How I Spent $300 Too Much on Vacation – And What to do About it Part I


Is this us? Nope, since it was cloudy our entire time….but at least we got to spend time together.

Recently I had a lovely vacation with Mr. RichMama. We had nice (but not crazy) hotel room on a wonderful seaside island in the Northeast for 3 nights and 4-ish days. We got a good deal on the room – about $125 a night so all we had to pay for were meals and entertainment. The place we stayed in was quaint and not too much to do in the way of entertainment – beach, swimming, golf and eating – which was just fine with us. However, I realized as I jotted down just about everything we spent, that we went over our vacation budget (I’d given us a rough budget of about $800) by $300 – YIKES… I am sure this has happened to many of us out there – after all, you’re on vacation, so who wants to stick to a budget. But we always have to pay the piper, so this series  is about what we’re going to do for the rest of the month to make up for it for all the extra dough we spent in the first 3 days of the month.

Since we paid for things with a mix of cash and credit card our spending budget for the month is already depleted and we’ll have a balance to pay off at the end of the month. So I need to cut our ongoing expenses and/or make up the shortfall with extra income.

Plus, I’ll take any tips on how you guys would make up for this shortfall – except of course for pulling the money out of savings – which is possible, but not as much fun – at least for a RichMama.

So the first step was realizing just how much we spent – most of this was on room, and dining out. A round of golf was surprising affordable and the only ‘shopping’ we did was buying some t-shirts for the kids.

I wrote down each purchase on my Phone notes app and then added it up afterwards – and nearly had a panic attack and then calmed down, realizing that this problem can be addressed.

  1. First money saving step – no more eating out for at least a week. The night we got home, we got take out – pizza – due to time constraints but that was it. The next morning I bought the weekly groceries (spent $250) and I that’s it – we’re not going out until at least the 15th of the month – not even for pizza. I’ll let Mr. RichMama go out for lunch during the week, but the kids and I will be dining inside – Note this is made easier by the fact the kids are camp all next week so we have pre-planned activities (and since I already paid for this, there’s no sense in cutting this out to recoup some cash). Estimated Savings – $50
  2. We skipped the fair.  And didn’t tell the kids…the annual fair/carnival is town and normally we would take the kids and spend a lot of money in about three hours on rides, food and junk…so we’re keeping quiet on it (helps the kids are young) and not going   $75 Saved
  3. Make more money – I have decided (especially since we’ve already committed to another vacation expense this month) that I need to make some extra money this month – as a consequence I am working harder on my freelance writing, accepting more jobs and bidding on more.  So far I have managed to add about – $50…(Working takes time and I have three kids underfoot so there’s a limit to how much work I can take on without giving up sleeping…or everything else.)

So will I make it? I will give you an update next week – and in the meantime – please let me know any tips you have!


Back to School Shopping With a Picky Teen

Top Tips for Back-to-School Shopping with a Picky Teen

It’s that time of year again – back to school  And with the little kids, while you can certainly make most of the choices for them, it gets harder and harder to do that as they get older. Teens are picky – and back to school shopping time can be fraught with hard to stomach stuff.  Here are some tips for back-to-school shopping with your picky teen.

Let Them Shop

This doesn’t mean you should give your teen you credit card and drop him or her off at the mall for a few hours! Actually, there is a method to letting your picky teen do his or her own back-to-school shopping, and it can be a positive learning process. Here’s how it works.

Go Through Their Things

With your teen, go through her clothes and determine what she really needs. Get rid of only those clothes that can’t be repaired or are stained permanently, then work on mixing and matching what’s left. Then determine what clothes she needs and make a specific list.


Once you both understand what’s necessary, you can make a budget for those items. Determine what you are willing to pay for each piece of clothing, total it up, and then give your teen the money. Once it’s spent, no more – be firm on this one! You may want to accompany her on this shopping trip to help point out bargains and such, but the point is, she is in charge of planning her purchases and spending the money.

