Do it Yourself, Travel

How to Take a Debt Free Family Vacation and Find Money in Your Budget

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We vacation debt free every two to three years and this year we’re taking the kids to Florida. I’m really excited since it’s been a few years since we’ve gone.

Using our Summer Vacation Planner, we’ve mapped out the details and cost of our vacation.

At the end of this post, you’ll find a link to download a blank copy of our planner.

We are doing everything we can to scrape together the funds and have done a great job so far.

The first thing we started doing is saving the change from every bill we spend. So instead of spending it on something else later, it goes into a piggy bank.

Secondly, we’ve started using the cheap wireless plan for our children’s phone lines.

We’ve been Walmart Family Mobile customers going on a year now and have been able to save the difference it would have cost us had we added their line to our phone plan.

Sometimes saving money is hard, but we’ve learned to find money within our budget by researching less expensive option for our children’s mobile phones.

Our Walmart Family Mobile service is $29.88 a month (for the first line) and they get unlimited talk, text & data which includes up to 500MB of 4G LTE data.
To add one line to my phone plan would have cost me $35 a month plus taxes. The difference has been a savings of $5.12 a month, which equals up to $81.92 in the 16-months we’ve been using Walmart Family Mobile.

That’s enough to cover the cost of a one day admission ticket into Universal Studios.

  • Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to or your local Walmart for current pricing.

How much could you be saving if you switched to a cheaper mobile plan?

Even the phones are a great value. We just got the LG Optimus L90 from Walmart for only $99.82 for my son and I’ve been using it to research hotels and attractions.

My kids are pretty savvy when it comes to saving money and are being taught many of our money saving techniques. The ones we are instilling this year are our 10 tips for planning a debt free vacation, which I’ll share with you as well.

How to Take a Debt Free Family Vacation

1-Start saving early. At least six to twelve months in advance. Even before we decide where we are going, we begin saving for our vacation. Where you decide to stash your money can be as simple as a rinsed out pickle jar or an account set up specifically for your vacation fund.

2- Decide on a vacation destination and travel dates. We plan our vacation six months out or even more to ensure that we’ll have ample time to save the money needed. The earlier you choose your travel dates the more time you’ll have to plan and prepare.

3- Research the details of your trip. Free vacation planning guides and internet research will help you figure out what your total cost will be for lodging, food, transportation, entertainment and any other expenses. Now divide your total by the number of months until your vacation. Your answer will be how much you’ll need to save each month for your trip at full price.

4- Feed the pig. Now that you have some concrete numbers to work with you’ll need to get focused on how much you throw in the piggy bank. If the total from step three is unreachable within the time frame you set, consider changing your vacation dates to allow more time to save.

5- Follow the destination discounts. This is the fun part because as you begin to find deals on dining, attractions and more, you’ll see your vacation balance begin to decrease
6- Find extra money to fund your trip. Not all of us have a built in vacation budget so we’ll need to be a little more creative with our vacation funding. I believe that the sky is the limit in terms of how you can come up with cash for a vacation. We’ve used Shopkicks and Swagbucks to pay for dining at Disney. I have used survey earnings to pay for vacations and money earned from blogging. You could also take a part-time job or consider creating a business that could fund your vacation.

7- Begin a coin spending freeze. A coin spending freeze takes place when you decide not to spend any coins, only dollar bills. If you use cash only this will be easy to do.


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Every time you break a bill, the change from your transaction will be placed into the vacation savings account. This can be done at the end of each day or week.

If you use a bank card more than cash just use the roundup method. Every time you make a purchase instead of recording the exact amount down to the penny in your checkbook, simply round up to the nearest whole dollar.

At the end of the day or week you can transfer the overage amount into your vacation fund.

8- Couponing to aVacation is when you begin designating your weekly grocery savings toward your vacation. Whatever amount her receipt says you’ve saved, can be deposited into a vacation fund.

You can use her technique to coupon your way to any destination. If you are already couponing you’re half way there.

For this to work you’ll need to set a weekly, biweekly or monthly grocery budget. The goal is to try and come in under budget each month.

Having a grocery, hygiene and household items stockpile really comes in handy when trying to reduce your grocery budget. If your monthly grocery budget is $650 but you only spend $450, you now have $200 to add to your vacation savings.

9- Make a little extra money for your opinion. You can use your time to test on products, mystery shop and provide your feedback for compensation.

Getting started is easy and you can read more about that HERE.

10- Don’t go into debt. The final tip is simple. If the vacation is going to encourage you to borrow or neglect other obligations, consider putting it off for a few months. The best part of vacationing debt free is coming home and knowing that you won’t receive any bills 30 days days after your vacation.

Thanks for checking out my money saving tips!! Here’s a special treat for you. Go ahead and download this FREE Printable Summer Vacation Planner.


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21 thoughts on “How to Take a Debt Free Family Vacation and Find Money in Your Budget

  1. I need this post in my life! We're hoping to go to Hawaii next year (debt free of course) and need to start planning now. With three kids vacations just got a little pricier but I know we'll be able to still manage 1-2 a year. #client

  2. I like your reminder that we should budget in order to do what we want rather than budgeting to stop ourselves from spending money.

  3. This is really helpful. Sometimes though, it's definitely difficult because no matter how much we budget, there will always be something that happens to keep us from our budget.

  4. I usually plan my vacations based on my tax returns and use that for our vacations and we try and do a trip every year. Those are all great tips although I won't be able to do the coin freeze since I always use debit and never cash.

  5. I love how valuable your Posts always are . I've applied the Coin Freeze as one of mt saving methods. Each time I get change it goes into an old paint pan I only open in December of Each Year. Great Tips

  6. Funny how quickly those pennies turn into dollars! We have Walmart Family Mobile, too, and love it! Why pay more?!

  7. I love the WFM plans. Great service for such a great price. It makes it easier to save for things like vacations, which I desperately need to take.

  8. The phone plan def. sounds like a great way to cut back and save. We're feeding the pig over here too for summer vacay. I'm super excited for summer to come, and you're going to Fl. so I know you are too, woot! 🙂

  9. What great tips and inspiration for more families to do this! Great job!

  10. I've never heard of a coin freeze! Will have to try that.

  11. Those are all such excellent ideas! Following the destination discounts are always my favorite because then I feel like I start to see the trip materialize in front of me as I'm paying for flight, food, hotels, etc. I might be crazy but I think saving and planning for a vacation is SO fun!

  12. These are wonderful tips to save money and still take a much needed vacation!

  13. Those are great tips. I had no clue that Walmart's phone plans were so affordable!

  14. Great tips! We already started to save and this tips will be perfect for our goal. Thank you.

  15. What great tips you shared. I would love to go on vacation on come back not paying for the debt I obtained while having fun

  16. These are all great tips! We just started saving all of our coins to go towards our pixie dust filled vacation and I started saving for a trip next year.

  17. We are going to Florida next year on vacation also! I am already starting to save…I have been selling our old cell phones on ebay!

  18. Great tips! I use the piggy bank system too, the change adds up so quickly, I cashed in $500 over six months last time!

  19. Smart ideas! Budgeting is so key to keeping finances in order. Thanks for sharing your advice.

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