While You’re Traveling Food Doesn’t Have To Break The Bank

Through a series of circumstances, my daughter is joining me in California this week. I will be there for work – while she (at age 17) will be at Disneyland with her friend. It is sort of a cheaper version of Spring Break for them. But a trip that they get to sort of do on their own. I already had a room because I’m there for work. We cashed in some airline points. She has had a few dog-sitting gigs that gave her enough money to get the discounted Disney tickets on her own. She also got $60 from a grandparent who found out she was going so that will act as her “souvenier” money.

Since I’ve been writing about cheap meal menus for the past couple weeks, I thought this would be a good time to talk about how we don’t let eating out every day eat our entire month’s food budget.

When I arrive on Monday afternoon, I will swing by Trader Joes’ and get some yogurts and some bagels/cream cheese and apples, bananas or grapes (things that don’t need big fridge space) for us all to eat for breakfasts all week. We did check that the hotel rooms do have a small fridge. Also, when we are at the store, we will plan at least a couple nights of sandwiches. So we will buy some lunchmeat, bread and chips.  We will plan to drink water – my daughter doesn’t drink carbonated anything – so that saves on soda money plus all that sugar. We have been told that the girls can bring water bottles into the park and refill them. This will save them a lot of money. When we are at Trader Joe’s we will also get them some snacks just to have in their backpack (and back in the room) to tide them over. I have told her since it is a “vacation” she can get one snack each afternoon. But hey she’s a teen and will be in the park with just her friend so what she does with her money is really her own.

We have done our research of things that the girls can eat with a smaller budget at Disneyland. These include apparently to-die-for corn dogs ($9.95 includes chips), we have also heard a hot spot is Bengal BBQ outside of Indiana Jones ride has some great deals (Someone told just just around $5 for a couple meat skewers), and Jolly Holiday soup around $6. They also researched some lobster nachos at California Adventure that the girls think they can share. There is a fruit bar where you can get healthy snacks for under $5. However, depending on what we find at Trader Joe’s I may tell the girls to bring a piece of fruit with them in their backpack. I also tell them that they should eat late lunch/early dinner to try to get dinner (something more filling but also at the lunch prices).

The great news is that, since I’m there for work, I will have a daily stipend so while food is more expensive than what I’ve been cooking at home the last couple weeks – this will at least be off-set by that stipend.

We will let you know how we do on this budget trip to Disneyland when we return. Until then, have a super week.

Bored On A Budget

I am a product of parents who didn’t always have much money and I am almost always living paycheck to paycheck (I get paid commission – so I have to manage my money). We were never at a loss for things to do. I am not certain if it is because of where we live or just how my parents are. We live in Colorado so there is always a hike to take which is free or we could go fishing – which could take all day but cost nothing more than the pole and bait or just go on a four-wheel drive costing only the gas.

So it sort of irritates me when I’m hanging out with friends and someone implies that he is bored because he is on a budget. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of things to do in Denver that cost money. And don’t think that snowboarding is cheap. (although I have figured out how to make it less expensive – I’ll tell you in another post). I’ve created a little list of things that you could do that don’t cost [much].

  1. Go on a hike. There are tons of great trails all around our city and state.
  2. Go to a free outdoor concert. Almost every corner of Denver has a free concert with great local bands through the summer.
  3. Go to a free outdoor movie. The same thing as with the concerts – there are great movies that are free around town.
  4. Go to the Denver Bronco’s Training Camp (it’s like watching a free pro football game).
  5. Go to a Factory Tour. We’ve got Celestial Seasonings, Hammond’s and Coors right here!
  6. Go to one of the Many Free Museums. Check out SCFD.org to get some ideas. Here are some of our favorites: U.S. Mint, University of Colorado Museum, Aurora History Museum, School of Mines Geology Museum and now the Denver Art Museum let’s kids under 18 go free everyday (adults are free on the 1st Saturday of every month).
  7. Attend a Free Cooking Class. Whole Foods often has free classes. My kids and I went to the Cheese-making class and made our own mozzarella. It was delicious, fun and Free!
  8. Go to the Library. Yes, libraries are still relevant (in fact I love love love mine). There are lectures, classes, movies, story-time and more. Plus the plethora of books, movies, cd’s and more on loan.

So don’t say you’re bored because you are on a budget. All that means is you need to find something to do!

My Relationship With Money

Have you ever thought about why you do the things you do with money? Do you value it different than your friends? Where do your money attitudes come from anyway?

I grew up in a middle American household. There were weeks when the money was tight and there were weeks when the money flowed a little more freely. I wonder how many times my mom would take me to the mall to shop for clothes and we would bee-line it to the sale rack. “You can fall in love with something on sale” was a typical statement. Or “wait a few weeks and if you still want it and it’s still here…” (meaning it will likely go on sale and if I still like it then it would be a good (not impulsive) purchase.

I divorced several years ago now. My ex was horrible with money. We had gotten ourselves in so much debt we were living in his parent’s basement. We didn’t have the money to pay our bills. We were in DEEP. After divorcing and being completely in charge of my own money – my attitude started to change. I got excited to see my savings account add up. I got excited about paying OFF my bills completely (I was following the Dave Ramsey plan – if you don’t know it. You should!) But I sort of became obsessed with it. I was working 4 jobs at one point (just so I get throw extra money at my debts), I had a precarious balance in my life between my kids and jobs. There really wasn’t time for anything else. I think that is the point. If I had not gotten myself in so much trouble with money in the first place – I would not have to spend this time now trying so hard to get out of it.

Having a bit more money (and no debt except house) has not made me a happier person (I was pretty happy all along). But I will say the less stress has made me a more fun person to be around. I have learned there is a lot you can do without a bunch of money.

On this journey I’ve learned that money is important but is not everything. Your relationship doesn’t have to make it be everything. If you are vigilant and pay attention to your money (hello budget) – you will have the time to pay attention to what really matters – family and friends. If you learned how to act with your money (from your parents, spouse or something else) you can unlearn that thought process too.