Good Lessons

While you’re doing all this, think of the good life lessons you’ll be teaching your teen. Your teen will learn how to budget his money, and will get a no-frills introduction into the world of financial planning. Remember, once the money is gone, he is not getting any more, so he will have to plan out how he is going to divide up the money to get all the items he wants. Your teen may also be motivated to shop for things on sale or things at second-hand shops once he realizes how much the things he wants actually cost.

Consider letting your teen keep any money that’s left, too. Having a little extra spending money can be a great motivator to find bargains!

Go for Re-Sale

Even picky teens can usually find something at a consignment shop or second-hand store. Name brands are not necessarily hard to come by at these places, and if your teen has a flare for individuality, she might be able to put together a stunning outfit with second-hand clothes and accessories.

Your Questions About Family Budget

Mary asks…

what is a good way to start a family budget?

I am looking for a easy budget plan to set up for my family. I don’t want anything confusing or time consuming.

richmama answers:

I agree with Mary… I set up my family budget with a clear list of all our expenses: Mortgage, Car payments, Daycare, Etc. With the days they are due. For the variable expenses, I looked back several months to see what we spent on average on Food, Gas, Cash Withdrawals and Miscellanious. If you see an area that you are overspending, it’s easy to see where you need to trim back. Then list your income to see what you have left. I recommend putting Savings under the expense catagory, otherwise people don’t do it.

Most people have some debt, but may not truely know how much. Along with the budget, to the side of the item like “Credit cards”, put the overall balance. The only way to pay off debt and manage a budget is to have a very clear plan.

List all the debt in another area in order of priority. For example, my husband and I owed a decent amount on credit cards, then a small loan for our wedding rings, one for our golf cart, and student loans. The credit card was the highest interest rate, so we paid the minimum on everything else and paid as much as possible to the credit card. Once that was paid, we compounded what we paid for the credit card along with the next item (student loan) and paid that off like crazy. By the time we got to the last item, we were paying $800 a month off our last debt because we compounded it.

I know you said you didn’t want anything time consuming, but if there is anything to spend a few more minutes on a month, it would be your family finances.

Lisa asks…

Where can I find some family budget spreadsheets?

I want to make a budget for me and my family. I been trying to make one for the last couple years. We have some debts we wanna pay off and a financial goal. thanks for your time.

richmama answers:

Right on your computer. Microsoft spreadsheet. Use some accounting tools, like assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity. Then break it down from there.

Nancy asks…

How do I create a family budget?

How do I create a family budget that’s easy to implement and follow for years to come?

richmama answers:

I would recommend spending $19.95 on a book Called “Financial Peace” Written by Dave Ramsey. “More than Enough” is also a good second book if you like the first written by the same author. The book is written on an easy to read (6th grade level) It covers budgeting and gives sample budget’s it also encourages you to sit down with your spouse to establish and keep a budget. I do not use all Dave Ramsey’s suggestions but anyone that does will not go wrong. The base of his teachings is very valid and useful. I firmly believe anyone starting out with these tools will not go wrong. Remember in life though a little common sense goes along way Good luck to you

Donald asks…

Best websites for establishing a Family Budget?

I need to get my family on a budget. I’m Bad with money and am willing to learn how to get better- but I need a starting point.
Any suggestions?

richmama answers:

I suggest you go to Dave Ramsey’s website. He has a lot of financial forms or you can do the budget on line. He also has an easy to understand book The Total Money Makeover to help navigate a budget, get out of debt, save for emergencies, save for big purchases, save for collage, retirement, etc.

We have used his plan for about 3 years, we love his advice.

If you end up thinking he is too intense then try Crown Financial (link below).

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Your Questions About Pay Off Credit Card With Another Credit Card

William asks…

What to do pay off another credit card or put money on the procedure I need to have done?

