8 Tips How to Plan Family Vacations on a Budget

How to plan family vacations on a budgetSummer is approaching and most of us are looking forward to planning and going on family vacations. And while summer is a good time to travel since the kids are out of school, it can also be an expensive time to travel with prices going up during this time. Even though prices may be higher, an enjoyable vacation doesn’t have to be expensive. You can plan fun and inexpensive family vacations on a budget. Some of our children’s most fun vacations are the simple ones like camping, swimming, hiking or going to the beach.

Here are 8 tips for planning and budgeting for family vacations:

 

1.  Research Vacation Places & Costs

Decide on your top 5-10 places you want to vacation then begin to research how much it will cost to visit to each place. Do research online and make phone calls to ask questions. Then add up all of the expenses and figure out how much money an entire trip will cost to each of your vacation spots. The expenses should include travel, housing, food, rental cars, gas, souvenirs and entertainment. You will then need to decide how much you can realistically afford to spend on a vacation and how much you are willing to spend on a vacation.

You can do fun vacations, even if it’s on a small budget. If you can’t afford a vacation this year, that’s okay. A vacation isn’t a need, it’s a want. You can still have a great summer without going into more debt. And you can start setting aside money for an upcoming vacation you want to take.

A few years ago our family decided that we really wanted to go to Disneyland. We researched how much it would cost, and then we began to plan and save for it. It took us about two years to save for it, and we were finally able to go. It turned out to be so much fun! Our kids still talk about it today. You can head over here to read all about our experience, how much money we spent, and how we were able to vacation at Disneyland on a Budget.

 

2. Start Saving

I highly recommend that you don’t go on a vacation until you’ve saved up money for it. Once you’ve determined which vacation spot you want to go to, and you researched how much money it will cost, figure out how much money you need to save each month to have the necessary funds for your trip. For instance, if your trip will cost $2,000 and you can afford to set aside $100 a month, then it will take 20 months until you’ve saved enough money. Sometimes it takes time to save up enough money, but it’s worth it to not go in debt and have that stress of paying off your vacation on top of all your other expenses.

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DIY Homemade Hair Detangler

DIY 2 ingredient homemade hair detanglerAs a mother of two girls, I’m constantly trying to brush tangles out of my girls’ hair every day. And many times they’ll say “ouch that hurts” as I’m brushing their hair. I want to cut my oldest daughter’s hair so it’s closer to her shoulders and easier to brush, but she said that she wants to grow out her hair so she can donate it to Locks of Love. I can’t argue with that, so we just deal with the tangly hair each day.

Recently when I went to a salon to get my hair cut, my stylist and I were discussing tangly hair. She told me about a hair detangling brush that works really well. I want to try this hair detangling brush here. However, I decided to first do some research online about how to make a homemade hair detangler, and I found that I only needed two ingredients. It’s so easy and inexpensive to make! I can’t believe that I didn’t do it sooner. And I’m saving money by not going out and buying hair detangler at the store. The complete directions to the DIY Homemade Hair Detangler is below:

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7 Make Ahead Freezer Meals

make ahead freezer mealsEasy, homemade make ahead freezer meals that you can make ahead for the crockpot or casseroles to freeze.

 

Having make ahead freezer meals on busy days when I don’t have much time to make dinner helps out so much. If I have easy dinner ideas I can pull out of the freezer, this saves me from running to the store at the last minute or going to the drive-thru to purchase fast food. It takes time to plan and make freezer meals, but in the long run it saves you time and money. These seven recipes are easy freezer meals that you can make ahead in the crock pot or as casseroles and are beef and chicken freezer meals.

I’ll admit that when I was planning out a week of freezer meals, I thought I would have time on one day to get all these freezer meals completed. Well, guess what? Life happened. Every day when I was trying to do the freezer meals, I would make one freezer meal and then that’s all the time I had. So I’ve learned that for me and my crazy schedule, I can only plan to make one or two freezer meals a day. And since most of the freezer meals make a double batch, I usually used one of the freezer meals for dinner that night and then I froze the other one. So for those of you busy moms like me, try only doing a few at a time like I did.

If you would like to receive a printable copy of all 7 freezer meals below, CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP and I’ll send it to you.

Before you get see the seven freezer meals, here are some questions you may have had about freezer meals or freezing food.

