A Simple Way To Stay On Budget During Vacation

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My husband and I have differing views on money. I am a use cash only, type of gal. My husband, is a it is okay to use a credit card if you have the cash to pay it when it is due type of guy.

Which leads us to making compromises. One such compromise is when it comes to how to spend money on our family vacations, my husband likes to take a credit card for daily expenses because he is afraid someone will steal cash. I would prefer we found a bank machine and take the money that we need out for the day each morning, because I am afraid we will lose track of what we are charging to the credit card and go over budget.

In the end we have come to a compromise we both can live with, we use the credit card for vacations but we track each and every expense as we buy it, so that we stay on budget and can afford to pay the visa off in full when we get home.

This system allows us both to relax, my husband doesn’t worry about having cash we are carrying stolen and I don’t worry about going overboard on vacation and coming home to bills we can’t afford to pay.

a simple way to stay on budget during vacation

 A Simple Way To Stay On Budget During Vacation

Before we leave on vacation I make a detailed written budget of what I think each day will cost us. I then print it out and bring  it along with us, as well as a calculator and a receipt organizer book, that I purchased for $1.

I fill  the book, with large index cards that have the date of each day we are going to be on vacation written on the top.

How I track Vacation Expenses

Each and every time we make a charge on the credit card, I make sure to get a receipt. I leave the receipt book in our car so that it is readily available to write down each expense on the index card for the day as soon as possible after it is made.

This system is easy to update and has kept us not just on budget but often UNDER BUDGET.

Being under budget has allowed my husband and I  to feel okay about splurging on some really cool memory making moments with the children on the last day of our vacation.

One of those memory making days was when I surprised my daughter to a full head to toe makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Down Town Disney World, including a photo shoot after the makeover, on our last day in Disney World.

I am so glad I was disciplined in keep track of each expense that year, because if you ask my daughter what her favorite day of the trip to Disney World  was, her face lights up and she shouts “my makeover day”.

Post Update: If you are more tech savvy than I am check out the comments for a few app suggestions  for your smart phone or tablet that work similar to my pen and paper method; as for me I am sticking to pen and paper for now ( Yes, I am old fashioned  🙂 )

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  1. I downloaded a free no frills app for my iPhone that is basically a bank register but you can zero it out anytime. Whenever we are on vacation (or Christmas shopping) I enter the entire budget amount as the starting balance then make a line item subtracting necessities like hotels, tolls and admission tickets, then I do an estimate line for gas and food which can be updated on the fly. I enter every single thing in this as we go along so I know exactly where we are in our spending. It

  2. Thanks for the tips about the receipts and notebook! I am trying to keep track of our monthly budget but there’s so many things to keep track of 🙂

    • Keep trying Omily, it is worth it in the end. I messed around with a lot of different ideas for our monthly budget before I came up with a system that works great for us.

  3. Lots of great ideas! We just got back from our vacation to FL (our first real vacation in 4 years!!!!) and I came up with a daily budget before we left, plus set aside what we would need for gas as we drove.
    I kept a running tally of purchases on my iphone in the Notes app. We used Marriott points that I’ve been saving for 5 years to pay for our hotel stay. We came in about $200 under budget! YAY!

  4. I’m more like you when it comes to money, cash only. It is more difficult for me to part with cold hard cash than it is to swipe a card. (After 21 years of marriage we don’t even own a credit card because realistically most individuals are not disciplined enough to pay the card off in full before the interest accrues). We plan our vacation days much the same as you and then have a cash envelope for each day. We store the remaining envelopes in our hotel room safe. If we are close to our hotel, we may leave a bit of daily cash to pick up at a later time. This system has worked well for us and we usually have money left at the end of our vacation too. 🙂

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