Category Archives: Money

Giving in to Peer Pressure…or How I Decided to Take My Family to Disney

I’m old enough I should be immune. And in most respects I am. But not completely. So, when the opportunity finally arose we decided to take our kids to Disney. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And lucky me, I won’t be doing any Princess breakfasts or Character meet and greets! After all, my baby is 15! Maybe this timing isn’t so bad after all?

But as the vacation grows closer I get more and more anxious. Actually, annoyed might be a better word. You see, I’m thinking Disney is a racket! Yes, I said it. What every parent has thought at one time or another. I’m having a really hard time moving past the fact that I’m going to spend $500 to walk in the gate! For 1 day! Just one day for my family of 5. For 500 dollars! You know what else I could do for $500?

  • put 4 new tires on the old mini van
  • Pay 1/8 of a semester’s college tuition
  • buy groceries to last 2 1/2 weeks
  • buy a really nice new pair of shoes for every member of my family
  • Replace a couple of windows in my house
  • expand my wardrobe exponentially

I could go on, but you are getting bored and you get the idea. And that is just for 1 day! No one goes to Disney for just one day. That just wouldn’t be right.

So eventually, I may come to terms with that. But then they will want to eat while we are there. Cha-ching! $75 please, if you only want a lunch counter snack. Park? You want to park your car at Disney? Cha-ching! $25 please! You get the idea. And if you’ve been, you are painfully aware of how it all adds up.

As if that isn’t depressing enough, I can’t tell you how many people have warned me that going in March will mean the parks are all packed! Based on the warnings I’ve received, we will wait in line to get in the gate, wait for hours to ride the “best” rides, nearly starve to death waiting to pay an exorbitant price for lunch and need steel toed shoes for all the strollers that will roll obliviously over our feet. Paints quite the picture doesn’t it?

How could a parent not dream of providing this amazing experience for their dear offspring?

It’s all worth it though. Because everyone I talk to assures me that we will make memories that last a lifetime! (Do they realize they are just telling me what the brochure says? – Marketing genius Disney!) This may be one of our last vacations as a family so it is totally worth it! (Do they know something I don’t?)

I’m beside myself with anticipation and excitement! Or, I’m working on it at least. I have got to find my happy place soon! I refuse to spend this ridiculous amount of money and not enjoy absolutely every puking ride, every smashed toe, every hour spent waiting in a line! It will be awesome! I’m actually having a flashback to National Lampoon’s Vacation. I hope there is no moose out front to tell me the park’s closed. I might break into a Chevy Chase inspired rant about the fun we are going to have even if it kills us all!

So why are we going? Well, I’m pretty sure it was in the parenting handbook somewhere. I think we have to or they take away our parenting card. Right? Or did someone make that up?

So, to get into the parent-of-the-month club, I’m taking my kids to Disney. And I am sure we will make memories to last a lifetime just like we have on every family vacation so far. We will talk about it for years, good or bad. This trip really was my idea. (Is this what buyers remorse feels like?) If you have suggestions on how to survive this racket enhance this awesome family vacation, please share! I would be ever so grateful for the tips:).

P.S. I really do appreciate all the advice and “warnings” friends have given me. I’m hoping this has made me prepare for the worst so I’m pleasantly surprised when I get there:)!

P.P.S. Maybe the US Government should take over Disney! That would solve all the budget problems since that is apparently where the wealth of our country is being spent. Oops! Didn’t mean to go political – just a thought:).

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Filed under Advice, Family, Legacy, Lifestyle, Money, Parenting, Travel

Summer of Plumbers

One of our kids needs to become a plumber. That’s all there is to it. We’re on our 3rd plumbing related incident of the summer. Today’s has been the most frustrating.

The first is the shower that won’t quit leaking. Three of us have tried to tighten the screw in the hot water knob to no avail. It appears fixed…for a minute. Then the dripping begins a gain. And each time I think it drips a little harder afterwards. I shudder to think what our water bill will be this month!

