I can be very tight with money. And that’s being gentle on myself.
Joanna always jokes that when we receive money as a gift or extra income, she knows that most of it will be given away and saved. Just a small fraction will be for fun stuff. Not sure if that’s just my practical nature, or it it’s because I am Jewish. (See? That’s why it’s great being Jewish. I'm allowed to say stuff like that.)
Since I’m such an Ebenezer Scrooge, imagine Joanna’s surprise a couple of years ago, in the middle of the summer, when I told her, “I think we should go to Disney in the fall, and then see some family in south Florida.” We had been to Disney a few years earlier, for a quick 2-night trip (1 day in the park), when Hannah was 5 and Elijah just under 3. But Elijah didn’t get to do much, and Sender had never been. Plus, it had been a really stressful and busy summer, which was typical in my former role as Pastor of Children & Families. I knew we needed to get away as a family.
Joanna is just about as practical as I am. In fact, we’re pretty well-known for being pragmatic. During our wedding reception, a friend walked up to us with an envelope of cash -- $200 -- and whispered in my ear with this specific instruction, “Do something non-practical.”
So, Joanna had immediate questions when I told her about us going to Disney. When would we go? For how long? Can we afford it? Great questions.
The first two would be easy. Since we homeschool, we have some flexibility. I love the benefit of being able to vacation during the school year, when most other families are in school. The third question, about money, was something more of a challenge.
I told her, “You are right. We really can’t afford it.” We had some in savings, but not enough to cover the 3 nights at Disney that I was wanting. But I was able to make a phone call to a particular relative, basically begging for the money. She was happy to help. We would go to Disney, and then continue down to south Florida to visit her for a few days.
The timing of the trip was perfect. It came right after a big event in my ministry, and it lined up with visiting that relative who, just days before our trip, was put in the hospital. We were able to bring her some joy and company.
|Elijah, Sender, and Joanna, on a walk after dinner|
And just recently, we had the opportunity to get away for a weekend at the beach. There were some challenges with this opportunity, but also some solutions:
- Cost. Even with the deep discount we received through a connection, the trip would still cost some money. But fortunately we had some put away since last fall, from a gift that we received.
- Time. Since I’ve been working in Allendale during the week, and home on weekends, this meant that I would go for 11 days without being home. But we knew that we needed a change from our normal routine of me being home for 2 days, rushing to get things done, before hitting the road again.
- Work. Because of the timing of the trip, it meant that I would have to drive 85 miles each way for work for one day. But after two months of driving between Allendale and Greenville every weekend, this seemed like nothing.
Undoubtedly, it was a great time to be together as a family. The kids loved the beach, the pool, the nature walks (including a couple of them holding fiddler crabs), the magic show, and just being together.
Now, I recognize that not everyone has the relatives and resources to make trips like this happen. But maybe you need to consider what it would take to make a special experience for your family. Experiences are better than gifts that are discarded within a year; they last with you for a lifetime. You may need to start budgeting or begging now, but make it a point to have a special experience with your family this year.
Even a cheapskate like me can do it.
"Make the best use of your time, because the days are evil."
Do you have a family vacation planned over the summer?