Hello and Happy Tuesday!
Ever since we got back from Alaska and I shared all about our cruise, I have gotten several questions asking how much it cost and how we paid for it. So, I decided that would be a great blog post topic since the answer isn’t necessarily a quick one.
An Alaskan cruise is expensive, there’s no way around that, but the price varies depending on several factors. The time of year you go, the cruise line you choose, the room you reserve onboard, and which excursion(s) you book, if any, can all have a bearing on the price of a trip like this. Regardless, an Alaskan cruise will cost a couple thousand dollars no matter what. It is definitely a splurge trip (or a bucket list trip, as we like to say) and Chris and I treated it as one. We knew that we would be spending a large amount of money, but it was worth every penny. And we paid for it all in cash. We did not put one cent of this vacation on a credit card. And today, I am going to tell you how we did that by sharing my number one financial tip.
We were gifted Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course in early 2017 and it laid the groundwork for everything we have done financially since then. We haven’t followed the baby steps he teaches to a T, but that class set us up for success. After taking the course and adding in some of our own interpretations, this is my number one financial tip…
I can’t stress enough how important budgeting is. Chris and I sit down at the beginning of every month, literally the first day of the month because I’m a little over the top about it. We review all of our spending for the previous month and budget our spending for the month ahead. We know how much money should come in during the month and we add up all of our expected expenses. This includes everything we can think of that we will be spending money on throughout the month: mortgage, groceries, bills, tolls, eating out, dry cleaning, dog food, birthday presents, etc. We also give ourselves a set amount of spending money which is money Chris and I each get to spend how we want. Then we see how much money is leftover and allocate that to paying off debt or saving toward a large expense or vacation.
This is key, especially when planning for large expenses like a vacation, because if you determine how much money you need to save each month, you can very easily include that in your monthly budget. Chris and I set aside several hundred dollars every month leading up to our vacation in preparation for our trip. We were also able to continue paying off debt while saving for our Alaskan cruise.
That is why budgeting is so important. When you see on paper what your income is, what your expenses are, and what is leftover, you can very easily see if adjustments need to be made. If your expenses are more than your income, you have a problem. Budgeting is really helpful in determining exactly where your money should be going, as opposed to spending it frivolously.
Budgeting is really helpful in determining exactly where your money should be going, as opposed to spending it frivolously.
Budgeting may seem simple, and it is in theory, but don’t expect this to come without some hardships. It took Chris and I a few months to really get into a groove with budgeting. It was stressful at first! We saw very clearly that there were changes we needed to make and change can be hard! But I promise it’s worth it. If you are struggling with budgeting, keep at it. Give yourself a few months and I bet it will be better. Practice makes “perfect”, right?
If you are saving for vacation, or even if you aren’t, I recommend sitting down every month and doing a budget. You can feel good about where your money is going and that makes a world of difference.
Let me know if this was helpful and I will write some more blog posts about how Chris and I handle our finances! My friends and I talk about this topic quite a bit and I’d be happy to share more about it on my blog if that is of interest to you guys!
Do you do a monthly budget? What is your number one financial tip?