I paid off my 2 highest credit cards. I now have almost 1000.00 dollars tha I could put on the medical procedure Cosmetic and not covered with INSURANCE. or I can take the money and pay on a credit card that gives me low 1.99% interest until November? by the way this amount will pay all but 250.00 on that credit card. What to do? And by the way thank you to everyone who helped with previous question!

richmama answers:

To be in the best financial position in the future, you should put the $1,000 into the credit card and not use credit cards for something that is not needed right away. If you can save up enough to payoff the remainder of the credit card and pay cash for the procedure, you are golden.

Ask yourself this question: Would you borrow money from a friend or family to have this procedure done?

Ken asks…

Using a credit card to pay off another CC?

I have three credit cards:
One with ~17% APR, the other two are 0% APR.

I rarely use the other two (they don’t have a good “cash back” deal). Now, my question is, I’m having a little trouble paying my bills this month, and I don’t want to incur the high ~17% interest. So, can I just pay that CC off with one of my 0% APR?
Why 6 months?

And I pay off my CC debts every month in full, so never incur any of these penalties. It’s just this month I’m foreseeing having troubles.

richmama answers:

Sure you ‘can’, but that did not magically make your financial situation any better, nor pay down the debt that you incurred, just hid it someplace else. Not much of an advantage to getting ‘cash back’ if you are paying 17% on the outstanding balance?!? Unless you are getting back more each month then you are paying in interest then it is a waste to have that card.

Steven asks…

how do you pay off a credit card with another credit card?

I want to pay off one of my cards with another credit card so I can consolidate everything to the card with the lowest interest and so I don’t have to pay a monthly balance for two cards. When I click Make a Payment, it asks for checking account information like bank account number, routing number etc. but I don’t want to pay by checking. How can I do this?

richmama answers:

Call up the credit card company you are going to be transferring your balance to and ask them for some checks to do this. Or, they may have another way that they make this convenient. Just be careful by putting the other balance over on the card, that you aren’t going to be getting over 50% of the available limit on your card. That may trigger them to jack up the interest or minimum payment.

Mandy asks…

Can you pay off a credit card with ANOTHER credit card?

Can you pay off a credit card with ANOTHER credit card?

richmama answers:

It’s usually called a Balance transfer and if you’re a good customer with a decent credit score the credit card companies will often have lower APRs for the transfered balances. Sometimes a Balance transfer fee is applied as well.

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Your Questions About Fandango

Daniel asks…


Is Fandango‘s prices the same if you buy them at the theater? Also, how do you get the tickets…Do they mail them, print something out, or pick them up when you are at the theaters…

Is there any Prom. Codes for Fandango for $24 w/o tax?

richmama answers:

I see a little silhouetto of a man. Scaramouch, Scaramouch. Will you do the Fandango?

George asks…

How does buying tickets on Fandango work?

How does buying tickets on Fandango work? If my mom buys a ticket for my 5 year old brother to see a PG-13 movie through Fandango, will my brother be allowed to get in?

Thanks! 🙂

richmama answers:

It depends. Your brother would have to go to the ticket window to get his ticket with either his mom’s credit card or if you print out the confirmation number they can retrieve it that way. The person in the booth may not give him the ticket if he is too young unless your mom is getting it with him. However, if they have the ticket kiosk where you can go and handle that without a person, just the computer, it will print the ticket out for you. Once your brother goes inside though, they may not take his ticket if he is too young and they may reject him. Usually PG-13 movies aren’t too strict, it’s the R movies. It also depends on the person if they care while they’re working or if they don’t care what happens cause they hate their job.

Helen asks…

Is it safe to purchase movie tickets from Fandango with a debit card or will it charge hidden fees or scam me?

I want to buy 3 tickets to go see Aice in Wonderland. I fear that it will get sold out and I’m buying tickets online. Is it safe to use Fandango or will I regret it because of scams?

richmama answers:

Ive bought a couple tickets from them in the past, I have never had a problem. They seem legit. If the show is sold out the site will say there are no tix available.

Sharon asks…

If I purchase a movie ticket on Fandango will I have to print out a confirmation sheet or what?

I am buying tickets for Saw 3D online for a showing at 9:25 on Fandango. So What do I do?

richmama answers:

Bring ur laptop

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