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Vacation Spending + Solar and Other Stuff

July 20th, 2014 at 03:09 pm

**They are offering free solar setup in our neighborhood these days. The company takes all the tax breaks to subsidize the costs.

We don't use enough energy to utilize. So, phew. Dh is a little more into that than me. I can't say he would necessarily do it, BUT, the whole thing appears to be moot at the moment anyway. So it's not even a discussion.

It is interesting though as several neighbors are taking up the offer and discussing their energy bills. $150-$225/month. We are at around $60/month. Don't ask me! It was our electricity usage that I wanted to work on this year - a rare bill I felt we had room to improve on. We don't really do anything special in this area and since we aren't from the area we aren't particularly used to the heat. On one hand. On the other hand, we don't feel the need to keep our house 70F degrees 24/7. I suppose that is the most of it.

The other interesting thing about our current electricity bill is that it is at a "people home 24/7" level. For the long run I do expect it to go down. I'd expect in 5+ years that everyone else in the house will have jobs and be out of the house more.

We do have a very energy efficient home and I guess some part of me presumed all these new homes were energy efficient, but maybe some of them are not as efficient as others. Ours is specifically an "energy star" home.


I had no idea how much our vacation was going to cost. I mentioned maybe $0 or $1,000. I was just figuring $500. Probably the worst case.

In the end, I think we pulled it off at around $500. (In-laws were sidelined so did not really go anywhere with us. In the end we paid for the entire meals when we were together. Don't ask me. Is why I had no idea where we would end up).

MIL gave the kids $50. They spent $40 on souvenirs and arcade games. I will consider that a wash. We probably would not have done any of the above, otherwise. Though that was another plus for Six Flags. Their arcade was actually reasonably priced.

$20 parking, $400 food, $180 gas. Total is $600. But we will pull $100 from the regular food and gas budget to cover some of the costs. So, leaves $500 to come out of the vacation budget.

Hotel - free with MIL's timeshare
Parks - paid for by MIL and credit card rewards
Kitty hotel - paid for with credit card rewards

I think it was an extraordinary vacation for $500!


Our total vacation budget is $1500 per year and so that leaves $1,000 for the rest of this year. Was waiting to see how this shook out before we plan trip to visit my sister. Waiting to see how that shakes out before we decide what to do with the kids' fall break.

Well, things are shaking out. My mom is not feeling up to flying out to see my sister and she offered to fly them out here. She feels bad about the whole thing. But I told her I think it is great. I did not want to fly out my whole family and I knew that would disappoint my sister. It just makes way more financial sense to bring her out here.

In exchange, my mom offered to fly me out with one other person in my family. I don't know if I will take up the offer to bring someone else. It will probably just be my dad and I. If she is really intent on being fair maybe they can pay for $400-ish of BM's Japan airfare next year. For that second airfare.

I have never seen my sister's current home or been to her current state (Kentucky) and so I think it's important to still go out there. I do look forward to just having a special trip with my dad.

I also think I can get us a free hotel, from MIL. (Or we may just split a $50/night hotel room). I don't even know if we will need to rent a car.

So that trip is starting to look fairly -$0- on the spending front. & that is a nice surprise!

Since we will likely go visit my sister the week my kids have off of school, dh and I are leaning towards doing something small that week. When I get back. Maybe just Death Valley. Or maybe just Grand Canyon. But don't want to do the whole giant road trip thing, due to time and finances.

We do have a beach weekend planned in August, so it's nice we might have a little spending money for that. I think we will loosen the purse strings on that one. (We already have a free hotel room and may or may not reserve the kitty hotel).


All of the above is good, because this backpacking trip is going in the other direction. My dad mentioned we could just rent some stuff. So you know, we just got back from vacation and are looking at prices. BM leaves on Tuesday. We probably should have just planned ahead and bought some used gear. !!

Our attempts to borrow a tent are also failing, given the last minute nature of our preparations. I did find a backpack to borrow but also saw some at REI for $99 that were very highly reviewed and could last a lifetime for BM. That I am totally cool with. But haven't seen anything on the tent front under $200.

The University does rent out tents so we will look into that tomorrow. If that does not pan out my dad said he can rent one for us. The REIs around here don't have any rentals? But several in his neck of the woods do have rentals.

Anyway, preparation and planning is probably the #1 key to frugality. & I am feeling a little frustrated with our lack of planning. I am seeing how we could have saved a lot of money with a little bit of planning.

As of right now, will borrow a backpack for free. (Is a friend who owes me a favor anyway). Will probably rent a tent somewhere and then keep an eye for a sale for next time. My dad wants me to buy a titanium bowl and spork. {BM is going backpacking for three days with my dad. I suppose I should have mentioned that at the beginning}. We will owe my dad for some camping fees and so on too, but don't expect that to be much. Like literally a few dollars. Thought we might be driving to drop off or pick up but it seems they have most of that covered. It is a relief that we don't have to drive the van down too. Will just take the gas sipper to deliver BM. Maybe someone can also meet us halfway for that.

I will take all this from the vacation budget. This is also giving me renewed motivation to get that last $200 Chase bonus. That would go a long way to some backpacking gear if he thinks he will want to start backpacking more. (I don't see why he wouldn't).


One final thing. Our Ting bill is going to be about $120 this month. We went over on our usual minutes with our travels. My dad has also been traveling.

My dad just got back from Japan and was able to use his phone there. Ting pricing was very reasonable. So that is the rest of it.

$120 is still significantly cheaper than our old sprint bill. So I had to talk up Ting a bit and share our referral code again.

$25 off referral link:

Text is and Link is

Overall, travel aside, we have bumped up to the next data tier with my new phone. I must be using it a lot more. I don't know. So our household's portion of the Ting bill is averaging $30/month instead of $25.

4 Responses to “Vacation Spending + Solar and Other Stuff”

  1. Maranatha Says:

    I don't think I've ever had an electric bill of $60 dollars even when I lived in an apartment it was more than $100. That would be awesome! Ours this summer has been around $190, that's in a brand new energy efficient home. It is very hot year round in South Texas though.

    I am always impressed at how good you are with managing money. You seem so disciplined. I hope you are able to get a tent at a decent price!

  2. Kiki Says:

    My electric bills are rarely over $30 for a 700 square foot apartment (only the coldest months). I rarely use the AC in the summer so my current bill was $23. My current gas bill was $10.30. I love it!

  3. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    That's great how your Disney trip didn't cost much, and your trip to visit your sister will be inexpensive too.

  4. Broke Millennial Says:

    Congrats on the cheap energy bill! My roommie and I keep it around $60 too, but we don't use AC. I was wondering how to get in touch with you via email? I don't see a contact form on your site. Could you email me a brokemillennials [AT] gmail dotcom? Thanks!

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