 

What Can You Meal Prep and Freeze?

There are many foods you can meal prep and freeze. I’ve compiled a list of 70 foods you can freeze or that don’t freeze well that will help you when you meal prep.

Most of the time if you see that a certain food is in the frozen section of the grocery store, then you can most likely prepare and freeze it at home too. There are certain ways to prepare foods for freezing. Click here see the full list of foods.

And these seven make ahead freezer meals right here can be prepared in advance and frozen. Then when you are ready to use them, pull them out of the freezer and allow them to thaw in the refrigerator for a day or two.

PRO TIP: If you don’t have time to thaw the crock pot make ahead freezer meals, you can place the entire frozen meal into the crock pot and cook on low 8-10 hours. The meal turns out great and the meat easily shreds.

If you don’t have time to thaw the make ahead freezer casseroles in the refrigerator, you can still bake them frozen in the oven. However, you’ll need to add 1-3 hours additional cooking time in the oven depending on the size of the casserole.

 

What Cooked Foods Freeze Well?

I like to cook food in advance and freeze it. Some foods that I cook in advance and freeze for later is shredded chicken and ground beef, breads and muffins, rolls and biscuits, pancakes and waffles, cookies and cake (if we don’t eat them all first), and soups and casseroles. See how to freeze all of these foods and more by clicking here.

After cooking food, it’s important to cool the food before freezing it.  Allow the hot food to cool down to almost room temperature, and then freeze the food within 1-2 hours. Food shouldn’t be left out more than two hours because bacteria grow rapidly and the food can become unsafe to eat.

When you are ready to use your freezer meals, thaw food in the refrigerator or microwave and cook it. You can then refreeze it if you have leftovers. By cooking and then freezing food, you are killing the bacteria and bringing the food to a level that is safe to eat.

However, never eat or freeze food that has been left out of refrigeration too long. Many bacteria produce heat-resistant toxins that cannot be destroyed by reheating food at a high temperature. And freezing food will not kill the bacteria of food that is spoiling or already spoiled.

 

What Meals Can Be Frozen and Reheated? Or What Meals Can I Freeze for Later?

If you have ever wondered what meals can be frozen and reheated or what meals you can freeze for later, then below are seven make ahead freezer meals to prepare and put in your freezer. If you like new freezer meal ideas, you’ll also want to check out these 12 favorite freezer meals here.

 

favorite freezer mealsYou can also receive a printable copy of 12 Favorite Freezer Meals that my family loves. CLICK HERE and sign up to receive it.

 

Below are 7 make ahead freezer meals that my family enjoys eating.

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How to Vacation at Disneyland on a Budget (Part 1)

how to vacation at Disneyland on a budget

Welcome!

I’m glad you stopped by! Today I want to share with you how to vacation at Disneyland on a Budget.

My family had a chance to go to Disneyland this year during Halloween time, and it was so much fun! This is the first time we have been to Disneyland as a family. We have been saving for two years to be able to go. The way we saved was that every month as we had extra income, we would place money in our “Vacation” envelope. Sometimes it was $20 and other times it was $100 or $200. We also used some money from our tax returns each year to set aside additional money. In addition, we involved our children by talking about our goal to go to Disneyland and we made Disneyland jars for our girls so they could help save money. Every time they earned money, they would add it to their jar. My girls were so excited that they would ask to do extra chores around they house so that they could earn money for their Disneyland jars. Our whole family was involved in saving to go to Disneyland.

I’m not by any means a Disneyland expert, but I researched a lot of information about how to save money and save time at Disneyland. I’ve compiled the tips below and am sharing with you our experience and how our family vacationed at Disneyland on a budget. And many of these tips could be used to help your family save money and time at Disneyland. After you read these tips, head over here to read How to Vacation at Disneyland on a Budget (Part 2). And if you want even more tips, get the Disneyland on Any Budget book by Jessica Sanders from The Happiest Blog on Earth. She is a Disneyland expert and has useful information and tips on flights, hotels, rentals, food and more that will help you to visit Disneyland on a budget.