The second was a leaking gasket between the stool and tank in our bathroom. I discovered this one when I stepped on the wet bathroom rug. It took some investigation to figure out what was going on. Then I discovered the floor tiles were mushy. Thank goodness they are the peel and stick kind so an easy fix. For now there is a bowl under the leak until we can take it all apart and replace the rubber washers. I think that will fix it anyway. I hope.

Last night when I reached in the ice maker for some ice, my hand hit a solid cube. Apparently the ice maker is just making water. The tub that catches the ice was full of water that had frozen. But not before it ran over the edge and onto the bottom shelf of the freezer. Fortunately, the freezer is still freezing. So we cleaned it out and turned off the icemaker and went to bed. When Oldest Son came home I had him double check it. Thank goodness for that!

The water was flowing at a steady stream out of the ice maker and the tub was full and flowing onto the bottom of the freezer again. So, at midnight we emptied the upstairs freezer and put everything in the chest freezer downstairs. Oldest Son shut the valve to the ice maker and we put two tubs under there just to be sure. And we went to bed.

This morning we woke to water running from the freezer and all over the floor! Such a mess. Clearly the shut off valve is worn out. So now we have a valve to replace and an ice maker to fix.

Which takes me back to the need for one of our sons to be a plumber. And it would probably be good if one was a mechanic as well. We could probably save a fortune in repair costs with just those two!

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Filed under Frugal living, Home Improvement, Money

What 3 Things…

This weekend, while driving to the bowling alley, Carter asked me a question. I don’t know what prompted it, but it was a good question. Keep in mind Carter is 15. “Mom, if you could give me 3 pieces advice about money what would they be?” He’s such a deep thinker! I don’t know where these things come from, but what 15 year old asks a parent for financial advice? When they’re not in trouble:).

Anyway, it was a good question and we were about 3 blocks from the bowling alley…at the most! I had to think quickly. So I told him, this is just off the cuff, the first things that come to my mind.

  1. Buy lottery tickets and buy them often! If it comes down to milk or lottery tickets – go with the lottery tickets! You can never go wrong buying lottery tickets.
  2. If there are still checks in your checkbook, you still have money in your account. Just keep writing checks until they’re gone.
  3. Get lots of credit cards! Its free money! If they extend you credi,t it must be ok to charge that much. After all, the credit card companies would never steer you wrong!

Ok, not really, but it would have been fun to see his reaction:)!

So here’s what I really said:

  1. Learn how to create a budget and live by it. I think this would be the single most valuable lesson I could learn. If you have a budget and you live by it, you wouldn’t go into debt. You would be deliberate in how you spend your money, with a plan for every dollar. How freeing it would be to operate that way. Clearly, we don’t. How many of us, if we laid it out on paper ahead of time, would plan to buy a $33,000 car, with a 63 month loan, that would depreciate in value by 60% in the first 4 years. But that’s the average cost of a new car and the average length of loan. Somehow when you put it on paper it’s all more clear. (Side note: we don’t have a $33,000 car or a 63 month loan!)
  2. Start saving for your retirement as soon as you can. The earlier you start the quicker it will grow. Have it automatically deducted from your paycheck and put away the max your employer will match. You just can’t make up for a late start.
  3. The last one took me a bit longer to come up with. But #3 was to learn as much as you can about investments. Make investments your hobby. Learn about mutual funds. Familiarize yourself with annuities, stocks, portfolios. Get into it. It will pay off in the end.

The more I think about it there are so many more things I want to tell him. We’ll have to have another conversation…or many more conversations!  So now I’m wondering, do we teach kids enough about money? Do we as parents do a good job of preparing them to manage money as adults? I think I better add this to the list of things I need to teach the kids before they head off to college.

 Right after I go to the store for a lottery ticket!

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Filed under Advice, Frugal living, Goals, Legacy, Lifestyle, Money, Parenting