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

overspent-on-vacation

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!

 

How to Help Your Children Make Better Buying Decisions

So my some comes up to me and says, “Mom, I have a hundred dollars…Can I spend it?”  Since I am not quite sure how a 7 year old amassed over hundred bucks I said no.  I also said no because I know my kid has a passion for flim flam, gizmos and gimcrack.

Some children seem to be born with a natural money sense that helps them immediately to make smart spending decisions. The other 95% of children need to be taught how to save, and spend, their money. As a parent, it is one of your many jobs to help your children learn about money. It’s not always easy but it certainly is a valuable life lesson. Let’s explore a few tips and strategies to help your children make better buying decisions.

#1 Give Them Cash

When you take your children school shopping, do you wait in line to pay for everything or do you give them cash? Do you set a spending limit? One of the best ways to help children grasp the concept of money and spending limits is to give them a specific amount of cash to spend on school shopping.

For example, if you’ve allotted $150 per child for back to school clothes, give them $150 in cash. You can still hang around and approve the purchases – and you probably want to. However, make them carry the money, wait in line, and pay for their purchases from the cash you’ve give them. Under no circumstances do you give them any more. If they’re short at the end of the day and don’t have enough money to pay for a shirt they just have to have, too bad. This is a teaching moment!

And if they have cash left over? Consider letting them keep it, provided they spend it on stuff for school later.

#2 Make Them Save for It

When your child comes to you and says, “Mom can I have…” consider asking them to save their money to pay for part of the purchase. For example, your child may want a new iPhone or a gaming system. Fine. They can show you how badly they want it by saving up enough money to pay for half. Chances are if they really want it, they’ll save up. And if they don’t want it then you’ve saved yourself some money. It’s a good lesson in how to save and how to decide what’s worth saving for.

#3 Explain Real Costs

Speaking of that iPhone, it’s very easy for a child to place a dollar value on an item and to think in terms of black and white. However, many items – including the iPhone – continue to cost money. One year of data for a smart phone costs around $360, not including the actual cost of the phone. If your child wants a new iPhone, ask them if it’s worth $500 to them. It’s an opportunity to explain the real costs of things.

Children often learn about money by making mistakes. However, as a parent you can help them grasp a broader knowledge of money. They’ll begin to make better decisions and ideally make fewer money mistakes.

Tweet – 3 Surprising and effective tactics to teach your kids how to make smart buying decisions. LINK

How to Plan Back to School Shopping

Finally, an attack plan for the best of us.  Don’t let back to school shopping get you down.  Planning is the best way to get the most for your time and money. And when it comes to back to school spending, the goal is often to do it as quickly and as cheaply as possible. While it may seem too soon to start thinking about back to school shopping, it is right around the corner. Planning now will save you later.

Take a Look at What You Usually Spend

Take a look at your bank and credit card statements for the past few years to assess how much you usually spend. This information will help you set a budget for your children this year. Remember that school materials and supplies should be included in the budget along with clothing.

Take a Look at Your Current Budget

It’s quite possible that your financial situation is different than it was last year. Take a look at your current budget. How much can you afford to spend on back to school shopping this year? You may be able to spend more or you may have to spend less.

Additionally, knowing how much you spent last year can help you make good budgeting decisions this year. For example, if you know you spent $300 last year and can only afford $200 this year, you may be able to shift a few things in your monthly budget to find that extra $100.

Make a List of What You Need

How much have your children grown? What clothing do they need and what do they want? Make a list of the items they need and start prioritizing. Ask your children to get involved in this process. They can try last year’s clothing on and let you know which items they want to keep and which items are no longer appropriate.

What Stores Will You Visit?

As it gets closer to that inevitable shopping day, consider taking your child to thrift stores. Many used clothing stores sell brand name items that are in ideal condition. If your children are brand conscious, they may enjoy being able to purchase more for their money while still looking cool.

Give Them Cash

One of the best ways to stick to your budget and your shopping plan is to hand the budgeted amount to each child. Children have a tendency to go overboard when they’re shopping. They find that one brand name sweatshirt and spend half of their budget on it. Then they cry a few weeks later when they’re forced to wear the same shirt over and over again. They make much smarter buying decisions when they get to hold the cash in their hand. They tend to want to get more for their money – it almost becomes a game for them.

Decide when to Go

Finally, set the date. You can save a lot of money if you go school shopping about a month after school starts. Items go on sale and children are able to buy what the cool kids are wearing at school at a much lower price. If they absolutely must have a new outfit for school, then buy one outfit for that first day and then commit to taking them shopping in a few weeks when things go on sale.

 

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.

Budget

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.