 

disneyland-jars

 

disneyland-jars-with-girlsSaving Money for Disneyland

 

Disneyland isn’t cheap! It costs a lot of money to go to Disneyland, but it is a fun experience for the family. If you plan on going to Disneyland, you’ll want to estimate that it will cost roughly about $3,000 to $4,000. How much it costs depends on how many people are in your family, if you fly or drive there, how long you stay, where you eat, as well as other factors. Our family of 5 spent about $2,500, with the largest cost being the hotel and Disneyland tickets. Here is the break down of what we spent:

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We Paid Cash: Baby Boy’s Tear Duct Eye Surgery

Matthew Surgery Before

My 16-month old baby boy had to have surgery on his tear duct a few months ago, and it was really difficult to go through.

Since the time my baby boy was born, his left eye has been goopy and weepy. Our pediatrician said that most children outgrow it, and we thought that’s what would happen. But his eye never got better. We finally went to see an eye doctor at Primary Children’s Hospital. At the end of the exam, the eye doctor said surgery was needed and that there was either a membrane clogging the tear duct or the tear duct was too small when he was born. After many prayers, we went ahead and scheduled the surgery.

Once the day of the surgery arrived, I was really nervous. Even though I knew this was a minor surgery and the doctor had done this type of a procedure thousands of times, I was worried about complications during the surgery or how my baby would react to the anesthesia. We arrived at the hospital early on a Thursday morning and checked in. We were taken to a room where a nurse did a health exam, and then we sat in a waiting area until the doctor came out to talk with us for a few minutes followed by the anesthesiologist talking to us.

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What Is BerryCart and How It Will Save You Money

BerryCart and how it will save you money

BerryCart is an app that pays you cash back when you buy natural, organic, gluten free and non-GMO foods and beverages. It can be used in more than 25,000 locations including Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Walmart and more. New offers are available on Thursdays, and many of the offers are available in limited quantities so be sure to check current offers before you go shopping to ensure the ones you want are still available. BerryCart is a great app because it has rebates available for products that typically do not have coupons. If there are coupons are available, the rebates can be stacked with the coupons for additional savings. Here’s how it works:

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What Is Shopkick and How It Will Save You Money

Shopkick and how it will save you money

Earn points or “kicks” with the Shopkick app when you walk into a store, scan barcodes on specific products, or purchase products.  You don’t need to purchase anything at a store to collect points. You can walk in the store, get the points, scan barcodes on specific products, and leave. The “kicks” that can be redeemed for gift cards and other products at a variety of stores. Here’s how it works:

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What is Shopmium and How It Will Save You Money

Shopmium and how it will save you money

Shopmium has exclusive offers that you can purchase at any store that sells the product, and it allows you to receive a cash rebate for purchasing these select products. There are offers that allow you to get a percent off the product. They also have offers that are set price points. For instance, if they say a product is only $1, they will refund you up to a certain amount if you paid more than $1 for the product. This app only works with iPhones or Smartphones. Here’s how it works:

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What is SavingStar and How It Will Save You Money

SavingStar and how it will save you money

SavingStar is a grocery eCoupon app that allows you to save digital manufacturer coupons to your supermarket and drugstore loyalty cards. More than 100 retail chains participate in SavingStar. There are participating stores that do not have traditional loyalty cards such as Albertsons, Farm Fresh, Hy-Vee and more. Head over here to see how these stores work with SavingStar without a traditional loyalty card. And there are stores without loyalty cards such as Walmart, Target, Costco, Walgreens and more, where you can take a picture of your receipt to get the savings.

Every week, there is a 100% off freebie offer from SavingStar, as well as healthy offers. And every first of the month new offers are available. Since these are manufacturer coupons, you shouldn’t stack these eCoupons with other manufacturer coupons for the same purchase. You can use these eCoupons in addition to in-store coupons. And SavingStar has “One or Many” promotions where you can be rewarded for multiple purchases of products. For instance, save $5 when you purchase $20 on specific products. These purchases can be done in one shopping trip or many shopping trips and multiple stores. Here is how it works:

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What is Favado and How It Will Save You Money

Favado and how it will save you money

Favado is a mobile savings app that helps you save money by notifying you when your favorite items are on sale at nearby grocery and drugstores. Favado compares deals and savings across local stores to see which has the best prices on items you need that week. And the app shows you what coupons are available to use with the sales to help you save even more money–sometimes up to 70% on everyday items. In addition, Favado allows you to build your weekly shopping list within the app. Here is how it works:

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