How We Have Done Two Family Vacations and Now Christmas Debt Free- Guest Post

Thank you to my friend Kiersten of for taking the time to share her family’s financial story with all of you. I have been motivated and inspired by her story and I hope you will be as well!

I can say it quite easily: I am not good with money; it oozes through my fingers like honey. I love to buy things for people, treat friends to coffee, buy cute clothes and gifts for my kids, and find cute items in thrift stores. Next thing I know… boom, I’m broke. My husband on the other hand is very frugal. It takes some convincing to get him to spend a dime (I love that about him).

At the end of last year I knew I needed some financial training….and quick. Thankfully, I won Dave Ramsey DVD’s, a workbook, and a book through a great blogger, These resources and style of spending changed my life.

“Give every dollar a name,” Mr. Ramsey says. We decided to take that and run with it, which began our first well-defined budget. Following our priorities, we first paid tithe. Then we paid our essentials: rent, phone, utilities, groceries, gas, insurance, emergency savings, etc. Then we asked ourselves, “what is coming up that we need to save for?” Our conclusion became our other categories: Christmas, DMV, Costco Membership, Doctor, Vehicle repairs. Next came: fun money, charities, gifts, misc. You get the picture. These things we save a little for each month, so that when the time comes to buy new tires for the car or something similar, we have the money already saved. Each dollar has a purpose! It has been so liberating to finally take charge of each dollar we earn. So liberating, in fact it has allowed us to make some of our dreams a reality.

In just 3 short months after giving birth to this new financial life, we had enough saved (through thorough planning, frugal saving, selling items at the swap meet and on Craigslist, and our budgeted dollars) to take our kids to Disneyland! We were able to pay (in cash) for our tickets, gas, hotel, food, souvenirs, coffee, and parking.

The kids each had envelopes with allotted cash to pay for their own treats and souvenirs. Whenever they would ask for something all I had to say was, “How much money is in your envelope?” They would count the money and decide 1. if the item they wanted was worth the purchase 2. if they had enough money for the item. I was amazed by how they would not just buy anything. The item had to be WORTH their money. It was a lesson they understood just a few months after I had realized similar truths. It was a beautiful sight. The items they purchased hold great value in their hearts. They aren’t just pushed aside or broken, they are valued!

This was by far the most amazing trip of our lives!

Just 3 more months later, we had saved enough money to take our kids on a summer road/camping trip! We traveled through 7 different states, camping and exploring many beautiful places! We made a large 3,000 mile circle through Oregon, Washington, Iowa, Montana, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and back to California. We again did frugal planning, shopping for necessities at local thrift stores beforehand (camping equipment), and we camped in the back of our truck (camper shell) instead of staying in hotels. The kids again had the envelope system and were amazing. Taking a trip like that with NO DEBT left joy in place of a sense of financial burden.

Financial planning is great for crazy road trips and practical for every need and want. Saving for Christmas since the beginning of the year has filled this upcoming holiday with the joy it deserves! We do not have to worry about if the money is there. Now all we need to worry about is what to get that special person(s)! Now family members reading this, don’t go and think we’re rolling in the dough and ask for a BMW…we aren’t rolling in THAT much dough!

As you can see, budgeting has brought more freedom in my life; especially since our budget includes GIVING! As I mentioned before, giving is a pure joy for me! It is liberating to know the money is there, my husband is in full support of my giving, and I have freedom to walk in my passions (within our means)! On the flip-side, it comforting for my hard-working man to know that I live within our agreed financial means and that won’t be using our rent money to buy cute little light-up shoes for the kids!

You can see more of Kiersten’s photos from their crazy road trip adventures on her blog: The Aspiring Kiersten is a stay-at-home mom of 2 adventurous children, a wife to a hard working man, a massage practitioner, a thrift store shopper, and a lover of photography, coffee, hiking, and friendships.


One thought on “How We Have Done Two Family Vacations and Now Christmas Debt Free- Guest Post

  1. Great advice! Looks like you guys had such a great time. My family and I have recently made a trip to an indoor water park in Duluth, MN. The kids had a blast and my wife and I were able to kick back and relax. Couldn’t have gone better. I have enjoyed reading your posts, keep up the good work.

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