Dave Ramsey won’t like what I’m going to tell you today, but it works for us. Only you know your spending habits and whether or not you can pull this off, so use common sense. (Have you seen my Real Food Rookie Version of Dave Ramsey’s Money Principles?)
As all of us real foodies know, we need to prioritize our health, and that means buying quality food. Yes, there are ways to watch the budget when buying real food, but some things, like avoiding mystery meat or mystery milk for two examples, are usually going to be more expensive. (Read about healthy milk choices here or healthy meat choices here.)
As Joel Salatin says, though: “Pay now or pay later” and “Have you priced cancer lately?”
So because A. we spend more on real food and it’s a big part of our budget, B. we are committed to tithing/helping others in need, and C. homeschooling can also be expensive, we usually don’t have money leftover for things like family vacations. (Not to mention how screwed up our laws are that make it so hard to get ahead these days, while many are getting crazy unfair handouts, but we won’t go there…)
So we began implementing a system that’s working for us.
Before I tell you what that is, I need to add an important point…
Many people can’t even afford food and shelter, so I realize travel is not a big deal in the whole scheme of things. Showing our kids new places and experiences would be cool, but if we were unable to swing it, there are many more important things that we need to provide our kids with, such as a solid faith, love, giving them a good education, and teaching them about hard work, being a good friend, respecting and helping others, etc. So if we couldn’t travel at all or as much as we’d like to, oh well, it’s not going to kill them. However, it became something of a challenge for me to come up with a plan to try and make this happen, especially since our kids are good ages for traveling right now. Plus we homeschool, so we can go places when others can’t and beat the crowds! (Although we couldn’t do that when we went to Florida and the crowds were ROTTEN at Disney, as you can see in that shot of the castle above.)
So here’s what we do…
We have four credit cards. We put everything on these cards that we can, like groceries, utilities, clothing, online shopping, and other bills. I have a master list of which items get the highest points on which card – it ranges between 2% and 5%. I tried to get our house payment to go through here, too, but they won’t let you do that. I put all other big purchases through here, though, and when our oldest got a new computer recently, I paid for it and had him write us a check. Anytime I can squeeze out more points I will do it.
You’ll have to do some internet searching to find one you like (“best cashback credit cards”) – it will depend on where you shop and what you want out of your card, like cash back, gift cards, travel rewards, etc. We pay a yearly fee on one of them, because with the higher cash back that one was still a good deal. It takes some time to figure all of this out.
I found a refer-a-friend thing on one of our cards where if you sign up you get $100 and I get $50 – cool huh? Just email me and I’ll enter your name in: Kelly@KellytheKitchenKop.com. Or try clicking here. The rewards on that one change each quarter and you get 5% back on certain purchases. When we went to Florida we got 5% back on our expensive Disney tickets and gas, right now it’s paying 5% back on all Amazon purchases.
Last year was our first time testing this and we saved up $1550! Now depending on how much you spend, how many are in your family and how far you’re going, that will determine how long it will take you to save up. But that amount easily would get us an up North family vacation. For bigger vacations you can either put some with what you have saved, which is what we did for our Florida trip, or just save up longer.
As I said, Dave Ramsey wouldn’t like this plan because many don’t pay off their credit cards each month and would end up losing money on all that interest. Thankfully, Kent and I have never paid a penny of interest, and this works great for us. Let me know if you have any other tips or tricks. :)