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I mentioned before that I received an inheritance from my mom and then my mom’s mom (my grandma) and how my husband and I used them to become debt free.
What I want to talk about today is how we invested a good portion of the 3 rd inheritance in 4 years that we received. With our debts paid including the house. With a 3 month emergency fund in place. With a plan to save each month for vehicle replacement. With a rental home to help us with our monthly bills. We moved on and invested in memory building.
We took the children on a trip to Disney World. All 5 of us had never once been there. In fact it was our first family trip ever.
We learned about American history as a family in West Virginia. My husband is a history buff so he planned it all; the rest of us were surprised by how much we loved learning about my hubby’s favorite subject, especially when it was brought to life in front of our very eyes.
We went skiing as a family. My husband and I both loved skiing as teenagers and thought it would be fun to share it with our children who are almost all now teenagers themselves (that last one becomes a teenager officially in June).
And thanks to applying our thrifty travel tricks to all our trips we had enough money left over for a long weekend trip to Chicago where we enjoyed a few local sites and deep dish pizza.
As we drove home my husband and I realized this will likely be our last family trip where we simply get in the car with the children and go. Our eldest in now 19 and has a job and coordinating time off for all of us to go somewhere is going to get a lot more difficult.
Which made me realize I am so glad I put that money aside out of my grandmother’s inheritance for family vacations.
Sure we could have saved up money for some type of vacation as a family some how, but by using the inheritance we were able to have choices that would not have been available to us in our current income bracket.
I am not sharing these things to boast but because I want others to know it is okay to splurge on family time. Splurging is something I have trouble with myself. In fact, I had so much trouble that it took me weeks of prayer and seeking wisdom from others before I gave myself the green light and started planning all the above.
Some people might think our investment in these things was unwise . That we should have saved that money to help pay for our children’s college. That starting a retirement fund would have been wiser.
Perhaps they might be right….but here is why I am okay with our decision.
My grandma sent me money every birthday and every birthday she would say “make sure to spend this on yourself”. When her inheritance came I knew she would tell me to use a portion of the money to do the same thing she had been telling me all those years.
Before my mother passed away I made a promise to her to take the kids on a family vacation with a part of my inheritance. I didn’t do it for years. I thought I would be wiser to invest the money in rentals and then let the rent money save up for vacation, but if you read about our debt free journey you know that plan back fired.
So when my dad’s mom (my grandma) passed away and I received my 3rd inheritance in 4 years I wanted to fullfill my promise to my mom and do what grandma always told me to do.
These 2 women knew me pretty well. They knew I would be thrifty with the money they left me. They knew I would make wise decisions with it but they also knew one more thing; I am sometimes too hard on myself when it comes to how I spend my money. I try to make the best use of every penny but forget that sometimes the best use is to enjoy it by building memories with those I love.
Because money isn’t the only thing in life where you are only given so much; we only have so much time with our loved ones.
Just as we are not guaranteed our next pay check, we are not guaranteed our next breath.
Yes prepare for the future, but don’t forget to enjoy today. There has to be balance.
No you do not have to go to Disneyland to build memories. But to make memory building experiences happen you do have to make quality family time a priority both in your budget and on your calendar.
3 Ways To Afford Memory Building Family Time On a Tight Budget
1. Earmark a side income or financial windfalls
Set aside money earned by throwing a yard sale or gift cards earned through Swagbucks for family experiences. Or earmark your yearly tax return or that Christmas bonus check as family vacation money. If you receive an inheritance like we did, or another type of financial windfall consider setting aside a portion for family fun. You could also set aside money from a more regular source like revenue from some form of home childcare or weekly selling on eBay or Etsy.
2. Be Creative
If you are actively paying off debt and just can’t afford to divert a penny to fun until the debt is paid, or your budget is just too tight, start thinking outside of the box. Camp in the backyard. Swap homes with friends in another city. Look for free community events. Memory building doesn’t have to cost a dime.
3. Ask For Memory Building Gifts
If you have a family that loves to shower your children with gifts each birthday and Christmas ask them instead if they could bless your child with a membership to the local zoo, or the children’s museum. Suggest that grandparents go into together and surprise your child or children with a Groupon deal to a water park motel that the whole family can enjoy.
Of course all the money in the world isn’t going to help build memories if you don’t make time in your life to hang out and spend quality time with your family. Sit down with your calendar and pencil in a weekend trip, or a day trip and don’t let life swallow that time you set aside. Make time to build memories with family a priority, because if you don’t you will run out of it.
For a list of 52 different websites, apps, and stores our thrifty family uses to help us keep our expenses low, click here to visit our Thrifty Tools Resource Page.