few things on our shopping trip.  Paper plates, napkins, and salt and pepper were all things we would have liked but didn’t think of.  There was nothing we didn’t have but lots of things we would have loved to have had.  We made a list!

Eating In And Eating Out

We ate at a lot of different restaurants, but also made quite a few meals in.  This mix kept our costs down a bit, and made a good mix of ‘on the go’ versus enjoying the moments.  We ate all of our breakfasts in, and then would generally have lunch or dinner out.  It still wasn’t exactly cheap but it kept things in check.

We Loved Our Madeira Beach Vacation

If you can’t tell we loved our vacation.  All of us came back tan.  We all came back tired. Our son came back with a sore ear from all the swimming.  All told, those are all signs that we had lots and lots of fun.  And we did.  So much so that we already put a deposit on the same unit for next year! And did I mention that repeat visitors get a 10% discount?  Woo-hoo!

Readers, do you have any great family spring break stories?  Please let me know what you did in the comments below.  Thanks so much for reading!

Giving Up Facebook For Lent

Last month I wrote about how I gave up snacking at work.  I know my weaknesses and I finally accepted that occasional snacking leads to regular snacking.  So, I haven’t snacked since the beginning of the year.

Giving Up Facebook

I grew up Catholic, and one tradition that I’ve always had is to give up something for Lent.  The Lenten season runs between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, a period of 46 days.  People are encouraged to give something up that’s important or difficult.  The idea is to give ourselves a small reminder of what Jesus gave up during his 40 days in the desert.

In the past I’ve given up a variety of things, including:

  • Chocolate
  • Ice Cream
  • Candy
  • All Sweets
  • Alcohol.

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7 Rules Of Gym Etiquette

I’ve been going to the local Planet Fitness for quite a while.  I think it’s been almost three years.  Over time, I’ve sort of figured out some do’s and don’ts.  Of course, I’ve learned most of this by having someone bugging me!  So, what is proper gym etiquette?  Here’s a few tips.

Don’t Hog The Equipment

Whether you’re alone or part of a group, taking excessive time using something is inconsiderate.  Even if nobody is waiting, there might just be someone that would like to us it, but doesn’t feel comfortable asking.  Limit your time on the equipment so that everyone has an opportunity to use it.

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The Best Digital Tools for Saving Money

In our increasingly digital world, there’s an app, website or browser extension for just about everything, including money management and shopping. It’s easy to do all your banking online, transfer money to and from accounts, and review and make adjustments to your investments. As for couponing, cash-back programs and digital promo codes make savings instant and accessible without clipping or storing.

Since most of us never leave the house without our smartphones and spend much of our time in front of a computer, using these tools is all the more effortless. Read on for the best digital tools to streamline your finances and savings potential!

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