If there’s any one question I get asked over and over again about our vacations, it’s “How do you afford it?!” And even if a dear, sweet soul doesn’t want to come right out and ask, they often mumble something like, “Well, we could never afford that kind of trip.”

At that point, I typically go off on a 43-and-a-half-minute overly-enthused, loving, yet extensive, tangent about how they totally can afford it and how we aren’t even remotely loaded and how we just prioritize our money and our time. And then I won’t stop talking about how fun and hard and ridiculously awesome and difficult these trips are. Whew. Convinced yet?

So, in effort to save you beautiful readers from my next highly informative lecture, I present to you…the first of a 3 part series on how to afford an epic family vacation!

Budgeting Family Vacation

This is the point where I begin to ramble on about cutting costs at home

First things first. I’m not a great saver. How many times have I tried Dave Ramsey’s magical envelope system? And how many times have I left the house without the gas money envelope or the toothpaste envelope and ended up just swiping the magic plastic and accidentally buying a box of donuts? I wish I could say that has never happened. But, I’d be lying. I wish I could give you some elaborate life-changing, money-saving tips to ensure you a $12,000 budget for your next vacation, but I’d probably just lie again. I’m in this life right along side you, trying to figure out new ways to budget and save as I step down from a lucrative wedding photography business in pursuit of other creative, (less money-producing) projects.

The best way to even remotely begin to afford an extra expense (like an epic trip) is to decrease your daily living expenses. We live in such a way that Brian’s income alone supports our family…all of our bills, gas, food, and general life expenses. My income basically supports our wandering and adventuring habits. WHAT WHAT!

And before you jump to any conclusions, Brian isn’t some CEO or President of a company. He works in the K-12 education system. Need I say more? I consider myself a project-based earner. For some reason, I get motivated to earn money based on very specific goals. It’s just how I’m wired, I guess. So, if I want to go out West for an extra week, that might mean extra photo shoots or staying up until 2am for a week straight to meet a deadline. The hustle is real.

We live in a modest house. In fact, we just moved and downsized our home by about 50%. We drive used cars. Like, 204,000 miles used. Our Jeep has been known to break down from time to time. But, that’s why we have Jesus, a good mechanic, and AAA.

We shop sales and thrift stores and try to budget wherever we can. The little things can really add up over time. I typically cut Brian’s and Jet’s hair. (Listen, Elle and I just aren’t willing to make that kind of sacrifice, OK?!) I don’t go and get my nails did on the regular. Heck, I don’t even make it to the salon more than a few times a year. But, that’s mostly because I’m just a slacker. We try to limit eating out as much as possible. We don’t have cable or satellite. Everything we watch is on Netflix or our Amazon Prime account.

We understand and live by the concept that if we can live modestly, we can have the extra budget to afford some unforgettable experiences with the people we love most. We’re not perfect. We don’t have it all figured out. We’re just doing what we can, with what we have, where we are (Roosevelt). And for us, that means minimizing expenses for maximum experiences. See what I did there?

Even as I write this, I’m thinking of other things we may be able to cut or dwindle down in our budget. Can I work on my Starbucks habit? What could putting an extra $25-$30 a month in our vacation fund get us? Within just a matter of months, that could easily afford us an extra night in a hotel room or theme park tickets or whale watching in Monterey or a surfing lesson on Ventura Beach or a horseback ride in Montana.

Budgeting family vacation

What are some things in your life you would be willing to cut down on if it meant going on more trips and making memories with your family?

xo | Brooke

 Fast forward to Part 2! And Part 3!

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