Budget Woes: Is Vacation a Necessity?


With the start of another year, many are reflecting on personal and familial habits that may need to be re-examined. For families, the top slot on this list is often the family budget.

The budget tends to burst at the seams comes January. December can bring, “It’s little much, but it’s such a perfect gift for —-,” and, “We can’t stick to the grocery budget, it’s the holidays and we’ve got things to bake/cook and memories to make.”

Every January we sit down with the budget and cut the fat. It’s not that difficult of a job. We know what we’ve comfortable spending in each category and it’s easy to see where we are falling short. We look at the numbers and plan out the next year for our family. We think about each month and what our needs will be and everything runs smoothly, until we get to the summer months and one budget category jumps out.

That category: Vacation. Should we take a family vacation?

No matter how much (or little) money there is, we’re frugal. It’s just how we live. What we have we save because we know there’ll be a time of need. There are student loans that could be paid or a home that could be saved for. Do we spend a large chunk of money over the course of one week in the summer?

The answer for this family is a resounding YES! For us, a vacation is a necessity and something that needs to be budgeted into our lives.

A few years ago my husband, who struggles with a chronic health issue, had a complication after a surgery and I had to rush him to the hospital. There was serious question as to if he would live or die. I called a few friends to sit and pray with me as the doctors worked and I waited. During that time I didn’t think of our budget, the student loans or if I’d gone over on cell phone minutes. Instead, I was I was haunted by something my husband had recently shared with me,

“My favorite thing in this world is when we’re traveling and you all fall asleep in the van. I love to drive my sleeping family.”

This memory was interrupted when the doctors came to tell me they had found the problem and that my husband would make it. My friends smiled and looked at me for tears or leaps of joy.

There were tears, but the only thing I could think of to say was, “I want to go on vacation for our anniversary.”

Our favorite things are important, especially if they help bond us as a family unit. For us, they are the thoughts that haunt us when we are reminded that this life is temporary and they are the first memories of our very young children.

There is something to be said about cramming five people into a mini-van and living out of a cooler for five days every summer – if it’s done together.

We’re not millionaires over here, so it vacations mean other sacrifices throughout the year. We can do vacation on a dime. My husband and I even play “fun games and challenges” to help ensure vacation is possible for our family. You can make dinner for five out of a cooler for consecutive nights and those “free weekend if you take our timeshare tour” trips are actually really fun – and they serve lunch.

Taking his three daughters to Disney World is my husband’s dream. Old age isn’t likely for him, so I’m determined to make it happen sooner rather than later. We even have a code phrase for the dream in our home. “Someday, when we go to the Mouse’s House” we say as we dream while attempting to not tip off the children. It’s a bit early to share our dream with them. We’ll wait until the vacation category in the budget can grow. Until that time, vacation will always have a place in our budget, even if it is a small one.

Does your family have a “Mouse’s House” dream vacation? Does your family have a favorite vacation spot you want to recommend?

Copyright 2012 Holly Rutchik


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  1. Vacations are a MUST for our family too! Our (new) favorite vacation spot is the Outer Banks, NC. Before moving out east, we took countless trips to Glacier, Yellowstone and Canada… Nothing is better than a trip with your favorite people on Earth!

  2. We took our first family vacation last fall for a family wedding. It was wonderful. However, taking a family vacation every year is not something for which we budget. Due to the high demands of both of our jobs, we do the best we can to make the most of the weekends. It’s not ideal, but we always make sure the kids know that they are loved and have our undivided attention. If that means a trip to the grandparent’s house for the day or the local splash park or museum, it’s just as fun for them as a week at the beach.

  3. Unfortunately, we don’t get to take vacations every year either. Job market has been extremely bad & so we hadn’t had a vacation in 5 years until 2 yrs ago a friend loaned us a cabin for “free” for a week but my husband had to do “free” work on his house in exchange. When the house you live in is nearing foreclosure b/c there is no work to be had anywhere, vacation becomes the last thing on the list. But we are no worse for wear and, if anything, the lack of “things” (even a “cheap” vacation) ensures that we appreciate every little thing we do have (and each other). We DO love vacations though…and our cabin one was complete w/going nowhere that cost any $$ at all, homemade meals that I cooked here, froze & then just reheated there. It is possible to have lots of fun without having to go anywhere exciting! 😉 God bless your 2012!!!

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